A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

14 Craziest Things Ever Returned to Home Depot

Stained toilet seats and dead plants? Yep, just another day at the returns desk for some Home Depot associates.

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Kira Garmashova/shutterstock

Don’t be that person

Before we dive in, let’s be clear that it isn’t ethical to return items without a legitimate reason. Yet some customers like to see how far the 90-day return policy at Home Depot can be stretched. First, keep your receipt or pay for purchases with a credit card or opt for an email receipt; that way your receipt can be tracked down for a return. But even if you don’t have a receipt, it’s possible to get a merchandise credit. Lori K., an associate at a Home Depot in Indiana, says, “If the customer doesn’t have a receipt or if the receipt is over 90 days [old], a driver’s license is required for a store credit.”

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Splitting a return

With the tracking application, a customer can only return a certain amount of goods without a receipt before they’re declined. “We have several customers, including many contractors, who can no longer return anything without a receipt because they’ve done it so many times the system now declines them,” Lori K. says. Some people still try to get around this policy by posting offers like this one on Whisper App: “Anybody willing to return two items to Home Depot using their ID. I am out of times I can do it without receipt…framing nails and tile sealer $240 in merchandise credit looking to split 60:40.” If you’re a frequent Home Depot shopper, find out the things you’re not buying there—but should be.

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faded strawberry plant

Dead plants

“I keep buying fiddle leaf fig trees and returning them a month later because they keep dying on me lol. They allow you to return the plastic plant container with just dirt in it as long as you have the receipt,” says DollarHarvester posting on Reddit. “They also allow you to return dead plants within one year! I’ve done it a lot for plants that die right away or are super expensive.” Actually, perennials, trees, and shrubs have a one-year guarantee, according to the Home Depot return policy.

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white siding broken into big holes during hail

Ten-year-old siding

Maybe the customer needed cash, store credit, or just got tired of the color of the siding. Whatever the reason, Home Depot associate fleetingmeeting writes on Reddit, “At my old store someone took back corrugated siding that had obviously been ripped off their house and was a good ten years old.” We recommend these legit ways to save money at Home Depot instead.

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Toilet seat

Stained toilet seat

Gross! But true. Heather S., a former head cashier at the Home Depot in Cadillac, Michigan, witnessed a man returning a stained toilet seat. “The man had it for three months, and it hurt his butt when he sat on it because he gained weight. Apparently, it was our fault for not letting him know that in case of weight gain, you should not buy this toilet seat.”

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Paint roller and paint stripe

Overly used paint roller

Most people toss paint rollers after they’re done with a DIY project like painting a bedroom. But not this customer, whom Heather S. recalls returned a very used paint roller. “They felt it didn’t last as many rolls as it stated on the packaging,” she says.

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Portable air conditioner in front of brightly lit window.
kevin brine/Shutterstock

Used portable A/C unit

In “Unethical Life Pro Tips” on Reddit, u/Henry_Wallingsford says, “Hot this summer and don’t have AC? Purchase a portable unit from Home Depot and return it when the summer is over. They’ll refund anything within 90 days with a receipt.” A former Home Depot employee going by SilentEngineer replies, “It absolutely works. People ‘rent’ things from Home Depot all the time. The return policy is very liberal.” According to the Home Depot return policy, it’s actually: “Most new, unopened merchandise sold by The Home Depot can be returned within 90 days of purchase, unless noted in our Return Policy Exceptions.” Read on to find out 14 more stores with customer-friendly return policies.

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Kitchen cabinets with classic traditional fronts, close-up.
Raisa Suprun/Shutterstock

Stuff from other stores

It’s not uncommon for different stores to carry the same merchandise, but it’s usually rare for a store to give a refund for something bought at a competitor’s store. Yet this post on Reddit by u/callmerandy says that is exactly what happened when a customer returned a cabinet restoration kit that contained custom tints. Each store attaches a label to the product being tinted. The label has information like the tint color, store name, and the date it was mixed, and this one showed it came from Menard’s and was about two years old.

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Tape dispenser sealing a shipping cardboard box. Indoors
Mego studio/Shutterstock

Mystery box

A customer that brings in a like-new box and re-attaches the tape could fool a returns associate who is new or doesn’t take the time to check the contents because there’s a long line of anxious customers. Lori K. says, “I remember a time when a customer returned a Milwaukee brand job site radio. Once we had a chance to go through the returns and open the box, we found a concrete block in place of the radio.” You don’t have to resort to these tactics; there are ethical ways to get a refund on almost anything.

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New ceramic toilet bowl near light wall
New Africa/Shutterstock

Poopy toilet

“Another associate at our store had a customer return a toilet that they claimed they set in the spot in their bathroom where it was going to be installed but never did,” shares Lori K. “They went on to say that a family member thought it was hooked up and pooped in it—and they wanted to return it because it wasn’t the toilet they wanted.” And you didn’t think it could get worse than the stained toilet seat….

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Close up on a white ceiling fan on an exposed support beam, with a vaulted wood ceiling, in the living room of a modern home, with space for text on the left
VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Ceiling fan

A ceiling fan doesn’t sound like a crazy return—maybe it didn’t fit or work correctly. What is crazy is that the customer customized it and then brought it back in for a return. “I had a ceiling fan return that a customer spray painted, but it wasn’t caught at the time of return,” says Lori K. See how these compare to these crazy things Walmart employees have seen at work.

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man hand open kitchen cupboard with handle, close up

Old pantry door

Lori K. recalls a time when a customer came into the store to pick up a special-order pantry door and returned to the store shortly after with his old pantry door. It was splattered with food stains but the store accepted it. Lori K. explains that this was during the holiday season when the store was short on associates and the return desk was so backed up that another customer waited 30 minutes to return a ¢45 washer—which may be crazier than the old pantry door!

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Christmas tree at home
Yevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock

Fresh Christmas trees—after Christmas

The Street asked retail contacts in Long Island, New York to come up with outrageous holiday returns and they found a doozy. Apparently, the customer wasn’t satisfied with their freshly cut Christmas tree because it wasn’t as fragrant as they had hoped and therefore claimed it was falsely advertised. Yet they waited until after Christmas to return it. Perhaps this “damaged” Christmas tree fell into this Home Depot policy: “In the event that live goods purchased online (including, but not limited to, houseplants, perennials, trees, holiday trees, wreaths and garlands) are received damaged or dead, contact Customer Support at 1-800-430-3376 within 3 days of delivery and we will ship a replacement at no charge.”

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Don Pablo/shutterstock

Used car tires

Home Depot does sell tires for things like lawn tractors and wheelbarrows, but not auto tires. Still, Jenn G., a former associate at the Home Depot in Traverse City, Michigan, says they took one back. “It was back when we had a ‘we take anything on refund’ policy,” she says. “One guy brought in a used car tire, claiming he purchased it at Home Depot, which is crazy because Home Depot doesn’t sell car tires!”

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one brush lies on the bank of paint turquoise color on gray wooden background
Nina Esk/Shutterstock

A tiny amount of paint

Here’s what Home Depot’s policy is for paint returns: “If you are not satisfied with your interior or exterior liquid paint purchase, bring your paint and receipt back to the store within 30 days of purchase. We will make it right by correcting your paint or giving you a comparable can of paint.” Yet, redboundandstinging says on Reddit, “We had a gallon of paint from a different store returned, with only an inch of paint in it.” All in a day’s work for Home Depot employees. Home Depot is far from the only store to see crazy things customers try to return to stores, though!

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.