What are the cons to ordering a toilet online vs through plumber?

whiteycatNovember 25, 2013

It looks like we might order new Toto toilets online since there are no Toto showrooms near us. All the plumbers in our area are in love with either builder brands or Kohler toilets. I really would like to get Totos.

The plumbers keep telling us if we order online, they will not warranty the toilet itself. Understandable. Is that a big deal? My DH is not a fix-it guy, and neither am I! So if something goes wrong inside the tank, not sure if it would be too hard for us to fix it. ??? Does Toto warranty their toilets and how long? What if the toilet cracks or leaks? Will Toto replace it or fix it?

Just need some advice or guidance here, whether we should order a toilet we don't really want through the plumber, or order Toto's online and be responsible for fixing stuff.


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We bought 4 Toto toilets online a few years ago. We paid no attention to a plumber's warranty (we didn't ask, he didn't say). Installed, never a problem. Loved those toilets!!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 1:43PM
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When you order online it's not uncommon to receive toilet with the cracks, when you order from a plumber it will be his problem to replace damaged item.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 5:06PM
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I've ordered two Toto toilets on line (National Builders Supply). Everything arrived fine. Just be sure to check the toilet for damage in a timely manner.

The warranty info is on Toto's web site. The parts are readily available. The plumber isn't going to warranty any toilet, the manufacturer warrants the product.

Buy what you like..

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Two years ago we order two Toto toilets on line from Homeclick. They arrived in perfect condition.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 9:06PM
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I ordered a toto from faucetdirect , it's installed , no problems so far . I ordered another one from Amazon , it is sitting in my garage to be installed next week . I bought a kholer from lowes , my plumber had to go and pick it up . He charged me for that . After installing it we found out that it was leaking around one of the tank screws . He had to empty it , remove it and caulk around the area and place it back . He charged me an extra $50.00 for that . He was going to charge me anyway for more money to remove it , take it back to lowes and bring another one to install .

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 10:31PM
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We are having the same issue with anything from Toto. The price list from the 2 plumbing supply places has the two toilets and one sink at list or even higher. I would not have chosen those if I had looked at the list price rather than the online price. We will probably just buy those 3 items on our own and take our chances. We should be able to tell by examining them if they're broken, right? And a sink doesn't even have moving parts, so-- what warranty? (This to me is quite different from shower valves and stuff like that where it's no wonder they don't want to trust the average homeowner to get all the right parts ordered.)

I made a spreadsheet for the whole house of list prices next to online prices and calculated the difference. It was quite astounding-- the range was something like 23% difference at the low end to 96% difference at the high end. (I didn't use the lowest online price, either, more of the average from places I'd heard of.)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Last month I got a Toto from Homeclick. Free overnight delivery, arrived in perfect condition, very well packed in double carton and packing materials. My plumber installed it with no problems.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 2:28PM
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lori_inthenw: From my very minute experience, the showrooms show manufacturer list prices only. A plumber will often give you a 20% or more discount. Have you contacted any plumbers to get their prices yet? Try that first before you order online, just to see the difference.

Lillo: I understand now why the plumber charged you to fix the leak around the screw on your Lowe's toilet. Since you bought it at Lowes and not thru him. That is a good example of what I am kind of worried about - that they will have to charge us to come back and take care of anything wrong with the toilet itself. (I am talking about problems that happen within the the first year or so. )

I finally found a wholesaler who will order Totos here, so I am going to pursue getting a plumber's price on some Totos thru this supply house. Of course, they have NO TOTO toilets on their showroom. floor!! (If they are such good toilets, why do they just about blacklist these toilets?) grrr

If I find the plumber's price on the Toto's is not drastically higher, I will order thru him. Otherwise, it looks like I will order online and cross my fingers. :)

Finally, It is frustrating to me, and all of us, that the plumbing showrooms seem to carry either Kohler or Toto, not both. And living in Wisconsin, this is almost exclusive Kohler territory!! Nothing wrong with Kohler products - they are gorgeous! I just would prefer a 1.6 Toto vs a Kohler 1.28 flush. (The salesperson at Kohler said they no longer make 1.6.) I am ordering a Kohler kitchen sink, so I am not anti-Kohler. :))

THANKS everyone for your replies. It is helping me learn a lot. I would love to hear from others about their experiences ordering thru a plumber vs ordering themselves online.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Oh, see I wasn't clear. I WAS using plumber's prices when I cited the showrooms. I don't know why they were so high. One actually told me "we are a Kohler showroom and we don't carry Toto,but we can get it for you." Yeah, at higher than list price, thanks a lot!

