The Items At Lowe's With The Worst Reviews

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There are about 35,000 products on the shelves at any given Lowe's, and hundreds of thousands more available on the company's various websites (via Lowe's). Many of them are great, a few are unspeakably bad, and the vast majority are sufficient, at least. Don't knock "sufficient"; when you're putting drain pipes in your house, "sufficient" covers all the ground you really care about: easy enough to use, no leaks, lasts for a long time.

In order to make this review of reviews practical, we have eliminated a handful of categories that don't appear to directly relate to Lowe's home improvement mission, such as automotive, boating, and drinks and snacks. We have also excluded packages (combinations of products) on the premise that these listings don't represent a single product and, therefore, neither do their reviews. Finally, some categories, such as drones, gift tags, and gift cards, don't seem to include reviews at all ... at least for now.

Which reviews are we talking about here?

For surprising reasons we'll get to later, the Lowe's online store has relatively few negative reviews. We originally set out to consider all products with fewer than 2 stars (on a 1-5 scale), with no fewer than 10 reviews. When it became clear that there were almost no products matching that requirement on the website, we changed it to a minimum of 4 reviews. We also excluded unavailable products, since reviews hardly matter if you can't buy the product anyway.

Reviews often show bias. While people can usually be relied upon to complain, skewing reviews toward the negative, Lowe's doesn't have a lot of negative reviews. Take, for example, the bathtubs category. As of this writing, there are 2,588 products available in that category, and 362 of them have a 5-star rating. Five-star products have an average of 44 reviews, while one-star products only have 1.5 reviews each. That's about 528 one-star tubs, versus 113,225 five-star tubs.

Sometimes bias and self-justification can explain inordinately positive reviews. Lowe's features 3,000 five-star reviews for a particular $50 dog bowl, yet there are no more than two reviews on any of the one-star dog bowls, and no pet grooming products at all averaging either one or two stars. It could be that buying excessively expensive dog accouterments requires, for some, the belief that the products are extraordinary. But there's another explanation.

Is there another explanation for all the positive reviews?

There is, as you might have sussed out, another explanation for all the positive reviews. Well, a few, actually. Stuart Deutsch of the blog ToolGuyd thinks the Lowe's marketing company goes out of its way to get dishonestly positive reviews from influencers. It turns out that he's right, though it only explains a small portion of the positive review glut. It turns out that the Lowe's Loop program Deutsch was participating in is part of a much larger review-acquisition scheme.

Marketing company Bazaarvoice talks openly online about how it supplies Lowe's with "user-generated content," by which it means positive product reviews. These reviews are sourced via a number of channels: directly from Lowe's customers, from the manufacturers of the products themselves, and from an online community called Influenster, which provides free products in exchange for reviews.

Lowe's sources positive reviews for obvious reasons, as it helps to sell products (and also because Bazaarvoice represents the manufacturers, too). But there are negative reviews on the Lowe's site, and sometimes quite a lot of them. The wall art category currently has a completely mad number of one-star products, 8,241 out of 50,566 products. Lowes.com shows a maximum of 600 search results, and since there's no way to view worst ratings or most ratings first, there are simply a lot of reviews we were unable to access. More negative reviews than normal also crop up in the floor molding & trim, rugs, and a few other sections.

Now, on to the products with the worst reviews...

Large rustic/contemporary/mid-century modern/whatever chicken feeder, $75

If you have a lot of rustic chickens to feed, $75 burning a hole in your pocket, and a self-destructive streak, this might be the feeder for you. The product description seems determined to cover its hind feathers, remarking that this feeder can be used to feed chickens but not birds. It also seems to imply that the feeder holds 30 pounds of feed only when your chickens are hungry. No word on how that mechanism works, or how much it holds when your chickens aren't hungry.

Most reviewers complained that the feeder arrived bent out of shape, and nearly all claim that the feeder did not work. The words "junk" and "trash" come up a few times. Some users complain of design flaws, some of damage. One reviewer asserts that the feeder wouldn't work in a "place with weather," which tells you all you need to know.

Amazon doesn't sell this particular model, but offers a fair number of aluminum and galvanized steel treadle feeders. A few, like this one, have good reviews, but tend to run several times the price of the feeder above.

