Lowes Resorts To Legal Bullying Instead Fixing Their Horrible $3500 Fence Job

UPDATE: Allen writes to say, “The issue between Lowe’s, their attorney and I was settled amicably and in a timely manner…” He couldn’t say more, but his website has been taken down.

Allen ordered a fence from Lowes. It cost $3500. It sucks. If you lean on it, it becomes dislodged and loose. His dogs were able to escape just by pushing on the gate. There’s a two-foot gap underneath the bottom of the fence. Allen refused to pay until Lowes fixed it.

Lowes didn’t feel like fixing it, sending Allen to deal with the installer, who pingponged him back to Lowes. Lowes doesn’t care they didn’t do the job. They just want their money. So they sent Allen’s bill to collections. Allen is enraged and starts a website, Lowes-Sucks.com. Correspondence, history, more pictures, and phone recordings are up on the site.

Now Lowe’s is sending him cease and desist letters for infringing their trademark.

So let’s see, Lowe’s is paying enough attention to pay lawyers to shoot off some letters, but not enough to actually fix their crappy install. Real classy, guys. Real classy.

LOWE’S Home Improvement Sucks

Comments

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  1. Falconfire says:

    Screw the website… he should just take their asses to small claims. Watch how fast they change their tune.

  2. Jon Mason says:

    Yeah, that is a piss-poor job done of installing the fence. Why Lowe’s would not stand behind their product and put pressure on the installer to correct the work is beyond me…

    As far as the legal takedown notice – probably a case of the left arm not knowing what the right arm is doing – the legal department is just (stupidly) trying to justify their existence by going any lowes-related websites they discover.

  3. pine22 says:

    call your local news station, a good PR hit will also cause them to change their tune

  4. ehrgeiz says:

    Is it just me or is getting some sort of home repair/upgrade from lowes/home depot etc getting worse and worse? States really need to crack down on theses stores and the contractors they use to stop this crap, if you can’t do this yourself you are SOL.

  5. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    Listen, I understand the frustration of not having installers / construction done right (I’m going through a bad sidewalk replacement right now), but the website is ridiculous. Perhaps if it were just facts rather than endless, ‘I’ll go to the news, you can bet on that!’ etc… you wouldn’t appear like such a git.

    And yeah, that fence looks like shit.

  6. joeblack13 says:

    Lowe’s is not going to win any suit for infringement. What’s more, they’ll be on the hook for Allen’s legal fees. His site is obviously a parody and there is no chance of initial confusion or dilution of their trademark. There’s simply no reasonable person that would expect this site to be affiliated with Lowe’s, and that’s the issue.

    They’re just trying to strong-arm a little guy into accepting sub-par work. Seems like what they’re doing is more trouble than it’s worth, nevermind the fact that it’s despicable.

  7. In all honesty, Allen’s site cracks me up. He obviously isn’t willing to back down and he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

    Kick ‘em in the pants, brother!

  8. SuperShawn says:

    Wow, while I really think Lowes is screwing this guy over, he sure goes a little overboard with the threats on his site. Is he related to the rasberry syrup guy from the Starbucks letters? Also, who the heck would stop paying a credit card payment? Sorry, but my credit rating is not worth a $3500 fence. I would take a different action- but to each his own.

    I think these companies like to resell services (offered by the lowest bidder of course), then blame it on them when the problems come.

    Maybe the fence installer was the same guy who did their encryption-free wi-fi cash registers!

    Lowes- I am sure you are reading- do the right thing and fix this guys fence! The bad press you are going to get from this won’t come close to being fixed by the $3500 you may have to eat.

  9. This guy’s web host is really bad. The pictures are taking forever to load even on a T1. The guy definitely has a problem with his fence. It just seems like he’s not doing anything about it besides not paying his bill. If he really wants the fence fixed he should go about it some other way.

  10. dirty foreigner says:

    @SuperShawn: Can’t you tell your credit card company the reason why you’re not paying a certain charge, and typically they’ll take the interest that is accruing off of your statement. At least that happened to me.

  11. mopar_man says:

    @solareclipse2:

    I think the slow picture loading is probably due to the 1800+ views this has received in the last few minutes.

    It’s really too bad this story came up. I had a lot of respect for Lowe’s (as far as big box stores go).

  12. Uriel says:

    This guy is fuckin nuts, and I’m likin it.

