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Construction guys: Lend me your brains (please)

The fun part of the summer house projects is over. Next it’s getting up on the gable ends of Ye Olde Wreck to clean, paint, de-rot, and add soffits and fascia boards.

For that, The Wandering Monk and I conferred and I ordered this extra-wide scaffolding. The Monk doesn’t want to do weeks of elevated work on one of those 27-inch wide jobbies. Or on one of his own perilously improvised contraptions.

On June 8, Home Depot made the mistake of entrusting the shipment to an outfit named Non-Stop Delivery.*

I will not say that N**-S*** D******* is so incompetent that the Peter Principle was created in its honor. I will not say they’re such liars they make the 1919 White Sox look angelic. I will not say their computerized tracking system is HAL 9000. I will not say their (you’ll pardon the expression) customer service department is run by a former top member of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

I will say that they lost track of the shipment twice, once for two weeks, once for four days, and that every statement they ever made about the status of my package turned out to be untrue.

Worse. Never once was there a sign that they considered any of this to be unusual or to involve any failing on their part. The notion that they might have a duty to get their act together and get the package to my doorstep — or at least name a date when they might do so — never crossed their minds. Even when Home Depot reps intervened, N-S D’s expectation was that I would simply wait without word for as many days, weeks, centuries, or geological eons as it took them to get around to doing the one-and-only thing they contracted to do.

This morning, one month and one day after Home Depot foolishly trusted them to do their job, and two weeks after the last expect-by date, they still couldn’t tell HD when — or if — they intended to deliver the scaffolding. Defeated, I canceled my order.


So. There are now two options:

1. Re-order the same scaffolding for delivery to a Home Depot store (quicker and more reliable, but no HD store is close).

2. Build our own.

I looked into ordering the same scaffolding from other sources, but the few who have it want a fortune (in some cases more than the cost of the item) to ship it.**

There are (of course) various DIY instructions online. The scaffolding tower at that link is pretty nifty.

The problem is that the side of the house that requires the most extensive work has very tricky ground levels: a three-foot flat path next to the house, a wall that ranges from 18 inches to 36 inches high, a slope above the wall. (I can draw a diagram or take a photo if anybody wants to see.) Another side requiring extensive work has perfectly flat ground. We need to be able to adjust the leg heights. Or put verrrrry sturdy and tall blocks under one side of the structure.

I’ll be talking with the Monk on Wednesday to see how he wants to handle this, but in the meantime if you’ve got any good ideas or links, I hope you’ll let me know.

Oh, and the deal will be that after the job is done, the Monk takes the scaffolding home for use on his own project. And I never lay eyes on the damned thing again. So whatever we do needs to be able to come apart and reassemble.



* No “non-stop” name jokes, please. I’ve already made them all and they weren’t funny even before I knew how true they were.

** Yes, N**-S*** D******* was apparently the lowest bidder. That’s still no excuse.


  1. Fred M.
    Fred M. July 9, 2018 3:28 pm

    The price looks like a good price; good weight carrying capacity; and the levelers are available which you will need for your uneven side. If I was you, I would consider picking the shipment up at the closest Home Depot. That would save you the cost of shipping and allow you to get into the “big city” for some sight seeing. 😎

  2. Zendo Deb
    Zendo Deb July 9, 2018 3:43 pm

    I would insist that Home Depot eat the cost of the one that was never delivered.

    The shipment has been lost, you want a refund.

    Also I second the part about “picking it up at HD.” That way you can decline if the package is damaged.

    Because when this “top notch delivery company” finally does produce the package, I expect it will be seriously damaged.

    Head that off and demand a refund NOW.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X July 9, 2018 3:51 pm

    Ok, we don’t do field work but if we did we most likely would rent any scaffolding needed.

    IMHO the easiest and simplest way to make scaffolding is with two multipurpose extension ladders and a wooden board.

    Now the problem is if you needed more width as you indicated this wouldn’t get you there, unless you doubled up on the extension ladders however good extension ladders ain’t cheap either but they could be used for other things later.

    What you had ordered looked to be a good deal. Picking it up might be the best option, however being that it is a distance away and you don’t want to drive back to return it, I would assemble it there in the HD parking lot & break it down (your day is shot anyway), to make sure I was happy with it, nothing missing, decent quality, I bet they would help too if it wasn’t a busy day.

    Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help, wish I lived closer, I would pick it up for you.

  4. Claire
    Claire July 9, 2018 3:54 pm

    Thank you, Fred and Zendo Deb. So we have two v*tes for going ahead with another HD order, this time with a store pickup. Good point, too, about being able to reject a damaged package at the store.

    And don’t worry, Zendo Deb. I canceled the order while I was on HD’s chat line with the rep who was trying to get info out of the shipping company. The chat rep processed a refund then and there and said he and HD would take care of recalling the lost shipment. He would also have happily taken a re-order, but I wanted time to consider first.

    Home Depot is very, very good about returns and refunds. So that’s something. A pretty big something in this case. I realize there are vendors who would have made the situation a lot harder than it already was.

  5. Claire
    Claire July 9, 2018 5:02 pm

    “Picking it up might be the best option, however being that it is a distance away and you don’t want to drive back to return it…”

    Comrade X, you and I must have been posting at the same time. Sorry I missed your comment until now. Parking-lot assembly is probably a darned good idea. Thanks for the helpful intentions, too, even if you do live too far.

