Latest Lowe's (In)Experience

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Blog entry by Uncle_Salty posted 02-06-2010 02:54 AM 2630 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Got a technology grant through Perkins (don’t worry if you don’t get this part; vocational educators will get it!). We didn’t want to make the committment… yet… of a CNC router system, so I convinced my Administrators to go with the least comment denominator… the Carvewright. I know, I know… I have read the reviews… talked to owners, etc. But with my amazing mechanical abilities, I figured I could keep it up and running for a couple of years until our State gets its’ budget woes corrected, and then line myself up for the CNC setup.

So… I write the grant (with help from my Vice Princiipal; I think he wants to use one at school before he buys one at home. He is a pretty decent lumberjockey in his own right). It gets approved. I get the the purchase order… and I wait. I figure if I wait a month or so after Christmas and the cooling economy cools down even more, I’ll get it cheaper. I call Lowe’s today (Friday, after Parent Teacher conferences, which is a day without students for me!), and low(e) and behold, the price is $200 cheaper than it was in November! I tell ‘em I am on my way, and I get into Lowe’s at about 1:30 this afternoon with my purchase order and my tax exempt certificate in hand.

I swagger over to the customer service desk, and get “Julio’s” attention. Julio is hip to my situation. He takes my tax exempt certificate, calls “Dean” in tools, and directs me to tools so I can order the Carvewright, software, reader, bits, probes and other fixin’s to make the beasty a productive member of the woodshop.

Well… Dean isn’t the guy I had spoken with last week at Lowe’s about the Carvewright. In fact, he wasn’t even the guy that I had spoken with THAT day! Dean didn’t know where nor how to find the information that I had laid down in front or him for ordering purposes.

So… he struggles with the computer for about 15 minutes, and then I am ready to punt for the day! I tell him that I’ll come back when the guy I had spoken with last week, “Paul,” is in. “Don’t know when Paul’ll be back,” Dean explains. “Maybe we can look at a schedule or something,” I suggest. “No… we’ll have to go find the schedule, and that’ll take too long,” Dean informs me.

Mind you, by now I have been biting my lip, and it wouldn’t take as long to go Pauls house, or the bar he is hanging out at, drag him back to Lowe’s and have him wave his knowledge stick over this guys head, as it would be for him to figure out what the heck he needed to do to get this done. Just when I am ready to pick up my paperwork and give him the good try and I’ll try again later speel, up walks Paul himself! With the red Lowe’s vest on and everything!

So… Dean asks Paul about his recent predicament. Paul turns around and pulls the Carvewright ordering book out of a stack of manuals, and says “here it is.” Dean suggests that maybe Paul should field this one, but, much to my chagrin, Paul abdicates, and says “you go right on ahead.” So…. Dean takes his best WAG at the process.

But wait… to call Carvewright, he needs a long distance code. His isn’t working, so he badgers Paul into coming back to the phone and try his. Pauls doesn’t work either! Apparently, it is much more efficient for Lowe’s to change this every so often so their employees don’t ring up long distance bills trying to help custromers (I am guessing here; it could be to keep their employees from ordering Enzyte for all I know).

So Dean, instead of calling the service desk, disappears for about 5 minutes and comes back with a code written on his hand. He dials it, and presto! He is talking to Carvewright! Things are looking up!

After about 10 minutes of hmming and okaying on the phone, he hangs up and says “good news! The prices are $200 less than on your purchase order. And this is cheaper and that is cheaper blah blah blah blah!” I supressed my giggles and told him how wonderful it all was. Then the real problems started.

You see… when you apply for an account at Lowe’s, it is all digital and on their computers (not unusual). And when you apply for an account at Lowe’s, you must give them a home and work phone number (not unusual). But, when you apply for an account at Lowe’s, this work phone number carries the same weight as the home number. It appears that the school district I work at, several employees have Lowe’s accounts (not unusual), and have put down a district number as their work number (not unusual). Now Dean, instead of setting up the order under a business name (which already exists; my district has an accout at Lowe’s), or the business address, he instead uses the school phone number that I gave him.

You guessed it; it pulled up a woman who also has a farming partnership with her sons, who used to teach at my High School and retired a couple of years ago. Dean doesn’t pay any attention to this little detail, and goes ahead and types in the order. The guy obviously hasn’t taken a typing class; I watched him hunt, peck and backspace for a good 5 minutes before he looks up at me and says “is that going to do it today?”