  13. K J says:

    I hate Lowes and their installers. I had a solid-surface kitchen countertop installed last year by Lowes. I had to pay up front for the special order based on their estimated cost, which I realized later they had overestimated by about $400. However, they told me when I ordered that the actual charge would be based not on the estimate but the actual detailed measurements from the installer. So after the the installation, I go talk to the folks at Lowes about the final cost. Three trips and a couple visits with the manager later, and they no longer have any paper work from my installation. So now I shop at Home Depot. And I don’t go through a big box store for a contractor either.

  14. Antediluvian says:

    Wow — did someone go to the Geocities School of Web Page Design? Or did I just go back in time to 1997?

    [Oh, and he could be hosting it out of his home, or it's swamped by the Consumerist Effect (or is it he's been Consumeristed?), which would explain the speed. Although, if it's actually being served from 1997, there could be some effects of time dilation....]

    But I don’t know if Small Claims court would work for him if the value is over their max. It could be worth a shot, though. It might even get their attention.

    Also, I tend to lose respect for people’s arguments when they get too hypothetical and fall into the “Won’t SOMEbody think of the CHILDREN” style: “Imagine if a small child had pushed on the gate like my dogs did and got out of the back yard and into traffic, or worse?”
    Why not, “Imagine if a group of terrorists got into the back yard through the crappy fence with a nuke, or worse?” Serves the same purpose — avoiding the facts (which seem to be on his side) and playing off emotions instead. You’ve already sold me on the facts, don’t go over the top.

  15. kimsama says:

    @solareclipse2: @mopar_man: Haha, I think it’s not the host or the bandwidth, so much as the fact that all but one of the images on his site are gifs even the pictures of the fence and stuff. They are 200K each, not optimized, not resized. ^_^

    Well, at least no one paid him $3500 to build that website.

  16. Red_Eye says:

    I thought in order to infringe a trademark you had to be using the name in conjunction with offering a similar service or item and that any other use was ok. In other words if I want to trademark Pepsi brand shoes I can, because its not the same product.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I just dashed off a letter to Lowes. All of it is true. I am a longtime shareholder (always hated Home Depot)

    ———-

    Dear Mr. Niblock,

    I am a longtime shareholder and a longtime shopper at Lowes. There is always a Home Depot closer but I drive the extra miles because I like the store.

    I just read about an extremely disgruntled customer and the story of his fence on the consumerist.com web site. This guy is mad, and while it looks to me like he very possibly overreacting, if this is not taken care of, then this is going to be nothing but bad publicity for Lowes.

    My advice, as a shareholder, is to fix the guy’s fence and put this

    little incident behind you before he gets the Today show involved or something like that.

    Sending cease and desist letters about his puny little web site is not going to make this go away.

    I urge you to get the local store involved, make a big show about

    fixing the fence in the local press and give this guy a reason to stop pestering you. Is a $3500 fence worth more than The Lowes Reputation?

    The fact that I am writing to you shows that this little guy is

    already having an impact.

  18. topgun says:

    Several years ago I had some work done by Lowe’s. At that time I was told that the installer was not a Lowe’s employee and that they would send him out as a courtesy. I even had the chance to talk with him prior to the job starting. I actually think I paid the installer directly. Now all that may have changed since then. I was 100% satisfied. Unless there was some incentive to using a Lowe’s Credit Card I use a card with a buyer protection plan even for big ticket items so there is some leverage in case things go wrong.

  19. Uriel says:

    You would rather expect to see this gentlement walking don the street with a sword and shield, eating a bucket of chicken, and tossing the bones, at unsuspecting Lowes VP, challenging them to attack him through his pure shield of the law, laughing boisterously to himself.

  20. ElizabethD says:

    That has to be the cheesiest looking fence I’ve ever seen! I could do as well with chicken wire and some upright posts. Damn. Go get ‘em, Allen.

  21. kelbear says:

    I really hope he wins in the end.

  22. Jerim says:

    I don’t know how the system works, but you issue is clearly with the install, and not necessarily Lowe’s. Lowe’s supplies the materials, and for that they should be paid. As far as the shoddy work, either Lowe’s must let you and the installer work that out, or by requesting payment on the installer’s behalf, Lowe’s is making itself responsible for the installer’s work. Lowe’s cant have it both ways. Either they are a part of the customer-installer relationship or they aren’t. And if they are, then they must address the shoddy work.