Good luck and let us know what you find out.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I once owned a small business and really wanted to buy locally. One local plumbing store carries Toto and it has a very nice showroom, with many items on display and a rest room with a Toto toilet and washlet. But the price quoted was retail, about $200 more than online, and my plumber only gets a 5% discount. I ordered through Homeclick in a flawless transaction. I them ordered a Blanco Silgranit sink from Homeclick and wanted to buy a faucet locally. Went to a plumbing store that carries Delta and Kohler. The Kohler faucet I selected was not in stock, would take 3+ weeks to arrive, could be shipped quicker if I paid UPS. Total cost would be $240 plus tax and shipping and 3+ weeks wait. I ordered the same unit from Homeclick for $210 and it arrived in two days. I can only conclude that the local stores stay in business through wholesale commercial accounts and retail customers who are not good shoppers.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 6:45PM
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beanie, I had a similar situation when doing a remodel where we were the GC. I just asked at the plumbing supply place nearby and they gave me the online price. I figured they could say no, but they are still making money.

I've also been told that if I shop around for plumbing supplies, the plumber will just have to charge more for the rough-in. This makes no sense to me, but I have been told it's just "how it is." I'm somewhat resigned to it but I think for toilets I will just get them (and maybe sinks) anyway. The plumber may be mad, but he can rant at my contractor about it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 7:02PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

When we remodeled a 1965 bathroom a few years ago, I was able to find a local showroom that had Toto toilets. They had the Ultra one piece one I liked. The list was something like $1,200 or $1,500 (I was shocked so I forgot the exact price) and they could get me one for $600. (plus CA tax 10% and shipping) Cool!!!! I figured I would get one locally and hire a plumber to install it.

Well...The one piece toilets weigh about 100 lbs. You need a BIG plumber or a couple smaller ones. The $600+ would have the Toto Ultra delivered to the showroom 2 miles away. Then they would charge me $100 to deliver it to my driveway. We have an SUV, but the box is big so we'd have to rent a van and and pay a couple strong guys to get it into my bathroom or at least near by, so that the plumber could set it in place. If anyone dropped it along the way and caused a hairline crack that showed up later that would be MY problem. Since I supplied the toilet I would have to deal with replacing it or fixing any problems.

We discussed prices with our favorite plumber, who said his company could get us one for $800 plus installation and guarantee it for a year.

That gave us about an $80 difference and peace of mind. Worth it.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 9:33PM
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The best transactions are 'clean' transactions. A plumber is a trades person who installs plumbing. Let him bid on that.

Buy your plumbing supplies where you want. For me, those showrooms are silly, with their 'list prices' - I thought that kind of stuff went out with the horse and buggy. They have to order the products - why not buy the products on line and save money and sales tax. I got my toilet and bathtub shipped right to the house - didn't have to pay the plumber to pick them up.

Besides, the show room isn't going to do anything for you (except maybe order the wrong item). The manufacturer warrants the item - same warranty no matter who you buy from.

Your not doing the local economy a favor buy throwing your money away for inflated prices. Maybe the show room business model is going to go away - sorta like Blockbuster video stores.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I guess I wasn't clear about the pricing. We purchased a Toto Legato that is manufacturer's suggested list price at over $1500 right on the Toto website. Our local showroom had their price of $600 on the toilet, nothing mentioned about the suggested list, so they were not inflating anything. Online vendors that I found at the time were same or higher.


Here is a link that might be useful: Toto one piece 1.2 gal flushers

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 5:30PM
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