Lowe’s – a Case Study in Lousy Corporate Customer Service

Let me just come right out and say it, I’m absolutely sick of these massive, faceless corporations treating their customers like cattle.

And the worst of the worst is trying to get any kind of customer support from these behemoths. You know the drill, you dial a number, wade through a convoluted phone tree, only to wind up in some unnamed country halfway around the world talking to someone who is only empowered to read from a script, and not actually offer you any real assistance.

Lousy corporate customer service is one of those things I truly despise, but it’s taken a hideous experience with Lowe’s to really push me over the edge. We recently bought a new washer and dryer. We wanted something reliable, efficient, affordable, and as a bonus, made in the USA. So we chose Whirlpool.

The units were installed in early January, and at first they were great. But about three weeks in, we discovered the washer had a slow leak under one of the corners. It was under warranty and it looked like such a minor issue, so we figured getting it fixed would be a piece of cake. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened next:

  1. Call Lowe’s to schedule service appointment. First service appointment is a no-show.
  2. Call Lowe’s to schedule another service appointment, hopefully with a company that will actually show up. Someone comes out this time, determines the rubber seal around the door is the source of leak, orders replacement.
  3. Same person comes back, replaces seal, discovers leak is actually coming from somewhere else and will require another visit. After he leaves we discover the washer door no longer closes easily AND the washer now makes a rhythmic banging sound when it’s spinning. Whatever this guy did, we can’t use the washer now without fear of causing some REAL damage.
  4. Call Lowe’s again, complain about the lousy “repair” job and ask for a replacement. According to the ironclad terms dictated by Whirlpool, they can only authorize that after one more service visit.
  5. The new company is a no-show.

We are now waiting for Whirlpool to “review” this case to determine if it “qualifies” for a replacement machine. Which of course takes 48 hours.

We’ve gone so far off the rails in this country that this completely normal way for a corporation to treat its customers. The bottom line and Wall Street are the only things that matter.

While dealing with Lowe’s, at no point did I ever feel like I was speaking to someone who had any kind of authority to make anything right. They were stuck running through a script that had a single plot. And because the corporation doesn’t empower anyone to actually do anything not in that script, they have no way to handle a machine that was rendered inoperable by one of their own authorized technicians. They don’t have a way to handle service appointments that are no-shows (nor do they seem to have a procedure for booking appointments only with companies committed to showing up).

I’d like to see any of us individuals try and keep a track record like this. Showing up half the time, breaking stuff the other half. We’d all be out of work.¬†

Contrast this with a company like Nordstrom. They are one of the few major corporations out there that really understands customer service. I once had a problem with an online order, and within minutes of calling to complain about it I was transferred to their corporate office in Seattle. There were no phone trees, no condescending hold messages trying to sell me on how great they are, no jumping through pointless hoops with a customer service robot because of a stupid script. Nordstrom gets it.

Lowe’s doesn’t get it. Whirlpool doesn’t get it. And almost every other corporation out there doesn’t get it either.

PS. after ranting on twitter, the Lowe’s twitter account reached out to me, which I appreciate. But after emailing them with this story, they never bothered to even acknowledge receiving it. This makes their Twitter customer support seem like as big a sham as their regular support channels. Hideous.