View Full Version : Harbor Frieght, Sales Policy, Retail store?

09-24-2004, 04:40 PM
About a week ago I started a project for a friend with a air conditioning business. I was going to mount a Harbor Freight spot welder on legs for him and get it to "timing" with a foot pedal.

The local store would not sell me the welder for the catalog price. They wanted $50 more plus tax than the catalog price.

They told me it was a retail store and not a Harbor Freight store. I left upset and empty handed.

First, today a district manager called and apologized (Joey) , then the store manager From the local store called and offered me another %20 discount to come back and buy from them.

I am still a little upset. I still got a spotwelder to build.. I could build it "powered" by our stick welder just about as easy. Policy such as this denote a dishonest nature. A money grabbing system where a store manager makes all he can pocket.

What should I do? Should I "get over it?" and get on with my life or should I hold a grudge? CCW says they are a good welder.

I guess email complaints work, I didn't get the better business bureau involved.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-24-2004, 04:41 PM
If you want a 20% discount, tell em "Dave" sent you at the Chattanooga store.. HA...

09-24-2004, 04:45 PM
It seems like the organization did the right thing, correcting a mistake made by one person. If they had ignored you or told you 'too bad' it would be a different situation, but since they corrected their mistake I'd say to take them up on their offer and move on.

Sometimes people make mistakes; it's how they deal with their mistakes that makes the difference (conscious decisions to rip off people aren't mistakes, this seems to be)

Milacron of PM
09-24-2004, 07:11 PM
It actually wasn't a mistake, as the retail stores are not the same corporate entity as the catalog company.

The reason for this, is so they can get around the sales tax laws. Any catalog company that has even one retail store within a state is obligated to collect sales tax on all catalog orders within that state.

So they set up the catalog and stores as two seperate corporations. And to make it sound realistic to the state tax folks, they have some different products and some different prices in each entity.

When conflicts like yours occur, they may, as they did, appoligize and offer the lower catalog price...since in the end, they are really the same company. But I'll bet they made damn sure you didn't work for Georgia sales tax division first http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Btw, I only know all this because near Dillon, SC right on Interstate 95 is a combination of both....the gazillion square foot catalog warehouse with the little retail store plopped on the front. If there is something in the catalog, not in the store, they won't go "get it" even though the item is right there in the warehouse...you have to order the catalog stuff from the catalog.

Last time I passed by there they were expanding the warehouse even more...darn place is gonna be measured in square ~miles~ rather than square feet pretty soon...apparently the populace at large is lappin up that Chinese junk like honey on the stick http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

[This message has been edited by D. Thomas (edited 09-24-2004).]

09-24-2004, 07:24 PM

Are you aware I am the only construction worker down here that bought gas at the "DIllion" truckstop?

I turned in the gas ticket and the company refused to pay it. Aparently it was a cathouse for truckers. I didn't know or care. Gas was old, my truck ran like crap. ThAT was in the mid-later 80s. My foreman thought he had something on me for a year or more. Trying to turn in cash tickets from a cathouse.
I worked in the area several times over the years. Shaw bought one plant up there.

09-24-2004, 10:40 PM
I'd gather up all the summer catalogs and find the cheapest price on the 220v welder. I think I've seen it for $149, or less, in one of them. Go down there and get your 20%!

That would be the best way to punish the store manager. The discount goes against the store's gross and the manager is responsible for sales. That's why they don't "publish" the matching price policy. They compete with each other. I've never been turned down on the catalog price. That's why I couldn't understand why you were. I think the manager understands the policy now and will probably do his best to keep you pleased.

"I could build it "powered" by our stick welder just about as easy."

Maybe but it won't work as well unless your stick welder is about 1200+ AMPs! The output on the 220v version is 2.5kva @ about 2vac.

Milacron of PM
09-24-2004, 11:12 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Are you aware I am the only construction worker down here that bought gas at the "DIllion" truckstop?</font>

"Eve" told me the other day, there were others http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

I grew up in the middle of NC and back then Dillion, SC was the place to run off and get married....if you and sweet thang were still in high school and really young...like 15 or 16 seems like.

Among other things it's known for the source of the fine wine of ginger ale...well ok, really Hamer, SC but practically the same town..


prefer the "hot" myself...

09-24-2004, 11:39 PM
CCW: I'll buy two of the welders Monday.. MAYBE get up a shopping list...

Didn't mean it as a insult to Dillion..
There are places like that here too.

I just bought the gas for the company truck that night. Still sticks in my mind. They cut my wages on that job.

There was a moose lodge up there close.. I started War hooping and nearly started a riot.
I met a lady with the first production year of IROC camaro that night, drove it for about two hours then had to "PAY" for my play. (first IROC I saw and I got to drive it). I think she left me after I passed out. I still had my wallet so she was a nice girl with a nice car. Her name was not EVE either tho.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-25-2004, 05:28 PM
a while back I tried to buy 2 of the HF digital calipers for $19.99 when they went on sale. The clerk went nuts on me.
two or three weeks ago they went on sale for $15.99, so I took the page printed off the internet, and they gave it to me, no questions asked.
I cleaned the one and took it to work. You can tell the difference between the HF and the Mitutoyo they used to issue. Still work pretty good for our purpose.

