Lowe's Is Apparently Too Incompetent To "Build Something Together" With You

Reader Scott really wanted to give Lowe’s some money to install a new door in his house, but, sadly they were just too incompetent to actually do it. After a month and a half of incorrect orders, botched installations, and having to cancel his credit card because an employee from Lowe’s called him up to ask for his mother’s maiden name, Scott finally got a refund and vowed never to do business with Lowe’s again.

I have just recently put this nightmare to a close, but I thought I would share with you my story. After all, I used your site to get to the Executive Customer Service of Lowe’s before I finally got any resolution.

It all started when I visited Lowe’s of Roeland Park, KS back in May. Our house needed a new door and I knew they sold Pella doors and windows and did the installation as well. Off I went in May to get a new door and was told they would come out and measure the door and inspect the frame so they could verify the dimensions and estimate the installation costs all for just $35 which would be deducted from my purchase.

June 1st arrives and I go back to the store to purchase the door and setup installation. The salesperson I spoke to was confused, mainly because all the customers in the store kept asking him where other things were. After a few minutes and a few “no, that’s the wrong door” comments, I believed we had a door and installation setup. The door had to be custom ordered and I was told I would get a call back to schedule the installation within a few days.

That same day the Installation Team called to say that our door was ordered and it should be in “ready for pickup” within a few weeks. I just expected they didn’t read it was for an installation and let it slide. Sometime later, the installer calls to say he can install it on the 24th.

Install day arrives and the installer takes off our old door and then realizes the new door is the wrong size and was ordered incorrectly. He happily places our old door back in place and tells us they will need to reorder the correct door and that it will take another 3 to 4 weeks. So much for the $35 fee for them to measure for the right size when the salespeople can’t pay attention.

In the meantime, my credit card statement arrives and I notice another charge from Lowe’s for $960. They ordered the second door on my credit card without my authorization and without refunding me for the first door. I call the store and speak to a manager who claims he will call me back in 15 minutes. Three hours later and no call, I call him back and he passes me off to someone else who says they “will personally look into it”. Of course, that manager tells me to call back in 30 minutes and when I do I was told he went to lunch 30 minutes ago. So I speak to a third manager who tells me that the normal process for this type of issue is to do a refund and reorder, but they didn’t process the refund. He assures me that come Monday I will hear from someone regarding the issue. Although not very happy, I still need a door so I wait for a call.

I then get a call from a Customer Service rep who insists they refunded me the original door and that I need to check with my credit card company. I insist that since she is the merchant, they can call and do the same and that I have already verified they have not. Ten minutes later I get another call from “Jessica” who as it turns out is the only helpful person at this entire store. She said she would call the credit card company and look into it. However when she calls back she informs me that another manager gave her my credit card number and wants the first 4 letters of my mother’s maiden name just so she can contact them. At this point I contacted Executive Customer Service with the issue.

Two days later and no word from Lowe’s, I cancel my credit card because they obviously are giving it out to anyone that asks. Executive Customer Service states they will get to the bottom of it, which they do to some extent but the new door won’t be here until July 24th. Since I need a new door, I wait. I explain to them what a pain it has been to find someone with any knowledge of how things work in their store and how dissatisfied I am with their responses. They offer an apology and to try and get the door in faster and refund the original incorrect door to my credit card.

Monday of last week and yet another person from Lowe’s calls to say that he doesn’t know the whole story, but he’ll check into it and get back to me. Apparently he was the manager of the store and the phone was unavailable for 3 days. Executive Customer Service calls me yet again to assure me the door is being built. However, another person from the store calls to say she will personally see my door arrives on 7/24 and that it is a “product variance”.

At this point, I’m tired of speaking with people about it and a complete lack of communication between anyone at Lowe’s. I call her to ask what a “product variance” is and she isn’t sure. Not wanting a rushed door and a company so incompetent to install it I finally cancel it and tell them they can keep their “product variance” and issue me a full refund including the new door, the $390 in installation costs, the $35 fee for “measuring” and the materials. She then offers me a discount, which is basically an insult at this point. Where was the discount for jerking me around for a month and a half? I explain that I refuse to do business with them and request the refund, to which she hands off to another person.

