Lowe's Customer Service - another horrible consumer experience
Sound is not great, but it is the heart of what this portends.
We Are Heading Towards Idiocracy
So I went to Lowe's the other day. I managed to knock a hole in the wall at my house (it’s a long story, just accept that I am a moron and move on), so I needed to fix it. It was a reasonably large hole and I have never done that sort of work before, so, after watching a video that showed me how to repair it (God I love the Internet), I went to Lowe's to get the items that I now knew I needed for my little home repair project.
I went in and was promptly ignored by the entire staff as is their custom now that they and Home Depot have crushed all the small hardware stores that used to provide service to their customers, and so I spent some time wandering around with my head up my consumer ass. It was great.
I found the aisle with the huge stacks of wallboard. They were enormous. The stacks were six and eight feet tall, and the sheets of sheetrock were like four by twelve or some hideously large dimension that no human that does not occur in a Homerian epic could lift, and there were no “tape knives” as I had learned such things are called, nor were there any rolls of tape, small buckets of “mud” or little red trays to hold my mud in. There was nothing. Just giant stacks of wall board that only one of the Transformers could lift.
So, being a modern consumer used to this sort of experience, I stood there like a dumbass for a while, staring at my little list and shrinking a little every time I glanced up and about hoping that someone in that red vest and blue shirted Lowe's ensemble would amble up and say those beloved words, “Can I help you, sir?”
Alas, no such thing happened. I got close. One Lowe's employee walked by and glanced up at me. I gave him my best helpless-but-too-male-to-just-come-out-and-admit-I-am-lost-in-a-hardware-store-so-please-ask-if-there’s-anything-you-can-do-for-me look.
That look has done as much for me as my hey-hot-chick,-do-you-want-to-do-dirty-stuff-to-me? look used to do in high school. Oh well.
So, I wandered around a little. I was getting pissed. There were like, NO, employees. Where the hell did they go? Did they scurry under the shelves when I walked in like cockroaches do when you turn on the lights in the ghetto?
I ended up in lamps and toilet seats before I knew I was avoiding the issue.
I ambled back the direction I came from. I craned my neck and kept reading the big signs that compartmentalize the aisles. Bathroom. Siding. Doors and Windows. Well, there I am again. Drywall. Up and back I had gone.
There has to be tape knives and stuff, right? I mean, the guy that made the video was not just screwing with me? He looked so nice. You know?
So I made a loop and ended up back in the toilet seat aisle. Man, I really wished I needed a new toilet seat right now. Majestic rows of seats in lots of cool textures. Two screws is all that’s required to be a home repair GOD. But no.
So I wandered back to drywall again. But then, in a stroke of luck, I spot an end cap with lots of weird stuff in it. I am sort of befuddled by the whole experience, my confusion, frustration and feeling of inadequacy is making me even less perceptive than I might otherwise have been, but, at least it’s small stuff. I focus on the small stuff. Hey, there’s the tape they were talking about. Shit, how did I miss this? I grab it. OMG, look the tape knives too. SWEET!
Another guy that works there walks by. He probably had bad eyes and thought the slum lord had turned off the lights again, making it safe to come out, but he clearly didn’t see me, so, yeah, his eyesight must be really horrible. I felt very bad for him and was suddenly grateful for my good eyes even though I have to wear glasses. All things in perspective, you know?
I went through and found most of my stuff.
Still no little bucket of mud though. How could that be?
I went back round to the wall of giant person materials. There was no little buckets of mud. There were some 50 lb. stacks of mud dust mix. But I didn’t really think my little hole would require 50 lbs, even if it was a very big, little hole.
There were big 5 gallon buckets too. Same deal. Way overkill. I finally grabbed a red-vested cockroach. "Dude, my video suggested there exists buckets of wall mud that serve for one or two jobs. Have you such things?"
"Yeah. Aisle two."
Aisle two is "Paint" for those of you who do not know. Drywall is aisle 846. It's a long walk. I lost 7 pounds. :)
The 2 quart bucket of mud is $5.95. The 5 gallon bucket is $6.49. I sighed. At least I got some exercise.
I quibbled with myself for a while. Suffered existential misery, worried about the size of my genitalia, lots of stuff. Finally I decided: I’m just going to take what I have, buy a 5 gallon bucket and a piece of wallboard the size of half my house and get out of here.” I was feeling very small; I needed to get out of there before I vanished.
Walking back, I notice a little box with some 2’ x 2’ wallboard squares. It was a plain white box and had no labeling on it. It was a total accident I noticed it. I was overjoyed. I grabbed one. SWEET!
I got to the counter and gave the kid who had been sitting there with his thumb up his ass probably watching me with mine in mine the whole time and let him start ringing me up. He got the wallboard square, the little mud pan, the smaller of the two putty knives. He stopped at the 8” knife.
“Uh, you know the item number on this?” he asked me.
“You know the item number on this?”
“Why in god’s name would I know something like that?”
“I need an item number. The tag is gone on this one.”
“Well, don’t you have a book or something?”
He fumbled around for a while.
I waited. I was sure that he, being roughly 20 and clearly a fine physical specimen, would just run back to where they were and get the item number for his customer.
He looked up at me. “Can you go get it?”
“What?” said I.
“Can you go get it.”
“Um,” I was in shock. “Well, I could. But… don’t you think you should. Me being the customer and all?”
“Well, I uh…” I thought he might actually drool. He clearly wasn’t leaving.
“Fine,” I said and gave him a spurious and piercing gaze that was completely lost on him because, according to all the anthropology texts I have read, the neanderthal people had neither sarcasm nor spuriousness as a visual reference. So, I went and got it myself.
God. What is wrong with me? Unfortunately, my only option was Home Depot, where his brother works I’m sure, so why bother?
So, I got it. Walked my old, fat ass back there and got a new one while his young, spry ass sat there with a reinserted thumb.
He rang me up and bid me farewell.
He forgot to ring up the square of wallboard. He forgot because he had done it the first time and had canceled out the bill when he sent me, in lieu of his young self, to get the 8” knife while he sat there and dyed his fingernails brown under the pretext of potentially needing to ring up another customer (that never came, by the way). I actually had to tell him to charge me for it.
"You didn't charge me for the wallboard," I said, looking at my receipt, certain that a simian of this magnitude would have screwed it up... and I was right. This one had. (The upside is that God must laugh, and, it serves as evidence not only that there is a God, but that He has a sense of humor, because evolution cannot produce such idiocy. It defies the very premise.)
"Oh, yeah," he mumbled. He took my small 2x2 wallboard and proceded to peel the sticker off the back, intending to scan it. It was stuck... have you ever tried to peel a tag off of a book or some other paper surface? Yes, well, he really did battle with it. Clearly the complexity of adhesives combined with the fact that wallboard is essentially chalk held together by a layer of paper, was complicated, and, well, the poor boy just really had a time of it. He finally got it loose, but in doing so he tore through the protective layer of my wallboard. I couldn't help wondering why he hadn't done that the first time, but it was a riddle too lost in the storm of my general "WTF, where am I, how does this happen in America" moment to be asked aloud. I debated demanding another piece, but I knew even as I thought it that I would only cost myself another 20 minutes of misery, so I concluded, despite never having done any drywall work before, that, as a redneck, born and raised, and quite despite my having learned to read since, that I could probably save my drywall square with duct tape. I paid him, a separate bill, for my drywall, and left.
So, yeah. Lowe's sucks. And America is doomed.