This is always a challenging time of year for online retailers, due to the surge in order volume.
With COVID and social distancing restrictions still in place, and higher than usual online sales volume even before the holiday shopping season started, retailers were under exceptionally high burdens.
So, let’s talk about how some of our go-to tool retailers handled order fulfillment and customer service inquiries.
I didn’t think it was appropriate to “test” customer service departments with simulated requests, and so I only contacted retailers with requests for information pertaining to my orders or when it was necessary to resolve problems that came up.
What I am hoping is for some of you to chime in about your experiences at these and other retailers.
Problem 1: A backordered item delayed an entire order without explanation, seemingly from a computer glitch.
Remedy 1: Fast customer service set things straight.
Problem 2: Milwaukee Packout organizer arrived without dividers.
Remedy 2: Customer service sent a prompt replacement.
Problem 3: My Powermatic jointer order is delayed until February 2021. I was informed of this 8 days after I placed my order, and after I asked I was told they let me know as soon as Powermatic provided the update.
Overall: Shipping speed was fast, and customer service was capable and didn’t keep me waiting. Excellent communications via email and phone.
I am very satisfied with my Acme Tools experiences.
Amazon was pretty on-target as far as on-time delivery goes.
So far, they’ve been doing an exemplary job.
The same goes for Amazon UK, Amazon DE, and Amazon Japan. Amazon Japan has the BEST packaging practices I’ve seen. All three international stores use boxes too flimsy for international shipping, but everything seems to have arrived intact.
I ordered a camera lens the other day, and it was supposed to have free overnight shipping. Something happened and it still isn’t here, and tracking shows it’s still waiting to be picked up by FedEx.
B&H has a somewhat sophisticated CHAT system and it shows your place in the virtual queue.
I’m told the reship will take time – it’ll probably be next week until I see my order.
Other sellers have many of the same products at the same pricing, but 1) B&H usually ensures proper packaging, 2) I don’t have to worry as much about counterfeits as with other sellers, 3) they have decent customer service year-round, and 4) I have that credit card that discounts every order by the tax amount, which can amount to sizable savings over the course of the year.
My orders shipped out fast.
They forgot to fulfill the free Mora knife that was supposed to be included with my order. A note said it would ship separately, but it never arrived. After a couple of emails, it should be on its way now.
BladeHQ usually has great customer service, and this is what I’ve seen thus far.
I only placed one order with CPO Tools this holiday season. It shipped fast and arrived quickly.
My GPKnives shipped quickly, although via snail-mail. I have not had to contact their customer service yet.
My one order arrived fairly quick, and a little banged-up but the contents seemed to be in perfect condition.
My orders shipped relatively quickly. One item (new mailbox) arrived a bit later than expected, but all of my other orders were on-time and without any issues.
My order shipped very quickly and was received quickly.
Problem 1: I received a Milwaukee non-Packout organizer instead of the Packout I ordered.
Remedy: Quick issue of return label.
Problem 2: The product I ordered and was supposed to receive became backordered at multiple retailers, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t get my replacement quickly. Multiple requests for status on the replacement went unanswered.
I emailed my International Tool contacts to see what’s going on, as I wasn’t hearing from anyone through email and my phone call attempts weren’t being answered.
I was assured that they were taking steps to remedy the situation and bolster their customer service efforts.
International Tool has been recommended by readers in the past, and unless a trend appears, I consider this a fluke occurrence due to COVID restrictions and conditions.
I placed two orders, one in early November, and another on Black Friday.
Shipping speed was a little slow, but understandable given the time of year. Backordered items were slow.
Communications were excellent. They were proactive about informing me about unanticipated delays on items they expected to be available sooner.
Overall: We continue to highly recommend KC Tool.
Fast shipping, no problems.
The local store showed inventory on the Kobalt 40V motorized car, but my order was cancelled. I was contacted by the local store via email where they explained this. I asked if they could change the order from pickup to delivery at no extra charge, and they replied that they weren’t seeing it in stock and so they couldn’t do that.
The local store tried their best. I could have requested the bare tool version at discounted prices and maybe at a discount, but I was not interested in doing so.
Ohio Power Tool
My order went smoothly. The items were backordered, which I knew when I placed the order, but Ohio Power Tool still took the time to email me with an ETA.
This was a good shopping and customer service experience.
I had a problem during their flash sale, and email communications were quick and effective.