Sure enough all of it but the materials are refunded a few days later and a last call to get the materials refunded and all is done. I call Executive Customer Service one last time to say I’ve cancelled the order and that they need not call back because I won’t be doing business with Lowe’s ever again.

We’re happy you were able to get a refund, and let’s face it — you’re probably better off shopping around a little to see if there’s a local company that’s more competent than that particular Lowe’s location. As a wise man once told me, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.” Here’s a handy flowchart that illustrates this important concept.

Comments

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  1. wattznext says:

    just another reason to keep your money local, and go with a local hardware store or handyman. Lowes may be able to have lower proces because of their size, but you lose that personal touch. Viva la…small guy!

  2. Fatty Shcock says:

    He just had a bad experience, that’s all. At least with that Lowe’s. Depending on which Lowe’s you go to, you can either get great service, or piss poor service.

    We ordered wood floor panels from Lowe’s, and the Installation Team came with the panels, and did an outstanding job installing it. It has been 2 years, and the floor still looks brand new, with no imperfections at all!

  3. TheLemon says:

    Around here, the Lowes “Installation Teams” are made up of guys who can’t get work elsewhere. Just remember…you get what you pay for.

  4. Jim says:

    Lowe’s in Indianapolis is pretty much the same.

    We ordered doors on July 2. After 8 phone calls and 2 store visits with no other purpose than finding out where they were, someone finally called and came to measure the doors Friday. He didn’t give a timeline for installation. 2 phone calls since that and we still don’t know. This is my only remotely negative experience with Lowe’s, but it is irritating!

  5. SharkD says:

    This is not a blame the victim comment, but a word of advice for Scott — for the $390 that Lowe’s was going to charge you to install the door, you could buy a decent sawzall, torpedo level, finish nails and shims (and still have money left over), and install the door yourself.

    Assuming that you’re buying a prehung door, if the framing for the existing opening is in decent shape, it’s not that hard to install — so long as you have a second person and a little patience. If the framing’s rotten or damaged, however, it’s best to get professional installation (but not from Lowe’s, apparently).

  6. ARP says:

    @xAnarChisTx: Isn’t that the point of a chain store: consistency of the product and service?

    I understand the reality, but it’s strange to me that people justify it with “depends on the location.” We go to McDonalds, Starbucks, the Gap, etc. not because they’re the best, but because we know what we’re going to get (or at least we should).

    So even though other Lowe’s are more reliable, it doesn’t lessen my concern over their overall practices.

  7. Youthier says:

    Here’s one thing I don’t get about the complaint. Jessica offers to call the credit card company and that’s good. The manager gives her the OP’s credit card number to do so and that’s bad? Doesn’t she need that number to identify the issue or am I off-base in that assumption?

  8. kdoyle55 says:

    For all of those who are saying ‘stay local’…Lowes Installation Teams are just local contractors who are contracted by Lowes and typically get paid more than you are charged by Lowes, especially when advertised specials offer a ridiculously low price on say carpet installation for example. I think it really just depends on your location…same as with any retail chain.

  9. Elusive_Pastry says:

    I just moved to Manassas, VA where I have a Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Home Depot all on the same street 2 minutes away from me. I needed a new fridge and dryer, so naturally I went to Lowe’s first.

    I buy the fridge and dryer and arrange for them to be delivered on the weekend; I get a delivery confirmation call the day before. Delivery window passes, I call Lowe’s to find out where my appliances are, and they tell me they’re out of stock on the fridge (oversold by 160 units) and they didn’t include my dryer in the delivery order. What was the delivery confirmation call for, then?

    Long story short, threatening to take my business across the street got me $200 off an upgraded fridge that would cost $400 more. It’s supposed to be delivered this week. I’m not completely happy, I just want what I originaly bought. Unfortunatley, Home Depot and Best Buy didn’t have an alternative that would suit me for my planned price range.

    I’m going to buy a new dishwasher come Labor Day…I’m not so certain it will come from Lowe’s anymore.

