Harbor Freight

joesregalproject

Comic Book Super Hero
Nov 4, 2012
4,778
113
Pittsburgh, PA
I don't know about anyone else here but I'm getting a little irritated with Harbor Freight. When they first opened around here, it was great. A place where you could buy really cheap, even if they were low quality, tools. It was great for basic hand tools for taking to the junkyard, or a set of specialty sockets that you only need for particular task, or a puller or press or compressor that you are only gonna use for one project, or an air tool or power tool that you'll rarely use. Plus there is always the 20% off coupon so you could get things even cheaper. For DIY mechanics and hobbyists, the place is a Godsend. I have a lot of Harbor Freight stuff and so do a lot of the mechanics I've worked with.

But the past few years they seem to be changing directions from cheap low quality tools to multiple ranges of prices and advertised qualities.

That's great and all, but they don't exactly have a reputation for building quality tools. Are the tools really better just because they say they are better? In regards to the Icon tools, they advertise them as being "tool truck quality". Well obviously they are better quality than their "Pittsburgh" line of hand tools, but "tool truck quality?" Mac, Snap-On, Cornwell, etc. didn't become pro level high grade tools overnight. They built their reputations based on their products, not their advertising. Now obviously these Icon tools are much cheaper than their tool truck counterparts and common sense should tell you that you get what you pay for, but it just seems like deceptive marketing.

And the Icon tools are just one and probably not the best example of my point. They have two or three different brands for practically everything in the store. They have all of the original brands, but now they have these 'higher end" brands; Bauer, Lynxx, Diablo, Earthquake, Admiral, Hercules, Daytona, Vulcan and on and on. And there is nothing to say that these brands are any better quality other than the price and the advertising.

It seems to me that when Harbor Freight first started out, they were very straightforward that their tools were cheap and there wasn't really any promise or expectation of quality and everyone knew that going in. Now that same company claims to be selling tool truck quality hand tools.

I'm looking to buy a compressor, not anything huge just yet but something to get me by for a while. So I saw one they had advertised in one of the flyers they mailed me (I'll get to those in a minute). It was a 21 gallon 2.5 HP 125 PSI compressor for $150. The flyer said "Compares to Husky (Home Depot) C201H at $239." Well I looked up the Husky compressor and its actually only $200, and it's an oilless compressor vs the HF one was oiled, and its 175 PSI vs 125. So really they don't compare at all. (BTW I'm not gonna buy either of those compressors).

I was at HF yesterday and I was going to buy a new air hose and retractable reel for the compressor I'm going to buy, so I got a 3/8 x 50 ft one and put it in the cart and shopped around a little more.

One of the first things I bought at HF was a grease gun. That was probably 10 years ago and it finally broke last week. So yesterday while I was there I picked up a new one. Exact same thing as the one I had. I think it was $14. The girl at the counter told me they recommended buying the one year replacement plan for it. I thought she was kidding. Who pays for an extended warranty for a $14 item? The first one lasted me 10 years. And it was only a one year extended warranty! If it breaks in a year I'll come back and buy another one for $14. Like seriously?

Then I put the hose reel up on the counter and gave the girl the 20% coupon on my phone. She said "Oh you can't use the coupon with this brand." So if you read the fine print on the bottom of the coupon, you can't use it on any of their new brands as well as compressors, tool boxes and some other crap. So I said forget it, I'll buy one at Lowes or Home Depot and left with my grease gun.

The last thing that irritates me is the flyers. I don't mind getting them, I do like to read through them, but they always have these big bold headings-

"NEW YEARS SALE ONE WEEKEND ONLY, LOWEST PRICES OF THE YEAR SAVE up to A BILLION DOLLARS"

"PRESIDENTS DAY SALE FINAL MARKDOWN THIS WEEKEND MUST ARRIVE EARLY FOR BEST SELECTION"

"PARKING LOT SALE THIS WEEKEND ONLY LOWEST PRICES EVER ALL ITEMS PRICED
as low as as 99% OFF"

I like looking through the flyer, but according to them the entire store is eternally having a sale, the name just changes depending on what the nearest holiday is. And if there aren't any holidays close enough they call it a parking lot sale or a tent sale, which isn't a sale and isn't in tents or in the parking lot. Again, anyone with a brain (should) know it's all bull sh*t but it seems deceptive to advertise like that.

