Home Depot Sells You A Used Battery Pack, Manages Not To Accuse You Of Fraud

Here’s a happy story from someone who bought a “Box of Crap” (this is what we call a box that looks new, but contains the wrong item or a used item, due to return fraud). Instead of accusing reader Ryan of some sort of crime, Home Depot simply issued him a gift card. Hooray!

Ryan says:

Recently I purchased a cordless drill with battery pack at Home Depot. I went home and charged up the battery and went to tackle a project. Unfortunately, the battery did not hold a charge. Upon closer examination, the battery was scuffed and obviously used. Dejected I went back to Home Depot and just bought another battery knowing the customer service desk at my local HD would be of no help.

Stewing over having to buy another $35 dollar battery when I shouldn’t have had to, I called up Home Depot’s customer service line. A very friendly “Sharon” listened to my story and was able to pull up all my transactions in their Data Base. She then asked me what course of action I would find acceptable to keep me as a satisfied customer. I told her a HD gift card in the amount of the cost of the battery would be acceptable. She quickly issued the card for a slightly higher amount and said I will receive it in the mail.

Hearing stories of woe from consumers at other stores when faced with similar box swaps, I expected, and quite honestly would understand, skepticism on Home Depot’s part. I was pleasantly surprised with how well Home Depot managed the situation, despite they too being victim to someone else abusing their return system.

Good job, Home Depot!

If you’ve been sold a “Box of Crap” and are having a hard time with the retailer, check out our post: What To Do When A Store Sells You A Box Of Crap And Won’t Take It Back.

(Photo: mroach )


Edit Your Comment

  1. Thanatos says:

    Wow that is surprising, how bad is it that i technically (were a subsidiary)work for THD and i hate them as a company and working under them.

  2. taking_this_easy says:

    i guess from now on, any item you buy from a retailer (especially stuff from bestbuy) must be opened after purchase to verify contents….

    thats why i like amazon/buy.com/newegg/frys online :P

    • Murph1908 says:


      If you do that “from now on”, you are late by about a year.

      But I’ll take the fact that you put buy.com as one of your preferred vendors means you are new here.

      Welcome to Consumerist.

  3. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Home Depot is appallingly bad at checking out whatever is returned to them.
    I once bought a light fixture that had a broken glass cover & returned it. A neighbor saw it & went to buy the same one.
    Guess what?
    They ended up with the broken one I returned & had to return it.

    Once at Menard’s I was getting some fluorescent tubes & checked out the bulbs in their cardboard sleeves & two of them were used. Some jerk had returned two used bulbs for a refund & no one looked at them.

    Costco puts a large sticker on returned broken stuff that reads “UNSALEABLE MERCHANDISE” to avoid this problem.

    • LordofthePing says:

      @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

      The HD I go to has actually opened shrink wrapped and taped items I’ve returned and then called over someone from the relevant department to check the item. Most times these people have a look of “You fool, you just opened a clearly unopened item.”

    • Anonymous says:

      @Greasy Thumb Guzik: @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

      My Mother bought one of those fancy fingerprint reader locks for her front door. It didn’t work more than half the time, so she returned it. While she was standing in the aisle picking out a new lock, someone came and put her defective lock back on the shelf.

  4. HogwartsAlum says:

    “Costco puts a large sticker on returned broken stuff that reads “UNSALEABLE MERCHANDISE” to avoid this problem. “

    Such a simple solution, and would save those nasty crap retailers way more money than cutting staff, salaries, raising prices, etc.

    Oh, but it makes sense. Guess that’s why they don’t do it.

    • Amethyst02 says:


      But they do or at least they are supposed to, if it’s damaged the returns cashier is supposed to tag it Return to Vender and put it in the RTV bin to keep it from being resold.

      And remember that while it is frustrating to get a “bag of crap” the flip side of this is that the have a pretty liberal return policy, they will take back most anything.

  5. jaydez says:

    We got my dad a Ryobi Router for father’s day about 3 years ago from Home Depot. He didnt need to use it right away so it sat in the box for about 4 months before he finally bought it. When we opened the box to use it he saw it was a Box of Crap. The thing was VERY USED. The previous buyer even went as far as to slip the plastic straps off the box and reseal it PERFECTLY with new tape.

    We bought it back and the CS behind the reurns desk gave us a hard time about it but we asked to speak to the store manager. He heard what we had to say and did an even exhange on a new one for us.

    Hopedepot had a relatively good customer service… Its just that a lot of the things they sell, from our experience, are either Boxes of Crap, damaged, or missing parts.