I point out that the business name, address, and point of contact isn’t my school district, and because the money has more than a couple of strings attached, it really needs to be billed to the school. No problem, Dean says, and starts changing the fields on the account! “No” I tell him. “You can’t do that!” He finally sees the error of his attempt, and then says “is there another phone number that your district uses?” I say “well yeah…. but we should try an account NAME maybe.”

Nope…. not Dean. He burrows on. The phone number written on the purchase order is the school district central office business number, so he types that in. Presto! It pulls up the account for the director of facility services for our school districts’ home account. Complete with his home address, home phone, dogs name, etc. Heck, they even had his home town misspelled, whcih I pointed out to Dean.

“Nope Dean… we aren’t doing that, eiither. I’ve got an idea Dean. When I came it, I handed my tax exempt certificate to Julio at the service desk. How about we go see Julio and get this done.” I reach down, grab the P.O. from the side of the computer that Dean had been furiously pecking on, and, without waiting for Dean, turn and walk to the service desk.

Now Dean figures he has screwed up plenty, at this point, and while I have already spent 55 minutes in the Lowe’s Idiocracy, he realizes he might be in for a poor performance report from a customer, and BEATS me to the service desk. He explains the problem to Julio, what with the phone numbers, and the long distance codes, and the inability to find the information, and the inability to find Paul, etc., and now Julio jumps in with both feet, uses his very best 60 wpm typing skills, and low and behold, finds my school district account in the computer system!

He then turns the system over to Dean, who feverishly pecks the catalog numbers and prices into the terminal. Next thing I know, there is a ticket for me to sign, a copy of the purchase order, and the tax exempt certificate back safely in my possession. I sign the ticket, and I am told that they’ll call me when the product comes in. About this time, Dean is nowhere to be seen. Paul is behind the service desk, and Julio apologizes for the problems encountered. I shake his hand, wave at Paul, and tell them both it is all good.

1 Hour Fifteen Minutes. From the time I hit the door, until I signed the ticket. If I hadn’t turned 100 years old and gone senile while I was waiting and hadn’t forgotten why I was there, I sure would’ve been mad.

Did I mention that it had been snowing all day, and Lowe’s was very slow today?


11 comments so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4152 days

#1 posted 02-06-2010 03:01 AM

For what it is worth – In my town we have Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards. Lowe’s is, by far, the best. They seem to have more seasoned employees that really know their stuff and truly want to be helpful. Lowe’s is always my first choice and if they don’t have what I need, I next consider Menards. I only go to Home Depot when someone has a gun to my head forcing me to go there.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View lew's profile


13353 posts in 4832 days

#2 posted 02-06-2010 03:18 AM

Aahh, the Perkins bureaucracy only made worse by the crack Lowes sales team. I used to be responsible for tracking all of the Perkins purchases in our Vocational School, so I know where you are coming from.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4851 days

#3 posted 02-06-2010 03:29 AM

I worked at Lowe’s part time for a year and a half in tool world. I do not know how long Dean had worked there but the manager needs to be notified of his service or lac of. He either needs to be trained or gone. It is not fair to the other customers that come behind you. Complain to the store! LOL

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 4952 days

#4 posted 02-06-2010 03:53 AM

I recently needed a simple dovetail jig – one that didn’t need to be set up every time – and Lowes had a good price on a basic PC jig. I checked the website to find which Lowes in my area had it in stock, and then called to confirm they had it. After messing with their computer for some time (why does it take so long to search a product name or part number????), they informed me they didn’t have it.

So I called another store that was supposed to have it. Much computer time, and then they informed me they didn’t have it either. So I called some stores that, according to the website, didn’t have the jig … they messed with the computer … and they didn’t have it, but one of them said the first store I called had three in stock.

So I called the first store again and told them that the other store said they had it. He looked and looked in the computer and said he still didn’t have it. I asked if they were sure – the other store said they had three. More computer time, still didn’t have it.

Finally, in a rare flash of genius, I asked the guy, “If you did have them in stock, would you know where they would be on the shelf?” Yes, he did! “Would you do me a huge favor and go look to see if they are on the shelf?” Well, it’s not in the computer, but he guessed he could walk 20 feet to look on the shelf. Mere seconds later he returned to tell me he had three on the shelf!

I had been all morning at this game, then I drove the hour each way to buy the stupid jig. When I looked at my receipt, I discovered what may have been the problem … the website had it listed as a “dovetail jig” but their in-store computer had it listed as a “dovetail jigsaw”. I can only guess that the computer requires exact keywords.

