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Home un-Improvement

“Lowes, blows.”
–Kharmin

Ok, it’s official. Lowes Home Improvement stores not only suck; they blow. Now, before you start flaming me about how I’m wrong, let me explain the last few shopping experiences I’ve had with Lowes Home Improvement.

Let me take you back to 2002. It was the dead of winter, and we were in the final throes of an ice storm. We woke up Wednesday morning with no electricity, and where we live, it was quite chilly. We went to work, and returned home; still no power. Thursday morning, with flashlight in hand, I called the local power company. When I told them what area I lived in, the customer service representative said, “Ohhhh… you’re in that area.” Not very encouraging. “We don’t expect to have power restored in your area until Sunday.”

Sunday? Crap. Now, we had to scrounge around for a generator. Imagine my good fortune when I found (online) that the local Lowes Home Improvement store carried generators. I called the store to verify that they had them in stock, and was told that there were four left. I immediately placed an order, and arranged to pick it up after work. How great is that?

When we arrived to pick up our generator, for which we had already paid, the employees were unable to find any more on the shelf. They hadn’t tagged it for us to pick up. After waiting for more than a half an hour, they found one that was on some other customer’s cart! Since we had already purchased it, they had to take it away from the other customer and give it to us.

Fast-forward to 2004. I placed another order on will-call for a kitchen faucet, again to pick up after work. Again, I waited for at least a half an hour until someone from plumbing could find one and bring it to the front counter. Hell, I could’ve walked to the plumbing department and pulled the thing off of the shelf myself, but the whole reason I put it on will-call was so that I could come in, pick it up, and leave. How hard is it to pull something aside and tag it for a customer? I’ve worked retail, and I can tell you that it ain’t rocket science!

Ok, now to the piéce de la résistance. You can read about our Mother’s Day issues with the water in our house, which I wrote about yesterday. As a result, our hot water heater died. We decided that we wanted to get one as soon as we could, and discovered that Lowes would be able to install it today! The caveat was that someone had to go to the store and fill out the paperwork before noon. My wife, still home with our daughter, packed everyone up and ran to the store to get the ball rolling.

Well, imagine this: they screwed up the paperwork at the store, and didn’t send out their contractor like they had said they would. My wife had to call multiple times to just get someone to finally admit that they screwed up, and that no contractor would be coming as they had promised, and was indicated on the contract my wife had signed. Then, she was told that although they had promised to have someone out if the paperwork were filled out before noon, that there was no guarantee.

So, here we are, yet another day without hot water. After several more calls to the store, and speaking to the manager-on-call, they told us that the contractor would be out tomorrow between 12:00 and 1:00pm. Folks, that’s 24 hours after the paperwork was filled out. The reason we went with Lowes was because they could install it on the same day; everyone else would be the next day, which is where we now find ourselves anyway. We demanded a discount only to be denied one because, again, it “wasn’t guaranteed.” With the way we had been put out, waiting around for someone to call, and it being their error, you’d think a large, chain-store could afford some restitution in the name of good customer service. Apparently not. Apparently, they’re only interested in our money.

I don’t normally set out to disparage a business, and am usually good about giving companies the benefit of doubt, because I have worked retail and I know that sometime, stuff happens. However, the customer is the reason that the store is in business, and by practicing good customer service a company assures itself of staying in business. Regardless of my opinion, and this musing here, I’m sure that Lowe’s won’t be losing any money, and will continue to do business as it has been.

But they won’t be getting any more of my hard-earned money.

Update: the contractor came in around 11:00am and finished the job in an hour! Great guy, according to my wife, and quite professional. Still, they’re just the contractor, and their performance has no impact on my feelings toward Lowes.

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