Home Depot Tells Me I'll Be Able To Return Unused Generator, Changes Mind After Hurricane

Hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s stand to rake in a nice pile of cash from hurricane-related sales. And according to one Consumerist reader, his local Home Depot intends on keeping as much of that cash as possible by not making good on its pre-storm promises.

Consumerist reader Todd says he went to his Home Depot in Maryland last Friday to shop for a generator in case he lost power as a result of Hurricane Irene. Unsure about plunking down money for a generator he might not need, Todd says he asked a sales rep about the return policy. He was told that “as long as you don’t use it you have 14 days for a full refund.”

That was enough to convince Todd to make the purchase. Fortunately enough, he never lost power and never even had to open the box. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so smoothly when he attempted to return the generator on Sunday.

Writes Todd:

I go back to Home Depot only to see signs on the door saying “Due to the increased number of sales on generators because of hurricane Irene we will not be accepting returns on generators”. I assumed this meant used units so I went to the returns cashier and asked. She told me that no generators are being returned even unused, un-open ones. I asked to speak with a manager. A man comes to me and tells me that there’s nothing he can do and it’s my problem.

I looked around and saw two other gentleman with generators experiencing the same issue. They told me to call Home Depot customer service and provided me with a number.

I called the number and spoke with a representative. The representative told me that Home Depot’s policy has always been “no returns on generators”. I explained my situation and he said, no you can never return a generator. The two other gentlemen who called the same number were told two entirely different things by their representatives.

At this point I was getting angry. I went to the manager again and told him I will not leave until they take back my generator. He got angry and told me he would call corporate headquarters. After fifteen minutes he told me to “bring the fucking thing over to him”. He grabbed my receipt out of my hand and issued the return.

I went home to look at Home Depot’s return policy. Nowhere on the site does it say that generators can not be returned. It says that gasoline powered machines can be returned within 14 days, but that is the only reference to generators. The only part that caught my eye was a small section that said “The Home Depot reserves the right to limit or refuse to accept the return of merchandise at any time and for any reason.”

So essentially, for no reason at all Home Depot can change their return policy any way they want, and here they were being a predatory store that didn’t want to accept returns because a natural disaster was not as bad as had been predicted.

I can’t even express how upset and disappointed I am with Home Depot. Up until this point they seemed like a reputable company that I would be happy to business with. After my recent experience I am trying to spread the word to everyone not to shop there. If you decide to return something they can just say no “because they want to.”

When we looked at the Home Depot return policy, it actually reads, “Gasoline-powered equipment may be returned within 30 days of purchase with a valid sales receipt. After 30 days, item may be sent out for repair at the customer’s expense, unless covered under warranty.” Additionally, the only products expressly stated as un-returnable are “Custom made products and custom tinted paint, utility trailers, Gift Cards, Gift Certificates and Store Credits.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.