Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Good Deal on Subway Tile That Wasn't

Up until about a week ago, we have been really fortunate in our kitchen renovation.  Everyone has shown up when they were supposed to and finished pretty well on time.

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So for my backsplash, I saw some subway tile at Lowe's for a good price ($2.98 a square foot!) and scooped up a sample to take home with me.  Of course, it looked fabulous.

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So I went back to the store and ordered (or thought I ordered) 100 more so we would have it when the countertops were finished.  The guy told me they would be in Friday, and I should call the store to check before coming in because it could possibly be the following Monday.  He gave me a business card (not his - maybe this should have been my first clue?) and wrote the item number on the back.  Off I went.

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This was 3 weeks ago.

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We called AND went by once a week and each time they told us that it just wasn't in yet.  Good grief!  So this past Friday, Josh goes down there, and they tell him there is no order for subway tile in their system (seriously?!?).  Why are we just now hearing this?  We were ready to start tiling yesterday!

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Now, this is not the first time I've tried to order from Lowe's and it didn't work out.  We've tried to order cabinet knobs and curtain rings and nothing ever comes in or gets "ordered."  So Josh and the Lowe's employee go through the all the tile and come up with 76 square feet and see in the system that there are 24 more in Conway.  Great, right?  Wrong.

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We drive to Conway to pick up the tile, and I start going through the box when we get there (I'm not paying for broken tile). Most of the tile is broken.  I turn to Josh, "Did you go through the tile you picked up in Russellville?"  Well, you wouldn't think it would be necessary considering these were brand new boxes.

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We get all this tile home and start to go through it.  Yes, many pieces are broken and (AND!) we have 2 different colors mixed in the same box!  I'm not talking about tile variations - I'm talking about white and biscuit (they're name for off-white).  Back to the store we go.

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They refund our money for the broken/wrong color pieces but have no more usable white tile.  What will we do?  We head over to Georgia Carpet Mill.  They always have good prices and can usually compete with Lowe's, but not this time.  They're tile is $6 a sq ft.  That's twice as much!  We persevere, but can't find anyone who can come close to the Lowe's price (and we do already have 26 usable tiles - yep, just 26 out of all 100 - at home).  So we look on the map and see that there are several Lowe's in northwest Arkansas. That's where we went today.  (What?  You thought we'd try to order more after all our other failed attempts?  No.)

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But we did it!  It took 8 Lowe's locations (and a lot of sorting through boxes), but we came out with a total of 102 square feet of unbroken, unchipped glossy white subway tile!  And hey, we got a flying burrito out of the deal (YUM-O!).  

Gorgeous white kitchen: Benjamin Moore 'White Dove'

P.S.  I will never use Lowe's for a home improvement project ever again.

16 comments:

charice ford said...

The various supplies and designs utilized inside the modern sinks make them give the bathroom a fabulous appear. Faucets could be fixed inside the counter top or the wall.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, that sounds like a disaster. Can I tell you that we just used those same Lowes tiles and did not have one broken one in the box. Our problem was that we were going to use the tile from Home Depot, they were all out. So over to Lowes we went.

COme and see my before and after kithen, I think it is very similar to what you are doing.


P.S the nice thing about the Lowes tile is that is is well made, less expensive than most other tile stores and looks great.

Beth said...

Elizabeth, you're kitchen is fabulous! I feel your pain about decision making. I made all the decisions myself and every time there's a question about which way I want to do something, I second guess. I'm amazed that you were able to get unbroken subway tile from Lowe's. If we had a Home Depot in town, I would have gone there. I'm really glad to hear that you're pleased with the quality of the Lowe's tile (I was really starting to get worried!). Thanks for the pick-me-up and many thanks for adding me to your blogroll! I'm adding you to mine now!

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth, Your kitchen does look great! It is unfortunate that you encountered such a problem with a simple tile order. What happened to you is not uncommon when out of stock merchandise is at issue. Automated stock replenishment systems for most retail stores are never a guarantee of availability. Had you actually pre-paid and ordered these stock tiles or a special order alternative choice as a "committed" purchase, they would have arrived on time and in perfect condition, and the order could have been tracked by the store. Also, when a stock item is about to close out or become "non-stock" due to a vendor or manufacturer change, the price is often lowered and the tile is never reordered by the automated system. Again, I'm sorry to hear of your experience. Being in retail customer service for over twenty years for major companies including home improvement centers I honestly know your experience is an exception to the norm when dealing with the "Special Ordering" process. By the way, your kitchen looks fantastic and I do hope you can enjoy it for many years, treating your experience like that of our ancestors who had to hand pick and move large stones great distances to build some of the greatest cities and monuments that still fascinate us all to this day.

sandi said...