  10. Gopher bond says:

    I recently purchased an over-the-range microwave from Home Depot via the company’s website. I also purchased the installation option for $59 because I just didn’t feel like installing the microwave, so there. Delivery was schedule for one week later on a Friday. The purchase was charged sometime during the week. On Thursday evening, I pulled the existing range hood to realize that it was hard wired to the electric. I was wondering if this would pose a problem but I spoke with a neighbor and she said that she believed her microwave to be installed the same manner, hardwired, no plug. Having no experience with over-the-range microwaves, I figured maybe that was standard or maybe they had hardwired/plug optional installation.

    Friday afternoon I was anticipating kicking it back, waiting for the delivery personnel and then having a few beers as they installed our new microwave. Unfortunately, the delivery personnel pointed out that they couldn’t install the microwave because there had to be an outlet above and within 4 feet of the microwave. They mentioned that Home Depot does this all the time. They said they get this a lot with dishwashers too. It seems like it would be easy enough to include “Installation requires electrical outlet X number of feet above appliance” to the specifications. The delivery guys were nice enough to give me a quick overview of how to do the installation. That was pretty helpful actually. But instead of enjoying a free Friday afternoon, I had work to do. Not only did I have to do the installation of the microwave, but I had to install an electrical outlet first. Had I known before hand I could have installed the outlet during the week while waiting for the microwave.

    I got my refund about 10 days after I asked for it, not bad. But I’d rather they had let me know about the specifics beforehand.

  11. admiral_stabbin says:

    I bought a dishwasher from the newest local Lowe’s store in my area on July 4, 2008. There was some moderate incompetence during the sales process, but, we worked that out and I paid upfront for:

    - Dishwasher
    - Installation

    Within a week the dishwasher had arrived and the local installer was at my house installing it. This is when the troubles started. I didn’t babysit the guy thinking that a licensed plumber could handle the simple task of installing a dishwasher in the same spot where a functioning dishwasher was currently sitting. I was wrong.
    I experienced no less than half a dozen problems from his “installation”:

    1 – The dishwasher was level so improperly (one front leg on built-up laminate floor, the other on the sub-floor) that the door wouldn’t close properly. It severly rubbed on one side. You’d think a licensed plumber might see that as a problem…

    2 – Problem #1 caused the dishwasher to leak.

    3 – The installer left debris (screws) on my kitchen floor and in on my front porch (wood trim of an origin unknown to me).

    4 – The dishwasher never completed the test cycle (it was running when he left though). The “hot” wire nut wasn’t put on properly and it came unwired. Yes, seriously.

    5 – The leak from the dishwasher went down through the subfloor and water stained a ceiling tile in my finished basement.

    6 – The installer loosened my garbage disposal and reattached it improperly. This manifested itself as another leak a week later when I was draining a half sink of water.

    Long story made short…don’t trust Lowe’s to hire a competent contractor for installation. Talk to people you know and use someone that comes with a recommendation. There are a lot of clowns passing themselves off as professionals, and, Lowe’s doesn’t exactly perform much (if any) due diligence when choosing their installers.

  12. wattznext says:

    @kdoyle55:
    While the contractors themselves may be local, you are still dealing with a huge, faceless corporation.
    John’s hardware store would never be unable to locate a manager, and you would most likely deal with the same person every time you went there. John’s would also be striving harder to do a good job, and keep you as a customer. Plus, your son probably played little league with John’s son. Keep in the community brother!

  13. JoeTan says:

    It doesn’t matter who it is. When you realize the money you gave to Lowes and how many hands it goes through before it actually gets to the person doing the work you’ll then see why nothing ever gets done.

    A $100 job is only paying 10% to the guy doing the install who is some contracted person not really interested in the gig but has to make ends meet somehow.

    Sears pulled this crap with me. $130 to install a garage door opener (one of theirs) and it was 4 attempts before getting it actually done and then it rips off the door only days later.

    I put it back together after tipping the guy for his troubles.

