Customer Battles Lowe's Online Over $3500 Fence, Wins

Last year, Lowe’s horribly botched Allen’s $3500 fence installation (see picture, left). When he complained, the installer and Lowes dodged responsibility, but still demanded $3500. Allen refused to pay and they sent his bill to collections. So Allen put up Lowes-sucks.com with pictures, correspondence and phone recordings of his customer service debacle. Instead of fixing Allen’s problem, Lowe’s sent him a cease-and-desist to get him to take down the website, claiming “trademark infringement.” That’s when our site picked it up, along with Ars Technica, Digg, and others, driving lots of traffic to Lowes-sucks.com That was a year ago. Now it seems Allen has won his fight.

Allen wrote in this week to say, “The issue between Lowe’s, their attorney and I were settled amicably and in a timely manner last year.” He wasn’t able to provide further details due to the terms of the settlement. Lowes-sucks.com is now a placid “coming soon” page.

Congrats on your success, Allen! Your tale is proof of how one consumer’s voice, telling their true story, leveraged online, can force a company to play on equal terms. If you would like to get started doing something like what Allen did, check out our post “How To Fight Companies Online And Win.”

PREVIOUSLY: Lowes Resorts To Legal Bullying Instead Fixing Their Horrible $3500 Fence Job
RELATED: Intellectual property laws abused in quest to shutdown Lowes-Sucks.com [Ars Technica]

Comments

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  1. mazda3jdm says:

    Stick it to the man!

  2. aerick79 says:

    Kinda creepy that he tape his phone recordings.

  3. sleze69 says:

    I was very close to having Home Depot/Lowes install my fence. I am glad I went with an actual fence company that stands behind its work.

  4. ViperBorg says:

    Well done, sir. Well done.

  5. Zoom says:

    I hope he got much more than a $3500 settlement for him to take down the website and waste a year of his life.

  6. cmdrsass says:

    It may be a personal victory, but it is not a victory for consumers. The information about his experience has now been expunged from the website and he is forbidden from discussing it. Future Lowe’s customers will not have a warning of their irresponsible behavior.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      @cmdrsass: Exactly! This is NOT a victory.

      It took a year of harassment by the consumer for Lowe’s to meet their commitment to provide a proper installation.

      After all this harassment and bad publicity, Lowes gagged the consumer from providing details and of course, Lowes admits no wrongdoing.

      A company that meets its obligations only when forced to by bad publicity and media attention deserves no praise.

  7. zigziggityzoo says:

    From the Wayback Machine:

    [web.archive.org]

  8. ZoeSchizzel says:

    A couple of years ago I dropped by a local furniture store. Upon entering a back room, I noticed the wood laminate floor was horribly buckled. As a former rental company employee, I’ve seen a good number of improperly installed floors, but this was the worst I had ever seen. There was a very large sign placed on the wall that read “Lowe’s installed this floor. And they will not fix it.” Boy did that stick in my mind! I like their store just fine, but I would never hire them to install a product.

  9. Parting says:

    He should sell website name to ANOTHER consumer, that had problems with the company.

  10. mariospants says:

    Too bad they came to an amicable conclusion before I could see the anti-Lowes web site… oh wait, there’s always the cached versions!

  11. Starfury says:

    My sister in law is having major problems with Lowe’s regarding a vanity and some shower walls. It’s been almost 2 months, deliveries missed, rude managers, and no real resolution in sight. I’ve suggested just canceling the order and going somewhere else because even if they offer you a discount it’s not worth the hassle you’ve gone through.

    Way to go Lowe’s, Union City, CA!

  12. jmsta says:

    I have had nothing but a good experience with Lowes (purchasing materials) when building my house last year. I Bought almost all of my materials from Lowes. Their prices were better, they delivered for almost nothing, and their lumber was straight and square. I got quotes from two local lumber yards for almost everything and Lowes consistently beat them on price and quality. When I needed something quickly and had run to one of the local places (Lowes is about 20 miles away)I always had to load everything myself and sift through 20 boards to find a straight one. I had Lowes install my carpet the contractor did an ok job, by no means a great job. They were not as competitive on the carpet install but were able to give me 12 months interest free on 16k worth of carpet and install. I also had them attempt to install my siding which was a miserable experience that had a happy ending. Contractor after contractor came to my house and then refused to do the install for one reason or another. they had already dropped off the siding and after 6 month of trying to get it installed I told them not to send anybody else out. I was able to keep the materials for about 2/3rds less than what they originally quoted me for materials for the install. When I finally was able to secure a contractor to do the install I ended up saving over $5000.00 in material and a little on the labor.

