services 09.13.04

Not at Home

The open arms greeting the new Home Depot, 28-40 W. 23rd [5th/6th] 212.929.9571, were not MUG's arms. We'll skip over the chain-wiping-out-the-mom-and-pops argument and focus on the company's track record:

COMPANY PRACTICES
· The company agreed last month to pay $5.5 million to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed on behalf of the employees of their Colorado stores. In several stores, according to the suit, employees were discriminated against on the basis of sex, race and national origin, and that the company retaliated if employees complained.

· Last year, after dozens of complaints in New Jersey, the company agreed to pay a half million dollar penalty after the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation that HD had violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act in connection with its home improvement practices, advertising policies, delivery of household furniture and furnishings, and implementation of its refund policy.

· Also in 2003, a law firm in California filed a class-action suit against HD, seeking an injunction against unfair business practices involving what the suit alleges is deceptive practices involving the store's credit card.

· In 2002, after complaints about the store's lost or stolen gift cards policy, the NY State Attorney General got the store to change the policy and repay the costs of the $45,000 investigation. That same year, Home Depot paid NYC $125,000 to settle multiple counts of selling box cutters and aerosol spray paint to kids.

· In 1997, in Oakland, California, a jury returned a verdict of $1.6 million in punitive damages against the company in a case involving sexual discrimination and retaliation.

CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS
Go buy your hammers there if you must. But don't say we didn't warn you if you decide to use any of their services.

· The company has an unsatisfactory rating from the Better Business Bureau.

· From a reader about the Long Island City HD: "The design they did for our co-op is entirely wrong. Measured wrong. Cabinets ordered wrong. Flooring wrong. Get my point? We later learned our neighbors have been waiting four months for their cabinets and the contractor said 'it's not unusual for Home Depot.'"

· And check out the voluminous list of complaints on the net. Complaints range from delivery problems, inept design and installations, and terrible customer service: consumeraffairs.com, planetfeedback.com, thecomplaintstation.com.

· A contractor you get through Home Depot is almost certainly going to be cheaper than an independent. But spend some time with the complaint boards before you sign one up — penny wise, pound foolish and all that. We'll run an article about reliable contractors in the next few weeks, so if you have anyone you'd like to add to our list, please email us.
This week, we're reserving most of our On the Radar section for that most necessary of evils, hectoring you during our twice-yearly pledge drive.

You can help keep MUG's daily email coming by passing along our link or signing up one person today (with their permission). Why? Well, we need to have enough subscribers to MUG to attract a limited amount of advertising. Not the pop-up, You've Won! Click Here!-kind-of-advertising, but, you know, tasteful, restrained advertising. That way, we can continue to offer MUG at no charge and pay our way. And every subscriber on our rolls helps.

So that's it. Sign up or pass along our link to one person today and keep the happy hours with MUG coming.

Many thanks,
Charlie Suisman
Publisher

Our link: www.manhattanusersguide.com


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