All this said I'm not gonna stop shopping there anytime soon and of all the new brands they have introduced, I'm actually pretty interested in seeing how the Icon stuff works out. It just seems to me they are getting away from what they were really known for and good at (cheap tools) and becoming increasingly deceptive in their marketing. And all this is just my opinion, feel free to agree or disagree.
 

Longroof79

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Oct 14, 2008
11,184
113
Gainesville, Fl
Joe, I agree with you whole heartedly. Their advertising is a bit deceptive. I recall not too long ago I was purchasing an item that was under the Bauer name brand. I also tried using my 20% off coupon and the girl told me that it didn't apply towards that brand. I guess you have to read the fine print that specifies which brands the coupon doesn't cover. You're also right about them having perpetual sales. It's just a mumbo- jumbo sales tactic. I do enjoy browsing thru the catalog. I also like when they compare items to Snap-on, Husky, etc. The buyer obviously has to do their own homework and do their comparison shopping.
 

maxi426

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 20, 2018
47
18
Lots of reviews on youtube. I'd probably look there before buying any of the "upscale" items. There's also reviews on the Harbor Freight web site, for what their worth. Also, watch your coupon use. The 20% off only applies to the cheapest item!
 

500/600

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Nov 17, 2018
1,173
113
West Virginia
Man, that was a long rant with a surprise ending. ‘You’ll still shop there’ was totally unexpected after all of that.
 

Tuffregal83

G-Body Guru
Mar 30, 2016
534
93
Lockport, Il
I've bought only a few things from them
6,000lbs winch that lasted 15 years till I thought it would handle a ford crew cab v10 truck on a 80 degree day got hot few times getting it in the trailer and it's last pull before scrap yard got it
So I went back and got a 9,000lbs winch been fine
Also got a torch thing for a propane tank to start fires been fine
I will not buy hand tools from them they look cheap and would break or strip the hardware your trying to take apart
 
  • Like
Reactions: joesregalproject

Longroof79

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Oct 14, 2008
11,184
113
Gainesville, Fl
I have found some of their tools useful for certain projects. Their tube flaring tool worked pretty well and got good reviews on their site, of course. Also the power steering pulley removal/ installation tool worked like a charm...I was pleasantly impressed. There are tools that they carry that no one else locally has, so we're subjected to using them when we need to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: joesregalproject

TURNA

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Jul 24, 2009
10,974
113
Socialist NY
If you are going to Harbor Freight and buying the :NAME BRAND' items you're doing it wrong!!

Stick to the cheap and GOOD Pittsburgh stuff

I like going there and getting a deal

This new ICON, Bauer, Hercules stuff is the same crap in a fancy dress and higher price tag.

Why would I buy an ICON ratchet made in the same place for 4 times as much??

When it breaks I still have to go back to the same store to return it for a new one.

ALWAYS check here before you go!!!

 

joesregalproject

Comic Book Super Hero
Thread starter
Nov 4, 2012
4,778
113
Pittsburgh, PA
Of course I'll still buy from them, its not the tools or the prices that I don't like. It's just the deceptive marketing strategy. Maybe deceptive is even too strong a word. Misleading might be better.

And I don't like them pushing these replacement plans, especially on stuff like a $14 grease gun. They've tried to sell them to me on power tools before and they were really pushy, but I suppose I could understand someone buying a warranty for a power tool. The grease gun one pissed me off though. And I don't get shitty with the employees, it's not their fault, it's the higher ups who are making these decisions.

Honestly I hope the Icon tools turn out to be great, but they have to earn a reputation to be a quality brand, not just marketed as one. If I was looking to buy a complete set of tools to make a living with, I would much rather buy some used Snap On or Mac or Cornwell or S-K than gamble on a new brand sold by a discount tool store that claims to be good. For all I know, it may not work out and HF could discontinue the brand in 2 years. Then what happens to that lifetime warranty? I might buy one ratchet just to see how I like it, but I certainly wouldn't be filling my toolbox with them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Longroof79
G-Body Performance Upgrades

GBodyForum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Please support GBodyForum Sponsors

Classic Truck ConsolesDixie Restoration DepotMike's MontesP-S-TSouthside Machine PerformanceUMI Performance

contact[email protected]for info on becoming a sponsor