  6. pmcpa2 says:

    I went to buy something at HD this weekend… Pre-shopped online and got my prices in hand. Item was $1 more in store. Asked ans was told that “Prices may differ in store,” was given the run around, and I asked, well, you price match, please price match your own web site. They complied. Though last week I had a great experience with a price match with them (Something I had just purchased was $2 less at Lowes, no problem (Showed them a cell phone picture with the price from Lowes)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @pmcpa2: $1? Really? If it was $10 or $20 I can understand, but you haggled over $1? On the other hand, why are they being such a pain when it’s just a dollar?

      • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


        If it was $10 or $20 I can understand, but you haggled over $1? On the other hand, why are they being such a pain when it’s just a dollar?

        No, no, no. It’s not worth ten. You’re supposed to argue. “What? Ten for that, you must be mad!”

      • Anks329 says:

        @IHaveAFreezeRay: if you have a budget and are sticking to it, $1 can make a difference.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar problem. I bought a 200 dollar drill from HD. After about a month, the battery pack wouldn’t hold a charge. I went back to HD and explained my situation. Customer Service would not exchange it and said I had to go through the manufacturer. Well, the manufacturer’s warranty repaid service was 30 miles away. I wrote HD customer service email and explained my situation. The customer service gave me a gift card for 35 dollars, while a new battery pack was 99 dollars.

    I know that this is unethical, but I bought a new drill, exchanged the battery pack, and returned it. Yeah, I feel bad for the next person, but in the end, it was the easiest thing for me to do.

  8. winstonthorne says:

    The reason they didn’t give the OP a hassle was that the battery was only $35. More expensive items probably require more scrutiny/skepticism.

    • bigloaf says:

      @winstonthorne: I worked there for two years, and they will almost always return any item with any excuse no matter what the price was. As an employee, I often got frustrated when they would allow returns from someone who was blatantly scamming the store. Pretty much the only kind of thing we wouldn’t allow returns on was copper pipe or fittings if there was no receipt (our store alone had over $30,000 in theft of copper in one year)

  9. econobiker says:

    Note that he didn’t actually try to return the item but called the customer service line where they refunded the amount.

    I had Home Depot screw me for a gift return one time. I was given a cordless drill but wanted a better one. Shelf price said certain amount (say $89-about $95 w/ tax) but they would only refund me $39 for some reason. The front line csr gave me a hard time when I asked why only $39 versus $89. It may have been that my relative bought that specific drill at their outlet store. I don’t think that they had the customer service line in place or advertised at that time…

    So I finally took the $39 added another $40 and got a $69 grinder. Oh and did I say that I wanted to take the $95 and use it to purchase a $250 cordless drill set??? Oh, too bad, Home Depot since Lowes got all of my business from then on which is now over 10 years ago. And I never did get the higher quality cordless drill…

  10. mikedt says:

    Got nailed with this, this weekend. Bought an expensive MobilOne oil filter, got home and discovered that the box contained and much cheaper STP oil filter. Took it back to Autozone and without a blink the guy had me take another one off the shelf. I guess this happens quite often.

  11. madanthony says:

    If you’ve been sold a “Box of Crap” and are having a hard time with the retailer…

    I have the opposite problem. I keep trying to get woot to sell me a bag of crap with no success…

  12. Dilbitz says:

    My parents had to get into a screaming fight with the manager at our local Home Depot over a pressure washer. I do blame my father for this, but here’s what had happened. Dad bought it for about $400 and didn’t try it out. He just set it in the garage for about 6 months. Then he gets a wild hair in his ass and decides to wash the house, and the damn thing doesn’t work. He takes it back wanting an exchange. Now this thing has been used ONCE and still looks new, has all its components and everything. The manager accuses them of scamming the store.

    My mom blows her top and gets all up in his face saying she would shove the thing up his ass if he doesn’t give them another one. And she also stops every customer at the return desk and tells them what is going on. Well, the manager backs down and lets them pick out another one. And dad makes them hook it up outside the store so he can try it out before leaving. Even now, if they have to go in Home Depot, I think the manager hides.

  13. Ninjanice says:

    I always hear these horror stories about HD customer service (or lack thereof). I’ve returned plenty of stuff there and only encountered a hard time once- when I tried (and succeeded at) returning some tinted paint. Apparently they do not return tinted paint- unless the jackass tells you that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he was just going to try anyhow and I could return said paint if it wasn’t right. Which it wasn’t. I got a little guff at the return register, but as soon as I told her what the guy said and who it was, she returned the paint and I got the impression that this guy screwed up a lot of paint for customers.

    • oloranya says:

      @blah,blah,blah: I work at THD. Most stores won’t let you return custom paint colors, as they can’t really re-sell them. The guy at the paint desk shouldn’t have told you it could be returned, that’s an outright lie.