I inquired about an order that was delayed and partially delivered but with all parts being marked as shipped and delivered, and received prompt reassurances that the delayed items would soon be on their way.
Overall, this was a good experience.
Is anyone still buying tools at Sears these days?
My first order did not ship out after 16 days. I found a better deal on some of the items elsewhere, and so I requested cancellation. Tool Nut replied the next morning and cancelled the order for me.
I placed an order on 11/30 for a Powermatic jointer base. I emailed on 12/16, because after 16 days I had not received any shipping notifications or updates. I was told that the item was delayed and backordered until “mid to late January 2021.” At this time, they are still showing the item as “in stock.”
I ordered from Tool Nut because they know how to ship tools with proper packaging, and their customer service has proved to be very good in the past.
While not as proactive about communicating delays to the customer, they answered my inquiries very quickly.
I think that Tool Nut has been hit hard by COVID restrictions and higher sales volume. At this time I still recommend them.
If my jointer wasn’t also delayed, I would have cancelled my order for the mobile base and ordered from Amazon. Amazon had the mobile base at similar pricing at the time, but I generally have more trust in Tool Nut when it comes to shipping something like this, although in this case it seems like it might be drop-shipped.
I ordered some smaller products and tote bags that they suggest are capable of hauling tools around.
Their Black Friday deal was separated into 50% inventory available in the morning, and 50% availability in the afternoon. I took too long to place my first order and half of what I wanted sold out.
I later contacted them via chat about combining orders to save on shipping fees and materials. They said this would likely be done automatically. I received a shipping notification and return credit for shipping fees on the second order.
Tom Bihn has excellent customer service, even now during a challenging holiday season.
Zoro has had great customer service over the past few months.
How’d they do during the holiday season? I couldn’t tell you – they didn’t have the typical promos and coupon codes I expected, and so I still haven’t ordered my shopping list of nonessential parts and supplies.
Walmart cancelled one of my orders without explanation. I placed a duplicate order after this happened, and it shipped out without problem.
I placed a preorder for several items. My credit card number changed, due to fraud charges, and nobody at Walmart was able to change the payment information that was to be applied to this order. I couldn’t “cancel and reorder” since the items were no longer available. I eventually found a different seller to order from.
I placed an order for 3 items. 1 of 3 shipped out, and 2 of 3 did not due to it being out of stock. My credit card company sent me an “did you authorize this?” notice when they were ready to ship. Walmart customer service first told me they did charge me, then told me they didn’t, then said they saw there were new payment attempts. I told my bank the charges were authorized, and asked customer service to ensure my order would be processed. I was told that they would request a repeated payment attempt. The website continued to show me a “change your credit card number if you want these items” error, but didn’t actually allow me to do this. I eventually cancelled, but was told I had been charged, and so I asked for a refund.
Overall, I have found Walmart’s customer service to be less capable at resolving uncommon issues compared to other online retailers. I will only order from Walmart’s website if there’s a significant pricing advantage or product exclusivity.
They are not holding up well to the holiday surge, with orders delayed and one (B&H) inexplicably missing.
So far, UPS has been stellar with items being on-time and with detailed tracking. I shipped a box last Tuesday and it arrived at its destination on Thursday as expected.
The post office is experiencing massive delays.
For example, my sister sent me a package via Priority. That item should have arrived in one day. Two weeks later, it’s still not here.
What have your recent tool shopping experiences been like?
CPO has been very confusing. It’s unclear in their shipping notices which items or back ordered items you’re getting in your latest shipment. I had to open an order inquiry to actually learn which parts of my combo deal were back ordered and for how long. There are different fulfillment estimates for the different items of the deal.
Surprised you received a Harbor Freight package “fairly quick”.
I made quite a few orders for hand tools/mechanics tools last year to fill in some gaps in my drawers and most of the orders were 10-14 calendar days. That’s not quick. Hope your’s were quicker than that. I now avoid ordering from them online and rarely get to the store since it’s further away than other tool retailers.
I’m sorry about your experience with B&H. I have ordered from them countless times and they’ve always been stellar. I often get overnight delivery even with 2-day shipping. My only complaint is no free returns, but the returns are still seamless, and return shipping is reasonable.
It seems to me that either my box rolled under a table between shipping and FedEx pickup.
A package I ordered the next day arrived today.
But, their chat was exceptionally hassle-free compared to many other stores.
