Home Depot Steps In When GE Gives You The Warranty Runaround

Reader Chris bought a GE hot water tank from Home Depot, only to find out that it was broken. He noticed a sticker on the back telling him to call a 1-800 number for warranty repair rather than returning the tank to the store. So he did. And he got the runaround.

Chris says:

Do you know that Home Depot sells G.E. Hot Water Tanks? Do you know that those tanks come with a 6 year warranty? And did you know that if you get a defective tank from Home Depot there is a sticker on the tank with a 1-800 number to call for warranty service rather than taking the tank back out and returning it to the store? And when you call the number they help diagnose your problem and set up a service call with a G.E. repair tech that covers your area?

This all happened over Easter Weekend at my parents’ house. They are elderly and my dad is handicapped. The people at the 1-800 number were wonderful….until Monday afternoon. That’s when my parents got a phone call telling them that while GE would happily overnight them a replacement thermostat to replace the defective one on the tank they had no G.E. service techs in the Western Massachusetts area. Instead they suggested that my parents find a plumber and have it fixed themselves. They said that if the plumber submitted the proper paperwork to G.E. that he would be reimbursed “up to $100″ for his efforts. What plumber is going to come and do repairs to a tank that he didn’t install for “up to $100″ if he submits the proper paperwork to G.E. after the fact?

In other words, Home Depot sells hot water tanks from G.E. with a warranty that G.E. is unable to fulfill in the Western Massachusetts area. But consumers don’t find that out until it is too late. Needless to say I am following The Consumerist’s advice on how to escalate this as well as filing complaints with the appropriate Better Business Bureau office and the Massachusetts State Attorney General’s office for warranty fraud.

We asked Chris to keep us informed, and a day later we got this:

Yesterday afternoon I received an arrogant, obnoxious call from someone in Alabama that makes the hot water tanks and also provides the service on the warranty for G.E. He insisted that by offering to reimburse my parents or a hired plumber (up to $100) that they were still offering warranty service. When I explained that it says nothing like that on the written warranty he had no response. He offered to call and speak with my parents. When he did so he told my mother that if she made multiple calls to multiple plumbers he was sure that she could find someone to do the job for under $100!! Needless to say we all found that unacceptable for something that was broken out-of-the-box.

About 30 minutes after that I was involved in a conference call with someone representing Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot, the manager of the store in West Springfield, MA where the tank was purchased and also the person responsible for handling contracts between Home Depot and G.E. All three seemed genuinely shocked that G.E. would not honor their warranty in Western Massachusetts. None of them had ever heard of this happening. I was the first to bring this to anyone’s attention at Home Depot and they were more than happy to help my parents resolve the issue. In other words, Home Depot was backing the warranty that G.E. wouldn’t! From a business and legal perspective they weren’t at all obligated and they could have told me that but didn’t. As of this email, a plumber from Home Depot is scheduled to be at my parent’s house today to fix or entirely replace the defective tank. They said that they would be dealing with G.E. when this was all taken care of.

I can honestly say that I was totally shocked by the positive customer service commitment from Home Depot. I never expected this response in a million years. Frank Blake and his people, especially Chris, the manager in West Springfield, have gone way above and beyond what was expected. As for G.E., I got exactly the response I expected; arrogance, ignorance and completely ignored by the higher-ups I emailed on par with Frank Blake.

Good job, Home Depot!

(Photo:mroach)