    I know we all like to go for the big dogs; the Wal-Mart’s, the banks, the Verizon’s and even the Lowe’s. We can usually rally much more support around a “large corporation screwing the little guy” story than we can a “little guy screwing another little guy” story. And it is easier for a large corporation to dish out $3500 to just be rid of the nuisance than is for a guy living pay-check to pay-check.

    But I don’t believe there is any court in this country that will rule in your favor against Lowe’s, regarding materials. Just pay Lowe’s for the materials and tell them you refuse to pay for the labor until it is fixed. Also, get a few installer’s to come out and give you an estimate, and see if they will write down a short statement on what they see is wrong. Then pay one of them to fix it. If anyone keeps bugging you for payment; showing them the statements from the installers, the receipt from having it fixed, and the pictures will silence them everytime.

  23. 3drage says:

    Excellent site, it’s great to see well-informed people stand up against all the legal threats that corporations throw out there. I’ll never shop Lowes again after this….not that I shopped there in the first place.

  24. chili_dog says:

    I’m sorry but anyone who uses Home Depot or Lowes to install anything is just asking for trouble. It’s too bad it has to be like that but the 3-party contract allows for this sort of BS to go on to no end.

    He should have just payed another fence company to fix the shoddy work and then sue Lowes in small claims.

  25. bck says:

    Yeah the guy got screwed. The reason the fence is so loose on the bottom is the fact that the installer didn’t put in the rod connecting the fence posts. Lowe’s rather than the installer should be held responsible, because he paid Lowe’s not the intstaller. The fact that he even says this is not affiliated with Lowes would seem to limit their suing ability, Right? We had a similar fence installed and chose to go with a local contacter, rather than a big box store, mainly due to the fact that we cut out the middle man (Lowe’s) and have more control over the job. i agree this guy simply needs to file a case in Civil court and with out a doubt he will win.

  26. txinfo says:

    I will never deal with Lowe’s ever again. A couple of years ago, I purchased about $600 in lumber. The order was accepted and confirmed. The delivery day came and went. I called and they said it would be there the next day. The next day came and went. I called back and after being transferred several times and sitting on hold for no telling how long, I finally got someone who told me they never got the order. What the hell? I though it would be the next day. In the end, the wood never came and I had to dispute the charges with the credit card company(Lowe’s credit card – by the way).

    I urge everyone never to shop at Lowe’s every again. The only way they will get the hint that they need a lesson on proper customer service techniques is if people stop shopping there. I am not a huge fan of Home Depot either, but they beat the hell out of Lowe’s.

  27. Jerim says:

    As far as the trademark infringement; a trademark is not simply the word. A trademark is all unique characteristic’s of the logo. The font, the color, the size, and any artistic elements that make that trademark unique. Trademarks are basically copyrights for logos. If you use Lowe’s logo anywhere on your site, then you have violated their trademark. But you haven’t done anything wrong just by typing the work Lowe’s.

  28. Chicago7 says:

    I’d have a LOT more sympathy if it wasn’t a chain-link fence.

    Move into the new millennium, dude.

    $3500 for that crap?

  29. cashmerewhore says:

    Perhaps filing a dispute with his CC company would’ve been a better first step (not paying it will only hurt him, Lowes has already gotten paid for the work).

    There has to be some local newstation that does some sort of Consumer Report/”On your side” stuff showcasing poor jobs and resolutions.

    Also learning to spell would be nice. All the photos loaded fine on my T1 connection.

  30. mopar_man says:

    @chili_dog:

    It all depends on who the store chooses for a contractor. I used to do water heaters with a contractor who worked for a big box store like this. Being in the industry, I knew there were some shady contractors and some really good ones.

  31. ncboxer says:

    Listening to his long taped conversation with Lowes, he doesn’t want the fence fixed, he wants it taken down and he wants a letter from at least a senior vp saying they have fixed the credit problems. The Lowes guy agreed to take down the fence and fix his yard, and says he get back to the guy about the letter.

    I think it is too late for Lowes to get its reputation back on this matter. If you get a contractor through Lowes or Home Depot, then they are responsible if the contractor messes up. Lowes should have stepped up and sent out a new contractor to fix the problem (because the old one didn’t seem to want to fix it) and filed a claim against the old contractor to recover any lost money. I say “should” because I doubt they would in many cases.