This time of year, mixups are inevitable.
Only so many people can be in the warehouses right now. That, and higher sales volume means a lot of stores are behind and just won’t be able to sufficiently meet demand.
They’ve done well by me in the past, and I’ll continue shopping there.
I’ve ordered from them once. I got a FedEx notice that it had shipped the same day (A Friday). The only thing is, this isn’t true. They print the FedEx notice as shipped, but it didn’t actually go out 2nd Day Air until the next week! Then, when I got the order, it didn’t include the actual batteries, which were shipped separate and later yet. So much for getting the Sony VII quickly…
Anyone who gets to Manhattan and can get to the B&H shop should. It’s an amazing place. But check their website first for hours – it’s unpredictable for a goyim.
Or just check the calendar for holidays…
There are a couple of holidays that they cannot conduct business during. Usually during those times there will be clear messaging and a reopening countdown on the website, similar to when checkout closes at sundown on Fridays.
B&H has been “America’s Camera Store” at least since 1995-ish. 47th St. before that.
Amazon is a shallow stock pretender to the photography sales champ.
BTW Adorama is a good back up to B&H too.
B&H really is awe inspiring place. I had to pause at the door an just gawk.
My Amazon orders don’t seem to be any different than in the past. Some items still show overnight delivery as an option.
My most recent Home Depot order shipped quickly via FedEx and UPS which was disappointing because over the past year we’ve had numerous issues with FedEx- they rarely deliver on the anticipated date and I’ve had 4 damaged packages. Everything that comes UPS has been on time. USPS has been relatively fine when used as a shipping partner, but items sent exclusively through their system have seen major delays. USPS’ tracking also seems to be a mess of late.
I wanted to buy something with a Home Depot gift card that was cheaper on Amazon ($38 vs $20). I used the chat feature in the HD app and a rep quickly matched the price.
I haven’t ordered tools from Sears this holiday season, but I ordered work clothes and boots that came from a warehouse that I’ve also received tools from, in two days. My most recent tool order was in July for replacement Gearwrenches and that order took two days (they had the best price and I was able to get free shipping). As much as it is atypical to say, I don’t think I have every had a Sears order take more than three days to get to my house and in some cases it had been next day if I order early enough in the morning.
Walmart is super difficult, sometimes their order confirmation emails done even come through until the order arrives. You don’t even know if your order was placed. You contact their customer service and a while later they tell you their system is behind and you will see the email in a few days. Once I had a these problems on a TV ship to store order. They lost it, had to ship another and ultimately, after I got the TV, the first one showed up at another store in the area, the wrong store. That’s Walmart for ya.
Lowe’s is one of the bigger disappointments, though it’s with bigger company-related issues. They can’t figure out whether or not they accept their own coupons (since their current ECO notoriously hates sales, discounts and coupons) so sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but even when they do work, your order gets cancelled automatically and it takes several calls to customer care to place an order and get the same discount as the coupon. What a waste of everyones time instead of just fufilling the order. I would have bought a LOT more stuff from Lowe’s this season if not for all these issues, It just isn’t worth it to try if it’s a near-certainty your order will just get cancelled.
The in-store experience has been great, all things considered, but Lowe’s has been one of the worst at complying with local laws/ordinances on face masks and social distancing, choosing to pretend such things are optional and doing nothing when customers walk into the store without a mask and stand close to others in line or even get right in peoples faces.
My orders with home Depot were fulfilled reasonably fast and I didn’t have any issues. As for the in-store experience, I haven’t seen them actually enforcing anything, but at least they have signs at the entrance that face coverings are mandatory, even if I have seen customers taken them off and walk around the store after entering with one on. I also did have seperate incidents with two HD employees who, while they were wearing masks, stayed way too close to me for comfort even after telling them to step away and reminding them of the 6ft rule, and talking with the acting manager didn’t result in any action beyond them saying they will bring it up at a later meeting.
Stuff from Amazon actually arrived pretty quick, given the massive amount of stuff that’s in transit and everything else that’s going on with shipping carriers these days.
