Home Depot Investigation - Part 4 | NBC Southern California

Home Depot Investigation - Part 4



    "You can do it, we can help," that's Home Depot's famous slogan. But Investigative Reporter Joel Grover is uncovering a different story, of broken promises to it's customers.


     May 2007 - It's been six months since KNBC first exposed problems with Home Depot's popular remodeling services. After the first story, Home Depot promised to resolve the complaint of any customer that contacted KNBC. But six months later, KNBC is mostly hearing claims of broken promises.

     "Nothing is getting done," one customer of Home Depot tells KNBC.

     "They're comments mean nothing anymore," says another customer. They're just some of the people who say they're still waiting for Home Depot to fix problems with their remodeling projects.

     "Who has a complaint with Home Depot that still hasn't been resolved?" KNBC Investigative Reporter Joel Grover asked a group of 75 Home Depot customers. "Me!" the group replied.

     It was last November in an undercover investigation, that KNBC first exposed problems with Home Depot's remodeling business, like projects that took years to complete and customers who paid for materials they never get.

     Home Depot told KNBC's Grover it would "make good" with any customer whose name the station gave them.

     "We are going to take care of every customer that brings an issue to us," a Home Depot told Grover on camera.

     A few people, like Diane Charbonic did get money back, because Home Depot's roofers never showed up on her job.

     "I got me entire deposit back," Charbonic told KNBC's Grover. "I think they're doing damage control right now," she said.

     But the damage seems to have gotten bigger. KNBC began hearing from dozens, then hundreds of angry customers, asking for Home Depot to fix their problems.

     "Do you feel like Home Depot has kept that promise?" Grover asked the group of customers. "No," they replied.

     "They've done absolutely nothing," Maureen Johnson tells KNBC. The TV station gave her name to Home Depot last December, after she complained that $6000 of new shutters Home Depot installed were defective.

     "All of the finish within the first year started peeling right off," Johnson tells KNBC.

     "Did Home Depot make you any kind of offer to settle?" Grover asked her. "None whatsoever. Not a penny," she replied.

     "They just wear you down," says Darin Petzold. He says he asked Home Depot to fix $10,000 of flooring, which he says is full of large gaps that keep getting larger.

     "They decided that it's worth a $500 gift card. I refused that, the next day it was a $1000 gift card. Refused that," Petzold tells KNBC.

     Some customers say they haven't gotten that much.

     "If I have a question, I want that question answered," says college professor Ron Newcomb. He wondered if Home Depot overcharged him on his $17,000 roof, so he remeasured it himself, and says he discovered they charged him for 400 square feet of tiles and other materials that were never used.

     "What do you think you were overcharged total?" Grover asked Newcomb. "About $4000," he replied.

     Home Depot Vice-President Gary White personally met with Ron Newcomb, who showed white his calculations. Weeks later, Newcomb says White called to say, "Corporate told me to back off. We're out of this," Newcomb tells Grover. "They're not going to do anything about your case?" Grover asked. "Not going to do anything about the case," Newcomb replied.

     Steve Ciari quit as a Home Depot roofer, because he says they were charging customers for excess roofing materials, that were never used.

     "They're instructions are 'throw them away'," Ciari tells Grover.

     Now, every week KNBC is hearing from more customers, like Shelly Knowles, who's waiting for Home Depot to fix her $15,000 paint job. "They broke our windows. They got white paint on our black roof. I called them over and over again and they would never call me back," Knowles tells Grover.

     "It can happen to anybody," says Hope Witkowsky. She's a Torrance City Councilwoman, who trusted her hometown Home Depot to install new floors. "My grandkids could've done a better job," Witkowsky says.

     She says Home Depot agreed to tear up and redo some of the work, but still won't fix remaining problems. "They have shut the case," she tells KNBC.

     KNBC invited Home Depot executives to come to the group interview and face their customers but they declined, leaving the group and many others, still waiting for answers.

     "I think everyone in this room could say this has probably taken some amount of years off their life just dealing with this," Witkowsky tells KNBC.  

     If you have a complaint you would like to file with Home Depot you can do so by sending an email to them at: customer_care@homedepot.com.

     You can also contact the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office by visiting http://www.lacity.org/atty/ or calling 213-473-6924.