Thursday, December 02, 2004
On this day:

Lowe's

Dearest Lowe's:
I have been a customer of your fine hardware stores for quite some time now. I have, with very few exceptions, been very pleased with the customer service I have received over the past few years. That is, until I decided to shop at your store today, when apparently the insane asylum was being run by the inmates. Scratch that... it was being run by the people too stupid to be locked up in an insane asylum... the kinda people that you make man the phones at the 1-800-cool-whip hotline.

I went to your store to find something specific that I saw on your website. I browsed the aisles, as I usually do, to no avail. I'm very tool saavy, and I'm a frequent customer... I know my way around a hardware store like my cousin Jimmy knows his way around the seedy adult bookstore around the corner from his shanty. However, on this occassion, I can't find what I'm looking for. So... I grab the nearest employee, and apparently I bugged him because he looked down at me with his one good eye in disgust. Seriously friend, if you're going to work in a customer service related job, buy a patch for that puppy. It would make us all feel much better about shopping in your section. Plus, you could make a whole pirate themed game out of it... approach customers and ask them "Arrrrrr ya gonna be needin' any assistance, ya landlubber?". But I digress.

Anywho, Long John Simpleton gives me the standard "If we had it, it'd be here" line. Classic. Big help. He then asks me if I wrote down the item number when I saw on your website. I told him that I had not, and asked if they had internet access at the store so I could show him the item. "Internet, ya skallywag. What be the internet?" he replied. Ok, maybe not quite like that, but that's how it sounded in my head. I checked my watch...yeah, still 2004. I can sit in my car at work late at night and jump on the web while sitting outside the local Starbucks. My buddy can get porn sent directly to his cell phone. I once saw a guy get a computer to launch nuclear weapons against another country... but then he taught it to play tic-tac-toe, and all was well with the world. What I'm getting at here is that you'd think that somewhere in a store full of teenage employees, there was a way to get online and check out the stores website. Apparently not though, and I left the store with my head hung low.

You'd think that'd be the end of my tale, but I was optimisic enough... no, wait, sadistic enough, to return only a few hours later.

So I go home, slightly discouraged at not being able to find the item I was looking for. I started browsing your website again, and I found the item number for what I was searching for. I called your store, and I asked if you'd be able to tell me if you had any of the item in stock. "Well, we seem to have 7 of these items in stock," your helpful clerk replied. Against my better judgement, I returned to the store to look again. This time, however, I took a printout of the item with me. I was hoping that I could hand a picture of the item to one of your patients...sorry...employees, and they would be able to find the item. My friend's three year old can accomplish this feat everytime he opens a Highlights magazine.

I walk into the store and I meet Bill. Bill was actually very helpful, albiet unsuccessful. Bill checked in all the same places that I had checked before, but then Bill -insert heavenly music here- grabbed a rolling ladder. Ah yes... the taboo rolling ladder. The magical device that you forbid customers from using for fear that one of the mouth breathers will pull a Greg Louganis and inherit three of your fine stores. So... Bill climbs the ladders and starts to check the upstock area for my item. Cue mouth-breathing customer in 3... 2... 1... and here she comes... a customer with what we refer to in my line of work as a "DFQ", a dumb fuckin' question. Of course, she doesn't wait for Bill to climb down from the ladder... no, she starts pulling on his pantleg like a toddler that suddenly feels the need to poop. "What's the difference between the pointy pliers and this pair?", she asks, while waving a pair of wire cutters in the air. Bill looks down at her from the ladder with the same mixture of disgust, confusion, and disbelief that I had on my face. Bill looks at me, then looks back at her. "I'll handle this, you keep looking," I told Bill. Suddenly, I'm fielding questions from all sorts of retards while Bill is helping me search for the holy grail. "What can I put on the pliers so that it's softer when I grab things?". "Where do you guys keep those bags that you can put on buckets so that you can put tools on them?" "Are these all the gloves that you guys have?" (To which I replied "Arrrrrgh, if we had it, it'd be there, matey")

After a search that lasted longer than I had expected one of your employee's attention spans to last, Bill climbed down the ladder, defeated. I just wanted to give the guy a big hug. After all, he had tried his best. It wasn't Bill's fault that some horny teenager that makes $8.00 an hour working overnight stocking shelves decided to hide this item like it were his bong and mom and dad were knocking his bedroom door. Bill did the best Bill could do with what information he had. He even looked it up in the computer again to make sure that the information that I had were correct. The computer still taunted us with that "7". It also told us the exact date that the items were received into inventory, and the date that the last one was sold. What the computer was unable to tell us, however, is where in the hell the item could be.

With my hostility rising, I decide to pull a manager into this battle. I'm not the kinda person that goes and grabs a manager everytime things don't go my way. I'm usually very patient and understanding. However, I have now spent a total of almost an hour over two trips to your fine store searching for this thing, and I wasn't about to give up.

I find my way over the the customer service desk, and there is one woman who is working behind the massive counter. She's at the register at the side of the desk checking out customers, so I stand in front of the desk, waiting for someone to help. She turns in my direction and says "There's just one line, sir.". I try to explain to her that I just have a question, but before I can even finish the word "question", she's squawked out another "There's just one line." So now I have to stand in back of three people each with a bajillion items just to ask to speak to a manager. Here's the kicker.... while she's checking people out, she's answering the phone too. So, me, being the smartass that I am... I pull out my cellphone and start to dial the store. The phone rings and rings and rings... and now she won't answer the freakin' phone. So now I'm boiling.