    Seems to me that the title PROFESSIONAL really means HAS MORE TOOLS THAN YOU DO not that they have even a clue as to what they are doing.

  14. DoubleEcho says:

    I was considering using Lowes this September to put a new door in before the winter. After hearing this, I’ll be shopping elsewhere – I have no tolerance for that level of incompetence.

  15. sonneillon says:

    $960 for a door? I was mad when I paid $400 for a steel security door and reinforced door frame.

  16. AgentTuttle says:

    Find a local contractor who a friend recommends, the kind who don’t need to advertise door-to-door because they stay busy from word of mouth.

  17. unpolloloco says:

    How hard is it to install a door??? Maybe I’m missing something, but shouldn’t all you have to do is get someone to hold the door in place, screw it in, then install the weather stripping at the bottom? Why pay $400 for someone to do that???

  18. Tmoney02 says:

    @unpolloloco: Well apparently for the people at lowe’s…quite difficult

  19. MitchV says:

    It sounds like a localized bad experience to me.

    My local Lowe’s has gone above and beyond for me several times. I’ve had such good experiences that I buy from them exclusively when it comes to home improvement items.

    I had a door installed (the guy did a good job and had to build out my door frame)
    I bought custom blinds and had them installed
    lawn mower
    grill
    Deck Lumber
    $1500 worth of closet organization
    Pavers
    Plants
    Christmas decorations

    The list goes on… I spend gobs of money with those folks and I get more attention than I ever would have expected from a big-box store.

  20. MitchV says:

    @unpolloloco:

    “How hard is it to install a door??? Maybe I’m missing something, but shouldn’t all you have to do is get someone to hold the door in place, screw it in, then install the weather stripping at the bottom? Why pay $400 for someone to do that???”

    Dude. It can be very simple or it can require the skills of somebody with experience. Never operate on the assumption that all your angles are 90 degrees and your lines are plum.

  21. xkevin108x says:

    You will definitely pay more for Lowe’s to install your door. They pay full price for their contractors and add money on top of that since they are now a middleman. If you liked the contractor who removed and reinstalled your old door, odds are he will still do the work for you, just outside of the Lowe’s transaction.

  22. ninabi says:

    I too bought a door from Lowe’s. It was a custom glass shower door with odd measurements. I gave them the exact size.
    When it arrived, the door was several inches too tall. They tried to blame me but I insisted that they look at the order form and measure the door for themselves. See? It was taller than ordered.

    Oh, the manager acted like he was doing me a massive, massive favor by taking it back and redoing the order.

    I brought the door back in myself, in the evening when the store wasn’t so hectic. I told them they had to take off the charges AND give me credit because I had to pay my contractor to come over and set up the door and attempt to install it and I wanted to be compensated for that.

    At first they balked and tried to give me a lesser credit but I told them they had wasted my time and my money and taking $80 off was more than fair.

    Reordered the door and all was well.

    But- if there are problems, do not try and deal with Lowe’s over the phone. Or on a busy Saturday. Phone calls just result in weird shuffles between staff.

  23. Elvisisdead says:

    @MitchV: If you have plum lines, you may have a problem, or purple chalk. Plumb, as in “plumb bob”. Don’t trust me, though. Ask Bob Villa. [www.bobvila.com]

  24. ogman says:

    I’ve had the same problem with Lowes. They couldn’t even TAKE the order for carpet and completely screwed up my windows. I don’t shop there or at Home Depot anymore. I order the supplies and hire a local contractor.

  25. Shadowman615 says:

    @sharkd: Well sure, there are lots of things one *could* do by themselves. As for someone like me, I don’t even know what any of those things look like or how to use them. I’m sure I could get help from a more competent person if I had too and spend the time and have it done at least half-decently.

    But some of us without either the skills, time, or ambition to undertake such a project would rather just spend the money and (hopefully) have it done right while freeing up the time and energy for other pursuits.

  26. VeryPlainJane says:

    Here Scott…

    [www.westlakehardware.com]

    Westlake rawks!

  27. Edge231 says:

    So one person had a bad experience. Boo hoo. I didn’t read his long, boring story. At least with Lowes, you can complain to them about an individual installer/contractor and there is more accountability..