    As for his fence. That is ugly, ugly, ugly. He paid $3500 for a low chain link fence. Is he crazy? Even if it was done perfectly, it looks crappy (IMHO).

  32. rjhiggins says:

    @kimsama: Wow, can you believe someone would put up an amateur website and actually use GIFs and not optimize their images? How utterly shocking!

  33. Esquire99 says:

    This guys website is awful. I also have some doubts about his understanding of the law. I don’t think he can force them to sue him in whatever county he pleases. So long as the court they file in has jurisdiction, there is nothing he can do. Secondly, I think the problem with the IP infringement is the use of their actual logo on the site. Third, he needs to learn the proper terms before he uses them. “Liquefied damages” is not right. The correct term is “Liquidated damages”. This guy seems like a total nutjob.

  34. Esquire99 says:

    Also, his demand for a letter from the CEO promising his $10,000….I can’t even put it in words….

  35. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    If you’ve got 2 hours to wait for the mp3 of the call he took from Lowes I’d recommend you listen to it ( [lowes-sucks.com] ). He really comes off as a jackass. The guy from Lowes offered to come out and remove the fence (or fix it) and refund the money back – but he wanted someone ‘not below the rank of VP’ to write him a letter (I suppose as proof against marks on his credit).

    Dude, whenever you get a bill, pay it – your credit is too valuable to be the victim of a drama queen episode.

  36. Twitch says:

    I’m curious though… Didn’t he have to sign an invoice or something when the guy was done? Usually, this type of work requires a sign-off of some kind.

    Why did he not see the quality of the fence before the job was submitted to billing? Did he not inspect the job before signing?

    Yes, it’s a crappy looking fence. Yes, Lowes are being jerks for not helping this guy.

    But have SOME personal responsibility here…

  37. Uriel says:

    he has good reason to be mad, and demanding, they handed him over to collections rather than fix what their employed contractors did,

  38. Esquire99 says:

    @Twitch: Personal responsibility? That’s a dirty word around here. How can we expect anyone to be personally responsible for anything that happens to them? Such as having poor credit because you didn’t pay your credit card bill. “Why didn’t you just dispute the charge, sir?” “It’s because Lowe’s is mean, and I didn’t want to!”. So, rather than follow proper procedure and handle the situation properly without any black marks on the credit, lets just blame the big bad corporation that “Screwed him over”.

  39. OKH says:

    I had a storm/entry door set installed by Lowe’s. Well, not really – it took two years for them to finally realize they so thoroughly screwed up the job that they refunded all my money. Even after the installer called me screaming like a lunatic, even after the store manager told me they would refund my install fee because “Hey, there’s a door on your house”, I stayed on point and mercilessly harassed the executive CS monkey. It took two years, but I got what I wanted. And I’m not so lazy anymore and do my own work now :)

  40. theWolf says:

    As an aside, Home Depot is no better. As I type this, there is an installer (subcontractor of the subcontractor), who, after four weeks and three missed appointments, is now installing a new door on my laundry room. All Home Depot did was collect my money. I chased their installer around, who ultimately sent me a man who speaks zero English.

  41. Uriel says:

    @OKH: please, tell us, why the installer called screaming like a lunatic, and basically what he said, I’m intrigued.

  42. iMike says:

    This guy is an idiot. If the job was not completed in a workmanlike manner, the proper remedy was to dispute the charge, not to simply stop paying his credit card bill.

    And I’ve never heard of “liquified” damages.

    Wonder how many teeth this guy has.

  43. OKH says:

    @Nero Diavolo: Oh, well thats funny – I found out that he drilled out the wall and to cover this up he used…strap in, kids….plastic wall anchors to screw it back in. I called and left a message using the word “damned” and he flipped that his daughter hears those messages and how dare I. Basically engineered outrage to cover up his willful incompetence.

  44. mrearly2 says:

    Allen’s first mistake was to stop paying his credit card bill. That must be paid, regardless of what was purchased.
    IMIKE is right–you pay, then you dispute the charge–it always works that way.
    Then, if a dispute is not satisfactory, you sue, claiming they didn’t install a fence, but put a bunch of junk around the yard–a parody of a fence. (Must be some real half-wits, working for that contractor.)

  45. lalahsghost says:

    I’m too lazy to read most of the other posts, but let me put down some facts, and experiences.

