Doug MacDonald lives alone in a small Cape-style house in the Higgins Beach neighborhood of Scarborough, Maine. He found it last fall through a rental agency and had never met or talked with the property owner or his family. All he knew was that the house was owned by the O’Connors.
So MacDonald, 52, a technician in the emergency room at Maine Medical Center, said he was a little startled when two men came to the house with new appliances on Feb. 22.
“That’s strange. I wasn’t notified of any delivery,” he told them.
The delivery men showed him paperwork. The address listed was the house he was renting. The order was made by a Mary O’Connor.
The delivery men seemed anxious to get on with the delivery, so MacDonald let them in to deliver a washer and dryer. They took away the old ones.
Several hours later, Home Depot called and said they had made a mistake and needed to retrieve the appliances, he said. (Mary O’Connor lives elsewhere on the same street).
“Will you bring back the appliances you took out?” MacDonald asked.
MacDonald said the Home Depot manager seemed surprised to learn appliances had been taken away.
“We’ll have to look into that,” MacDonald recalled him saying.
Even though Home Depot quickly realized the mistake and picked up the misdelivered appliances the next day, they claimed they couldn’t bring back the old ones; they apparently had already been reduced to sc-ap metal. Really? Within 24 hours?
When MacDonald called the Home Depot in South Portland, “Tracy” offered him this deal: Pay $600 toward a new washer and dryer, since the company felt he was partly responsible for the delivery mixup.
“She’s the one who started to play hardball,” MacDonald said. “She said I bear responsibility for accepting merchandise that wasn’t mine. I was shocked she was trying to pin some of the blame on me.”
“She said I bear responsibility for accepting merchandise that wasn’t mine. I was shocked she was trying to pin some of the blame on me.”
MacDonald asked Tracy why Home Depot hadn’t called ahead to confirm its delivery. Tracy said they had. But MacDonald said he never got a call.
And if the crew had called Mary O’Connor and asked to confirm the address, wouldn’t she have told them they were heading to the wrong house?
Kevin O’Connor, who owns the house, sent a family member who is a lawyer to talk to Tracy. The lawyer later described her as “curt, dismissive and [making] it clear she was not interested in talking.”
Home Depot sells $100 billion in goods and services every year. Delivery is a core part of its business. You would expect it to absorb a hit of a few hundred dollars without pointing accusing fingers at others.
But that’s not what happened — at least for several weeks.
By the time I arrived at the South Portland store late last month, it had been 2½ months since Home Depot took its hard line, with no resolution in sight. Tracy declined to talk to me.
But when word of the controversy bubbled up to the corporate level, things changed quickly. Home Depot promised to install new appliances at no cost, though it brushed aside my detailed questions about exactly how the delivery and followup had gone awry and what management would do to prevent such mistakes.
“We are truly sorry for the confusion as well as the inconvenience,” Home Depot said in a two-sentence e-mail to me. “We appreciate the opportunity to make it right.”