09-25-2004, 06:37 PM
Actually they pulled the same deal at the Northern tool store in Chattanooga, set thier own prices. A email to the home office resulted in no help.

A email to the better business bureau got it fixed. Seems they were going to have to take down the sign or lower the price to catalog advertised price. By them listing the store outlets on thier internet sales site they claim association.

ANY Advertised price is good. BY law they have to sell it for that price. Trouble is nobody wants to sue over a cheap chinese tool.

09-25-2004, 10:22 PM
The HF store in Syracuse honors all catalog prices. No hassles no problems. They've been great to me. Don't even have to get the manager to overide a price.

Oh, the down side 8% sales tax. Some times its worth ordering from the catalog to save the tax and the gas to syracuse.

09-25-2004, 10:57 PM
I have wrote the "tag" prices off the shelf items before at the same store.. getting to the register the prices are different.

Calling them on that, I put the items back on the counter and didn't want them at a higher price.

Some businesses want every dollar they can get. To make up for the vandalism and the shoplifting I guess.

It would be easier for me to purchase catalog too from now on. It just seemed so convienient to stop by the store In Chattanooga.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-25-2004, 11:46 PM
Man, them guys are A-holes. I've gotten shelf price, marked price and advertised price. If it's "advertised" at a price, you GET IT for that price. Tell the people you'll notify the FTC of their bait and switch tactics. "My" store will occasionaly leave old sale signs up. When I get to the register, I say; "wait isn't that supposed to be $X.XX? The SIGN says so." They always respond that the sale ended... blaw, blaw, blaw. I just say get the manager. Just love it when there's a long line behind me too.

Never have a problem. Must be you Dave. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Forgot to mention:
Up by the registers, there's usually a small holder that contains Commercial Account Aps. and Feedback Forms. Grab a few of the feedback forms and make sure the manager or someone sees you. I had the manager run over and ask me if I needed help. I said no, I was going to send a positive comment on how well the store was run. But... It could be different in YOUR store.

[This message has been edited by CCWKen (edited 09-25-2004).]

09-26-2004, 12:19 AM
Yesterday I tried to return something to HF that I had in my junk bin for about two years. It was the small (12") bolt cutters. I can't remember what it was that I was trying to cut, I think it was a coat hanger, but the jaw busted right off.

I found the first clerk that I could and said "do you have a tool return policy?" He said yes we do. He went to the rack and handed me a replacement and put my broken tool into the box. I said, "do I have to fill anything out?" He said "No you don't, you're good to go."

I'm pretty happy with the Harbor Freight Store at 3470 S State in Salt Lake City, UT.

09-26-2004, 12:46 AM
HF is a nice place, some of the stuff truly is junk, other stuff is really good, and some stuff is much much better than it looks, like the machine tools on display are always a few magnitudes worse than the ones in the crates in the back.

Milacron of PM
09-26-2004, 01:14 AM
Speaking of Chinese junk, if you're ever feeling just a little too cheerful and feel the need to get depressed to balance your equilbrium out a bit, stop in at Wholesale Tool in Charlotte, NC.

I used to go there about once every other year on the theory that it ~had~ to get better eventually. But every time it was worse and worse. China and India's worst, complete with broken and missing parts and 4 years worth of dust stuck to the cosomoline. They have a few good tools, like Starrett, snuck in amongst the horror, just to create the illusion of a well rounded enterprise http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

I think I'm finally "cured" of going in the store, but still get their catalogs and was amused to notice they still sell the same reconditioned Toyota forklifts they were selling back in the mid 1980's. Now, back then these puppies looked pretty modern and caused some drooling by your's truly. But now, Toyota is 3 generations past that design and they look like antiques !

09-26-2004, 11:56 AM
Haven't had any problem with returns or prices in the Richmond, Va. store. They can be slow to put the sale prices on the shelves, but they're always in the register computer.

I once bought a Victor Firepower torch set there, mostly cause I had a burning need (pardon the pun) to replace a blown-out O2 regulator. When I got to checkout the store manager spontaneously knocked about $40 off the price. Not a mistake -- I asked. Last one or something? Dunno, but they made me a happy camper.

Quality of the tools does vary wildly, but anyone with a little knowedge (for instance anyone on this board) can evaluate that in light of intended use.

When I first walked into the store, having delt w/HF by mail before, I expected to see rows of shelves w/"back ordered" signs. Couldn't believe the place was full. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif


09-27-2004, 05:45 PM
In response to your post, it clearly states in the catalog that retail store prices may be higher than the catalog. But, they many times have free shipping, so just order it from the catalog and you will save on tax anyway. As far as them having to honor a price since they have the same name and advertize the catalog in the store, they DO NOT, even though someone said the BBB said they have to. Maybe in that case they did it, but they dont have to by law. There are extra costs associated with a retail store, and they are most certainly allowed to have different prices. You can go to most any store like them, and they have special online pricing, which would be the same as a catalog. The reason they would set it up seperate is for sales tax collection, which is to YOUR benefit. If they have to collect tax, they sure dont keep it. Think about it.
I have nothing to do with HF, but I just wanted to put my opinion in. As long as they are not misleading you or tricking anybody, they are doing nothing wrong. Anyway, if I owned a store, I would match prices just to keep the people happy. But they dont have to. You have the choice to buy it there, or order it. So you have the choice of which price to pay.

