Until recently, I worked at a Lowe's store. I'm going to share with you a side of the business the public doesn't see.
To maintain a reasonable profit margin, Lowe's, line any other company, has to strike a balance between price and service. Service equates to the quality and quantity of the employees working in the store. It has been my experience that Lowe's attempts to hire the best employees it can find at the lowest possible wage. In a further effort to keep payroll costs down, the stores keep staffing numbers low, and full time employees work in excess of 40 hours per week at a declining overtime rate (also known as Chinese Overtime)
Heres an example of how it works: Say employee X is paid $8.00 per hour for 40 hours. Additional hours worked that week are paid at 40-70% of that rate, rather than the standard time and a half for overtime. Before complaining because you have to wait, bear in mind that the savings you receive for an item are made possible by that employees low wage.
Every item in the store has a unique barcode. The associated price for that barcode is maintained on their computer system and cash register system. It is a person's full time job to go around the store and change signage and labels as prices go up or down. With 10's of thousands of unique items in the store, it is not uncommon to miss an item or two. Unfortunate, but not uncommon.
Lowe's stores attempt to maintain inventory levels of standard items which meet the needs of consumers in their market. Anything not stocked must be ordered from a manufacturer, distributor, or fabricator. When a customer wants one of these "special order" items, Lowe's must order them. With items that are built to order such as kitchen cabinets, countertops, blinds, windows and doors, Lowe's has to rely upon the third party (manufacturer, fabricator, etc.) to produce them-- they aren't just sitting on a shelf somewhere.
When Lowe's places the order on behalf of a customer, that order takes its place in line with orders from other retailers who have placed orders on behalf of their customers. Lowe's has NO CONTROL over those third parties, and has to rely upon the estimated delivery date the third party gives them. Employees quote delivery times based upon the information provided them. Sometimes, things come in much earlier than expected-- the opposite is also true.
Unfortunately, the computer systems that the employees use to process orders and monitor their delivery status are not as sophisticated as one might expect. The status for items which are ordered electronically-- directly from Lowe's computer to the manufacturer (also known as EDI) is updated by the manufacturer's computer to the store computer.
All other special orders must be faxed to the supplier and the estimated delivery manually input into the store system. There are also occurrences of things fall through the cracks. Faxes are never received by the vendor, vendors lose orders, or they misproduce items. Sad though it may be, there are occasions when the employee mistakenly faxes the order to the wrong vendor, or the item is never ordered in the first place -- a byproduct of a high volume business relying too heavily upon overburdened employees (overburdened to keep prices low) and manual systems.
In the face of the adversity of trying to provide the best service they can provide with the available resources, store managers and employees bend over backwards to give quality customer service. When legitimate mistakes are made by store employees, they and their managers will usually attempt to do something to compensate the customer. Unfortunately, there are way too many customers who exploit this and not only expect the store personnel to bend over backwards, but also to bend over forwards.
For every legitimate complaint, there are 30 or more illegitimate ones. Customers will lie, cheat and steal. Rather than make an issue over it, store managers will politely smile and attempt to compensate the customer for the alleged error. I have personally witnessed customers remove signs, take items to the register and then complain when charged the correct price. If the customer is successful in getting a lower price for the item he is, in effect, "stealing" the portion of the item he is not paying for. The cumulative effect of this theft is a loss of profit-- the cost of which is eventually passed on to the consumer.
So there you have it. When Lowes is aware of a problem, they usually try to make things right. The company is honest and puts forth effort to give good value to the customer. As another former employee mentioned, if you believe youve been treated unfairly, seek out a manager for assistance. Just remember that when you lie or steal in order to get a better deal for yourself, everyone pays the price. And, as your mother taught you, a little courtesy and understanding can go a long way!
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