  14. wickedpixel says:

    Call me a cynic, but I’m waiting for the follow-up story about this customer never actually receiving the gift card the CSR claims to have issued.

  15. YamiNoSenshi says:

    I think it’s kinda sad that getting your proper money’s worth is now considered news.

  16. NovaMelbourne says:

    Just another story of calling the customer service line, and was told “My name is X, and I”ll take care of this for you”. Less then 5 minutes they had called the local store and arranged for me to come by and swap out my box of crap.

    Thanks HD

  17. Anonymous says:

    CSR’s rarely have the authority to make judgment calls on returns. I work in Returns at THD and I could get in serious trouble for refunding a big-ticket Box of Crap on my own authority.

    My manager does, however, have that authority. If you are stuck with a Box of Crap and the CSR won’t take it, I recommend that you **calmly and politely** ask to speak to the manager.

    Myself and all of the people I work with genuinely want to help, but sometimes our hands are tied. In complex situations, the best approach is to talk to somebody with the authority and knowledge to work around policy.

  18. andystep12 says:

    I had this happen once when working at CompUSA. A customer brought back a video card box of like a GeForce 7600 or something like that with a Geforce 2 card made by a different manufacturer that was covered in a ton of dust. I caught the mistake that customer service didn’t and he was accused of return fraud. He and his father became irate, asked for my name (in order to call corporate) and threatened to beet me up in the parking lot–as I was the one who caught the problem.

    A little later, like within an hour, I realized that perhaps this guy didn’t commit fraud and that it was a situation like above. I felt I might have been a jerk, or maybe this guy was a liar. To this day I still don’t know. His story sounded fishy and he looked nervous to begin with, but I could have been in the wrong. If customer service didn’t catch it that time, they probably wouldn’t have caught it on a prior return.

    If the fellow was in the right, I hope he got it straightened out. If he was the one trying to commit return fraud, then I hope he didn’t. The possibility of it being someone else didn’t even occur to me until after he threatened me and walked out fuming mad. This fellow was probably 6’5″, 250+lbs and I’m 5’11” and a buck forty-five. Needless to say I didn’t take the threat lightly, though nothing came of it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I had a good experience returning a 5 gallon bucket of custom tinted stain at HD – the color was not at all what we expected, so we brought the stain back, and a piece of wood we stained as proof. They fought back a little, but when I told them that if they took back that one bucket, I would buy 2 more buckets in a different color (since I needed 2 anyway), they acquiesced. It certainly didn’t make me shop there any more (Lowes is infinitely better) but it was a nice surprise that they actually worked with me rather than against me.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I live in Peru. When we buy something (like recently, a small electric heater), the sales person will immediately take it out of the box and demonstrate the item to us, making sure all parts are in the box and that the item works. Of course, I guess in the US, the cost of that kind of customer service would send prices through the roof.

  21. Anonymous says:

    My Experience

    I went in to y local HD on a Saturday morning and the first thing I noticed is that it was really HOT in the store, uncomfortable hot for being early in the morning. I crused around collecting electrical items for purchase – the elec. aisle was a really mess, took me maybe 1/2 hour to find everything since it was all jumbled up and mixed together. I had to take a dump so I went to the bathroom, one look and I quickly decided to hold it till I was home. I went back to the electrical aisle and picked up the last item I needed which was a stick of conduit that I didn’t want to tote around the store the entire time.

    There are usually 2 checkout stations in the entry of the store, the customer service desk and the returns desk, quite often there is someone there and they usually offer to check you out. Well there were 3 people there, 2 seemingly having to wait on 1 returns customer and one little twerp talking to his girlfriend or someone on his cell phone. it was right there close to the elec department and rather than walking BACK to the other end of the store I stepped up wanting to check out ther and go home and take care of the issue of relieving my self. I was ignored by the twerp and a FOURTH clerk walked by to seemingly to help the other 2 at the returns desk with the same SINGLE customer.

    Here I was hot, aggravated and needing to talk to a man about a horse – a team of Clydesdale’s by the feel of it and 4 HD employees were standing around yakking – none seemed to really be working. And 6 people were behind me wanting to get checked out too. I simply pushed the cart off and walked out.

    The next day I was still steamed about the situation. I got onto the HD web site and wrote a complaint.

    2 days later I got a phone call from HD CS, the offered me a $25 gift certificate for my troubles. The next day the store manager called and apologized too. 3 days later I got the certificate.