Home Dept debacle this year. I ordered one of the M12 Surge Impact drivers deals packaged with an XC battery for Black Friday. When the box arrived, what I got was the XC battery kit and and extra 2.0 battery, no impact driver. Used the text based customer service, first line agent tells me that the UPS weight on delivery checks out with the correct item that I ordered so…my choices are a 50.00 voucher or I can return the items that I have for a refund on just those items. Also says that she is “choosing to believe me” because it’s Xmas time and the 50.00 offer is because of her generosity. I elevate to the resolutions department who tells me the the best that they can do is have me go to my local store- 45 minutes away, and return the item and rebuy it. Problem is, that item now more the 100.00 more that’s the sale price. Honestly, when you figure my hourly rate against the time it takes to resolve these things…
Yea, I’ve not been real impressed with HD lately. They supposedly have the Milwaukee 12v, which is on sale until January; however, they showed the 12v stuff that was on sale up until Black Friday and now it’s marked up to $477!
Honestly given the challenges of the pandemic and the holidays, I’ve been really impressed with just about everyone.
Great shipping from Acme, Ohio Power Tools, Home Depot, Tools ID, MyMedic and Amazon.
Good curbside pickup experiences at Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart.
The only issues have been very minor. A Craftsman Versastack style storage box where one of the internal boxes was warped, a HD pickup where they grabbed the wrong lightbulbs, a Fluke meter from Amazon that I would have preferred show slip in a box rather than a bag. In those cases where I wanted the seller to make it right, they did, and in other cases, it wasn’t worth the hassle.
> I have that credit card that discounts every order by the tax amount
What card is that? Tell us more please!
It’s their Payboo store card. They discount the order by the tax amount.
It’s a good deal but only if you pay in full. Store cards often have very high rates.
Amazon’s credit card gives 5% cash back, but certain brands and products aren’t sold on Amazon or at least not directly.
Amazon … not missing a beat really, one order out of two dozen is a day late … for something they said was a usual prime product, but five days instead of two
HD … in store vs online, prices, availability, ship this not that … it just gets old
Walmart … listed as two days before the order, next week after the order, missed the selivery day, needs another two days, actually it is out for delivery … eh ok.
I ordered a Makita bench top planer from Acme Tools on a Friday and received the package on the west coast on Tuesday. I actually left a message the day after ordering to change the address and they called me back to inform me that they had already shipped the order.
Surprisingly fast but I had no way of tracking the order.
Amazon is almost always 100%, has a very delays but very minor. Helps that i have a distribution center 10 miles from me.
UPS rarely lets me down. Always gives updates and they deliver to the door requested. Love the brown truck.
USPS hasn’t been too terrible in my neck of the woods but has been slow.
FedEx is the swill of delivery services in my opinion, always leave package where ever they feel like it and normally the box has some type of damage every time on top of normally not on time to date stated.
I ordered a Werner stage plank from Zoro and it was shipped by Pitt Ohio. Timely phone call to schedule delivery, however delivery was very uncooperative with my wife as i wasn’t home. Dropped the 65# plank because it was “too heavy” and told my wife he had to drive a long way to just deliver a plank…………………your a delivery driver right????? You get paid to drive and deliver things????? When i arrived home to inspect you can tell they picked up one end of the plank and drug it across the floor to the truck as the rubber handle holds were worn down to the aluminum. Zoro offered to replace immediately however didn’t want to chance the Pitt Ohio service again so i just dealt with it.
Overall my hat is off to all the delivery professionals. They have kept America running during all this COVID-19 garbage and my pocket book empty from Amazon purchases 🙂
Late August we had a forest fire get within 8 miles of our house and were under “get ready” evaluation orders. Amazon shipping stopped cold for me and I couldn’t get anything delivered for six weeks. Meanwhile my next door neighbor didn’t miss a beat. I’ve slowed way down on Amazon orders, but so far this season they’re arriving on time.
Sierra trading post is my go to for cheap work wear… usually they take 3-4 weeks to ship something so I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in four days.
CPO is taking weeks to get stuff here. Ordered a x2 7 inch Makita grinder.
Home depot was lighting fast. I ordered a Rigid drywall cutout tool. It already has power on issues…seems like it can’t handle dust. It’s going to be returned soon and I’ll just have to spend the $120 more for a Makita like I should have done.
Rz mask seems to have solved their filter supply issues and I ordered a second mask and filters. Wearing them a lot at work with the vent caps. Much more comfortable then disposables.
Acme tools was quick. Woodmaxx and Mesicks got me chipper and tractor parts quick.
ESS eyepro finally shipped the sunglasses I ordered on a vetrans day sale…they arrived last week. Customer service was terrible and I will never order directly from ESS again.
