Category: Columns Published on Friday, 11 June 2010 08:17 Written by Stephen Pate
Deere and Home Depot say No, Deere dealer and repair records say YES
People who purchase John Deere tractors believe in the slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere.” The slogan says John Deere means quality. When the tractor purchased at Home Depot, the first service call will likely be met with three words “piece of junk.”
In my few years of John Deere ownership I have had everyone at Reddin Farm Equipment, the local John Deere dealer, tell me my lawn tractor is a piece of junk.
The John Deere fertilizer spreader is a piece of junk. The battery is some cheap thing they put on to sell them at Home Depot. After 79 hours of use on a tiny city lot and storage in a heated garage, my piece of junk needed a valve job, bushings, and $580 sundry other products. It seemed solid but those parts were a “piece of junk.”
If you’re like me, you see those green lawn tractors as the pinnacle of your lifetime of cutting grass. Finally, you will have the best lawn tractor and the envy of your MTD owning neighbors.
Between $100 trailer rides to the repair shop, you will be able to enjoy that feeling. The rub comes when the tractor won’t start and the service department informs you it’s a “piece of junk.”
On the Internet there are hundreds of postings by unhappy John Deere home owners under titles like “John Deere Nightmare“, Should you buy a John Deere at a big box store, and they are a piece of shit.
The sales management at the local John Deere dealer informed me that indeed the tractors they sell are stronger, made better and last longer than the Home Depot John Deere tractors. He was graciously offered to trade my 79-hour-old one for a mere $2,500 on a real John Deere. I demurred since that is the price of a new Cub Cadet at Vessey Seeds.
He didn’t inform me that he was getting paid to service every new John Deere that rolls out of Home Depot. The Home Depot manager told me that.
Home Depot said they have been having a running battle for years with the John Deere dealer over stories about these “pieces of junk.” Home Depot insists the tractors are made on the same production line as the X brand sold by the dealer. Other than that, he offered his commiserations and a 1800 number for John Deere customer service.
I called John Deere customer service somewhere in the United States. The kind gentleman on the phone assured me all John Deere’s were made on the same production lines to the same high John Deere standards.
He started a customer service complaint record. He also offered me his deepest commiserations on my 79-hour-old failing John Deere.
The truth is somewhere between the thousands of complaints on the Internet, the honest if customer insensitive remarks by the dealer, Home Depot, John Deere and my experience.
What should happen
Investigating this story, I spoke to two of the oldest and respected lawn tractor repair shops in the area, Neil’s Sales and Service and Vessey Seeds. Both sell lawn tractors and service ones sold at Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and sundry other stores. Most of those were made by MTD. I have used them for sales and service in the past and found them reliable and courteous.
They told me that a lawn tractor generally needs one $150 – $200 per year trip to the shop in the fall. They do standard maintenance and tune it up. The $150 cost included trailering. They advised starting it monthly during the winter.
Both of them said a valve job, bushings, spindles at less than 100 hours would be extremely rare. Batteries last 2-3 years. They apparently don’t service and repair John Deere tractors.