I think of Lowe's as a relative newcomer in the home improvement landscape -- I didn't even know it existed till I was in my 20s. On the other hand I've been going to Home Depot my whole life. I spent many hours shopping for electrical fittings, conduit, and wire with my dad as a little kid. Home Depot is also closer to my house here, so I have something of a bias in that direction.
That said, Home Depot's service on the floor is usually somewhere between "apathetic" and "totally absent". Most of their products (except for the Ridgid brand*) are lower quality, and their selection seems to be more limited. Their stores are often messier, and busier.
Lowe's on the other hand has always been good to me. I came in at 9pm one night with ~20 tiles I needed cut to size. They cut the whole batch for free. Also, since Lowe's isn't as busy, I almost never have to wait in any lines. They also have a lot of little things that are hard to find elsewhere, like extra screws for receptacles and coarse-grit sandpaper for my sander. Their paint seems to be better quality too. They often send me $10-off cards, or 10% off your next purchase coupons, which only sweeten the deal. Now when I have a choice I go to Lowe's.
Another story from this week. My work refused to buy me a Mac laptop, so I finally acquiesced and let them buy me a PC laptop. I hadn't used XP much and figured maybe it wasn't as bad as Win98 and 2000 had been. Since the new laptop has wireless, I decided to buy a wireless router for home so I could use it anywhere in the house. Sweet! So I plug in the router, reset everything, set all the wireless network settings via ethernet from my Mac, then for kicks checked first to see if my Mac could see the network through the wireless connection. Yep, the Mac saw the wireless network and connected to the internet on the first try.
Now for my fancy new Windows laptop: click on wireless networks taskbar icon and ... "No wireless networks were found". Hmm. Repair connection. Nope. Troubleshoot. 6 steps later, no change, "Sorry, this problem cannot be resolved by this troubleshooting utility." Start twiddling configuration in the adapter and client. No good. Install the software out of the wireless router box. No change. Try the auto-configuration option on the router. No good. Reboot. No change. Grr!! Finally out of frustration I disable the wireless card adapter, then reenable. Hey, I can see networks now! Yeah! Type in my password and... Doh! "No wireless networks were found" again! Disable and reenable the adapter again, and now it connects!
It's nonstop pain with Windows. That's all I have to say about that.
* This sander (R2600) and this angle grinder are my only 2 Ridgid tools so far, and I just love them. The grips are rubberized, the plugs are lighted and sturdy, the cables have built-in cable ties, and they all come with cases. I used the infamous Dynabrade pneumatic sanders at the cabinet shop and believed that no electric sander could come close. Well, this sander indeed is a very close second -- I actually like sanding now! The angle grinder is very nice also. They're manufactured by Emerson Electric Co., which also makes very high-quality ceiling fans. I don't own any stock, but I probably should.
Update: yesterday I went looking for a replacement skylight dome, starting at Home Depot. Guess who had it...