The Lowdown at Lowe’s in the Plumbing Aisle

Last month, I had the chance to spend a few days in December in Florida with my Mom and Dad. They live in The Villages in Lady Lake, FL. Unfortunately, they had some plumbing issues while I visited. Fortunately, I was able to assist. Because Lowe’s was the nearest hardware store from their home, my Dad and I took the convenient route and visited Lowe’s.

It was our second trip to Lowe’s in as many days and my goal was to verify I had the correct materials and tools to do the job. We were happy to quickly find help in the plumbing aisle.

I asked him where I could find a plastic flange for the sewer pipe and he abruptly pointed down the aisle and said, “Over there.” I quickly wondered what kind of service we were going to receive.

Lowe's image from

Experience in life tells me to rely on experts – especially in a hardware store. At the same time, experience tells me to it’s crucial to explain your situation while you’re in the store – to ensure you’re on the right page with the expert. As I began to explain the current challenges of adding a flange to the bottom of the toilet, he interrupted and said, “Don’t rotate the toilet, you just sit on it after you add the flange.” To clarify, I said calmly, “The instructions on the container say you slightly rotate the toilet from side to side and then sit on it.” He said abruptly, “No, I’ve been a plumber for over 25 years and you don’t rotate it. You just sit on it to set it in place.” I was surprised at how defensive he was. I certainly respected his plumbing knowledge and experience although his delivery and demeanor could have been much more customer friendly.

As I had entered Lowe’s for the second time, the last thing on my mind was a confrontation in the store. I was looking for the customer centric approach – after I would explain my situation and the expert would work with me, provide helpful advice and materials to complete my task.

Like I said in my earlier post about retail experiences, please don’t belittle or embarrass me. Retailers, show a little empathy, especially in a hardware store. I’m not necessarily an expert at this and my bet is that there are a lot of consumers who can identify with me.

Personally, I typically have more questions than answers and I’m just trying to complete a project or task. I certainly treat all retail employees, including those at Lowe’s with respect. And the same treatment would be welcomed. Even if our point of view isn’t the same or we don’t agree doesn’t mean we can’t interact in a cordial and respectful manner.

JUST CURIOUS…LET’S BUILD SOMETHING TOGETHER…LOWE’S Just wondering…Lowes says Let’s build something together. Does that mean when their plumber is finished with their shift on Saturday afternoon he’ll come over to my house and help me put in a shower

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Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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