Sir Kohler Memoirs pedestal sink of the Order of the Bath, $274.66

The Kohler Memoirs bathroom sink seems to have started its life with great ambition. Not every sink... err, that is, pedestal lavatory basin ... would expect to end up in your memoirs, only to be immortalized in Lowe's one-star reviews instead. One gets the sense reading these reviews that the owners might be a little unrealistic. One bought a house in which this sink was installed in 2002 (or perhaps bought the sink, which came with a free house), and wrote 19 years later to complain of crazing.

This popular sink has been around for a long time, in many versions. Its design "resembles crown molding," which maybe helps get your hand cleaner somehow, and it comes in a "palette of Kohler colors" including white, off-white, offer-white, and very dark white. This palette also resembles crown molding, if your crown molding still listens to Sisters of Mercy and wears ripped fishnets and corsets to Whole Foods.

Amazon sells many variations of the Kohler Memoirs sink, including an undermount version if you're into that kind of memoir, and all get four stars or more. There's no way to determine if the crazing is normal for people who bought a used sink 20 years ago, or if it's inevitably going to happen to all of those Amazon purchasers, but they seem satisfied so far.

The 4D Concepts wall cabinet that time-travels with your knick-knacks, $109

Perhaps to offset the implications of the "4D Concepts" name, whoever wrote the description for this little cabinet seems to be trying to reel in expectations a bit. The medium-density fiberboard cabinet includes such innovative features as "framed doors that open," and somehow comes both "ready to assemble and ready to use." Perhaps the "4D" part of the name is implying that it is both at once, bridging the probabilities through time like Schrödinger's cat. Maybe this is the very box Schrödinger put his cat in. Which wasn't very nice, because this isn't a great cabinet.

Reviewers found it wasn't ready for either. The consensus is that it's flimsy and nearly impossible to assemble. Holes weren't pre-drilled or were too large for their dowels. These shortcomings and others cause the cabinet to fall apart, which makes it rather more something to store than something to store things in.

The same cabinet in white from Amazon has few reviews, but they aren't any better. Dave writes that, of all the garbage available to buy online, this cabinet "is top of the pile." No word on whether that makes it better or worse than the garbage below. Worse, it seems to have caused something of an existential crisis for Dave, who now wonders where he went wrong in life. Don't fret about it, Dave. It is, quite literally, not worth it.

Supreme Wood Whitney 60-in. navy blue undermount double sink bathroom vanity with white Carrara natural marble top and yes, it has Grey Poupon, $2,019

You had one job, Supreme Wood Whitney 60-in Navy Blue Undermount Double Sink Bathroom Vanity with White Carrara Natural Marble Top: to hold a sink. And according to one reviewer, you didn't even manage that.

When you imagine a sub-par bathroom vanity, you don't always picture it topped with Carrara marble, and you almost never picture the sink falling out of it. You might be tempted to wonder if the assembly was up to par, although another purchaser claims it arrived broken in several ways. And the product description isn't confidence-inspiring. It claims, presciently, that the vanity includes "one undercount porcelain sink." Perhaps that "undercount" indicates that one sink will fall off, leaving you with only one, or maybe it's pointing out that its own sentence is undercounting the sinks. Either someone missed the return key or this thing's hinges somehow prevent both slamming noises and "golden brushed nickel knobs and handles." Whatever golden brushed nickel is, it seems worth preventing.

Amazon doesn't carry this vanity (nor does anyone else, since it apparently weighs 400 pounds), but Google Shopping shows at least 20 nearly identical models from other manufacturers, many with higher reviews and some with higher prices.

Hanes Geo Components straw double frustration net blanket, $168

We are confident that, whatever a straw double net blanket is, the Hanes Geo Components version is a perfectly fine double net blanket. Perhaps this is the source of the reviewers' complaints, which seem to imply that unrolling it is impossible. Assuming that unrolling it is necessary (neither the reviewers nor the product description offer any instructions), this would seem to be unacceptable. Should have gone for the triple net, apparently.

The double net itself might actually be the culprit. Single-net blankets are rolled without the netting contacting other pieces of netting, but it's unavoidable in a double-net roll for the nets to make a lot of contact, which could mean a lot of tangling.

