HarborFreight - am I just unlucky?

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I keep on being tempted by the cheap prices at Harborfreight that allow me to indulge in tools that I never would be able to justify otherwise.
If they arrive in good condition, I have found them to work satisfactorily for my type of DIY projects (despite the warnings others have about quality).
My problem, however, has been that the items are typically so poorly packed that they arrive broken.
For example, (1) I had to order 3 compressors before I received one without a broken plastic motor casing.
(2) I have now received 2 broken nailers in a row
(3) Twice my shipments of nails have arrived with the boxen open and the nails strewn all over the box.
(4) The boxes themselves are almost always poorly packed with heavy/rugged and light/delicate items mixed together in one large box, separated by only a few kernels of styrofoam. Often the box itself arrives ripped or damaged.
- Am I just having bad luck or have others experienced the same problem?
- Has anyone succeeded in getting them to have better quality control? (with just about every order requiring some re-shipping of items it is hard to believe that they are saving money this way...)
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blueman wrote:

Hi, UPS? That's typical of UPS. Once my friend was getting a vintage guitar amp(quite expensive) and they put a hole thru the box with fork lift puncturing speaker cone and cabinet grill. Major damage and the value of amp became almost zero. This kind of horror story aplenty. But here in Canada UPS is pretty decent. When I get something from U.S. I either use USPS air parcel or Purolator. So far haven't suffered anything lost or damaged. Tony
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I think it's a given that the WORST way to reward bad service is to keep doing business with a company. Why do you keep going back?
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I understand (and agree) with where you are coming from. Just that my wife already thinks I spend too much on tools and I can't beat the HarborFreight pricing. As a result I am willing to put up with somewhat worse service than "retail pricing" but I just was curious whether my experience is "par" or whether I have been more unlucky than most.
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blueman wrote:

I'd say you just had a run of bad luck. I haven't bought all that much stuff from HF - a lathe, couple of tile saws, clamps, odds & ends - but have never had a problem with anything. Did have a missing accessory on the lathe order...called and they sent it promptly.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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Time your purchases to coincide with things going on sale at Sears. Some of their stuff is ALSO made in Peoples' Dictatorship of China, like almost everything at Harbor Freight, but at least at Sears, they'll mindlessly accept almost anything in return because of their warranty.
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scribbled this interesting note:

The point is, you have to know which pennies to pinch. Sometimes it is wise to buy the cheapest tool for the job, other times you are better off with a far superior tool that is usually unavailable at Harbor Freight. The trick is to know the difference before hand!:~)
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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God grant me the money to buy the tools I need to buy, the Harbor Freight for the tools I don't really need, and the wisdom to know the difference.
With apologies to the Serenity Prayer.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
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I agree. I bought the cheapest transmission lift I could find when I swapped trannies in my vette. I have used it since, but a total of 3 times.
It's actually a pretty good lift to boot!
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scribbled this interesting note:

You know all those raw materials we send to China? Paper, Steel, etc.? What you (and I) buy at Harbor Freight is really all those raw materials sent back to us a finished goods and related packaging. They don't spend any extra to make sure the packaging is really top notch (or the finished goods either!:~) I suppose I'm lucky since there is a Harbor Freight store just a few miles from where we live so I've never had to order anything from the and have it shipped. Sounds like your story illustrates the need to only order certain kinds of items from the since the packaging is so insufficient.
For items like air compressors, you would really be better off buying a top notch compressor that you won't break or wear out. For the cost of two or three disposable pancake compressors you can buy far better equipment that is rebuildable and made in the US. We run Thomas compressors and have for more than twenty years. When the teflon rings wear out, we take them in, spend a hundred dollars, and get back a compressor that runs just as well as it did brand new. This kind of compressor is rated at 10,000 hours of use between service intervals, or 40 hours a week for five years! You pay more, but you get more in return.
Good luck with Harbor Freight. I'd imagine with the shipping costs figured in you could do better to buy better tools locally. Sure you'll still spend a little more, but you have the option of locally servicing those tools as well.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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The Hartford Courant recently had an article about labor in China. There are school aged girls living in dormitories at some places. The work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and expect to get paid $100 a YEAR. Some are considered apprentices and don't get any pay for the first few months.
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Wow, they EXPECT to get paid, eh?! That just shows you how bush-style democracy must be on the march.
Pretty soon, those of us in the US who have gotten laid off from those outsourced jobs, might also expect to make $100/yr too!
Edwin Pawlowski wrote: The work 12

are
months.
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Jim Conway wrote:

Hi, I've been to China and traveled thru quite a few major cities. Being able to read, write, understand Chinese was a big help. And I know what you mean. I experienced it with my own eyes. And I am afraid of cheap tools. My life may be endangered when I use them. Specially power tool, I dare not buy those El Cheapos. Tony
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Hard to compare apples and oranges. US dollar amounts are unimportant; what *is* important is what can be purchased with the money.
Now, even in the PRC, $100 a year isn't a munificent sum but they have their bed and board, probably health care too, so the cash earned is walking around money.
As far as teenagers working long hours, hasn't been all that long since the same thing was also common in the US (still is here and there) and it won't be too long before it is uncommon in the PRC.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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Good point. They probably just order from room service when hungry too.

One would hope so.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Probably bad tippers though.
--
dadiOH
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Ed, out of the blue statements don't really mean much without some background. I remember a background lecture about India, in which the speaker who had lived in India for many years, told about the left hand (or was it the right) thing. Asked why they didn't use TP, he simply stated that the cost of TP would be greater than the average family income.
As for the girls working 12hours, the alternative is probably working 14 hours a day on a farm, without health care, without pay, and without hope. $100 a year might be the difference between servitude (or slavery) and some independence.
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You may be right, but I can't help to think we are helping to keep it that way by demanding lower and lower prices for goods at the big box stores. I'm not one for just giving away my money, but I'm willing to pay $12 for a toaster made by workers putting in a 50 hour week rather than $9 for one made by near slaves.
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Maybe, but that's not really the choice you have.. The available choice is buying a $9 toaster by "near slaves", or NOT buying it. In the latter case, you may end up buying a $12 toaster from someone ELSE, but that doesn't really help the chinese slave girl any, she's still out of a job.
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If "won't buy it" happened often enough, it would eventually affect the party bosses who REALLY pocket all the profits at Chinese factories. That tactic works everywhere. Remember when this country finally woke up, in the late 1970s, and realized the American car makers were boning customers in the behind by selling complete trash? That was a great learning tool.
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