Normally, I love Fedex, but not this year. My wife ordered a Dell laptop on black Friday. The following Wednesday, Fedex tracking said it was at local terminal and delivery the next day. Then, tracking mysteriously stopped. Tracking does NOT say delivered, so it didn’t go to a neighbor’s house. Laptop just disappeared. Many phone calls to Fedex home office – case # established, but responsible local terminal never responded. Crickets. Lost in shipment. No laptop. Like it never existed. Dell and Fedex are “talking”. It has been a month. Looks like a Fedex guy got a nice laptop for Christmas. In all seriousness, WTF ?
Same story as my Ryobi jigsaw. HD quickly refunded my money.
I have had similar issues with B&H with Fedex shipping. Actually, I have had the same issue with Fedex with multiple sources over the years. It’s always the same: waiting to be picked up. It might be overnight shipping once picked up, but sometimes it takes Fedex a week to pick-up an item.
Also, if you run into a problem, or want to to have a package held at local office, UPS is so much easier to deal with than Fedex. Example: let’s say that package arrives to local hub (4-miles away form my office) on Thursday, but is not scheduled to be delivered until Monday. Fedex won’t let me pick up at the Hub, even on Friday or Saturday. With UPS, I can almost always do that.
On the other hand, I had two 108# generators get to me quickly this month. Both arrived broken, due to repeated drops by UPS in shipping (as evidenced by the crushed ends and holes in the box sides).
FedEx took a week to getting around to picking up the third one, but it arrived with no holes or smashed ends. The shipper said that this was a problem they have had repeatedly with UPS.
I have also been seeing delays on many packages and other strange issues with USPS (which have been reliable in the past). For example, packages that show up as delivered in their tracking system but can’t be found by me or them, then mysteriously show up a month later. (They imply that they have a GPS location of the delivery scan, so they can prove that it was delivered to the requested location.)
My orders from HD have been on time.
I have Amazon prime, but I usually take the later delivery date in exchange for $1 or more credit for digital orders. I learned again, not to trust Amazon’s description of car parts. I ordered a bunch of brake parts that Amazon stated would fit one of my vehicles then they did not fit. Now, I cross check Amazon’s part numbers with Rock Auto.
Our Lowes is terrible for the in store inventory not matching what the website shows being in stock.
Rockauto has been pretty good for getting me parts on time.
No complaints from me about anything.
Amazon has generally been great with timely shipping. But sometimes the problem lies with their partners.
I ordered two 2 packs of Jet clamps, sold on Amazon by the “Jet Store” and subsequently received only one of the two packs I was charged for.
Was fairly frustrated with foreign call center assistance and Amazon policies that pretty gave me only the option of getting a credit for the item I didn’t receive. Since it was on sale I would have preferred getting the item back ordered, but this is something that Amazon doesn’t seem to allow.
This is not the first time that I have experienced non-delivery of items on sale at Amazon. Frustrating because if they don’t have it I might buy it elsewhere. As a consumer really ticks me off to not have fulfillment on sale items as it seems like false advertising if they don’t really have the products to sell.
Did contact Jet directly and they said they would do a back order. Projected as right around now. It will be interesting to see what happens with that.
I had the exact same issue with the Jet clamps and Amazon. They credited me for the two I did not receive and said when they came back in stock, they would honor the sale price. No way to backorder so I have to keep checking to see if they are in stock and then call Amazon Customer Service to place the order.
They didn’t offer me that option. Good to know. If Jet doesn’t come through, I will try that.
One thing that online tracking has revealed is the ridiculous routing of some packages, sometimes going in a circle before they go out again. UPS and FedEx ground does this a lot but the poster child is the USPS., And the Warrendale Pennsylvania distribution center is a hub of all things bad that happen.
I suspect there are official or unofficial policies that the packages must go on a truck tonight – even if there is no truck going the right direction – perhaps to prevent packages from piling up.
> All three [Amazon] international stores use boxes too flimsy for international shipping, but everything seems to have arrived intact.
Doesn’t this in fact suggest they are using boxes with exactly the right amount of flimsiness? Amazon aggressively optimize their practices based on the enormous amounts of logistics data they collect, and I would guess they’ve tuned things to perfectly balance the cost of packaging versus the cost of damaged/lost goods.
