Big Box Stores vs Professional Electrical Suppliers

Refer to the thread entitled "How to upgrade outlets and switches" wherein the OP seeks to replace some incorrectly-installed grounding receptacles with either non-grounding type or GFCI's. I also had a similar problem but with only one outlet. For some reason the ground, normally supplied by the AC cable, was missing even though a grounding duplex outlet had been installed. IOW using the standard neon light tester I could not get a circuit between hot (black) and ground on the outlet, nor between hot and the metal box. I suspect that the cable was not properly clamped to the box there or at the previous box but since this is an infrequently used outlet I wasn't planning to pull the cable to investigate. All other boxes on the same circuit had ground. The box was far too shallow to install a GFCI so I decided to put in a non-grounding duplex outlet. Then the problems began.
Naturally I checked the most competent suppliers (Lowes and HD) first. Lowes had non-grounding duplex receptacles in ivory and white and HD had them only in white. I really wanted brown to conform to all the other switches and outlets in the house so, thinking of how much better the "real" electrical suppliers are according to the "professionals" on this group, I set out to find what I needed.
First I tried the "real" hardware store where everyone is treated as a shoplifter. You not only can't browse because such an activity would take up the expensive conditioned air of the store but everything that could be physically lifted is kept under lock and key. The owner, taking time out from complaining about the government with his layabout cronies deigned to acknowledge my presence with "Yeah?" typical of such establishments. I ask for a non-grounding duplex receptacle in brown. He grunts and disappears into the back. Several hours later--it seemed like that but was probably only ten or so minutes -- he reappeared and tossed a grounding receptacle on the counter.
"Er no," say I, "That's a grounding receptacle. The non-grounding type has only two pins." Mind you, give him his due: He did get the color right.
"That's all I have," says he, returning to his debate about how the liberals are ruining the country.
OK, let's move on. My son happens to work for a large commercial electrician; the type that wires up large buildings and factories. He's always offering to help me with any electrical problem and he is on a first name basis with the counter jockeys at (supposedly) the largest electrical wholesaler in the region. So I explain what I want and even give him the ivory version I purchased from Lowes.
According to him his encounter with the electrical supplier was far more cordial than mine was with the hardware guy but still resulted in a look of amazement at the receptacle and a statement that they couldn't sell him one because "it's illegal". Although he pointed out that it's for him personally and not to install on any commercial job they were adamant.
He continued looking at some of his hardware contacts and in the meantime I checked that a brown one actually exists. It does. Leviton list it as part #223.
So off I go to my more residential-related electrical supplier and after patiently waiting my turn behind half-a-dozen electricians all discussing how the liberals have ruined the country, the counter jockey finally gave me the standard, "Yeah?" I proceeded to explain what I wanted and his reaction was, "You need a time machine."
Much merriment among the electricians at this witticism. I then point out that it's currently made and is shown in Leviton's catalog as part #223. Amazingly they had actually heard of Leviton (I'm being sarcastic). However their reaction was to tell me that I didn't need the non-grounding type because any receptacle would be automatically grounded when I screwed it into the box. The "professional" electricians nod gravely, thinking no doubt that this is a particularly stupid home-moaner. In most instances they're correct because all the wiring in the area is and has been since the dawn of time either conduit, EMT, or AC. However at no time did they suggest that I test that a ground was actually available at the box. Very dangerous advice.
I gave up and installed the ivory receptacle from Lowes.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

<snip amusing but lengthy tale of woe>
Is there a Menards store in your area? (Big box chain similar to Lowes & HD, but not as widespread.) They typically have a *much* better selection of offbeat electrical items.
Try a different hardware store, too. Got a Do-It-Best or Tru-Value nearby? I'm pretty sure I can lay my hands on a brown two-pin duplex receptacle here without any trouble, and I can send you one at cost (plus shipping). If you're interested, my real email address is in my sig below.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

'Fraid not.

The hardware store I mentioned is a Tru-value.

I left out that I also tried another three or four hardware stores and another electrical supply store with similar results. This BTW is NYC and while we no doubt have a much greater selection of designer clothes, Broadway level plays, expensive restaurants, and medical suppliers than the rest of the country but when it comes to the residential construction business we rank right up (down?) there with the third world.
Thanks for the offer but I'll keep with the ivory one now that it's in.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

Too bad -- I was at Menards earlier today, and they have 'em. $1.29 each.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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Only one of those liberals that are ruining the country (lol) would waste so much time running around looking for an obsolete plug, when you've got the world at your fingertips. Try here: http://www.shop.com/op/aprod-p13877266-k24-g4-~leviton+223+brown-nover?sourceid=3

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At $2.36 plus, I presume, shipping. The ivory one from Lowes was $1.40, no shipping required. Notice also on the same web page the ivory (I think) version for the super-duper low price of $7.84! Probably plus shipping too.
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On Tue, 16 May 2006 15:03:56 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

BTW...did you check to make sure the duplex isn't cross-wired? Way back then, color seldom made a difference.
Have a nice one...
Trent
Follow Joan Rivers' example --- get pre-embalmed!
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:
<<Snip>>

After the above statement, I cannot take anything else you say seriously. This has to be a joke.

So you ultimately had the same luck with all the stores, but you blame the real electrical suppliers for being inept. Interesting.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Ah no! Lowes and HD both had the receptacles but not in the desired color. The real electrical suppliers didn't have the receptacles in any color. Moreover, I don't expect the big box stores to have slow moving items any more than I expect the A&P to have boutique cheese. However I'm told repeatedly (in this NG and I agree that there's some logic to it) how much better stocked the "real" electrical suppliers are. They weren't. Plus they gave erroneous and dangerous advice. I don't expect nor do I ask for any advice from the big box stores.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

Ok, believe what you want. HD needs the business and they aren't getting enough from us dumb ass professionals. You see we like to buy from people that know what they are doing, so we don't frequent the homeowners stores enough to keep them in business. It takes people like you who aren't in the construction field and don't know anything to keep them going.
So you are performing a service. Keep up the good work.
In the meantime, when I need some 4" underground conduit and the fittings for it, I will call my electrical supplier and he will bring it out to the jobsite. Will HD do that? They would have to buy it somewhere else and bring it, because they don't carry 4". Try to buy some 8" PVC pipe or even an 8" fitting at HD. Try to buy a decent tankless water heater at HD. You can't. How about a 12"x12"x36" electrical gutter? You ever see one of those at Lowes? I have used all of those things this week. So, yes, I am a bit partial to real stores.
You see, construction professionals need things that you don't even know about, so we go to the real stores that have a decent stock of products. If I need a switch or something, I will pop into HD, cuz they are convenient. But the bulk of the $500,000.00 a year that I spend is at real lumber yards and real suppliers, because I am in this business to make money. They probably won't miss your 1.29 business at the real stores, so don't feel guilty.
You can have all the beliefs you want, but it doesn't make them true.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:
<snipped the tales of merchants with strong smells of stupidity in their establishments.>

Don't stop there. Visit a hobby store that caters to model railroad buffs and get a tiny bottle of dark brown paint. Nobody but you and G-d will know what you did. <G>
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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I could also use a brown grounding receptacle and fill the ground pin with (brown) epoxy.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

Nah, that would fail a quick glance test. That one's blade slots would be noticably high or low relative to the receptacle's "faces". <G>
Knowledge of correct slot location is very important 'yknow:
A receptacle changer from Brighton, Once told his best girl, "You're a tight one." She said, "pon my soul, You're in the wrong hole. But there's plenty of room in the right one."
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

The big box stores DO have spray paint.
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