To top it off, when I got the jig to my shop and opened it, I discovered that it had been used! It was covered in sawdust, but someone had done a nice job of re-taping the box.

Quick Edit: To be fair to Lowe’s they were very apologetic about the used jig and offered to exchange it or give me a store credit for 50% of the price. I took the credit.

-- -- --

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20797 posts in 4753 days

#5 posted 02-06-2010 03:56 AM

I got a woman named Julie on Comcast’s chat line the other night. I finally asked her how many chat lines she was doing at the same time as she didn’t seem to be able to follow the conversation. Spent over an hour on a 5 minute conversatoin, didn’t even have to leave home to put up with the Corpo BS!! I could tell by some of the sentence structure her name is not Julie, and, English is not a first language. Why is it that we are choosing the companies we do business with by eliminating the worst companies. Then, put up with what is left?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 4150 days

#6 posted 02-06-2010 04:14 AM

Survivor: I guess we put up with whats left… because it is what’s left!

Having worked in retail, I understand that training staff on technology is both the hardest and most important part of the job. However, if one of the sales clerks is struggling, they are advised to seek and get help from more experienced help or a manager. It is a pity that Dean, in this situation didn’t seek adequate help sooner than he did. In addition, it is too bad that Paul didn’t at least man up and ride shotgun on this sortie.

I deal with varying levels of inadequacies every day in my job. I can deal with it, and I will live through it. After all, it is not like bullets were flying and they were coming over the fence with fixed bayonets.

As for the Lowe’s vs Home Depot thing: They sit about 1/2 mile from each other. The wicked orange witch of the east, and the wicked blue witch of the west. Both have varying degrees and levels of inadequacies. I shop both places, depending on where I am and who is with me. They both have some saving graces.

Sometimes, I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. But instead of talking to a volleyball named Wilson, I talk to a group of woodworkers on!

View alexbarlage's profile


41 posts in 4119 days

#7 posted 02-09-2010 08:37 PM

I’ve been a Lowe’s guy for years but went into Menards last night to their building materials for some 1x’s and I can say Mednards is now my “big box” of choice.

The associates I spoke to knew what general location to send me and said there will be someone around there to help guide me further. Sure enough, no matter where I was, I always seen someone to help me. Can’t seem to say the same about Home Depot or Lowes, they are always up by the checkouts chit chatting.

-- The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 4150 days

#8 posted 06-26-2010 02:54 PM

Had another incident at this very same Lowe’s just this last week. I decided to forward this article and my latest article to The best thing that could happen is that customer mistreats as chronicled get fixed. The worst thing that could happen is that nothing happens and I either shop at the BORG (mentioned and chronicle mistreats there as listed by others), or the local lumber yards and suppliers (crappy hours; aimed almost exclusively to contractors and won’t hardly wait on a five and dimer like myself).

I just wish that these employees had some pride in doing their jobs instead of treating it like what it probably is for many: a stepping stone until something else comes along for they get fired!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20797 posts in 4753 days

#9 posted 06-26-2010 07:10 PM

If they weren’t part timers without any bene’s on minimul wage being treated like crap by thier mangaers and looking for a better job, they might. It’s the same at most retailers.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4000 days

#10 posted 06-27-2010 02:15 AM

I’ve said it in other threads on here, Lowes and Home Depot have a real habit of taking people out of their vocational field(i.e. plumbing) and putting them into a completely foreign atmosphere (like lawn and garden) This mixed with the severe lack of training creates customer problems. The thing of it is, if you complain, they take it out on the employee(in some cases not really their fault) and instead of looking to fix the problem just fire the employee and the whole BS process starts over again.
I have a hard time going into any store and accepting the credibility of someone who has studs in their neck,barbells in their eyebrows,tongue studs,beer can earrings,tattoos all over their face, etc. But that seems to be the quality of the hired help nowadays.
Howie now steps off his soapbox!!!!!

-- Life is good.

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 4150 days

#11 posted 06-27-2010 04:22 AM

I don’t really care much how they look (as a customer). But as a business owner, I would put certain limits on the attire that an employee could wear. The answer to the question of why is that my employees represent my company, and, when they are on the clock, I can request attire.

I hate the fact that staffers at the big box places are so underinformed of the very products they are tasked to selll. I see this problem at my local hardware stores these days. My local Ace and True Value, which have generally had better knowledged staff than the bigboxers, are having trouble keeping the good guys. Either they are retiring or moving on to other, greener pastures.

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