Saturday, July 21, 2012

Scammed by Home Depot?

In early June I needed a new water heater, and fast. The old one was leaking from the tank and the water was seeping into the downstairs hallway and who knows where else, so Project Water Heater became a sudden priority. I really wanted to buy a state-of-the-art, super high efficiency water heater, but found out they don't exist, at least for those of us who don't have natural gas. There were some very expensive "heat pump" electric water heaters but after some research it seemed those were prone to failure--adding electronics to the mix sometimes just means more to go wrong! So the sad fact was that the only reasonable choice was to purchase another water heater that was essentially the same (maybe even identical) to the one that had failed. I'd never replaced a hot water heater myself. I didn't like the idea of soldering the copper pipes, so I decided I would just bite the bullet and get the heater installed professionally. We'd had decent luck with Home Depot in the past, so I called their 1-800 number and talked to a sales person sometime before 9:00 AM. I purchased a nine year water heater and was told it would be installed that day.They gave me a total price over the phone of around $900, which seemed high, but I made the stupid mistake of not getting the details. Of course the installer never called, never showed up...and the day got later. Around 3:00 PM I called and was told I was next on the list and the guy would call me soon. At 7:00 PM he called to say he would be there soon and around 8:00 PM he showed up. First problem: it was a six year water heater, but I was charged for a nine year. The guy said I was getting an extended warranty, so I thought perhaps it wasn't a big deal. Besides, I needed hot water and it was getting late in the evening. He finished the install around 10:00 PM (getting past my bedtime!) and I signed for it. The job was not done particularly well (the soldering was ugly, the expansion tank was in a bad spot, the overflow pipe ran down the back so it would dump water on the wall) but I was tired. I asked for the invoice and warranty information; he said it would be mailed to me. Two weeks later I had not gotten anything in the mail so I had to go down to the Hixson Home Depot and get a receipt. Here's what I found: (1) I had paid $399 for a 9 year heater but got a $270 six year heater. (2) I had been charged a $75 "restricted access fee" when in fact my water heater just sits against an open wall. (3) I had been charged $60 for the extended warranty, which I had never agreed to buy. The manager at Home Depot agreed to give me credit for all of the above but it really makes me wonder: with all the mistakes that were made, could this have been intentional? Was I scammed by Home Depot?