Saturday, January 20, 2007

Harbor Freight Tools

I'm getting to wonder about these Harbor Freight Tools folks. Until a few weeks ago I didn't realize they actually have an outlet out at Valley West in Arcata.

I'd enjoyed getting their hard copy catalog years ago and actually bought a few things from them on occasion. A lot of their tools were chinese junk, if memory serves me correct, but they had a few deals worth taking advantage of.

One of them was boxes of foam earplugs. I bought a box of 250 pairs a few years ago for $20.00. That's quite a bargain compared to buying them a few at a time as I've been doing lately.

I just ended up buying another box of earplugs. I was up at their web site checking if they had utility trailers since I needed a replacement for my old one that got wrecked.

I found the trailer and then wondered if they still offered those earplugs. Yep, they did, so I ordered a box. They were still same price as last time I paid for them. Cool. Shipping seemed pricey, though, at $7.99- and that's from Southern California.

Oh well, I figure shipping costs are going to be high because of gas prices... or are they?

I placed my order on Jan 5. Their records show the item was shipped on the 9th. Seems like a long time to process an order but I'm cool with it. Problem is, as of yet, I haven't received them.

So I check their online shipping tracker page and it says it was sent Parcel Post, that's U.S. Mail, for those of you in Arcata.

The mail guy comes yesterday and I ask him about it. He reminded me that Parcel Post would have been the slowest way to ship it and it would take a while. This, despite the Postal Service web site saying Parcel Post could be expected within three days.

I guess I can't blame Harbor Freight for Post Office problems, but it got me to thinking: If Parcel Post is the slowest, then I would think it would cost less than the $7.99 I paid in shipping charges. I went to the USPS web site this morning to see how much they'd charge.

The Harbor Freight web site didn't list a shipping weight. I figured 250 styrofoam earplugs couldn't weigh more than a couple pounds so I used 2 pounds as the shipping weight. Using the USPS shipping calculator that came to $4.36. They charged me a bit more than that: $7.99. I don't know about that.

Ok. They might of had to charge for the shipping container and whatever, but still...hmmm?

Getting back to our local Harbor Freight outlet, I've never been there. Didn't even know we had one up here until I mentioned checking out the Harbor Freight web site and the wife said there was a store in Arcata. That was a surprise. I do need to get out more often.

Her father and brother went there about that time and said they had a couple trailers in stock. I guess I should of rushed down there to buy one but held off and called them a day or two later and they said they didn't have any in stock but some should be coming in and to call in a couple days, on Friday.

I forgot to call that Friday. Next time I did call they told me again they didn't have one and to call the next Thursday. The next week I call again and they tell me the same thing and to call the next Friday.

I called yesterday and the gal says they don't have any in stock but they can request one. I asked her if maybe she could order one for me, assuming that's different than requesting. She puts me on hold and comes back after a while and says the trailers are shipped regularly so no need to order one, just call next Friday.

Enough! I didn't know what to do as Harbor Freight is the only place I know of to get those trailers. Finally, against my better judgement, I just went ahead and ordered one off their web site. I figured that way at least it's been ordered and when it shows up, it shows up.

I just hope they don't ship it Parcel Post like they did the earplugs I have yet to receive.

Anyone else have any good or bad experiences with Harbor Freight Tools?


At 12:27 PM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

The stuff is cheap, but you can use it. They have all kind of stuff for sale at a good price, but it's not craftmans or snap-on.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Fred said...

So how'd you get here, Anon.R? Word is the fiber optic line is messed up again like it was that last time. I thought I might be the only one online in Humboldt, except for Heraldo who made the comment that he was having problems too.

This dial up is a nice thing to have as a back up but it seems even slower than it should be.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

Dial-up lol.

So both cable and dsl is out? Impressive. I'm glad that everybody wants to invest in the high tech market up here, which can be downed if someone looks at the lines hard enough.