Home Depot was awesome arrived w days before they said it would and great alerts along the way. Toolup.com not so great ordered something cyber Monday never got another message till 3 weeks later asking if I received the package or not and to call them if I hadn’t. I ended up canceling the whole order little disappointed because I passed up some nice deals waiting on that order.
Considering the Pandemic – I’me surprised that orders and deliveries are going so smoothly. I have been doing virtually all of my shopping – including food and medicines – online since March – with mostly deliveries to the door and medications picked-up at drive by windows.
What I’ve noticed is that the supply chain (probably from China) has been a bit disrupted. I’ve still have a number of items (perhaps somewhat esoteric or new ones) on order:
Home Depot – Tap – backordered since 10/20
MSC – Tap – backordered since 10/28
Amazon – File handles – backordered since 12/10
Amazon – Bessey Clamps – backordered since 10/15
Amazon – Bahco saw blade – backordered since 9/18
Infinity Cutting Tools – router bit – backordered since 11/28
ToolUp – 2 Malco items – backordered since 11/18
Door Equipment – CRL item – backordered since 12/11
International Tool – Milwaukee Item – backordered early November – finally cancelled because of lack of availability
Because these suppliers do not actually bill until shipping occurs – I only have pending (not actual) charges on my credit card. Most were also pretty good about explaining the delays and estimated shipping dates
I’m 61. Have boatloads of tools, still buy more. But I’m an in-person buyer. I want to handle the item, caress it… and keep the brick and mortar places there for me. I must confess to buying the HD Deal of the Day a few times when I already have one or more of the item and could use another…..
I did have an employee with an Amazon acct buy those Bosch carbide multi-tool blades for me several days ago–just too good to pass up. Thanks for the heads up on that.
By the looks of things, I must be the last guy in America w/o an Amazon acct….
Anyone else have issues with a Black Friday Olight order? I didn’t even get anything special edition, just a copper warrior mini and on Dec 9 it said it was received and shipped out of a Queens distribution center but nothing since. My cyber Monday order from them came rather promptly but this other one is pretty frustrating. Assuming a USPS issue and not Olight but just wondering if anyone had that experience.
I ordered some husky socket organizers from Home Depot, they missed their ship date. A week later I talked to customer service and cancelled the order. Placed an order for curbside pickup at my local Home Depot as they were back in stock. A few days later the shipment arrived even though it hadn’t shipped according to their website and was cancelled. So in essence it became a 2 for 1 deal.
Ordered a gift card online at Tractor Supply, for in-store pickup, in order to take advantage of a special. Go to store. 1) Can’t find the order 2) Found order, you ordered an E-Gift card. (I did not, and the TS confirmation e-mail clearly shows this is in-store pickup. 3) Store Mgr., still insisting I ‘misunderstood’ or ‘did something wrong’ calls TS customer service. They say ‘we mailed it direct to the customer.” (That makes 0 sense, as my confirmation says in-store pickup. 4) I request cancellation, and I’ll buy it in the store. 5) Mgr calls CS. ‘No can do. Alreay mailed to customer.’ 6) Mgr has NO solution at all to offer, so I ask for a blank card that I can gift, and wait for the mailed card. “Sure, we can do that!’ They have a 1000 cards, no card gift envelopes. Whatever. 7) Go home. Check order online at TS – ‘Ship to store – not shipped yet.’ (Why do you need to ship a gift card that they have *1000* of at the store, all just waiting to be coded?!!!@) 8) Today – received another TS e-mail – Good News! Your order has ‘shipped’ – TO THE STORE. 9) Wrote a harshly wordsed e-mail to TS customer service.
I’ve been going through many issues with USPS . An item I shipped two day priority mail on 12/11 still hasn’t arrived (will hopefully be delivered today).
A package I shipped from San Diego on 12/9 shows it arrived in Los Angeles on 12/13. That is the last update available.
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but the shopping “experience” online is blah. I’m only 35, and hate online shopping. So impersonal, nothing tangible.
Are ya’ll ready for this kind of future where there’s no presence of products anymore and you have to buy everything sight unseen?
Part of the reason I started ToolGuyd was because so many tools could only be purchased sight-unseen, and also because there wasn’t clear differentiation between tools at stores, with associates rarely able to help.
Shopping online doesn’t have to be impersonal. I can’t tell you how many interactions I have here where I field questions and provide greater insights than you could find on product packaging.
There are also plenty of stores and suppliers where you can call up and talk to someone who can steer you in one direction or another.