    And Lowes is not some faceless company. I used their install service for my front screen door and was in contact with a Lowes employee throughout. She called to make sure the contractor called to setup the installation and called after the fact to be sure I was happy with the contractor and installation.

  28. Gannoc says:

    Just to counter this:

    We went to Home Depot to order a new front door, storm door and installation. They came out to measure, and said we would need a custom door costing close to double the price. We went back two other times trying to get more information, but nobody was ever around to help…

    We let it go for a few months, then asked again at the Downingtown, PA Lowes.

    After they measured, we spoke to the rep about it. He said that while we had an odd size opening, the installer should be able to install the standard size door rather than have us pay for a custom one.

    He told us to wait before ordering so he could contact the installer. The next day we got a phone call from him saying that the installer would be able to fit a standard door in.

    The door and installer both arrived on time and set everything up perfectly. We saved $800 because the Lowes rep spent some extra time helping us. I’d happily go there again.

  29. Breach says:

    Get the right tools for the job, and that includes people ;)

  30. rodeo40 says:

    I had an experience where I wanted a door installed from Lowes and since it was custom, they wanted ME to go out and buy materials for the installer…2X4s and other sh.t. That did it for me, I contracted with a local company and got the job done without any “shopping list” for me. A little more expensive, but well worth it.

  31. ChuckECheese says:

    @Youthier: It wasn’t entirely clear in the post (at least not to me), but the OP did say that it seemed to him that Lowe’s had given out his CC number to several employees. A quick read-and-count suggests that as many as 5 Lowe’s employees had access to his CC#. A second related problem is that one employee called to request his mother’s maiden name, which is a huge breach of security–the OP was rightly concerned that somebody was about to commit fraud with his card.

  32. sgtyukon says:

    I custom-ordered an exterior door from Lowes several years ago. They screwed up the order several times, they even lost the order once. They also screwed up the installation several times. It took them over 7 months including all winter (brrrrr!) to get it mostly right. I must have spent a full work week over that period trying to get them to get it right. Eventually, they refunded more than half the cost, $700 and I still felt ripped off. Since then, I only buy from Lowes if I can carry the merchandise out of the store.

  33. JiminyChristmas says:

    @MitchV: So true. If you imagine that your house may have been built by the same kind of rubes screwing up your door installation who knows what problems could arise.

    Also, these days doors and windows can be complicated. They aren’t just slabs of wood in a frame anymore. Unless everything comes preassembled right out of the box you could easily find yourself with a pile of tracks, strips, clips, hardware, and who knows what else.

  34. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Lowe’s used to have such great customer service, but recently we had horrible a horrible experience, as did our neighbor.

    We walked out of our local Lowe’s last month in disgust. No one there could answer questions about or cut wooden blinds, as they were all too busy talking to fellow-employees, standing around, or weren’t on the floor to be found.

    Basically, if the employees we found (through actively looking for them – no one in the actual department) were willing to help, they weren’t able (couldn’t answer questions and/or didn’t know how to cut wooden blinds) , and if they were able, they weren’t willing. Because when we finally found someone, she said she could do it (measure/cut) but wasn’t sure if she’d “have time” and we’d have to wait to see if she “got around to it”.

    So, we left.

    I called the manager from the car, explained the problem, and he said he was “sorry” but he couldn’t do anything. We would have been happy if he had offered to find someone to actually do the work we needed done (answer one question, get the blinds down, measure and cut them), but he never offered to do that. He never offered to do anything. In the end, we spent close to two hours trying to get Lowe’s to do a 20 minute job in exchange for hundreds of dollars, and no one, not even the manager could or would do it.

    Went to another local store from there, got the job done, and wrote Lowe’s off the list for good. We are in the midst of a major remodel started last year, and if they can’t do the small (but expensive) stuff, there is no way we’re trusting them with the big (and even more expensive) stuff. We bought all of our appliances there in December when we remodeled the kitchen, but never again.

    My neighbor’s story is similar.

