Ames Supply

Ames Supply
I’ve been doing business with Ames Supply of Lisle (formerly of Downer’s Grove), Illinois, for 20 years. No more. Unlike many decisions like this, it took only one lousy customer experience to bring me to this point—but it was a doozy.

(This actually took place some time ago, but I was reminded to write about it when I ordered additional tools from someone else yesterday.)

In July 2011 I placed an order to replace some tools that had been stolen. Ames immediately shipped most of the individual items on the order, but backordered the big items: a vacuum and a toolkit. When I ordered, all these items were showing available on their website; when I called, I was told the vacuum was a week-and-a-half out and the toolkit was backordered for two to three weeks.

Six weeks later I received the vacuum and case and a magnetic pickup that was also backordered. The toolkit, which was my primary need, was still backordered, and Ames could not give an ETA for its delivery. This was doubly frustrating, since I knew that—with the exception of their company-branded screwdrivers—all of those tools were off-the-shelf items from other companies.

I continued to make do while waiting for my tools, but by the end of 2011 I still had not received my toolkit. I made several telephone calls, but no further information was forthcoming from Ames. My phone message for the president was unanswered.

On January 7, 2011, I received a phone call from my sales rep (Betty), asking if I still wanted the order: “For some reason it kinda got stuck in the computer and never got shipped.” **What?* But, yes, I still wanted the order. And, no, she couldn’t tell me when the kit would be shipped.

The toolkit ended up being delivered the last week of February, minus two items that were shipped the first week of April—nearly nine months after I placed the order. But that wasn’t the end of this fiasco.

Ames shipped me not the JIS screwdrivers that I ordered, but Phillips screwdrivers. When I called them on this they told me that the JIS drivers were no longer available. However, the Phillips drivers would “work just fine”—they checked with another one of their customers. Um, no they won’t—and as a company that specializes in supporting the copier tech trade they should know that. Using a Phillips screwdriver on JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) screws, which are found on most office equipment manufactured in Japan, will greatly increase the incidence of cam out (stripping the screw head).

Like I said: a doozy.

Update (12/8/2012): Jim Chitty tells me that Ames is now out of business. I’m not surprised.