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Consumer Alert

What’s most you’re owed for an inconvenience?

Q. I had a totally unacceptable experience with Home Depot. We ordered replacement windows and paid a $4,000 deposit. We were told the installation would take place Thanksgiving week. We paid someone $150 to remove the hardware as well as the treatments from all windows, move furniture away from windows, and remove paintings from the walls. We are senior citizens and needed help doing this work. The day arrived, and not only did Home Depot not show up, they never called. I left a message for a manager who called back but was rude. I told him of the condition of the house and that we were expecting 15 Thanksgiving guests. He said, “Just put everything back where it was.” I wrote a letter to Home Depot’s chief executive and was offered a $50 gift card — nothing for my pain and suffering or even the $150 for work we had done.

LIZ LITTLE, ASHLAND

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A. We can’t turn back the clock and erase what happened. A Home Depot spokeswoman said the company tried to find a last-minute replacement that day and offered other times to do the work.

“We never want to miss an appointment, and we’re terribly sorry it happened, but our installer had an unavoidable family emergency,” spokeswoman Catherine Woodling said. “After Ms. Little declined our offer to reschedule, we provided her a full refund and a $50 gift card for her inconvenience and offered to cover her furniture moving costs. Our offer still stands.”

For you to get the $150, Home Depot wants a copy of any sort of document the worker could provide that shows you paid. They’ve apologized and offered to discount the job if you still want the work done.

The timing of this problem was unfortunate, and that manager could have been friendlier. But your deposit has been returned, and the $50, while not a big sum, is a gesture to cover “pain and suffering.” So there’s not much more Home Depot can do.

An alternative is to hire a contractor of your choosing. Just be sure they’re registered with the state Office of Consumer Affairs and get at least three quotes. More work? Yes. But you’ll also have more control.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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