An anonymous reader who once worked installing as an installer for Lowe’s shared some very helpful advice with us: you probably shouldn’t go to a big-box store for your deck-building and window-installing needs. Why is that? Let him count the ways.
For 8 months I worked as a Lowe’s Installed Sales Installers. I installed everything; decks, fencing, roofs, gutters, siding, windows and doors. I worked with 10 Project Specialist Exteriors (PSE) during my time with Lowe’s. I’d like to share my experience as a warning against using Lowe’s or as a suggestion to use Lowe’s: your choice.
1. Deliveries are frequently late and incomplete. I arrived at a house to install a deck the store had delivered half the materials which in theory is fine on a week long project, except they delivered the deck boards not the posts and framing materials. Since they don’t make room for errors in the delivery schedule it took a day and a half to switch materials. They refunded the customer $250 for the trouble.
2. Their employees don’t know anything about the products they sell. I arrived to install a roof and found pallets of shingles, vents, ice and water shield etc. I called the installed sales office and asked where the felt paper was, the department manager asked if I could start the roof today and finish tomorrow once they could get the felt paper delivered. No! the felt paper goes under the shingles.
3. Their employees don’t understand construction. On one occasion we started a fence project and hit a unmarked utility line, the electric and cable company came out told the customer the line was improperly marked and repaired it (free of charge). We finished the fence and billed the store.
A week later I called to check on my payment, The Installed Sales Manager told me there wasn’t any labor money left to pay the invoice. When I asked why she explained the refunded the entire labor amount to the customer since we hit her cable and electrical line. I explained that a marking means there is a line within 4 inches the lines we hit were 7 inches from the marking so we aren’t liable. She responded “oh, what can you do to help us?” I told to take it up with the utility company and that my full invoice needed paid since I wasn’t at fault and didn’t refund the money.
They refunded the customer about $1,800 and paid us our full bill. I estimate they lost $1,250 on the job.
4. Installers aren’t allowed to paint, touch up, color, etc. anything. If I have to take your trim off of get your front door installed we won’t paint the new piece. I can install new trim and gutter board but cannot paint it. I can cut siding but cannot paint or seal the joints.
5. You are at the mercy of their overbooked delivery schedule. Projects routinely ran over because the stores overbooked deliveries and only made partial deliveries. I needed 115 sheets of OSB on a roof job they store told me and the customer it would be 2 days for delivery. This is after the shingles are torn off and the roof is sitting exposed with gaping holes in it. We eventually got the materials that day but it caused the project to run long. They refunded the customer $350.
6. The store is at the mercy of the complaint line. We installed a great looking fence but the customer complained knowing he could get a refund (he had used Lowe’s on 4 previous projects and had received a total of $3,500 in refunds to date). We rebuilt both gates twice and 75 feet of fencing. When a customer calls the complaint line the store is obligated to make the customer happy which always involved a refund. I ended up billing Lowe’s $1,250 for extra labor and they refunded the customer $1,000 since the project took 8 extra weeks (special order materials). The lost about $1,500 on the job.
Moral of the story. If you want a smooth process don’t use Lowe’s. If you want to get a big refund, use Lowe’s.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.