    Subsequent visits have been MUCH more pleasant, clean restroom and quick checkout.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I used to work at Canadian Tire, one time we had a guy return a jug of vehicle antifreeze that was frozen solid. Turned out someone bought it, used it, filled it with water and returned it… good thing the second guy left it in his garage a couple weeks before going to put it in the car. I think in most cases the store is generally happy to make an exchange to avoid bigger problems… imagine if that guy had put the water in his engine, it froze and cracked the block? Places that give people hassles about “boxes of crap” should be on their way out.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I renovated my basement this summer, which, in other words, means I spent close to $8,000 in my local Home Depot.

    I returned several hundreds of dollars of materials toward the end of the project. Except for one piece of wallboard, which had a crushed corner, they took back everything without a second thought.

    Two weeks later, I bought a new tool bag and a multi-tool screwdriver, along with about $75 of new tools.

    The bag was too small and the screwdriver was a piece of crap. I came back to replace both and the rep refused to issue a refund because the bag was slightly dirty inside (from the tools I put inside to determine that it was too small). As for the screwdriver, she wanted to know why I needed to return it.

    She called over the department heads, both refused to allow a refund because, “We can’t sell these if you used them.”

    I was Flabbergasted.

    I pointed to their return policy on the sign right in front of the return counter. I made them look up my credit cards to see how much merchandise i bought since June.

    They called over the store manager who gave me the same argument.

    He demanded to know why I needed to return the screwdriver.

    I told him it was a piece of crap. He seemed to doubt my opinion, but said he’d give me a credit.

    But the bag, he decided was too damaged to return. I brushed off some of the dirt, really dust and sawdust from my basement. He still didn’t seem too interested, while I was shaking my head in amazement that I was even having this conversation.

    He then had the nerve to ask how I expected Home Depot to stay in business if I expect them to take back merchandize they can’t resell.

    I asked him if he was joking while I practically held my jaw to keep it from hitting the floor.

    He wasn’t joking.

    So I told the manager that I needed to speak to his boss. Thankfully, he called some lord of Home Depot who apparently told the guy to, “use his discretion.”

    Letting me know that it was left “to his discretion,” he gave a benevolent wave and decreed that I would receive a credit — I had already told them that ALL I wanted was a store credit so i can buy the next size bag — gave me a look of disgust as he walked away.

    Not even looking at me, the returns rep took the screwdriver and threw it about ten feet toward the “tool returns” cart. She missed and the sacred screwdriver, that I had no right to return, hit the floor. she didn’t bother to pick it up.

    Tossing the “damaged bag onto the floor,” and muttering as if I shot her dog, she processed my credit without even a nod when I wished her a nice day.

    I bought my bag and haven’t been back there since.

    The service in HD is generally nonexistent. Unless you go first thing in the morning, department heads tend to disappear, merchandize can be hard to find, and pricing information is hard to understand.

    For some reason, lately, I’ve been hearing plenty of HD commercials hawking their new “Lowest Prices,” pledge.

    Go figure.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone notice a pattern? I bought “bla” at HD and it was a BoC, so I returned it, now I’m happy… My point is that HD is intentionaly reselling their BoC’s . Sure, YOU returned yours, but think how often they get away with this. It seems it is not the customers who should be afraid of being accused of fraudulent practices.
    I have a friend who told me the same story of our local HD. He bought a welder. Took it home, opened it and found it had been used, abused, and returned. So he put an inconspicuos mark on the box and returned it. A week later he was in the store, and sure enough THAT welder was back on the shelf. This is not a mistake, it looks like policy from here.
    I took his story to heart, and bought my welder somewhere else.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I work at Home Depot, and to be honest, we are TOLD to take back all returns, even if they say Walmart or something on them. We even accept car tires…which we don’t even sell. It’s really easy to scam home depot, and I see people do it all the time.

  26. Boulderite says:

    I worked at HD about 9 years ago and we would get some strange stuff in the returns cart for our department. Wallpaper border that had been used and was wet and cut into 4 inch strips. Stacks of ceramic tile with still damp adhesive on the back, blinds that had obviously been used for at least a few months (covered in dust and stains)and Carpet cut up in to strips (as if they had just removed it to replace it and decided to see if they could get their money back)

    Fast forward 6 months. I stopped working at HD to go to school. I had purchased a tool chest on wheels for my Dad who is a Electrician. I was told by the sales associate in hardware that it would be great for the type of work my Dad does.

    I buy it for my Dad and a week later one of the wheels comes off and can’t be fixed for whatever reason. I go to return it with the box and receipt and the CSR won’t take it back, one of the assistant managers tells me the tool chest isn’t for my Dads type of work and after 30-40 minutes of this run around another assistant manager comes over.
    I finally get him to return it by reminding him that when I was in his Customer Service class as a new hire, he told me that they take back anything and that once they took back a set of tires, even though they don’t sell them all in the name of customer service.
    I got my money back.