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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (7/27/15) 7:51pm - ... wherein Peter tries to buy shelves from Lowe's.

I've had a bit of a bad shopping experience with Lowe's.  They asked me for a more thorough explanation of what went wrong, so here we go...

Hi Lowe's --
This began on June 19th.  I ordered a set of shelves on your site, and shortly afterwards picked them up at the nearby store.  There was a short wait while they sorted out where my item was, but nothing unreasonable.  I took it home, and started assembling it.

So far, everything was fine.

You'll see in the picture that the shelves contain four straight poles that hold the whole piece together, forming the edges of the unit.  Each of those poles is, in turn, made of two half-length poles that screw together.  So, I screwed each of those sets together.  However, on the fourth pole, the screw head was attached at an angle, so when I screwed them together, I wound up with not a straight pole but a dogleg.  I couldn't pass that wonky shape through all five of the shelves, so I couldn't assemble the shelving unit.

I looked at the back of the manual, which had a phone number for Style Selections, the store brand that produces the shelves.  I called it.

Something for future reference: every time I called that number, I wound up on hold for about forty-five minutes.  So that's not good.  Also note that the hold music for that number consists of two songs -- "Everything" by Michael Bublé and "Better Together" by Jack Johnson -- those two songs, over and over again, f o r e v e r.  So, after being forcibly assuaged with relentless peaceful and innocuous top-40 hits, I was talking to the Style Selection rep.

I told her what I'd bought, which part was faulty, and how it was impossible to assemble the shelves.

A lot of merchants at this point would have presented several options for me -- sending out a new one free of charge, recommending I return it to the store, and so on, doing what they could to make this a good transaction.  My Style Service rep presented one option: she could send out a replacement part, and it would be there within two weeks.

It wasn't ideal -- after all, isn't point of buying from a physical store that you get the product quickly? -- but it was just this side of tolerable, so I went with it.

Odds are, the correct thing to do would have been to disassemble the half-made shelving, box it all up again, cram it into the car, return it at the store, and then try forget that the whole transaction ever happened.  Instead, I happily assumed that the part would be on its way eventually (if not exactly "soon"), and I threw away the packing materials, which were taking up lots of space in the garage.

Again, this was a mistake.

Two weeks went by.  Over two weeks went by.  I called Style Selections back, and returned to the Seventh Circle Of Sensitive-Ballad Hell.  A mere forty-five minutes later, I was talking to a Style Selection rep.  Again, at this point a merchant would have seen that I was having a really bad experience (bought something that was broken, the problem didn't get fixed for over two weeks, racked up an hour and a half of adult-contemporary hold time), and worked to remedy it.  Again, a refund, a replacement, even some lagniappe like a gift card would have at least assured me that Lowe's actually cared about this problem.

Instead, I was told that it was on backorder from the manufacturer, and no, there was no way for me to contact the manufacturer.  But they assured me that the part would be there in a week.

In a way, the process was a bit like boiling a frog.  Things were getting worse -- I bought a simple set of shelves, and now it'll be over three weeks before I can assemble them? surely it doesn't go down like that at Ikea -- but they were getting worse by tolerable degrees.  Sure, it wasn't *good* that I'd wait another week, but then I'd have my part, I'd have my shelves, and all would be well.

One week went by.  Two weeks went by.  Three weeks went by.  I should have called customer service back earlier, but understand that there are reasonable limits to how much heavily autotuned crooning one man can take.  Finally, today, I called them again, and lost another forty-five minutes to the hold-time gods.

Result?  It's still on backorder.  No, you can't contact the manufacturer.  No, there is no prospective ship date.  No, we can't contact you when it ships.  No offer to help me out in any way, no real concern, even, that something had gone wrong.  Just a sense of "tough luck, pal".

I asked if there was anyone I could escalate this to.  (I never do this.)  She asked if I wanted to file a complaint.  I hate filing complaints, but yes, I sighed, yes I did.  She put me through to the main Lowe's line, and the line promptly went busy, and then dead.


I got a callback, though, and then I was successfully put through to Lowe's main customer-service line.  I explained the situation, and... nothing.  There was nothing they could do to help me.  Again, tough luck, pal.

To her credit, though, the representative *did* offer to route me to the manufacturer.  "Are you sure?  I was just on the line with Style Selections -- they're actually the department that forwarded me here."  No, no, this was the manufacturer, this was different.  Well, this was very promising!  I could talk to the people who actually *made* the part, and maybe I'd finally be talking to someone with some power to help me resolve this.  Finally.

There was a click, and a pause and then the horrifying, cloying voice chirped out of my receiver: Michael Bublé.  (Seriously -- though I was never a huge fan, I think your company has ruined that man's music for me.)  I stayed on the line long enough to verify that, yes, it was the same exact Style-Selection hold line I had been on before, with the same circa-2007 two-song playlist and the same pre-recorded hold patter.

I hung up.

I hated resorting to a peevish tweet, but at this point I'd exhausted all other avenues, and you'll understand, I think, that by this point I wanted to warn my friends off of a company that could botch the simple act of selling me a set of shelves this badly.

I'm not entirely sure what would make things right at this point.  I just want a shelf to organize the stuff in my garage.  What I've got is an unassemblable pile of metal.  And I'm certainly not getting those two hours of hold-time back, no matter what.  If you guys are in a position to present me with any options, let me know -- I'd like this story to end happily.

        Yours in commerce,

Mood: [mood icon] irritated · Music: endless Bublé
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