    To sum it up I give them an A+ for in store/on the phone/delivery etc…

    I’d have to give them a C- for their install services

  13. cf27 says:

    Trademark infringement???

    Companies always get this wrong. Trademark law is all about keeping consumers from being confused about who they’re buying a product from. A website like “Lowes-Sucks.com” is not going to confuse anybody.

    • chrylis says:

      @cf27: This is one of the major problems with the proliferation of the nonsense term “intellectual property”: Businesses (and individuals) acquire the attitude that they “own” the expression in question and that no one else is entitled to use it without their permission. (See also the insanity surrounding the IOC, especially things like trying to trademark “2012″.)

  14. Triborough says:

    Is there any way to opt out on having companies record your calls?

  15. dadelus says:

    I actually had a good experience with Lowes fixing an installation mistake. While it doesnt’ make up for this horror story I figured I would share.

    When we bought our first home we had a new refrigerator installed that had an icemaker in it. Apparently when the Lowes install team hooked up the water they didn’t check to make sure the connection was solid so we ended up with a VERY slow leak we didn’t know about.

    Fast forward about 2 months later I notice a puddle in front of the fridge. I pull the fridge out and find mushrooms growing on our hardwood floors. We clean up as best we can and shut off the water to the fridge but the floor under the fridge is ruined. I called Lowes to complain about the install and they sent out a plumber who hooked the water back up and made sure the connection was secure. He also recommended that the damage to the floor be replaced. Within a week or so they had a flooring contractor out to determine the damage.

    The guy who came out determines that the only way to fix the problem is to replace the boards under the fridge. He then points out that he probably won’t be able to match the boards to what is in the rest of the kitchen so he says he will have to replace the whole floor.

    So in short, Lowes paid for a plumber and new hardwood floors in our kitchen in response to a small mistake made by one of their installers and other than a few phone calls I didn’t have much hassle in getting them to do it. So as usualy, I guess some store managers are just more willing to make things right than others.

  16. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    How sad. America’s current thriving industry revolves around intellectual property and lawyers.

  17. macinjosh says:

    “Kinda creepy that he tape his phone recordings.

    Yes, taping recordings is kinda creepy and redundant, but it’s no so bad when recording a phone call to a company that is trying to screw you.

  18. azzy says:

    We went to Lowes looking to get a fence install… after talking to two people and being sent to the guy who “knows about fences” they still didn’t really give us a clear path to getting a quote on our fence and just seemed clueless. They contract all of these things out to a local company, and the cheapest one wins.

    We went around the neighborhood and the nicer fences had a badge on them from the installer. We called up TJ Fencing and spoke with the owner, they did an excellent job and were cheaper than we expected! TJ told us he gets all of his work from references or those little signs, and doesn’t even advertise in the yellow pages – and he can’t keep up.

    He told us he used to contract for Lowes and how they always wanted him to cut corners, use poorer quality boards, etc to cut costs, so finally he just dumped them.

  19. DashTheHand says:

    As what others have said, he won his own personal victory over Lowes, at the cost of an insane amount of time, effort, and I’m sure attorney bills, webhosting fees, etc, etc. After all of this, we the other everyday consumers that would visit Lowes do not know how things were ‘settled,’ we no longer have the info on the site that was forced to be removed because of this settlement, and Lowes gets to go back to shafting people on a personal basis with the knowledge that it will once again be up to one person to have to go through everything this guy did just to possibly get their problem fixed.

  20. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Lowe’s sent him a cease-and-desist to get him to take down the website, claiming “trademark infringement.” That’s when our site picked it up, along with Ars Technica, Digg, and others, driving lots of traffic to Lowes-sucks.com

    Go go streisand effect.

  21. u1itn0w2day says:

    From my understanding companies like Lowes use alot of contractors and not hourly employees.With some of the low prices these companies are basically using the lowest bidder.

    Sometimes they’re ok but many times they are not.They probably blow alot of these problems off because they are either sub contracted jobs or spending too much time cuts into profit.Lowes has to make their money so what’s left for the contractor proabably isn’t much.

    Still inexcusable the ways Lowes threw him back to the contractor and the contractor back to Lowes.Both are trying to wash their hands of it.It will get worse for Lowes as business increases.

  22. TACP says:

    FWIW, I got new countertops installed by a Lowe’s contractor a couple of years ago. They did a good job, in less than a day, and cleaned up their mess before they left. I haven’t had any trouble at all with them.

  23. ChuckBlack says:

    I still think http://www.lowes-blows.com would have been better…