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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
I recently stopped by the local supply house, to get what I needed for a service change. Naturally, I needed a panel.

I told the clerk what I needed: how many amps, how many spaces, etc. I was not surprised that this (small) supplyer needed to order it, but I choked on the $800 price.

Just for grins & giggles, I called a larger house in the 'biggest little city' to compare prices. Amazingly enough, they also quoted $800. Something was clearly not right.

Digging through the very confusing materials provided by the manufacturer, it became clear that the panel that their 'product selector' pointed you to was a custom item that -clearly- they didn't really care to make. Not at all what I wanted.

Getting away from the 'product selection tool' on their website, and plowing through reams of fine print the 'old-fashioned way,' I found the panel I really wanted. Price was closer to $80, than to $800.

The experience shows the difference a good counter clerk can make. I can only pray that parts houses are set up to reward the 'good' guys, rather than the ones who quote $800 panels!

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,677
Likes: 9
I think it is just an over dependence on the computer and the counter man not knowing his products. He is supposed to be a salesman at the end of the day. He should know enough about what he is selling to look up what you ordered and see why that is different from what he stocks. Then he could present you with the options and be sure you really ordered what you needed.
As a shopper, I think I would ask what he has that is close and see how they compared. Sometimes you really need that special order item but the market says what they stock is what most people use.
I do put a lot of value in the paper catalog when you are browsing.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,288
Likes: 4
Funny, when I saw the 'header' of this thread, I immediatley thought of the clerical staff in my office (Building/Code Enforcement)!! HA!!

OK, to Reno's semi-rant. In my 25+ years as a EC, I came accross a whole lot of good & great counter guys. I cannot remember any of them trying to upsell; they always said 'this is what we have in stock'. Yes, I special ordered quite a few $$$ of gear, panels, transformers, lighting fixtures, etc.

BTW, while they were still 'around' I made every attempt to patronize the 'local guy'!

As to paper or computer...I still like the Sq D Digest, and other paper catalogs.

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
I like the place that promotes using the Peter Principle. Everyone new starts in receiving. If they do a good job, they move to the sales counter, then to account rep. If they do a good job in receiving and a bad job on the counter, they stay on the counter - with the other guys who couldn't get a promotion. I don't go there anymore.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
Semi rant? Me? smile

No, HotLine, you misunderstood. I was simply making an observation, telling a tale.

Fact is, good counter guys have saved the day for me more times than I can count. I just wanted to draw attention to the contribution these guys make - and what can happen without them.

Just to again illustrate the point .... we have that 'new' code requirement for panels to have some manner of 'intersystem grounding termination.' There are a few interesting magic widgets out there- but the internet is showing a fairly simple one for nearly $50. I have an issue with that, as I don't thing the blessed thing ought to sell for more then $10. It will be interesting to see what the counter clerk comes up with ....

(If it gets too crazy, I might get creative with a ground bar, and see what the inspector says wink )

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
A big bug-bear with me is the utterly fantastic spread between the list prices you'll find in the big NEMA boys and what their stuff goes for at the big orange box.

Such spreads mandate that any EC subscribe to a pricing service -- just another piece of overhead.

As regards panels -- and minor materials -- the only way to keep a shirt on your back is to set the list out for bid. This is also the best way to obtain brand new circuit breakers.

C/Bs sold in conjunction with a panel are priced as low as you'll ever see.

I've never seen price discounts of any note given to over-the-counter sales. Someone has to pay for the staffer.

The other hassle is the time lost be even going to the counter. They're not close by, for me.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,288
Likes: 4

OK, I apologise for using 'semi rant'. You are 100% right on about a good counter guy (or gal, to be PC). A good feeling is the counter guy saying 'ya need glue?' when you hustle in & pick up 500' of 4" PVC!!

Above you say:
"Just to again illustrate the point .... we have that 'new' code requirement for panels to have some manner of 'intersystem grounding termination.'"

Are you refering to 250.94? from 2008 changes, aka: intersystem bonding termination? We've been enforcing that since Oct. 2009, and still have the occasional guy fail for not installing it. Most ECs here use the Arlington item, about $12 as our utilities do not allow any of the 'items' that mount to the meter pans.

I'm curious, what did you find for $50??

Now, if you want to talk real about the 'experts' in some of the big box stores!!

Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,438
Reno makes a good point... On the west side of Kern Co. CA there are 2 supply houses. One is a local outfit with one other shop in Bako. The other is a 'chain' that can supposedly get most anything from their warehouse "within a day". The local guys may not always have everything in stock but, they do know where to get it & will order it in for you no problem. The local guys also know the difference between a 4S deep special and an 4" EYS-H. The people at the chain have major deficiencies in knowing what even basic material is..

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
Unfortunately these places are "idiot proofing" their supply lines so they can hire bigger idiots to supecede them. To get what you wNt requires go ol' fashion research and making a material list by vendors part number

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
Hot Line ... yes, I was referring to that requirement ... and the $50 item is the Thomas & Betts (IBT2?) bracket that clamps to the outside of the meter can/ panel. I don't have the parts house price yet, so the pricing I'm seeing might simply be internet fantasy.

I've never worked anywhere that let you run a naked ground wire, as used by the Arlington (and some other guys) piece. Something to do with copper theives, etc. My GEC's get run in pipe all the way to the rod.

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