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Least helpful advise from Big Box Sales People

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  • Least helpful advise from Big Box Sales People

    I'm looking for eye rolls and laughs and groans on this thread.
    Give examples of the LEAST "helpful" advise you've gotten from sales people.

    In my small shop I wanted to make my equipment more mobile, and it actually started because a caster needed replaced on a saw I got from my dad.
    I went to the Lowe's and Home Depot. Neither store had locking casters in stock the right sizes.
    But in talking to the wonderfully suggestive guys, I was "educated".
    One store told me that it is totally unsafe to mobilize equipment even the ones on stands, and to do so would invalidate my warranties.
    Another told me that if it was meant to be done they would stock the casters in the store.
    Yet another informed me that equipment frames would twist and cause premature failure.

    By the way, I went to McMaster Carr online and bought locking casters specifically labeled for the purpose I had planned.
    I added casters to nearly everything in my shop and now I use some of the stuff far more than I ever did before because I can actually pull it out where I have elbow room.

    Linda at

  • #2
    It is amazing how much you can "learn" from unknowledgeable sales clerks. No wonder internet sales are increasing. Still some bad information out there but it is easier to filter out.
    "Time to Give Back"


    • #3
      Our son was going to tile the bath room floor, so after removing the very old floor covering I went to the corner Ace store for gunk remover. The helper there told me I needed to seal the concrete before putting in the tile. I bought and applied the sealer and told son it was ready for the tile. I had to go back to the Ace and get some brain killing crud to take off the sealer. Whew the fumes were amazing from that stuff. I asked the manager of the store to give the employees some coaching on not recommending stuff when they don't know what the (*^(*&% they are talking about.
      Pacifism is great, as long as everyone is participating.


      The Southern Arizona Woodturners Association
      Desert Woodcrafters
      Grandpa for the 7 most amazing children.


      • #4
        You know off hand I can't think of any, but I'm sure I have got some bad input at one time or another, But let me tell you a story about my local Home Depot that shows the other side of the coin. A few years back I built a hand crank street organ. I wanted to paint the case a bright color so I got a quart of Cherry Red Valspar Paint. I painted it and guess what the paint would not completely dry. After a week it was still tacky. I was furious and I call the local Home Depot I always go to and let them know. I did some real ranting and no listening. A few hours later, it dawned on me Home Depot does not sell Valspar paint. I had actually bought it at Lowe's which I rarely go to because Home Depot is a lot closer. I was too embarrassed to call back and apology. That evening I got a call from the manager of the Home Depot store. I was ready to get an ear full for my rude behavior, instead he calmly said he understood I was unhappy with some paint I bought and offered for me to come in and I could pick any brand they had and it was free... I sheepishly told him I realized it was not their paint, and I was so embarrassed for my actions. He said it was okay, he was just trying to help me out and I could try any of their paints. Can you believe that. I did go in and get their paint, I told the clerk exactly what paint I had bought and asked if she could match that color. She did perfectly. I refused the free quart of paint. I paid for it.

        The story goes a little further, I also called Valspar corporate. I told them my problem. The lady asked if I could give her the batch number off of the can of paint. I did. She said I will investigate and get back to you. I thought oh sure, I will ever hear from you again.. A couple weeks later, she called be back and said she investigated and there were similar complaints related to that batch. She apologized and and said she had mailed a refund check to me. And she actually did and I got it.

        I read lots about the darn big box stores, but my local Home Depot is a good store. Sometimes almost too helpful.
        Last edited by Scrappile; 05-03-2017, 08:32 PM.
        AKA Paul from Washington State


        • #5
          It's like any place. Depends so much on who you talk to. We have one Lowe's 6 miles to the west of us that's usually helpful though their employees don't always know their areas. A different Lowe's just 5 miles east of me is typically horrible in service and have even fewer well trained people. I've talked to their managers and both say training is a top 2017 priority. Home Depot here is just too few employees covering too many areas they know so little about. I hope it improves. Minimum wage here went up to $10/hour----they're getting paid enough that they should know more than just how to clock in. I love getting input and ideas from people well versed in their areas.

          And store management is important to what we experience. That paint story is a good one. Gives us hope for positive experiences.

          But my thought on this thread isn't about picking on any store.

          I was just looking for stories that'll make us roll our eyes and appreciate when things do go right.
          Linda at


          • #6
            I went to our local big box store paint department and asked the young lady working there , where the paint remover was. She led me to lacquer thinner. I explained that I needed to remove paint from metal and she said that lacquer thinner would do it. Right next to the lacquer thinner was a spray can of paint remover. That is what I needed but she had never heard of it. Retail clerks are not paid much, so one cannot expect much from them,
            Last edited by Jim Finn; 05-07-2017, 07:36 AM.
            Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
            "No PHD, just a DD 214"


            • #7
              My big box experiences are not bad. But I don't go in with the expectation of getting much help except for finding something. ON this forum and other forums that I frequent, we basically are specialists and deal with much finer fit and finish, precision & detail than the big box stores cater. To me, my mid-South box stores from GA to Texas to MO and states in between, they are more general contractor and construction oriented. I just do not expect much from them. If I do get into a conversation and find someone with decent new piece of advice, I count it as a blessing. If I find a specialist hardware store, I can usually get better advice than the box stores.

              I guess I have that "look" that looks like I know what I am doing. Even in Japan as a foreigner, when in train stations or a few times on the road (and stopped) I had Japanese come to me and ask me for directions and how to get here there or yonder! IN the big box stores or other stores (recently in Michaels) people would come to me and ask me technical questions about products like I worked there. (When I work on a project or search, I get very focused in what I am doing and tune out the outside world. It drives LOML crazy, so I spend extra time with her both before and after those "tune out the world" moments.