In case you're wondering why this would come in 112.5-foot rolls, the description (which offers width in inches, length in feet, and area in square yards) shows this comes out to an even 100 yards. They have done the math so you don't have to. Amazon doesn't appear to sell this particular erosion control blanket, but does offer a 100-square yard Hanes Geo Components jute mesh erosion control blanket that gets 4.9 stars but costs a bit more at $217.47.

One 100-gallon lawn and leaf trash bag to rule them all, $16.98

These trash bags are not merely large, nor even extra large, but super extra large bags that can be used with a large trash can (and presumably even a super extra large trash can). In what appears to be a complete meltdown of parallelism, the description proclaims that the bags can hold leaves, your yard, an outdoor trash can, or storage bags. The idea of throwing away your trash can or storing storage bags in a storage bag might be a little recursive, or meta, or fractal, or something, but a bag that can hold your yard is nothing to sneeze at. But you might want to poke some air holes when you mow.

The trouble comes when reviewers receive their massive trash bag only to realize it's a trash bag. That is, a single trash bag. For $17.

Okay, but let's have some context. The typical kitchen garbage bag is around 13 gallons, so these are very large. While reasonably thick at 1.3 mil, Home Depot sells boxes of 10 100-gallon 2 mil bags for $33.10, less than one-fifth the cost of this Lowe's bag. Meanwhile, Amazon sells a single 3 mil 100-gallon bag from the same manufacturer for $12.91 (3.6 stars). Or, you could just buy 50 of them directly from PlasticMill for $56.99.

Georgia Boot men's work boot. Boot. $101

These rubber and neoprene boots feature the "Georgia waterproof system," which appears to be a way of failing to waterproof boots. Perhaps they mean the boots are "Georgia waterproof" as some clever way of indicating that, like most shoes in Georgia, they'll be filled with sweat and stormwater by noon, though the manufacturer seems straightforward and thorough in all other aspects of the product description (including the unsurprising observation that the shaft height and circumference may vary by size).

In any event, reviewers report that the boots leak, either because of a manufacturing defect or because they fell apart within a couple of weeks of purchase and with very light use. One review sums it up nicely: "Not a good boot for walking around in." Overall, one concludes that these are good, or at least sufficient, boots for sitting around a dry room in.

It's worth noting that Lowe's sells approximately 1.3 bazillion Georgia Boots boots (all somewhat confusingly called "Georgia Boot"), and the vast majority have extremely positive reviews. The company occasionally branches out away from traditional work boot territory and takes a review bit, as they did with the wellingtons/rain boots/chicken plant boots above. The same boots, model GB00230, get about 4 stars on Amazon.

Hillman black magic magnetic cabinet latch, $4.98

Some productivity experts say you can't have two priorities at once, and the Hillman magnetic cabinet latch would probably have benefited from this lesson. Instead, you see this product attempting to both adhere to things using its powers of adhesion and stick to other things magnetically using its powers of being a magnet. Trouble is, its adhesive doesn't adhere and its magnet doesn't ... magnetify.

Like so many products with bad reviews, this one probably suffered from some imperfect description in the first place. Describing a roll of magnetic stuff as a "latch" is confusing. A search for "latch" on lowes.com reveals what most people mean by "latch": a discrete piece of hardware, often with moving parts, that can be used to temporarily hold one of two parts in place. A roll of stuff designed, apparently, to fail to hold many things in place is something other than a latch. If you've noticed the vague word "stuff," you're probably due an explanation. The product description states that these magnets come in "a variety of forms, metal, ceramic, strips, tape, rings, clips, and sheets." The syntax is a bit unclear, but it's safe to assume this isn't a roll of rings, clips, sheets, or probably even metal. But what it actually is remains a mystery; thus, "stuff."

Amazon seems to have avoided this product, but Build Club stocks it in spite of its one-star review average. Most, but not all, of those reviews come from Lowe's.

Grayson Lane (or was it Litton Lane?) vintage/retro wall sculpture, $35.06

In a world where Hobby Lobby crosses carry "for decorative use only" labels, we suppose you have to be really clear about what a product really is. This one appears to be an airplane propeller, but (maybe because of its low price) reviewers don't seem particularly upset that it isn't. But one reviewer loudly complains that this piece "isn't even art!" as if art falls below the "scrap wood with a worm hole in it" threshold.

