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Aug 1, 2006
Aug 1, 2006
The Lowe's Online Store Offers Products They Don't Really Sell --- Extremely Expensive Shipping Charges
Lowe's is an indoor/outdoor home improvement store that has similarities to many other stores like Home Depot. They try to offer slightly varied products from their competitors, but in my opinion they are very similar to many other stores out there. They do pride themselves on customer service though, and I was ready to put that too the test by checking out their website, and seeing if they could provide me with a product that we were looking for. Specifically it was a small lighting system, which we took a quick search of the Lowe's site, and determined that they had exactly what we were looking for. Searching through the site was actually much easier than I anticipated as well, and I was really surprised by how well the engine returned the results of our search.
Using the main page of the Lowe's site, they give you a search engine that asks for key words. Typing in the word "lights", there was more than 1000 results given, but they were broken down into sub categories such as indoor and outdoor, security, and even landscaping. This was an attempt by their search engine to make the whole process easier, and it did, because we were looking for indoor lighting. The search engine also works well in the fashion that it doesnt return false results, and it doesnt clam up if there are too many results. Instead, it assumes that you know what you are doing, and gives you a vast listing of the product that you have typed into the data box. Typing in something more specific of course gave us more specific results, and that was how we ultimately settled on the final product to purchase.
When you are searching through, all of the available products have pictures that you can click through in order to find more information about what they are offering. It gives the item number, the cost, a description, and even customer ratings if it is something popular that many people have purchased (and returned to rate). You will find right away that there is an inherent problem with the Lowe's site, in that not all products that they advertise are available online. They list everything in the stores database, and they do this in order to increase the awareness of what their physical stores have to offer. The problem with that, is that you go through the motions of picking out a product before you finally find out that they won't be able to ship it to you. They do tell you where the stores in your area are if you decide it is worth making the trip over to pick it up in person. This doesn't make up for the fact that they seem to be offering everything to online customers, yet pull the rug out from under you if you aren't careful.
When you do pick out a product that you would like to purchase, they make you sign up for the site, and create a log in before the purchase can be finalized. If you have used the site before, it simply makes you log in, and then you are taken to the options for delivery. They offer three different main options before you move on; those choices being a store pickup which is free of charge, The Lowes home delivery, presumably where they send a truck to your business or home, and finally the UPS/USPS Shipping option. Not wanting to make the drive to a Lowes miles away, I selected the UPS/USPS option, which took us to the next screen depicting the further breakdowns. The lighting system had come out to a total of $35.88 just for a reference, and it wasnt going to be a very large parcel to be delivered. I am sure the thing could fit in a shoebox size parcel. On that total, they offered standard shipping (3-7 business days) at an additional $7.38, 2 business days shipping at an additional $18.21, and a next day business shipping at $37.53. So, for more than I paid, I could have the product shipped out to me next day. I don't think so.
Always ordering far in advance of when the product is actually needed, I selected the standard shipping option of 3-7 business days, and was satisfied that this was going to be a fine choice. It still seemed pretty expensive to me, but I guess that is the royalty you pay for getting online service from basically a hardware store. Checking out of the site, you submit your credit card information, and get a receipt both on-screen as well as in e-mail form pretty quickly. From there it is just a matter of waiting for the package, with which we also had no problems. The problems for me were more in the fact that it was so expensive to have something this small shipped out from the Lowes home offices. I think that they do this in part, because they use the web-site as a way to drum up business for their brick-and-mortar stores, and aren't all that concerned with people heading online to do their purchasing. They make more of a big deal about having advertisements for in-store sales sent to you, as well as the gift cards that they sell on the site than providing the customer service that people would want to find.
Customer care is based out of North Carolina, and they do provide a phone number if you have a query about a product or your purchase at 1-800-445-6937. I didnt call the number though, so I am not sure quite how helpful that they are. Instead my interactions were all with the site itself, and with completing a purchase through the online system. The fact that all of their products are listed on the site, yet not all are actually sold online is a frustrating endeavor to say the least, because you could spend a long time searching through, comparing products, only to find that the one you chose in the end isn't even available unless you go to the store yourself. The shipping charges are really obscene if you ask me, and even if you have no problems with the purchase itself, the cost of having a larger product will put your overall cost through the roof. I think that my experience with them was a decent one, but I really have to say that I don't recommend the site. They have a really good search engine, and there is a lot of potential here, but until Lowe's pairs down to only products that they sell online, it is just a flood of too much information. Until that day, I would recommend saving your time on the site, and just going in person to the store if Lowe's is a place you want to do business.