              I don't mind helping with what I know. But when I want advice on something or what to buy, I do my research through Google or other search site. I just do not trust the box stores to be experts except for where an item might be, or general construction type of things. The only area that I do ask is usually in the grass and weeding area or home painting area, but it doesn't take me long to figure out if they do know or just trying to bluff me.

              An interesting story with a HD customer last year: I was looking for some very straight soft white pine 2x4s and needed 20. HD had two large bundles out. I went to one and started looking. Nothing bowed, twisted or warped in any way for me. Out of the first bundle I found 12 or 13. While searching and looking intently at each one, a middle age fellow came to the other bundle and started doing the same. I was a little aggravated that I couldn't search that bundle because he was doing that. I backed up and started looking at my 12-13 boards on my cart more closely.

              At this point, the fellow asked me - "What are we looking for?"

              Me: "straight, non-warped, non-bowed, non-twisted boards."

              Him: "Oh. Are you building a deck too?"

              Me: "No, I'm constructing some work place shelves and don't want warped boards. IF you are looking for decking, you need pressure treated boards."

              Him: "What is pressure treated?"

              Me: "Have you talked to any HD folks about your project?"

              Him: "No, I was just told that I need 2x4s for my decking."

              I didn't have time to go to the kind of explanation he needed, and tried to get him to ask some HD people. About 30 minutes later, I was checking out and he walked out past me in a hurry and a huff! I don't know what he learned that he didn't know before, but I figured that he learned fast what something he wasn't expecting.
              Last edited by leehljp; 05-06-2017, 08:39 AM.
              Hank Lee
              Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted.


              • #8
                I'm grateful if someone can just direct me to whatever I'm looking for.

                Follow me on my blog:


                • #9
                  Carole didn't a expert once tell you that a bowl couldn't be made using a scroll saw? LOL


                  • #10
                    Sadly, yes. I hate pompous ignorance. Makes me want to barf. 😝😝😝

                    Follow me on my blog:


                    • #11
                      The thing is - Lowes and Home Depot cater to contractors and Home repair DIY'ers. I use them for GP tools and materials. Since I usually know what I'm looking for, I don't have much of a problem with clueless clerks. I'll ask a lot of questions about plumbing, but I know the experienced guys and save my questions for them. I will not buy any tools, kits or components that come in boxes, unless it is a manufacturers sealed box. I have seen people come in complaining they missed something in a box and the store clerk will get another one for them out of another box.

                      Lowes is only a couple of miles from the house, so they get the bulk of my business, but they've had their issues.

                      My Son-in-law said "Darnit, I cut this board twice, now. And it's still too short."


                      • #12
                        In my almost 69 years of age I have pretty much been involved with every trade and mechanical discipline. My dad was an old world German toolmaker. So my questions are very rare other than locating items. If I don't know I will do as the others do research on line, especially the proper terminology.
                        But in the early years when PC computers were first coming out I went to Radio Shack looking for a PC. All they had were the early slower PC for some crazy price. I mentioned that I had seen that the clones were coming out PCAT's at almost double the speed for less money. Their computer "expert" proceeded to tell me that those processing speeds were illegal and that the FCC would ban them.
                        I went home and through a work connection found a local distributor that sold computer parts and built my own machine.
                        RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association


                        • #13
                          Hearing these memories about unknowledgable store employees actually made me chuckle.
                          Not because it's a truly laughing matter, but it helps keep it in perspective.
                          Sharing these "war stories" makes the blunders seem more common place, and somehow it makes it easier to shrug it off.
                          And sometimes I have to be reminded just to roll your eyes and just keep on going!

                          By the way---I ran into Lowe's this morning for wood screws my hubby needed for a huge sign, but I was in a crazy big hurry. I was delighted beyond words that they had people working the department and asking if they could help. I said yes and told them I needed a box of wood screws and specified the size. He ran down the aisle and came back with a box, which I unhesitantly plopped into my basket, along with the nails I found while he had retrieved the screws. Didn't even pay attention until I got home and handed my hubby the "wood screws". Darned if the package didn't say they were drywall screws specifically for mounting plasterboard to metal studs. It's my fault. I should've double checked what he'd handed me. So much for saving time with help!
                          Linda at


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rolf View Post

                   the early years when PC computers were first coming out I went to Radio Shack looking for a PC. All they had were the early slower PC for some crazy price. I mentioned that I had seen that the clones were coming out PCAT's at almost double the speed for less money. Their computer "expert" proceeded to tell me that those processing speeds were illegal and that the FCC would ban them.

                            Your story reminds me of the purchase of our first "real" PC after using a Commodore 64 for years. I recall the salesperson selling us a unit with a 40 MB hard drive - with supremely confident assurances that 40 MB would be the standard for the future - more than ample to meet any foreseeable needs through the rest of our lives ...... we've chuckled about that little piece of salesmanship many times since and have wondered what that guy is doing now .....



                            • #15
                              One thing seems to be common in many stores is that the "assistance" doesn't actually listen to you. So they go off half baked with false assumptions. I have a Lowes and a Home Depot within 3 miles of my home, I prefer Lowes especially now that I have my VA discount card.
                              They have a couple of folks that are very knowledgeable.

                              On a really nice side, a couple of years ago I went to the local Home Depot , temperature outside was probably in the high 90's, I come out of the store and my Jeep has a flat. So low to the ground that I had trouble with the jack. The sweat is pouring off me and I hear this sweet young voice, I turn around and it is a young lady from the store and she hands me an ice cold bottle of water. She said we were watching you and thought you might need this. I went back the next day and let management know how much that gesture was appreciated.
                              RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                              Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                              Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                              And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association


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