Friday, July 22, 2011

Home Depot Treated Us Right: The Lawnmower Tale

Imp helps pack the mower into the trunk!
Much as I enjoy criticizing large corporations (...and much as they deserve it...) all the same I must point and praise when one does the right thing.
Home Deport gave us a store credit for a lawn mower they sold us that died after 14 months! We were proud and happy to get a cordless electric, figuring that electric was much more environmentally responsible and that electric motors are even simply than gas. However, a couple of months ago, its battery stopped charging. It was effectively a $250 piece of junk!
I called in the problem, and after a while (...and, from the sound of it, an electronic transfer to a foreign nation. Paying AMERICANS to answer the phone must be too expensive; after all, we have to be able to afford buying lawnmowers!) I was directed to take the mower to an authorized repair center. This didn't make a lot of sense; the battery was removable so common sense would say to just pop in a replacement. But I followed directions; mother-in-law took the mower to Repair. And Repair sat on it for a week or more. Finally, after a while, they announced that the battery didn't work; this is something we figured out a lot quicker, but then, we aren't in the business. Repair said a new battery installed was $165. "Installed?" I asked, "It's removable! you have to remove it to charge it. How can it possibly cost that much? $165 for the battery of a $249 mower?"
Still, that was the price. The batter was no longer under warranty; Repair told me the warranty was for 1 year, and it was now 14 months past. "I know what you did," he told me. "You're supposed to store it in a special way over the winter. It says so in the manual." I doubted that (and later examination proved me correct) but even if so, such important information should be printed on the cover in red, not hidden inside a 38-page text.
After the mower came back, our neighbors Scott and Dolores lent us the gas mower that had been sitting in their yard for a year. It turns out that it didn't really not work; it just needed to be started! I guess there's a lesson there ...
...meanwhile, a pushmower came in to MITS. I grabbed it; it's much nicer than the ones we had at kids.
Eventually, I stopped by Home Deport to pay my bill. I had no hope they'd take the mower back, but maybe they'd do something for me. The clerk soon decided that the situation was absurd; lawn mowers should last more than a year! She talked with a manager and decided to "RTV" it - Return To Vendor. Let the vendor eat the loss!
Of course, I had been so convinced that nothing would come of this, that I hadn't actually brought the mower. I agreed to come back in 2 days.
The mower fit neatly in my truck (although I had to shoo the cat out) and soon the exchange was effected. The clerk at first wanted to do a straight exchange of machines, but I was sure I didn't want another rechargeable - it would just die again. A corded electric would be o.k.; they're pretty simple. But there was a problem I hadn't anticipated; I hadn't brought the receipt because I figured they had my bill in their computers. Unfortunately, the store could access records from only a year back, so the mower had dropped off. That meant they needed to go with store credit, which, frankly, is better now that I have the push mower.
There was some question as to the amount of credit; since I didn't have the receipt, no-one had direct knowledge of what I'd paid. One clerk pointed at a mower that looked similar; only later did I note it was a corded machine, and therefore cheaper. By then it was a little late; they'd settled on a negotiating position of $199 and, frankly, I was happy to get that money back; after all, I had had a year's use of the machine.
I'm not sorry to see the cordless electric go; in the end, it was just another cheaply made gadget from China. But I'm extra not sorry that we got most of our money back - and I must salute Home Depot for doing the right thing. I really had not expected this!

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