Home Depot Investigation – Part 3

Video | Video: Home Depot Interview

 February 2007 - It all started with angry Home Depot customers in Southern California.

 "Here's our money, we trust you, just come into our homes and devastate our lives," a Home Depot customer tells NBC4.

 "It's just been a nightmare," says another.

 Now, NBC4 has heard from customers in 22 states and from insiders from across the country, who have given NBC4 a paper trail of internal documents, suggesting the company overcharges customers on window and siding installations, kitchen remodels and on roofing jobs.

 Take the case of Altafay Bailey in Louisville, Kentucky.

 "I don't want them near me. I don't want them to call me," Bailey tells NBC4's Joel Grover.

 She paid Home Depot for an entire new roof.

 Internal company records NBC4 obtained, show she was charged for new metal flashings on the front and side of the house, and new flashings on three chimneys. But NBC4 inspected her roof with the head of the Kentucky Roofer's Association.

 "The old flashing is there," said Mike Sasse with the Roofer's Association. He also found Bailey had just one chimney, not three and that the new flashings she paid for were not put on the roof.

 "Did the customer get what she paid for," Grover asked Sasse.

 "Got nothing of what she paid for," Sasse replied.

 There's nearly a $1,000 of items Bailey paid for but didn't get. "A thousand dollars is not easy for me to come by," Bailey tells NBC4.

 NBC4 spoke with a former Home Depot salesperson who says Bailey is not alone.

 "How often are customers paying for things they don't get," Grover asked the salesperson.

 "I'd say about 80 percent of the time. I think it's stealing from them," the insider replied.

 He's in the Midwest. In Southern California, another insider says Home Depot is gouging customers a different way.

 "I don't understand how they think they can be in the roofing business, doing what they do," the insider tells NBC4.

 He says Home Depot's roofing salespeople are trained to inflate the estimate on a roofing job, to cover unforeseen costs, and the customer should get a partial refund if the job comes in on budget.

 "I haven't seen any customers get refunds," the insider tells NBC4.

 NBC4 found another group of Home Depot customers who appear to be owed refunds, people who hired the company to do kitchen and bathroom cabinet refacing.

 "I've been taught and trained to rip-off customers," says a former employee for US Home Systems, a nationwide subcontractor that sells refacing jobs for Home Depot. NBC4 spoke with numerous employees of the company.

 "You were told to intentionally inflate the estimate," Grover asked the former employees.

 "Correct," they replied.

 If a job came in on budget, the customer was supposed to receive money back. But the insiders showed NBC4 documents proving some customers didn't get money back.

 "How often did customers not get back money they were owed," Grover asked the insiders.

 "A hundred percent of the time," one insider replied.

 "Are you saying thousands of people have been ripped off," Grover asked.

 "Yes," the insiders replied.

 Customers like Sharon Stern of Thousand Oaks, who paid Home Depot nearly 14,000 dollars to reface her cabinets.

 "I feel like I've been duped," Stern tells NBC4.

 Internal records show her price was inflated almost $1,800.

 "They owe you almost $1,800," Grover told Stern.

 "I'm disappointed in Home Depot. It's a big organization, they should be more honorable than that," she told NBC4.

 NBC4 spoke by satellite from Atlanta with Gary White, head of Home Depot's remodeling services.

 "Thank you for the opportunity to be on with you," White told Grover.

 "You owe Sharon Stern $1,795. Are you going to give her that money back?" Grover asked White.

 "If we do owe it to her, of course we will. I am looking into it right now," White replied.

 What about Altafay Bailey, who was charged for things on her roof she never got?

 "Why didn't Ms. Bailey get everything she paid for?" Grover asked White.

 "We apologize to her for this situation, and we will ensure that she is taken care of fully and satisfied," White replied.

 But he never answered the question. If it sounds like he's rattling off scripted answers, it might be because NBC4 noticed before the interview started, White had an array of cue cards laid out in front of him.

 One of them had the word "apology" on it.

 "We apologize for any issue," White told Grover during the interview.

 The card also had "49:50" written on it. Something White mentioned throughout the interview:

 "Forty-nine out of 50 customers receive an install without a complaint."

 "Forty-nine out of 50 installs go without a complaint."

 But he never did specifically answer some of NBC4's key questions.

 "Why isn't Home Depot giving these customers the money you owe them?" Grover asked White.

 "We have no practice overcharging customers in any way, shape or form," White replied.

 Those words aren't enough to bring back some angry customers.

 "Would you hire Home Depot again?" Grover asked a Home Depot customer.

 "Never. Never. N-E-V-E-R," the customer replied.

 Home Depot says it wants to make good with any customer who complains to NBC. If you think you've been overcharged or have a complaint about a Home Depot project, click here and tell us about it.

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