The suit, which was filed in Florida, claims that Home Depot automatically adds a charge of 10 percent to all rental equipment in order to cover possible damage to the tools. Customers are never told that the fee is optional.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the 10 percent charge violates Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and that state's Uniform Commercial Code.
Plaintiffs are seeking damages for Florida Home Depot customers who rented equipment between 2000 and 2005. They are also seeking an order for Home Depot to stop charging the damage waiver fee.
The suit was filed in the name of Gold Coast Racing, a company that rented equipment from Home Depot. On one occasion, according to the suit, an employee of the company noticed the damage waiver fee and asked that it be removed; however Home Depot refused to do so.
Furthermore, lawyers allege that Home Depot lists the damage waiver fee as a tax rather than as an extra fee.
Even though customers are forced to pay the damage waiver fee, there are limitations to the protection it offers. For example, the damage waiver does not cover loss or damage due to theft, burglary, misuse, disappearance, or failure to properly care for the equipment including use of improper fuel. The fee is also charged on items such as wrenches which are virtually impossible to damage.
The suit also claims that customers are not made aware of the terms and conditions of the contract until after they sign it, meaning that they have to agree to rent the tool before they know the extent of the damage waiver.
Earlier last year an almost identical suit was filed against Home Depot in Chicago. Lawyers in California are considering whether or not to file a similar lawsuit in that state.