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I came across this story recently over on The Consumerist:

Lowes Steals Money From Old Lady’s House, Threatens to Sue Her For Slander
Subcontractors working for Lowes stole money hidden in a reader’s elderly mother’s bedroom.  When the mother complained, Lowe’s threatened to sue her for slander.


Yet another story about home-improvement warehouse subcontractors behaving criminally.  This industry needs to be reigned in.

Ouch.  I feel for the woman who was victimized, but what really pisses me off about this is the fact that it calls into question the honesty of thousands of hard-working contractors around the country.  All it takes is one set of dicks to do soemthing like this to make the public forget all the honest work that goes down.

I remember reading recently about a group of contractors that found a wad of cash in the attic of an elderly couple — some “stash” for a rainy day long forgotten — which they promptly returned.  (I tried to find a link, but couldn’t quickly.  If any of your remember this and know where to find it, post the link in comments please.)  Or how ’bout the guys working in the post-Katrina south pulling bodies out of attics?  That’s not the kind of work you think of when you think “roofing contractor,” but hey, they’re doing it.

I’ve run into many really incredible people via Toolmonger — honest, knowledgable, and hard-working people who I’d guess all take this kind of event very personally.  It reflects on us all.

Why do people do this?

Original Article [The Consumerist]


5 Responses to Making It Worse for Everyone Who Works for a Living

  1. nrChris says:

    I tried to find the article, but you try a Google search for “honest contractor finds money” and variations on that. The results are pretty disheartening–they all speak of how to avoid shady contractors, etc.

    I love Lowe’s but I would not use them for any installation. I would use a smaller contractor that I took the time to get to know, find out their reputation, etc. Not a large company insulated from anything by their relationship with a sub–unscrupulous or otherwise.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    Chris: Agreed, re: find a local contractor. This just pissed me off because I’d imagine that a lot of people read something like this and think “all those contractors are shady.” Even the people at the Consumerist seemed to pick up on that a bit, though I suspect the “industry” they want to “reign in” is the big-box subcontractor set — and they might have something there.

  3. The question isn’t “why do the contractors do this?”, because obviously it’s the same answer as why anyone steals — their desire for cash exceeded their morals. That answer hasn’t changed since the invention of money.

    The question is “why did Lowe’s come down against the woman?”, which is a far more interesting one. The corporate folks obviously want to defend their image, but they could’ve done so by simply distancing themselves from the contractor and siding with the victim. By threatening her, they’ve made themselves into a bad-guy when formerly they weren’t one. That’s incredibly misguided on their part!

  4. Me says:

    I agree that one bad apple can cause a lot of harm. My dad has been a refrigeration repairman for over 30 years. My grandpa started the business back in the 50’s. They are both as honest as the day is long. But all it takes is one bad “undercover investigation” by someone like Dateline to give the whole industry a bad name. But it happens in other aspects of life as well.

    For example, a small group of druken idiots can give a bad name to thousands of genuine sports fans. (Think college football at almost any big-time football school.)

    It sucks, but like my dad always says, you can’t worry about what other people think. He is fond of saying: “If you are loved by your family, liked by your friends, respected by your peers, and don’t have any trouble sleeping at night; then you are doing ok.”

  5. Jeff T says:

    I agree with the “Me” guy. Being a home theater/low voltage electrical construction contractor and repair person (entails every aspect of the home theater – usually rooms costing in excess of $100,000 in nice parts of town – carpentry down to high-end lighting controls with $2000 custom remotes and such…). The company I work for does it all from start to finish, and we spend a lot of time in wealthy areas with incredibly rich people (that drive me nuts sometimes).

    Some of them are so leary of contractors they just treat me like scum of the earth sometimes, but most of the time they are awesomely accomadating and genuinely nice people. Always investigate the contractors you hire, but most of them I work along side with are the most honest dependable people you will ever meet on the face of the earth, and I have worked in other fields that I could never say that about. They just have more common sense usually.

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