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can get a sizeable flat rate USPS box, fill it with rocks, and ship it for $8. In fact, if you poke around the USPS web site, they'll ship you a carton of USPS boxes for free.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here ya go. They have many box sizes, but this one is good for rocks.

A good postal employee would pick up your box of ear plugs, feel the weight, and advise you to use a standard box for shipping to save a bit of money.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're in the back corner of the Valley West shopping Center, next to Radio Shack and a neat little lunch place - forget the name.

Lots of fun little gadgets and doo-dads, like Anon.R says, it's not Craftsman, but there's good stuff mixed in with the chinese junk

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I actually received my shipment yesterday. A larger box than expected, but they've repackaged the earplugs since last time I bought them making for a bigger overall package.

The shipping weight on the package was 3 pounds, not the 2 I estimated. Haven't recalculated the postage yet, but that might be more in the ballpark of what I would expect.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't carry everything at the store that is in the catalog. Also you can join their "club" and get a different catalog with discounted prices. The store has agreed to cut their price if you are a club member. Have bought replacement covers for the Costco garages but the store doesn't carry the right size. On line purchase or 800 number only. They do have a good refund policy at the store. After purchasing a stapler/nailer to repair a fence and finding that it just could not do the job, it went back with no issues.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We bought a very simple trailer from Harbor Freight several years ago and have been very happy with it. We ordered it out of the catalog, before the store was open up here. The ony problem was that the trucking company couldn't tell the difference between Arcadia and Arcata, CA. So it wandered the roads of California a while before it got to us.

Orange Elmo

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

I actually worked there for about a month then quit in disgust at the abysmal quality of their products. Not to mention the retards they have in management. I cannot support a company that has no interest in providing something of quality for their customers. I hope they go bankrupt during the United States economic meltdown.

Piss on Harbor Freight Tools "U.S.A."/People's Republic of China.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have bought many HF tools over the years. One of the reasons I have been willing to buy things like generators, compressors, power tools, etc. from HF is that when they break (not if they break), I knew that I could get parts to repair the item if it was out of warranty.

Unfortunately, it looks like HF has recently changed their philosophy towards parts. I bought several items at one of their recent sidewalk sales. You get a 5 days return warranty which is long enough to determine how much (if any) work is needed, and which parts are required, to return each item to useful service. Sometimes, the items do not require ANY work. After checking out my purchases, I made a list of the parts that I would need to order and called the HF customer service number to get price/delivery quotes. The first thing I found is that it is no longer easy to get an actual person on the phone. I had to press the button that said I wanted to place an order. Then, I got a real person on the order hotline. He could not help me with the parts I needed but he WAS able to forward my call DIRECTLY to a real person in the customer service department. So, I spoke with "Jenny" and one by one, I went down the list of parts that I wanted to buy. One by one she said "that part is not available" to just about every part I needed. She was very sympathetic and said that HF can no longer get parts from the manufacturers for most of their items. She tried to tell me that the tech department would be able to offer alternatives to the parts I needed. I contacted them later and got pretty much the same answer. They said that they could not get parts.

This did not make sense to me because the items in question ARE STILL BEING SOLD IN THE STORES. So, there were no parts for my 20 gallon parts washer (except the pump), 3 gallon oilless air compressor, flooring nailer/stapler, twin lamp flood light (I needed the glass), or big rotary hammer. They did have a few parts for some of the other items I have, but, not the ones I needed. So basically, they are saying that all (or most) of their tools are now "throw-aways". If you don't pay an additional fee for the extended warranty, then you get 90 days on most of their power tools. After 90 days, if it breaks, you pretty much have to throw it away. Even with the extended warranty, you are just paying to delay the inevitable. I never minded the fact that their tools might break because I can fix just about anything if I can get the parts.

I think that this new policy will (and should) have a major impact on their customer base. I like buying cheap tools. But, I like to know that I can fix them if necessary. Buyer beware!


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