    Many types of jobs/installations for lowe’s is done by third party workers that ‘know how to do the job’ and are ‘certified’ by lowes. ex. local plumber gets contracted to install your toilet, if you opt lowe’s to do it.

    Lowe’s is allowed to do a denial of service if you complain about their work/installation too many times. – random, but neat fact.

    Lowe’s fucked up the installation of our carpet, and we had to get it replaced, and also they installed our countertops without the strip edging to cover the cut sides. we complained and had this replaced with factory made pieces instead of crappy hand-cut pieces.

    We now have a denial of service notice for our house. They are unwilling to have their employees or their 3rd party contractees do work for us because they think we scam them and try to get replacement items, when they actually just do really shitty work. Lowe’s is also in cahootz with Wal-Mart, no?

  46. dextrone says:

    That is the most professional sounding site I have ever read….

    Now how do I do this to Best Buy and Continental…..

  47. TechnoDestructo says:

    I have personally installed fence posts far straighter than that, without any tools to ensure it was so beyond a spool of string, a shovel handle, and a hammer and nails. And I’m not a “professional.” God damn.

    How much you want to bet it was a contractor employing unqualified illegal immigrants?

  48. Anonymous says:

    I visited this guys site and listened to the audio recordings of the call. I agree that the fence was poorly installed and should have been repair, replaced, or removed long ago. However the consumer went about this entire thing wrong from the beginning.

    First and foremost he should understand that Lowe’s is does not own the credit card. It is owned by the bank and as previously posted Lowe’s already received their money. The correct procedure would have been to contact the card company and dispute the charge. He is being contacted by the colletion agency because he refused to pay his debt.

    Second he is being unreasonable to demand a letter from a VP assuring him that the issue has been resolved and he will not be bothered again. No company in their right mind would provide this. It would be an open door to future litigation againt the signor and the company if he should get contacted in 10 years. The best he can hope for is a letter from the credit card company stating the account has been paid in full and closed at the debtor’s request. The will be useful when the issue comes up in the future as it will!

    Lastly, don’t threaten to sue them. All this does is take away from your credibility. A corporation as large as this one probably has a full time staff of 30 plus Lawyers, Para’s, etc. They are not afraid of litigation and have a lot bigger was chest to pull from. The fact is most people who easily threaten to sue you can not afford to retain an Attorney and have little knowledge of the law. Again, it reduces your credibility with the company.

    I feel that Lowe’s is attempting to make this right. They are offering to remove the fence, repair the lawn, refund the purchase price, and apologize. Settle the matter and move on with your life.

  49. swalve says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Yeah, and jerks like this make it worse for the rest of us.

    Who buys a fence from a hardware store?

  50. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    I’m amazed he could actually put that much of a site together, let alone host it as he claims. With the impeccable grammar and worn out Caps Lock key it’s no wonder Lowe’s has taken him so seriously. Mainstream press probably didn’t want to touch this with a 10-foot ugly pole. At least he’s got a yard to fence in, which is more than I’m looking at. I hope everything works out well for him but maybe next time he should just do the job himself.

  51. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    From the “C&D” letter: “..your registration of http://www.lowes-sucks.com is unauthorized by LF…”
    Sites like these are protected as long as they are non-commercial. So the trademark owner of “Lowe’s” didn’t authorize it? Too bad.
    Oh, and I forgot, let me chime in with the rest, STUPID CONSUMER! IT’S YOUR FAULT FOR EXPECTING YOUR MONEY’S WORTH FROM [COMPANY NAME].

  52. kimsama says:

    @rjhiggins: Wow! Can you believe someone would post something meant to be funny? Shocking! ^_^

  53. jaewon223 says:

    @Garonyldas: he paid for a service that was not done adequately nor to standards that should be expected.

    i bet lowes wasnt expecting this man to be such a thorn in their side. once in awhile you screw the wrong person that pushes you back and this is what happens. although there is enough blame to share, i think the contractor is the one at fault. even though lowes hire the contractor, in the end he’s not really working for lowes. sort of like a hair salon/hair stylist relationship? anyway, i hope you win man, i know you’re reading this. consumerist supports you

  54. Trackback says:

    We’ve covered a variety of cases involving so-called “sucks sites,” where someone registers as a domain name the name of a company and appends sucks to the end in order to create a complaint site.