Where they were pretty much completely clueless. Even after calling over a more experienced person to the service desk, they couldn't manage to figure out from the original receipt that they had installed the water heater -- although it included lines like "Installed Sale". Nor did they understand how the installation of the new heater was supposed to be paid for, despite having sold me the extended "service" plan that had managed to keep us without regular hot water for more than two weeks.
By the time we were done:
The net result of all this was shelling out nearly $1000 (reimbursable, assuming that no one messes up) for my covered replacement.
Given the amount of stomach lining this has consumed, this has been a very expensive service plan.
However, they did manage to schedule the install for today. The new water heater has been installed and appears to be working fine. The hulk is supposed to have been returned to Lowe's, so I should get that credit.
And we have hot water.