A lot of what I order online cannot be purchased at any store in a reasonable radius, or I know exactly what I want and can get it for less.
Amazon has a deal of the day today on an iRobot robotics and coding toy: https://www.amazon.com/iRobot-Coding-Robot-Holiday-Bundle/dp/B08P4P4KT6/?tag=toolguyd-20 . What kinds of stores might have that on display where you could learn more than a couple of website clicks?
Consider cameras. An educated salesperson can steer you in the right direction between several options. If you do your research online, you can source insights and opinions from different authorities.
Some products are still best purchased in-person, either because one needs to see them with their own eyes, or feel them in their hands.
I recently purchased a small kitchen knife. It was sight-unseen, but this is also a brand that I would never find at any brick and mortar stores, and am unlikely to ever see locally. Shopping locally would limit me to maybe 4 brands. Shopping online, there are so many more options. And if uncertain, there are some stores that can provide personal sales assistance.
I’m with Chris above.
Don’t even get me started with on-line reviews and how wonderful they are, etc. We all know that the reviews that get “published” are the good ones….
A picture doesn’t show fit and finish, etc.
I have several younger guys around here and although they buy a TON of stuff online, they can all tell of the times they got hoodwinked, and they accept that as the cost of the convenience of buying with a click.
Online sellers have a real racket going. One doesn’t have to have a dime to their name to buy, and impulse buying is rampant. Just “CLICK” and fret about paying for it in 30 days when the credit card statement comes.
Me–I’m a “bloody knuckle buyer”. I visit the store with cash (or a good check) and look carefully at what I’m contemplating to purchase. Then I take a look at my bloody knuckles, battered and scarred for EARNING the cash. Then I ponder, “Is this item worth what it cost me (my bloody knuckles) to have this cash in my hand?
7, 8, maybe 9 times out of ten I pass and keep that hard-earned cash in my pocket.
No wonder retailers like making it so that the impulse of a click is all it takes to buy something.
I’m just not interested.
Gotta say that I am totally with Stuart on this one. Years ago, I kept having the same experience: check online, find what I want, learn what I don’t want … go local, oh, they only have the crap I don’t want. Best Buy was my poster child for this – always had exactly what I didn’t want to buy on the shelf. But if I order online, I can get exactly what I want. I am patient and can wait a few days.
What a fantastic, futuristic world we live in.
I spent a good amount of money with Home Depot and I liked how their Black Friday “sale” was spread out over multiple months– however, items that went out of stock after a few days starting never came back into stock, which is slightly annoying. I thought maybe they were holding onto stock for actual Black Friday, but guess not.
Hopefully once this season winds down and COVID starts being under control due to vaccinations being rolled out, perhaps retailers will continue with their “extended” Black Friday/holiday sale deals. I really liked that if I saw a deal, yes, there’s a chance it’ll be sold out, but at least I have some time to think about it haha.
I was disappointed to see the Gorilla Ladder at HD sell out in my local stores and never get restocked. 7 days after the sale ended every HD had ladders again. Shipping by FedEx seemed good in our area. USPS was hit or miss. I mailed packages all over the East Coast. Everything made it in 5-7 days. I mailed three packages to Birmingham Alabama and they sat in a warehouse in Birmingham at the airport for two weeks before being delivered 18 days after they were mailed.
USPS has had a lot of staffing problems. My son work for them for 3 years. 50 to 70 hrs a week. Old, old deliver trucks (two breakdowns in two trucks, in one day). New employees crashing them & shortage of delivery vehicles. Always understaffed and the volume of packages has at least tripled this year. They have like five or six pallets each day come in and not enough people to even get to unloading them till the next day.
Then the bosses are sometimes crusty 30 yr employees that don’t relate to the new reality of young employees.
I completely understand. Not blaming anyone. Just reporting what happened.
Lowes: As much with most online orders, inventory and ship to store, I’ve come to this conclusion- if it shows 3 or less items on hand (in stock), it means there is a high probability there is one or none available.