    Lowe’s lost two customers last month, both of whom are remodeling. I’m sorry the OP had to go through all that, but he’s better off without their work. They just don’t seem to give a damn.

  35. Paladin_11 says:

    I’m in the final stages of a custom wood blind order with Lowe’s that started almost two months ago. I was promised two week delivery on the order. Three weeks in Lowe’s called to say that there was a hold on one blind from the manufacturer, but that they would go ahead and send the installer to do the rest. The installer showed up when promised and totally kicked a** on the installation and completely cleaned up afterwards. We inspected the work and found two of the blinds had slight defects. He reordered those two, which I’m still waiting for, as well as the original back ordered blind. To Lowe’s credit, the original sales person called and offered me a credit that essentially made the backordered item free.

    So, 6 weeks in Lowe’s customer service guys call me up and ask how the order went. I was completely honest in saying that I wasn’t sure if I would use them or recommend them again. One of the questions was about the appearance of the installer, which I found odd. The guy was probably about 30 and was a total Goth… long hair, piercings, tattoos, scraggly beard, etc. And I gave him the highest possible rating. The man knew his job, gave me tips for caring for the blinds and re-ordered the defective ones. His lifestyle is his own business; he did what I hired him to do. Doing a good job reflects more on Lowe’s than the appearance of the contractor, at least to me.

    So, my order isn’t complete yet. Lowe’s has been in constant touch about its status, including a call today. Things didn’t happen as well as I might have liked but at least there seems to be accountability. So overall I guess I’m pretty happy with them and I would consider using them again.

  36. Rusted says:

    @sharkd: I’d have to second that. Doors are pretty easy to hang and it’s not that much harder to reframe an opening. Of course I’m in the biz….. Quality of big box like Lowe’s and others depends on location, local management and the subs they hire.

  37. cametall says:

    Hrmm, when I worked retail if a product was in “variance” it meant it was missing or stolen.

    Maybe they were going to list the door as stolen in their system and give to you for free! (yeah right)

  38. Birki says:

    Just another reminder that marketing slogans are just fluff and often don’t mean anything substantial. “Build Something Together” indeed – sounds warm and fuzzy but the reality can be quite different. In my previous job, I had to deal with Lowe’s marketing department. It’s a nightmare to navigate.

  39. Anonymous says:

    This may be a dead conversation, but I just wanted to add in my story.

    I ordered a security door and front door from Lowes a few months ago. First they said it would be 2-3 weeks for the materials to arrive, and then it would be installed shortly afterwards. 5 weeks later, they call me to set up an installation date. On the day of installation (another 3 weeks had passed) they call me at 11:00 AM (after I had been waiting since 8:00 AM) to tell me that they ordered the wrong door, and would have to reorder … which would be another 2 to 3 weeks. A month passes, and they tell me that the security door I wanted does not come in custom sizes, and that they would give me a a “high grade storm door” for the same price. I looked up the door I was getting, and it was $160.00 less than the door I had ordered. I called them back, and spent a half hour on hold, and then had someone tell me that the salesman I was dealing with was off that day. I called back the next day, and got the same answer.

    I am on a business trip right now, and am going to personally go into the store when I get back. We’ll see how that goes.

    My point is … this is NOT an isolated occurence, as others have said … after my troubles, I have spoken with several people who have had THE SAME EXACT EXPERIENCE. It is a game that Lowes plays with their customers. First of all, they charge you up front … for 3 months now, my money has been sitting in one of their accounts collecting interest when I have NOTHING to show for it. Secondly, by confusing you with multiple “wrong orders” and cancelled installations, they can give you lesser quality materials for the same price, hoping you don’t catch it.

    And to all the good willed people here who say “why can’t you install a door yourself,” obviously you don’t get the way our economy works. You see, not everyone is good at, or wants to do work like this. That is why there are people out there who’s JOBS are to do this work. I don’t have the time or the patience to install a door, so I am going to PAY someone to do the work for me. I get angry when the people I PAY can’t do their JOBS without horribly screwing it up. I get even more angry when I have evidence to believe it is intentional.