Lowe’s Home Improvement Doesn’t “Get it!”

A couple of weeks ago, we went out to Lowe’s to purchase a wrought-iron patio table and four matching chairs. I had stayed outside at the car while my wife went into the store to check out the selection. After a few minutes, I went in to find her. I started walking down the main isle of the store, and then asked an associate who worked there where the patio furniture was.

“Back there,” he said, pointing in the direction from which he had come. That was it. Nothing else. Sure it was easy enough to find, but I was about to be a PAYING CUSTOMER! As I found my wife, she told me that she had already been helped, and the guy wasn’t too happy about it. “Oh, yeah, I must have just passed him,” I said and began to relate the story to her of the events which had just taken place.

He brought the table and chairs out to us from the back, and then disappeared. Were we supposed to proceed to the check out pushing the flatbed cart, or would he come back to take care of us the way we expected?

As we stood there making snide remarks to one another, I began to plan my next blog entry and considered speaking to the manager. The associate finally returned and wheeled the cart to the register for us to pay. Once there, he turned and said, “If you need help loading this, there’s a guy out in the parking lot wearing a straw hat. He’ll help you.” And with that he returned to the hidden recesses of the store — where those pesky customers couldn’t harass him!

So, I paid for our items and then headed out the door to find the “guy with a straw hat.” After two or three minutes of standing there waiting with my Honda CRV right next to the cart, he finally strolled across the parking lot and toward me.

“The guy inside said that you’d help us load this in our car,” I said to him.

“Yeah,” he replied and continued to walk inside the store. By this time, I was really starting to lose my patience.

When he again emerged, I again asked him to help me load the furniture in our car. “You want to put it in there??” he asked incredulously.

“We can tie the table on the roof, if you have some twine or rope,” I suggested. And what happened next was what really sent me over.

“We do have twine on that cart over there,” he said, pointing to a wheeled cart with a box of twine on it. And I waited for him to volunteer to get it. But by this time, my wife was ready to leave, and said, “Mark, you just go get it.” So I did, complaining verbally the whole way there and back to the car.

We finally crammed the four chairs into the front seat and got the table tied onto the roof of the car. I managed to cram myself into the child booster seat in the back, on top of two 40-pound bags of top soil. It was quite a sight.

The ride home, I considered that the associates at places like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s really need to get back into the business of SERVING THE CUSTOMER, not just putting time in to get a paycheck. Maybe they should read The Emergence of The Relationship Economy!

How ’bout it?

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8 Comments on “Lowe’s Home Improvement Doesn’t “Get it!””

  1. carterfsmith Says:

    I had a related experience two days ago at the Lowe’s in Cool Springs (Franklin, TN). My wife and I went in to get two gallons of paint. We picked up a few flowers for planting around the house, then headed over to paint. As we arrived, one of the shakers blew up. a minute later, with the customer in front of me, the second (and last) shaker blew up (paint can forcefully leaked paint inside).

    The gal said that she could no longer mix paint until they were cleaned and fixed. I proceeded to check out. The customer service (note that) register had one, and the other one had 3. I picked Customer Service. The gal checked out the one in front of me and then walked away. The guy next to her slid over to the register, so I unloaded the cart. He was on the phone but not engaged and two minutes later I realized that he didn’t see me standing 2 feet in front of him (and probably wouldn’t.

    Remembering the gal who helped us get flours, I took my stuff back off the counter and put it in the cart. As no one (there were 3 now) in Customer Service said anything, I fumed back to the garden department. I paid for the flowers, a smoke alarm, and left Lowe’s for the last time.

    There are 3 Home Depots within 20 minutes of my home and 2 Lowes . . . any questions?

  2. It appears as though you guys are shopping for top notch customer service at discount stores. Thats crazier than me trying to find rock bottom prices at a Mom and Pop hardware store where customer service is their focus. Figure out what you want: cheap prices or customer service and choose your store accordingly.

  3. That is quite an astute observation you make, Founding Father. ‘Tis true, very often one doesn’t typically have good customer service AND low prices simultaneously, but I have come to expect only marginal customer service at these places. Only when I receive service I don’t anticipate do I blog about it. Sub-par customer service isn’t blog-worthy — I would be busy 24/7 writing about the woes of care I have received if I were to write about every instance of marginally sub-par service.

    And I would like you to note that I don’t simply use my blog as a forum to complain about customer service, either. My post from March 25, 2008 is entitled “Wal-mart Employee Engages the Relationship Economy.” I received better customer service than I had expected on that day, and I wanted to let people know. When the service we get is something which we don’t expect, we write about it. When we are given the appropriate level of service for the type of store, we do nothing.

    I don’t expect to get the same level of customer care from McDonald’s that I would from a 4-star restaurant in Tampa!

  4. Dispossess Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Dispossess!

  5. I work at a Lowe’s. It been 10 years now. I have found in retail employment only 20% care about being there. The other 80% it is just a paycheck. I don’t think its Lowe’s or any other retail’s fault, it is the attitude of the world that has become the problem. We seem to demand more for so little. Employees demand more money and benefits but don’t want to be there to work. Customers want excellent service and not pay for it. I have been on both sides. I am so sorry that you ran into the 80%. Maybe next time I will be there for you.

  6. Thanks, Chris. I understand that the majority of people working in retail jobs don’t want to be there. Lord knows I’ve worked in retail long enough both to see that in coworkers and in myself at times, too.

    I think maybe I want the same “Mom & Pop” customer service from a Mega-Giant with ultra-low prices. I know not every employee has a poor attitude, but I try to recognize the ones who really go above and beyond when they do show me remarkable service.

    Thanks for the comment, and I hope you are there the next time I go to Lowe’s.

  7. mickg Says:

    >>>>>>it is the attitude of the world that has become the problem. We seem to demand more for so little

    that is so true bar a few countries who still give a service with a smile what is second to non for far less than anyone in the west would work for

  8. js Says:

    I think you were overly sensitive about the associate who told you “it’s back there”
    You said yourself it was easy to find. He was assuming you didn’t need someone to hold your hand. If you COULD not find it – then I would understand your beef. The twine issue?
    Use your head. These fellows can’t tie things onto your car without incurring liability; which Lowes will NOT. ie. There’s the twine if you care to risk scratching your own vehicle.
    Let alone it’s a stupid idea. (A CR-V?) You bought too much merchandise for your diminutive automobile. Not Lowes fault. And the admittedly snide comments? Truly there is good and bad customer service. There are also good and bad customers. Guess which one you are and win a prize.
    js in ne CT

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