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The 6 Biggest Mistakes You're Making at Home Depot

Don't make the home improvement process a headache before it even begins.

Whether you need a few replacement lightbulbs or you're looking to get started on a major renovation project, Home Depot is the go-to option for millions of shoppers around the U.S. who don't mind a little DIY. The home improvement store with the iconic orange roof and logo has made it easier—and sometimes cheaper—to get the right tools, supplies, appliances, and equipment in your hands when you need them. But even if you're practically a professional when it comes to fixing things up, you might still be doing it wrong when you walk in to make your purchases. Read on to see the biggest mistakes you could be making every time you shop at Home Depot.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Home Depot Employees.

You're buying tools instead of renting them.

Tools Set Out on a Wood Board

We've all been there: You're completing a home renovation or project that requires the one piece of hardware you don't have in your garage or shed. But before you blow out your budget on something you may barely use, you could save some precious funds by renting tools from Home Depot instead of buying them.

Thanks to the program, customers can pick up everything from an industrial carpet cleaner to a chainsaw—and even vans, trucks, and heavy machinery—at an hourly or daily rate that can get it in your hands for a fraction of the cost. And if all your hard work makes you realize you might actually have a use for more equipment after all, the store also offers items that have gone through the program and are "still in good, working condition" for sale at a reduced price.

You're not paying attention to secret messages hidden in the price.

A closeup of a price sticker in Home Depot

Those in the know are aware that major retailers like Costco and Walmart use different numbers in item prices as a "secret code" about what might come next for its cost. It turns out that Home Depot is no different.

Even though the store often uses yellow price tags for products that are on sale, there's more to the eye than just the color of the sign. Any sales price ending with .06 will be even lower in six weeks, while those ending with .03 will be placed into clearance or donated to charity three weeks later, according to The Family Handyman. Anyone who spends enough time in the aisles can put this information to good use to make sure they're not overpaying for something they don't need immediately.

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You're not taking advantage of the low price guarantee.

Man shopping for electrical supplies at the local Home Depot retail home improvement store in Snohomish, Washington.
Belen Strehl / Shutterstock

It's not uncommon for larger retailers to price match their competitors on the spot to win a sale. So if you're making major equipment or hardware purchases without doing your research before checking out, you could be leaving money on the table.

According to Home Depot's low price guarantee posted on the company's website, customers just need to show sales associates proof that another vendor is selling the item for cheaper with an ad, printout, or photo of a price that beats theirs. And for online orders, the same guarantee includes the cost of shipping—so long as it's available to ship to your area. Just make sure the competitor has brick-and-mortar locations because the policy doesn't cover items sold by exclusively online retailers like Amazon, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady.

You're not taking advantage of the major daily savings.

home depot website on computer

It's one thing to head to Home Depot for an item you need right away. But if you're willing to wait for a major price change, you could be making a huge mistake by not regularly checking the company's Special Buy of the Day notifications.

Each day, Home Depot's website features a different 24-hour flash sale on a group of items. According to MoneyWise, these can often end up becoming bargains, with savings up to 50 percent off in some instances. And while this applies to strictly online sales and won't be honored for in-store purchases, you can still easily stay on top of what's going for less any given day by subscribing to the company's daily email.

READ THIS NEXT: Home Depot Shoppers Can't Get Enough of This "Truly Magnificent" Product.

You're not negotiating for a discount.

home depot shopping cart
99Art / Shutterstock

Everyone loves getting a good deal even if you're not a particularly frugal shopper. Unfortunately, while the convenience of large stores like Home Depot has made the shopping experience easier in some ways, it's also made it harder to talk your way into a better price under certain circumstances. But for customers in the know, you might be able to score a few extra bucks off your final bill if you know how to ask the right questions.

Thanks to a little-known company policy that allows sales associates to take up to $50 off the price of items in the store, you might actually be able to talk yourself into a better price, according to Kyle James, a former Home Depot employee and author of retail hack website Rather-Be-Shopping. In most cases, this can mean finding an item with slightly damaged packaging, picking up a floor model or opened-box return, or even simply buying products in bulk.

You're not taking advantage of the return policy.


Whether you fumbled an in-store decision on what to buy or your needs simply changed, purchasing an item you don't ultimately need is the one thing that can feel even worse than overspending on something you do. But according to employees, the store's return policy gives you plenty of time to correct the issue.

"Anything—with a few exceptions—can be returned within 90 days with a receipt," Steven Sevek, a former Home Depot associate, explained on a Quora forum.

But don't worry if you can't track down documentation. "If you lose the receipt and paid with a credit card or check, they can look up the receipt with the credit card you used or checking account info. This look-up feature should work for 90 days from the date of purchase," Sevek clarifies.

In fact, Sevek says it gets even better for some items: Perennial plants can be returned for an entire year after their purchase so long as you have the receipt. But certain goods are ineligible, such as custom mixed paint or utility trailers that require a title.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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