Anonymous didn't understand that you were told by an employee that they were ordered. Not once, but several times you were told they were coming.
I can't understand how it is ok for the store to sell broken tile and mismatched tile. Yet anonymous state ordering would have produced unbroken tile...hah! Thanks for the lecture anonymous....

Anonymous said...

You're welcome Sandi. A lecture was not intended, just a calm rational explanation of retail stock replenishment process. What we have here is a classic example of assumption that a product is "on order" and "coming" to the store when it is actually being processed by a large distribution center. The "several" employees most likey read a computer screen that showed x number of tiles being processed that "should be her" on a certain truck day. It was never stated that the tile order or orders were actually pre-paid and dedicated orders. Then there would be accountability and tracking of the order available with estimated arrival dates. Also, extra tiles would have been included to account for breakage. These tiles come from all over the world, not just China. Yes, the employees were wrong to say "it is on order and will be here" whenever. If a consumer wants to ensure something is placed on order, pre-payment is the way to go. If I got upset at every store or restaurant that did me wrong, I would never go anywhere and would sit at home not enjoying life. I still feel this may have been preventable, but to strongly discount any business without rethinking the facts that led up to the breakdown in customer service is just plain wrong. It will never solve the problem at hand. Have a nice day and enjoy the final fruit of you labor.

Anonymous said...

it seems evident to me that some lowes employees do not know the protocol for customer ordering. if a customer enters a store a speaks with an employee and that employee says ok we will order this for you, it is not on the customer to make sure the product has been ordered. the customer believes the product has been ordered, so the responsibility for the tiles not being ordered to the customer's specifications is the fault of the store for not training their employees correctly. as far as not shopping at certain stores because of past history that is the way the world works. if i got a cigarette butt in my soup, i will not eat at that restaurant ever again. that is why there are so many choices for us, so we can frequent the businesses that service us the best.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone is a bit spoiled!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the way the "world" works. Complain and pass the blame and responsibility off to the "paid help" or "service people", you know, the "paid help" whom we all choose to accept blame for our "assuming" everything will work out perfectly. If you or I want something done right, we need to be aware of what is required and involved before we leave the store. Most retail establishments require payment up front and a printed estimate to serve as an order form. I agree with the other anonymous who put this dilema into perspective... It sure sounds like someone is spoiled to me. Thank God that you have a home that has not be torn apart by the raging tornadoes or floods. Lighten up a little... geesh, it's only some stupid tile. Ask your nice friends or pastor at church if you have a right to be so stirred up and grief stricken over a mistake that was preventable. Next time, pay in advance for an order and keep the receipt and estimate order sheet.

Sandi said...

Odd that criticism is left anonymously...the blogger is a lovely lady. I appreciate the effort she made to present her experience in an interesting way. Believing the sales staff when they tell you it is ordered is the decent thing to do. If I wanted to read about flood victims and starving people
I would check out those blogs....don't condemn a design blogger for writing about design.....lighten up indeed!

Alice said...

Nicely said, Sandi. This is an excellent design blog that I follow for that purpose. Beth, do not fret yourself with snide comments left anonymously... people gain quite a bit of "courage" (perhaps more properly called "rudeness") while hiding behind a computer screen. While this communication can be a great sounding board for ideas it is also abused for people to spew their bitter attitudes...quite possibly some disgruntled Lowes employees. While it is best to end the subject matter entirely I would like to add that my good friends also had a terrible experience with Lowes, and take note their order was a "special, pre-paid" order! They were renovating their kitchen and all of the "special, pre-paid, tracked, and delivered" tile was completely broken. So, my dear, don't let people place blame on you. Unfortunately, not doing your job properly is the way of the world I'm afraid. I agree with the comment that if I go to an establishment that does not try its best, I will not return whether it is a home improvement store, a restaurant, or a salon. Once I went to a salon and the lady turned my hair purple! Now, do you think I am "spoiled" because I was a bit shocked and disappointed and did not return to this beautician? ;) Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry it happened, but I hope you enjoy your new kitchen so much it will be considered worth the wait. Keep blogging, I enjoy your fresh ideas and perspective!
Cheers!

maruf hosen said...

I love your blog .This is a cool site and I wanted to post a little note to tell you, good job! Best wishes!!!
subway tile

Mahmudul Hasan said...

Thanks for the share. Great stuff, just nice!
subway tile

sordar joy said...

Cute bench! Nice tiling job!
subway tile

Anonymous said...

It looks great! Hey, just a comment about Lowes...It sounds to me that the experience you had was pretty awful, but it is in stark contrast with the ones we have had at our local Lowes in Ohio. I have to say, they bend over backward to be helpful. We've done a lot of business there, and had many special orders. We have always had excellent service, timely delivery, and found good pricing. Also, they are nice about returns.

No, I don't work for Lowes. I just wanted to suggest that your experience, although not easy to go through, might not be the norm for the company.

Regalo Tiles said...

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