I finally get to the front of the line, and by now there are people behind me. I tell the friendly inmate that I'd like to speak to a manager. She asks what my problem is, but by this point I really don't feel like going through the story again. She tells me that "all the managers are in a meeting". So now I'm picturing something out of an Austin Powers movie where all the evil super geniuses are sitting around a conference table and coming up with new ways to bend customers over the checkout. "Hey, let's start by opening and closing the store at different times everyday". "I've got an idea, lets start having random fire drills." "How about one day we all leave our red aprons at home and just wonder the aisles aimlessly?"

Since there were no managers available, I ask to speak to a supervisor. "A supervisor?", she replies. "Have you talked to Anne?", she continues.
"No, I haven't talked to Anne.", I tell her.
"Ok, because I'm not sure if Anne is here today.", she adds. "What seems to be the problem." What the hell?
"The problem is, I want to speak to a manager or a supervisor, but there doesn't seem to be anyone worthy of holding that position in this store." So now I relay to her the epic that is my search for the holy grail.
"Ok, hold on one second.", she says. She then picks up the phone and CALLS BILL. I then watch as she begins to talk about me like I'm not standing there in front of her, just seconds from flying into a homicidal rage.
"Yeah, Bill. Did you talk to this guy who's looking for this part or something...". Aaaaargh! I can feel that the people in line behind me are sharing in my frustration.

Enter Rick. Rick gets called over to either assist me, or to hold me down if I suddenly start throwing color chips around the store like they were ninja stars...I'm honestly not sure. I ask Rick if he's a manager. Rick tells me that he works in hardware. Ok, let's take a small break from the story to examine just exactly how stupid this move is on your part, Lowe's. Not only did I not get to speak to someone who makes an extra buck and a quarter an hour by having to deal with people such as myself, now I get a guy who doesn't even work in the department that the friggin' tool I need should be in. This is like me calling my neighbor and telling her "Hey, I lost my car keys somewhere in my house. Come over here and find them for me." And what is Rick's first move. RICK CALLS BILL. At this point I just want to walk over and put Bill in some kind of a protective cocoon. I can tell that Bill's temper is raising too. At least I know that if I start heading for the paint chips, Bill's gonna have my back.

Rick searches for the part for all of about five minutes, then gives me the "Ya know, this isn't even my section." line. My right eye begins to twitch as I walk back over to the customer service desk. This time, at least, there is no line. There are three other people with eye twitches that are hovering around the counter though. One of your inmates looks at me and says "Still can't find it, huh". It is at this point that I take a deep breath, try to calm myself down, and say "Find. Manager. Now."

Enter Anne. Anne starts off with "What seems to be the problem?" I, as calmly as I can muster, start to tell Anne the problem. I tell Anne about the taunting "7" on the screen, about Long John Simpleton, about my secret love affair for Bill, about the bong hiding stock boys... everything. Anne says "Let me see what I can do for you", and flashes me a smile. Suddenly, my rage is starting to subside. Finally, someone in a position of authority that can actually assist me. Anne picks up the phone, and after dialing a few numbers, I hear. "Yeah, is this Bill?"

Anne smiles at me, and I can only guess that the smile is because she is confusing the involuntary eye twich of a man about to snap with the winking of a man about to ask her to dinner. After hanging up the phone, she starts to insult Bill, telling me that if anyone would know where the item is, it would be Bill. I quickly come to Bill's defense, and I launch into this rant about how I agree with her 100% about how Bill should know where this item is, but that your management hasn't provided Bill with the resourses necessary to find this part. I have a semi-retarded cousin that can find Waldo every friggin time, but your cast of misfits can't find something that there are allegedly seven of.

"I can call one of the other stores and see if they have any in stock.", she suggests. I cock my head to the side and said "I called your store, and you have seven in stock. And Anne, so far that isn't working out all that well for me." She smiles again and says "Well, John isn't working today, but I can take your phone number and have him call you tomorrow." Ok, I have to admit... this one threw me off guard enough that for the first time in an hour I actually smiled. Who the fuck is John, and why would a phone call from him tomorrow possibly help my situation? I tell her that I don't want any more phonecalls, and I head for the door. With steam rising from the top of my head, I storm towards the doors, wanting to just put this entire episode behind me.

As I'm heading for the door, I hear someone yell "Sir, sir." I turn around, and there is Bill, holding the item that I have been searching for over his head. A tear actually forms in my eye, and Bill and I run towards each other like two long lost lovers. We embrace, and after he hands me my item, we make glorious love in the middle of aisle 12.

Ok, not really. I left the store, empty handed, with a twitching eye, a bitter taste, and one hell of a fuckin' story.

Lowe's, I would love to be able to tell you that I will never shop in your store again, but I know that I will. I would love to tell you that this was an isolated incident, but I know that it is not. All I can beg of you is to please lock the paint chips behind some sort of protective cage, you souless, uncaring, inempt bastards.

Wishing you and your families the warmest of holiday wishes,
SLC

2 Comments:

Blogger carrie said...

that was funny.

3:46 PM  
Blogger  said...

This is why cool people like me shop at friendly locally owned businesses... because they only have three employees, all of whom know everything about their store, and if they don't have something they'll tell you and if they do, they know where to look, and they'll order stuff for you that gets there in 3-5 business days.
Also sometimes they have free food.

1:02 PM  

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