So I am buying a ladder. I did some research on the internet, and decided on the Werner MT-22 telescoping multi-position telescoping super duper interchangeable heavy duty ladder. I have been doing most of my home store purchases at Lowes, which is right next to where I go grocery shopping, so I went to pick up the ladder and ingredients for the next few nights worth of dinner.
Of course, I checked prices on the internet first. Amazon.com had the ladder for $179, with free 2-day shipping via Amazon Prime, and Home Depot also had it for $179. Lowes wanted $198 for the ladder, but they match competitor's prices, so I checked to make sure Home Depot had the ladder in stock (the internet indicated it was in stock at the Concord store, which is about 3 miles from the Lowes that I was going to), and then I headed off for Lowes.
At Lowes, I quickly found the ladder, had a store employee help me with a demonstration of the slightly smaller 17 foot model that was open as a display, and then confirmed that they'd match the price. "Of course we'll match Depot," two guys standing there told me, and eagerly fetched me a cart. "Just tell them up front - they might call over to Depot to verify the price." Now, I've already purchased a washer and dryer at Lowes for which the clerk simply looked up the Home Depot price on the internet and matched it, but anyway. The lady at customer service was nice, but clearly seemed to take the ladder as a personal challenge to look for an excuse to NOT match the lowest price.
"It has to be the exact same item," she challenged me. "Ok - it is," I calmly replied. "They have to have it in stock," she reloaded. "Yes - I checked the internet - they have it in stock at the local store," I explained. She jumped all over this mention of "the internet," explaining "The internet doesn't count! It has to be in the store!" I sighed, "Yes, I know, I checked the availablility of it in my local store on the internet." So she picked up the phone and called Home Depot. And waited on hold. And waited. And waited.... Finally, she gave up, called back, and waited on hold some more... and waited. At one point she relayed a question, asking me "Is that aluminum, or fiberglass?" "Aluminum," I explained, and resumed waiting...I stretched my quads. I browsed the flashlight display. I stretched my hammies. Then, after 15 minutes, I realized I needed mouse traps, which she pointed me towards. As I returned with my loot, she was hanging up the phone, and triumphantly told me "They can't find any in the store, so I can't match the price."
"Do you think that maybe they person you were talking to didn't understand what you were looking for, since it took 15 minutes for them to figure out what was going on with a top selling item? Can't you look it up on the internet?" I suggested, failing to mention that the washer/dryer department had done just that on items costing $1300 more than this ladder, but she was having none of this "internet" idea. I should have known the person on the other end of the phone at Home Depot didn't know what they were looking for when they asked if the ladder was aluminum or fiberglass - this ladder only comes in aluminum.
"Sorry, there's nothing I can do," she smiled. So I left the ladder at the register, told her I wasn't going to argue with her, and walked out. Now I was steaming though - I didn't want to do business with Lowes because they were being doucheballs, and I didn't want to call Home Depot to see if they actually had it in stock, because if they did I'd be just as pissed at them for wasting my time. Mostly, I was furious at myself for accepting this "no" answer, instead of either suggesting she try the other local store (there's another one 5 more miles away), or asking for a manager. Some people fear confrontation. I am not one of these people, yet I still failed to resolve this issue. Perhaps it's because I knew I could go home and order it from Amazon.com, and have it in my hands on Thursday morning with free 2 day shipping. Amazon's return policy is as good as Lowes, so that wasn't an issue either.
My wife and I buy everything we can on Amazon. Trash bags. GPS. Ladders. Tools. I just bought a 2010 desk calendar from them yesterday. When the internet big boys, like Amazon, can get you stuff in 2 days with no shipping charges, at prices better than local big box retailers, the brick and mortar boys better heed the warning call. Everytime I end up at a store like Best Buy, Borders or Barnes and Noble looking for the Family Guy Season 5 DVD set, the latest season of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, or the complete anthology of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I get frustrated within 5 minutes and turn to my wife asking, "Why are we even here? Let's go home and buy it on Amazon, save money and avoid all this bs incompetence." Then I walk out, go home and order it on Amazon. I'm now at the point where I'm buying large, bulky home improvement goods (like 22 foot ladders!) from Amazon too. Suck it Lowes and Home Depot.
(disclosure: no position in AMZN)
ps - my wife wants me to give a shoutout to SimpleHuman for their tremendous customer service. We have a SimpleHuman trashcan. They are expensive, and they have parts which can break. Two years ago, we broke the small plastic kickstand that keeps the lid open. Mrs. Dynamite called the company and they sent her a new one, free of charge. On New Years Eve, one of my inebriated friends tried to close the lid when the kickstand was propped open, which resulted in the lid bending in half. Again, Mrs. Dynamite called the company, and they sent us out a new one free of charge. Thanks, SimpleHuman, for your quality customer service resolutions.