Years ago, I worked for Lowe's, and learned the hard way that they set employees up to fail. I'm not sure if it's an intentional act, or just some random mistake that brought it on; though sadly I think it's the former.
Before getting into things, let me quickly explain how the front desk (as so many call it) works. Typically, you have two registers there, but only one is open. That customer service associate, nine times out of ten, isn't a specialist, nor are they anything important. Nearly every time they're a cashier. In most cases, an untrained cashier. You see, those assignments aren't permanent. Each shift the Head Cashier picks where people are going to go. Jo, you go to Lumber, Frank, you're in Returns, Danny I want you on Register three, oh and Dan, take Customer Service. That's it. No real mystery to it, though at a glance it can get confusing for the average customer. The sad part about it, is that the company actually did an internal study of this. They found that most every complaint filed about customers not getting the service they desired, was tied directly to the fact that the person in Customer Service, typically, wasn't trained above how to use the register. Yet, it was in the company policy to have it such that the person there needed rotated each shift. Meaning you rarely had the same person there two days in a row.
I remember, in my time as a Head Cashier, that I actually managed to get written up once for placing an experienced cashier in customer service. It was my intent, knowing that the holiday coming up was a big grilling day and expecting (with a sale on grills no less) a huge flow of customers coming in; to head this off with someone that knew what they were doing. However the Cashier knew too much, to the point that he knew he wasn't supposed to be there two days in a row, and he reported me. My Department manager took him off that register, put on a girl hired the day before, and then left it to me. After getting totally swamped, even with all registers open and I on one of them, the girl went to lunch and never came back.
As if putting untrained cashiers there isn't bad enough, the work schedules the employees face is nothing short of barbaric. It is not uncommon to see cashiers working ten and twelve hour days, (sometimes longer) only to get yelled at and threatened with a write up for going ten minutes over time. In my own experience, I remember getting a customer complaint one day that stemmed from the fact I had worked a fifteen hour day the previous day, went home for two hours, and then came back into work. No sleep. Needless to say, by mid day, I was dead on my feet. I don't remember what I said to the customer, I have to admit I don't remember much of that day. (this was prior to the energy drink craze.) I know that at some point I made a comment about a customer's tattoos, and it resulted in me being written up. I don't even remember how I got home that day. I shudder to think how I could have killed someone in an accident, or myself. Yet that was the policies. If you closed one day, you opened the next, and you were NEVER given grace due to having worked late into the night the previous shift.
Another problem that customers often run into, especially on the floor, is misunderstanding what the various names mean. Though a person might be called a "specialist" in many cases they are not "special." In fact, specialist was, as it was explained to me, used to differentiate between who was higher in rank in the departments. Typically it didn't mean the person knew any more than the other person. In fact, numerous times, I remember specialists being stumped by questions and having to actually tell the customer the dreaded "I don't know." It happened so often that it became funny, then sad, then funny again. Having said that, I ended my career working in the returns section of the company. I can honestly say, much of the customer problems I dealt with were caused by the customer themselves. Once you got past the misunderstandings and miscommunications that happen with every retail company, most of the problems were caused by the customers.
I think, looking back, the biggest problem we had was the whole entitlement issue. People looked to other companies in the area and saw how they didn't charge delivery, but then when they looked to US, they couldn't understand why we did. Yet again the employees were set up to fail, as we were prevented from explaining it. Even though just telling the customer the reason for delivery charges might explain what's going on and why, the company forbade us from explaining. Now that I don't work there, allow me to tackle that as well.
Typically speaking Lowes charges a base rate of about fifty dollars to deliver. This rate is determined by the corporate, coded into the computer, and isn't something that the employees...including management, can over ride. In fact, should an employee over ride the rate without corporate's permission (said permission coming in the form of a coupon in most cases), that employee would be fired on the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts. There are no exceptions to this rule, and in the past it has been used as an excuse by corporate to rid themselves of very questionable managers. Savannah Georgia is one store that lost a manager due to this little fact. About six, maybe seven years ago or so, the manager there waived the delivery for a church that was rebuilding. A few weeks later, we came into work and noticed that he wasn't around. At the morning meeting we were told he'd been terminated, and that the reason was he broke company policy by waiving the fee.
So, what then is the reason? That fee is nothing more than insurance on the sale. It's making sure that you're not attempting to scam the store (as has happened in the past), wanting something small like a single lamp delivered simply because you're too lazy to carry it home yourself. If you look at the cost of gasoline, paying the driver, and the insurance for the truck; then you turn around and look at the average cost of items in the store, it tends to make sense. Delivery on the larger items (as I've said) ensures that you do wish to finalize the sale and aren't going to turn right around and return it, while at the same time it ensures that you don't scam the store by replacing the item with something of lesser value and returning that. Finally, it allows the store to control the condition of the item. If they deliver something and it turns up damaged later on, then they know that the customer damaged it. If when they unbox it, however, and find that it's damaged; then they know the store did it and must replace it.
I could continue on and on, yet I'm not sure I should bother. It is in the wee hours of the morning, and I doubt those who are set in their ways will read this.
Suffice it to say, blame corporate, not the average employee. The company sets them up to fail, and then punishes them when they do. Arguing with a cashier doesn't get you anywhere. Take it to the store manager, and if he won't help, call the care line. Remember, if you give the name of the cashier or specialist that helped you, you might get that person fired. Unless you really want to cost someone their job, then your better bet is to target their manager. It is a little known secret, that short of breaking company policy, Lowes will not fire their managers. The one story I've noted here, as I said, was due to breach of company policy. Otherwise, he'd still be there.