The complaints are centered around the quality of the wood used, as well as missing hardware for hanging the "art." One reviewer observes that "you get what you paid for." Yes, if you pay for a non-working propeller, you will get a non-working propeller. Besides, getting what you don't pay for is a matter for the police and the Lowe's loss prevention department.

Grayson Lane sells at least 16 other fake propellers through Lowe's, most of which are unreviewed, so if you're determined to project that I-survived-a-plane-crash vibe, maybe one of those would be a better fit for you. For an I-survived-a-boat-crash nautical theme, try this "metal abstract and geometric novelty art," which in spite of being made of metal is somehow made of medium-density fiberboard.

The Home Depot sells what appears to be the same propeller under the brand name Litton Lane for $29.43.

WORX MakerX single temp glueX gunX, $29.98

Let's look at an expensive cordless glue gun that's neither cordless nor a glue gun, in the sense that it will not glue anything when you get the box home. It is, however, expensive. The WORX 20v glue gun works (or worx, if you must) by attaching the device to a "hub" that, in turn, attaches to a fairly standard 20v cordless tool battery. One issue reviewers bemoan is that, since the glue gun attaches to the hub via a cord, it can't reasonably be called cordless.

The other issue is that the cord, hub and battery are sold separately, which none of the reviewers picked up on. WORX itself wades into the fray, employing that time-honored customer service strategy of telling the customer he's wrong. Heaven (who, along with Destynee, fields complaints on the Lowe's site) writes: "The message at the bottom left corner of the packaging advises that this is a tool only and the hub/battery is sold separately." We tracked down the packaging (front and back), and the trouble is that the message appears on the back of the packaging, in relatively small print.

The kit that turns this $30 awkwardly shaped cordless paperweight into a $130 awkwardly shaped corded glue gun can be had on Amazon for $119, making it a $149 awkwardly shaped corded glue gun with a waiting period and no background checks. It gets 4.5 stars on Amazon, where only a few reviewers experienced the battery confusion.

Kingsman oil-rubbed bronze cylindrical bar drawer pulls or painted rod, $129

Really, whoever wrote the description for these drawer pulls should have seen trouble on the horizon. And maybe they did, given the occasionally defensive tone in phrases like "100% True solid steel material with oil rubbed bronze finish," which might be 100% true but is certainly not 100% oil-rubbed bronze. And the confusion doesn't end there. The description says the pulls "easily match any stainless steel appliances," which is a tad optimistic given that the pulls don't match any stainless steel appliances. But none of the reviewers' disdain stemmed from these problems.

Instead, purchasers complain that the pulls don't fit the cabinet hole patterns they're supposed to, which would make them useless. One reviewer claims they're not threaded and so cannot be tightened, which would make them useless. And, as usual, the color of "oil-rubbed bronze" causes more confusion than anything except maybe the color of tennis balls. One purchaser complains that the pulls "are painted black and the black rubbed off to where you can see copper underneath." But according to House of Antique Hardware, oil-rubbed bronze is "very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones," which sounds a lot like what the reviewer bought.

The same product on Amazon got four stars, so maybe this is a peculiarity of Lowe's comparatively low review count.

Rounding up the worst of the rest

It's almost time for our daily bronze-rubbing, so let's take a rapid-fire look at some of the remaining products with the worst reviews (or worst reviewers). Reviewers didn't think much of Harris Natural Bed Bug Killer, which turns out to be a trap that doesn't eliminate bedbugs, but tells you if you have managed to get rid of them yet. Purchasers of the Ogrow 15x6 Greenhouse Kit were apparently misled by pictures, now removed, that showed this as a 36x15 greenhouse. That would have been a steal for $229.99, except that it doesn't exist and apparently these greenhouses are very poorly made anyway.

Two hoses make the list. Orbit's 20-ft x 3/8-in PVC Mist Cooling Tubing isn't quite the right size or material, so its fittings leak. Meanwhile, the FLEXON 5/8-in x 50-ft Premium-Duty Kink Free Rubber Black Hose leaks, bursts, kinks, and isn't made of rubber, but by all accounts is, in fact, black.