Unlike most, I have about 5 Lowes within a 20-mile radius (two states). Of 4 of those, I needed an item that the closest showed stock of 3. On arriving at store #1, it took 20 mins for Lowe’s clerk to conclude that its not what the app/web inventory shows. Nor could the clerk locate any of this stock although the Lowe’s clerk had checked the dept computer. Another store, I didn’t drive to 2nd choice, had then showed Out of stock for that item. I then drove to 3rd store, to find same issue- 3 left but not. Clerk in the dept I was in, was wise to suggest “Why didn’t the 1st store call ahead for me? “(maybe because we were both miffed). So 3rd store confirmed that 1 of the 3 stock shown was the floor demonstration (not for sale). And that another was reserved for Online Pickup (why have it listed at all?). And missing one was likely not there at all. So then I asked the clerk, who was really helpful, call the 4th store and I would go there. After 15 mins, clerk asked my name, and clerk told me whom to ask for at 4th store clerk had put aside the item. I got to the 4th Lowes, and as I was looking for the clerk, I saw my item on a flat bed. How thoughtful!
Pooped out, I spent four hours trying to buy a toilet! Well, I could have ordered online, and had a ship to store. But the problem I have had was that on several occasions, the order would be lost, delayed, mislabeled or cancelled. And I needed the toilet by this weekend, and it was a specific model (rough in size, bowl shape, color, ADA height, model to match sink family/brand).
Ironically, I have a Home Depot that is 3 miles from me, and I refuse to shop there. The customers are rude, the clerks are usually knowledgeable but scarce, and I hate the self checkouts (Why am I doing an employable job? Hire people or discount the items if I have to do the work!).
BTW- regarding Lowes, the last item I ordered online to have shipped was shown as at the store, but the store couldn’t find it. 4 trips it took (and in some hellish traffic/weather on one day) to discover that the item was eventually found because they discovered a box with faded name info. Customer service opened the box to find my info from the packing slip. With all the problems I’ve had with Lowes and Home Depot, I should get a free store credit gift card EVERY visit.
In the end, I am satisfied that Lowes actually had a clerk to consider the weight of the item, have it on a flatbed ready for me.
I’ve had poor luck with “UPS Mail Innovations”. Their partnership with the USPS just adds delay to my orders.
I’ve had a lot of personal experiences with B&H Photo over the years. They’ve always been my favorite photo retailer. That’s to say nothing of the huge array of other things they carry. I’ve found that if something is slow with them, it’s almost always the carrier.
I did all my Christmas shopping online this year. I experienced the same things with Macy’s, Kohl’s, etc. I’d receive an email that the item was “shipped,” but delayed confirmation that the item was picked up by the carrier. I was also not receiving tracking information the way I normally would. Tracking was almost non-existent. Aside from the initial notification that the item was “shipped,” the only word I’d receive after that was that it was delivered. I didn’t exactly need a notification for that. The in-between was generally not provided.
I think that the carriers have just been overwhelmed this year. Hopefully they’ll take a hard look at things between now and next year. The one company that ruled, at least in my part of the country, Ohio, was Amazon. They did whatever it took, up to and including driving their personal vehicles to make same day deliveries!! Amazon is putting a lot of places out of business, and this year in particular made me understand why.
This was just an unprecedented year when businesses and carriers in general were thrown a curve ball that they never saw coming.
My local HD have manned COVID mask stations at their entrances and you must wear one to enter. Most people in fact already have masks but HD in Portlandia at least is doing the right thing. Plus hand sanitizer stations everywhere.
As for Tool purchases I usually order online (thanks a lot Stuart…) mostly from HD and have them delivered to their stores for pickup. They offer tracking which is fairly accurate regards eta too. Non lost or damaged this year at least. (I didn’t mention years past since that’s no longer relevant).
That said we try to support our multiple local tool vendors whenever possible. Far better brand selections and tool savvy assistance.
And most all have at least monthly sales on even very rarely discounted higher end tool brands and models.
Totally agree with your shipping company comments. I’m to the point where I won’t order anything I need quickly unless I can confirm it ships UPS. It’s the ONLY company that can get things here anywhere close to on-time. I ordered from NewEgg on 12/26 – it’s in Newark NJ and I’m literally 30 minutes west…it’s still not here. Shipped USPS. FedEx lost two gifts for us. One showed up yesterday, three weeks after the replacement for the original one arrived as everyone assumed it was lost.
XE Power (tools) Scammers
They never respond to messages, provided an erroneous UPS Tracking number, for an Amazon shipment shipped to another party with a different address. On top of it all, the shipper only had my PO BOX number not my street address and UPS does not ship to PO BOXES.
Did a whole lot of leg work but finally Paypal.is refunding me and suspending this vendor’s account.