Home Depot has been secretely adding a 10% fee to all its rental equipment — without letting consumers know about it. That’s according to a class action law suit filed about a month ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to Law.com. The lawsuit says that the world’s largest home improvement chain store has violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and the Uniform Commercial Code. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to get Home Depot to stop charging the hidden fee, and asks for damages on behalf of thousands of Florida Home Depot customers who rented equipment from 2000 to 2005. The suit was filed by a corporation, Gold Coast Racing, which charges they were assessed a 10% “damage waiver” without being told they could refuse the waiver. The suit says Home Depot covered up the fee by calling it a tax. Weston, Florida attorney Lawrence Klitzman and Chicago lawyer Jonah Orlofsky filed the lawsuit in Broward County. Law.com says Orlovsky has filed a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Orlofsky’s suit claims that Home Depot has 1,061 tool rental centers in the United States. The Florida lawsuit says the damage waiver covers the cost of any accidental damage to the equipment, but does not provide much other protection for the consumer. It does not cover theft, burglary, misuse or abuse of equipment, intentional damage, or any loss due to the customer’s improper care of the equipment. A customer can waiver the fee only by demanding its removal from the bill. The lawsuit claims that the 10% charge even covers equipment that is very hard to damage, such a wrenches. Finally, the suit says customers do not see the damage waiver until after they sign the contract. Only then are they given the written terms and conditions.
This class action suit could cost Home Depot millions of dollars. According to Law.com, Home Depot’s main rival, Lowe’s, rents equipment through a company called NationsRent, which assesses a 14% damage waiver fee. For more details about this lawsuit, contact either of the attorneys mentioned, or go to www.law.com.