    And yes, we have to buy or build. Renting was the first option I considered, but it would have been insanely expensive — much more than buying. And the only type available was the standard narrow stuff.

  6. Edward
    Edward July 9, 2018 5:28 pm

    Might you consider renting a lift? Might be cheaper than buying and shipping a scaffold.

  7. Claire
    Claire July 9, 2018 6:20 pm

    No, unfortunately. The nearest rental lift is about 150 miles away and costs $159 per day — more than buying the scaffold. And we’ll be doing elevated work on and off for the rest of the summer.

  8. just waiting
    just waiting July 9, 2018 7:30 pm

    Claire, scaffolding may be fairly flat, but its big and bulky to store when you’re done with it. How many more projects do you see in your future requiring scaffold?
    Before I purchased, I’d ask around my local lumber yard. Maybe a local contractor has some extra scaffolding they might loan/ rent to you. Try a local stonemason if you have one.

  9. Claire
    Claire July 9, 2018 7:50 pm

    “How many more projects do you see in your future requiring scaffold?”

    Nary a one, if I have a say in the matter. πŸ™‚ The Monk and I are splitting the cost of the scaffolding and he’ll take it away when we’re done with this summer’s projects.

    And thanks; I definitely have been, and will be, asking at the lumberyard and elsewhere about loaner scaffolding, used scaffolding, etc. No luck so far, especially with the Monk wanting the extra-wide type.

  10. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan July 9, 2018 11:48 pm

    My large outdoor storage unit was shipped through them by Home Depot as well. Tracked the package after it was taking too long to find it was on their Kent loading dock, (and had been for over a week). Called Home Depot, twice over two days, so they could call up non-stop delivery which gave them the response of it having vanished. Cancelled and reordered, with Home Depot giving a discount for the delay. Next week my outdoor storage unit arrived. Following day another one arrived.

    Calling about the old order and then going for a replacement order you might get offered a discount. As for your chances of winning the lottery, odds aren’t good, but they’re even worse if you don’t play. πŸ˜‰

  11. Larry Arnold
    Larry Arnold July 9, 2018 11:56 pm

    Home Depot has a reputation for good service, and losing the scaffolding wasn’t their fault. (It was their responsibility, which is different.)

    You might consider giving them another shot at home delivery, reminding them it is a second chance.

    If I managed the local HD store, I’d make darn sure your order went right this time. And I’d have NSD deep on my shit-list.

  12. ILTim
    ILTim July 10, 2018 7:20 am

    Oh god. I am still trying to resolve an issue with NSD and Home Depot.

    Ordered a shower kit and it arrived over the course of two weeks, late and damaged, one piece at a time. No communication from them. They have not picked it up for a return. I got Discover Card involved in a dispute and finally got my money back but am stuck with the broken panels that I cannot put in my trash collection. I’ll be tying them to the top of my car soon and bringing them to the store for disposal. I expect that I’ll have to be very rude, for my own catharsis if nothing else. This has been ongoing since mid-may. What a freaking mistake I made!

    I ordered a sink and toilet from Amazon, delivered by FedEx, with typical Amazon perfection. Double packaged and two day prime shipping. It was beautiful. Screw HD.

  13. Claire
    Claire July 10, 2018 7:47 am

    “Oh god. I am still trying to resolve an issue with NSD and Home Depot.”

    I’m sorry, but not surprised, to hear that.

    I’ve always found HD very good to deal with. As Larry says, HD is responsible for shipping goods via NSD, but the mishandling of products and customers is probably NSD’s fault, not HDs. I’ve never heard of HD making somebody fight to get a refund on a defective or broken product. But damn; clearly it happens. IIRC, if a product’s been delivered, HD doesn’t refund until the shipper’s picked it up. I’m glad Discover forced them to do better by you.

    Good luck getting rid of the leftovers.

  14. progunfred
    progunfred July 10, 2018 8:09 am

    I’m with Waiting. Somebody (A local builder) has some scaffolding flopping around that you might-could borrow on the cheap. They might even help you.

  15. Claire
    Claire July 11, 2018 7:54 am

    FishOrMan — I apologize. Somehow your comment went straight to the Trash filter, along with several comments by others. So I missed this. Yikes. Sounds as if Non-Stop Delivery thinks its job is not to deliver anything.

  16. fred
    fred July 11, 2018 10:30 am

    We had a tough time getting a sent lumber order at the store,and the young employees couldnt give a damn,right down to being rude and actually lying to our faces they were so lazy.HD is at the bottom of my list now.

  17. Claire
    Claire July 11, 2018 5:05 pm

    FYI, The Monk and I have decided to build our own scaffolding out of wood. It was his call, but it was also the call I hoped he’d make.

    The plan is to begin the elevated portion of the summer projects on Monday. We’ll construct the scaffolding first thing and begin the work on the back of the house, which has nice, flat ground. Later we’ll move around to the east side, where the work to be done is more extensive and the ground has wild-n-crazy levels we have to work around.

    Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

    (I’m still boggled that, out of this small Commentariat group, FOUR of us have had similar problems of ineptitude, lost packages, general screwups, and complete lack of customer service with the same HD shipper.)

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