09-27-2004, 05:59 PM
I had a similar experience.
Wanted to by one of their bench grinders.
Local store was about 30% ($50) higher and a 3 week wait. (out of stock)
I went home and ordered over the Web with free shipping.
Had it the next Monday.
I prefer to support my local suppliers, even if it means a little extra cost.
The vast amount of time however, the locals will try to gouge the hell out of it's customers. Almost never fails.

Tom M.

09-28-2004, 02:45 PM
They Fixed this problem. I just returned with a spot welder @ 149.99.. Plus a discount. And.. a whole buggy full of other things I wanted.

Thanks Harbor freight.

If they do you like this, I suggest asking for the manager.. THEY will/can fix it.. Much better giving your money to someone who is nice to you, huh?

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 09-28-2004).]

Milacron of PM
09-28-2004, 04:09 PM
Quality, you're saying almost exactly what I already said, and it's nice to see someone else "get's it" as the HF corporate concept seems to have gone over the heads of the others here.

Kinda like, "well I don't care if they are seperate corporations, they got the same name and about the same stuff and I'm gonna get it at the cheaper price no matter what or I'm gonna scream bloody murder...whhhaaaaaannnn !!"


09-28-2004, 04:54 PM
Perhaps us simple folk are confused by the fact that Harbor Freight's website, where you can place orders from their catalog, offers a Retail Flyer as well as a listing of retail stores.
And, I was unable to find any mention on the website regarding price differences between catalog and retail.
What I did find was this: "PRICES Although we make every effort to assure that our prices and products are advertised as accurately as possible, we are only human, and in the event an error is made, we reserve the right to correct it. Low price guarantee - we will beat any competitor's delivered price within one year from the date of purchase even if it's an advertised special!"
So, if the catalog and retail outfits are in fact two different entities, take a catalog into the retail store along with a printout of that price statement/low price guarantee and tell them you want the item for LESS than the catalog price (since they aren't the same outift, they're competitors).
- Jim

09-28-2004, 08:22 PM
Dang! The 36" bending brake on a stand that's been $139 since spring has gone up to $189. Must have been a popular item. I guess I waited too long. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif

I bet they have a "sale" on 'em soon at ... $139! I better jump on it this time.

09-28-2004, 10:31 PM
CCW, we got a roll/brake/shear combo from HF..

Not real happy with it. I wonder if that is the one you are lusting after?


J Tiers
09-29-2004, 01:24 AM
Heck at HF you *sometimes* get what you pay for. So don't pay too much.....

I recently bought one of the wall cabinets they had on sale. I had been looking for one that wasn't too deep. The Sears ones were..., as were every other one I could find...except the HF, so for the sale price less a $5 coupon, I said what the heck...

In any case, having assembled the sorry POS, I can vouch for two things.

One: That is a sorry POS cabinet (surprise)

two: If you assemble it like they say, it will not be good....the shelves were 3/4 bubble off level, but the back was vertical and top was level.

I took it apart again and reassembled it the way that looked right (but NOT like the instructions show), and voila....shelves were level.

They don't even know how to put together their own stuff....... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

09-29-2004, 02:07 AM
Nope David, that's not it. It's a new offering for this year. Here's the link:


I've been watching this one and waiting to hear some feedback on it. When I first saw it in one of the catalogs, it was $139.

The combo units are fairly nice for the price. Like any other HF shop KIT, it needs some adjusting and tweeking. Also, their advertised capacity is right at the edge. A lot of folks have made some refinements to combo units.

09-29-2004, 11:02 AM
Our local HF store even honors old flyer ads. It was about two months ago, they had a ad for a $109 auto darkening welding hood for $49. They still had some on the shelf, but they were'nt on sale anymore. There were a bunch of people looking at the ones they were selling for $49 but I made a comment about how much better the $109 hood was. Then one of the group mentioned that they will honor old ads if the item is still in stock. Well someone came up with that old ad and bingo there went five hoods in about five minutes.

10-09-2004, 12:44 AM
I for one, have also a bad encounter with the Odessa Texas Harbor Freight store. I am a regular customer and have purchased several thousands of dollars worth of equipment. There was one employee that treated me with discourteousness and she viewed me as a criminal not a customer. All this because I was using old sales flyers to save a few dollars. Anyway, I wrote a e-mail to the Harbor Freight website which was refered to the district manager in Lubbock. Upon my return to the Odessa Store, that discourteous employee was no longer employed there. I took the letter that the district manager sent me just in case I had any problems. Since then, I have shopped that store three times and all were pleasant experiences.

Bottom line, if dissatisfied...tell someone.