Urban Myth: Home Depot Policy

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Forum topic by poopiekat posted 04-07-2008 07:33 PM 4128 views 0 times favorited 65 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4371 posts in 3856 days

04-07-2008 07:33 PM

Years ago when I started actively fitting up my shop with better tools, there was a guy in the neighborhood who always seemed to have like-new tools for sale in his yard sale, or on his front lawn for sale on the weekend. I bought a 10 inch Ryobi planer, Delta Scroll saw, delta 14” band saw and a couple of routers and various power saws from him over a period of time.
THEN.. I found out he was the shipper/receiver for our local Home Depot, and was also previously employed by the now-defunct HQ stores, both of which have a long-standing policy of THROWING ALL RETURNS in the dumpster!! I could not believe it when I heard that, but it seems to be true, the Home Depot dumpsters have almost as much security as the office safe, to discourage pilferage and employee theft.
Home Depot will not pursue the task of getting refunds from manufacturers because of the high costs of return freight and other cost-decreasing expenses associated with recouping refund expenses to customers.
The policy of not trying to re-sell the returned items has something to do with product liability, with it unknown whether a product had been tampered with while in the customer’s hands.
So,when a customer returns something, in the dumpster it goes, whether it’s a package of brads or a General cabinet saw, and apparently this neighbor found a way to usher some customer-returned merchandise out of the building…
Can anybody comment on this, is it really true? Any Home Depot employees out there?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

65 replies so far

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521 posts in 3987 days

#1 posted 04-07-2008 07:36 PM

I hope this isn’t true. Very wasteful.

-- He said wood...

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4371 posts in 3856 days

#2 posted 04-07-2008 07:42 PM

As it was explained to me once, the example used to explain the policy was a brand new thickness planer, the customer bought it, stole the blades out of it and put in his old ones before returning it. It was sold to another customer, and it threw shards of the loosened blades everywhere when first powered up. There’s undoubtedly a lawsuit or 2 in there as well.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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Bob #2

3809 posts in 4143 days

#3 posted 04-07-2008 07:46 PM

The premise is absolutely true.
The cost of refurbishing goods today, given the high cost of transportation, precludes the practice.
Most responsible merchandisers work out some sort of agreement with the suppliers to address this.
One of the methods is destruction of returns.
The primary reason for this is to prevent losses from deliberate damage that creates a bargaining chip for the purchaser and to avoid potential liability should things not work out as planned.

I believe we discussed this from another perspective in and earlier thread where the time between purchase and return of goods precluded any refund for the vendor.
The vendor in turn had to limit the return time to protect his profit.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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1581 posts in 3882 days

#4 posted 04-07-2008 08:09 PM

This is not a good way to buy tools. I don’t care how cheap they are. Retail stores are constantly dealing with the “shrink” problem, goods that are received, but do not show up in inventory. I’m not saying that this is the case here, but in general, employee theft is a serious problem. Pilfered goods make their way into garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops, and are even returned for refund.

Don’t even take a chance at being an accessory. If a deal looks too good to be true – pass it by.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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35130 posts in 4522 days

#5 posted 04-07-2008 08:26 PM

I went around the back of a Farm Supply business and on top of the dumpster was, what looked like a brand new trailer and gasoline powered sprayer sitting on top of the pile.

It was not safe for me to climb up there and try to get it down, so i don’t own one, but it sure looked that way to me.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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10262 posts in 4110 days

#6 posted 04-07-2008 08:31 PM

Very interesting!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 04-07-2008 08:31 PM

I don’t know, but the HD stores around here often have lots of packages that have obviously been opened and are taped up and back on the shelf. I wanted to upgrade to a better stud-finder the other day, and there were four of the model I wanted on the shelf. Unfortunately all four had been cut open and taped up again, so I didn’t buy one.

-- -- --

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603 posts in 3925 days

#8 posted 04-08-2008 02:06 AM

Having been in retail for 37 years I can tell you that a lot of returns are destroyed. A lot of vendors give a defective allowance as part of their agreement with the retailer. Some returned items end up at Goodwill stores, some in other salvage stores, a lot end up destroyed. The defective agreement usually states that if an item is to be destroyed it must be crushed or put in a totally inoperable condition. If a HD shipping/receiving employee was getting items out of the dumpster they were in all likelihood breaking company policy. As unbelieveable as it may seem even paperback books are destroyed – if they are pulled from the racks the cover is stripped off and the books is compacted or baled.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

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5526 posts in 4198 days

#9 posted 04-08-2008 02:24 AM

man…when summer hits…i may be crawling in some dumpsters…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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1466 posts in 4209 days

#10 posted 04-08-2008 02:35 AM

I’m a Dumpster Diver and I’m OK….


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

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2141 posts in 3920 days

#11 posted 04-08-2008 03:01 AM

i find it hard to believe. store thieves throw items in the dumpster to pick up later.. harder to get caught like this. Beware of what looks free.. normally it is you buying what was purchased with an employee 5 finger discount.

-- making sawdust....

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3443 posts in 3996 days

#12 posted 04-08-2008 04:00 AM

I work at a used tool store (three blocks from a Home Depot) and we hear all kinds of stories about this kind of thing. I am very interested to know weather this is true or not as well. I will try to ask some people I know.

-- Happy woodworking!

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4371 posts in 3856 days

#13 posted 04-08-2008 05:18 AM

Thanks for the excellent replies! I think it is a bit debatable, whether to consider a retrieved dumpster item as stolen property. At no point would I have purchased an item if I had an inkling that it was HOT Hey, this person was a Mason, for heaven’s sakes!. Also, in my neck of the woods there are plenty of people who haphazardly rip open a package (for whatever reason) and leave it for employees to tape up and place back on the retail shelf With these variables aside, I still strongly believe that the policy of scrapping all returns truly does exist. Sooner or later we’ll get the lowdown, one of us jocks must either be a Home Depot employee, or a “Mythbuster”. I’m willing to bet that you cannot get within 100 feet of their dumpster, either.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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557 posts in 3874 days

#14 posted 04-08-2008 10:55 AM

The large stores used to give employees discounts on scratch and dent items as well. I had a part time job at HQ years ago and saw more than a few fellow employees intentionally damaging items for a discount. When I told my store manager, he told me it was going on long before I got hired and would probably continue long after I left.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4282 days

#15 posted 04-08-2008 01:55 PM

(some years back I heard this from a friend who works at the “dump”).. a department store was clearing out its spring/summer stock and they cut every summer shoe and tossed it and they cut/damaged all their patio furniture umbrellas etc. so that people wouldn’t take them from the dump.

Yah, something really wrong with our sense of priorities (if we didn’t know that already) Profit over integrity and humanity.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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