Beware the hidden costs of purchasing a door at The Home Depot

According to the Home Depot’s own website, “Choosing the right size door is a breeze.”

Here’s how much of a breeze it actually isn’t, as personally experienced by myself and my wife.

First, when you visit or call your local Home Depot, they tell you that they won’t do a door installation without a professional measurement, for which the consumer must pay $35 up front.  This seems fair, and I’m willing to give Home Depot the benefit of the doubt here.  I understand the company doesn’t want consumers to waste its service reps’ time and requiring the consumer to put a little skin in the game can help defray the costs of these services.  The measurement service is billed as a one-time professional visit that will ensure exact measurements, resulting in a perfect door selection and fit.  I can use a tape measure as well as anyone else, but we wanted to make sure we got the perfect fit, so set up an appointment and shelled out our $35.  Fine.Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 3.04.38 PM

One and a half weeks after the professional measurer came by the house, Home Depot called with the news that they had measurements and quotes for our doors.  Unfortunately, they were unable to give us any other information over the phone, insisting instead that we come into the store to receive the measurements and choose the doors.  During the time we had spent waiting to hear the final measurements, my wife and I had removed one of the old storm doors and sanded/finished the frames so that we could pick out our new doors and have them installed immediately.  After all, winter is coming.

This week, my wife unsuccessfully visited Home Depot to place an order for two doors. Three kids in tow, she found a clerk who was able to pull up the measurements and provide a quote for full service installation. The clerk informed her that one door was one inch and change wider than standard size and the other door was one inch and change taller than standard size.  In order to install either new door, Home Depot would need to add a small amount of trim around one side of each door frame for the cost of $75 per door.

This $75 per-door modification fee is in addition to the $127 per-door installation fee (plus the $15 per-door removal fee, if you have old storm doors still in place) that Home Depot will charge to install the door (after the $35 measurement fee).  As a result, purchasing and installing two $100 storm doors through Home Depot was suddenly about to cost us $639.

I understand that Home Depot’s complete installation is convenient for consumers, and charging consumers for that convenience isn’t unreasonable. However, since we’re relatively handy folks, my wife was confident that we could install the doors ourselves and add in the necessary trim, saving ourselves over $400 from Home Depot’s quote.  We had already paid for precise measurements to be taken, so she figured we knew where we would need to make modifications and which size doors we should select.  When my wife asked about ordering just the doors themselves, however, the clerk became adamant that Home Depot would not be able to guarantee the fit of the door or that any variations in height or width would be adequately reflected in the measurements.  The only way to guarantee the perfect fit was to have Home Depot do the installation – effectively tripling the cost of each storm door.

In the hopes of recouping some of the value from the $35 professional measurement, my wife asked for the exact measurement results so that we could price doors and installation costs elsewhere (and purchase the necessary trim).  The clerk would only print out the specifications on the standard size doors themselves and a copy of the full price quote from Home Depot, again reiterating that Home Depot could not guarantee correct measurements unless Home Depot did the complete installation. I’m not new to attempts by Home Depot to take advantage of homeowners (we half-fell for the “water test scam” a few months ago), but I was still unpleasantly surprised by the exorbitant hidden costs and deliberate withholding of information from the consumer.

Consumers’ Research recommends that consumers installing or replacing doors get at least two quotes on installation.  Consumers might have a local handyman that has a better relationship with retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Breakdown of costs:

$200 – Cost of 2 Doors
$35 – Measurement
$254 – 2x door installation
$150 – 2x adding trim to frame during installation
$639 – Total

Similar complaints about Home Depot doors can be found here, here, and here.

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Joseph Colangelo is Executive Director of Consumers' Research, the nation's oldest consumer-focused organization. Joseph grew up in Northern New Jersey and attended U.C. Berkeley on a Naval ROTC scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts with a concentration in Political Science.

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