Any real reason not to buy toilet at (vs. plumber)?

cinnamonsworldAugust 31, 2010

I can get a Toto Promenade in black for about $450 at, and my husband has a Ronbow vanity top he likes from there. We've seen both in real life.

Is there any realistic reason why we should order these things through our plumber or tile contractor, if we're sure of the rough-in and dimensions?

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1. Some plumbers refuse to install product they didn't supply
2. If parts are missing, it leaks, any issues with install, plumber usually wont cover return trips, extra time to deal with problem, other than quoted install price.
3. Plumber usually will give no warranty
4. Plumber usually will charge more as part of his compensation is material mark-up

Its kind of like this, whats it cost to bring your own bottle of wine into a restaurant? And if that bottle of wine turns out bad, tough luck, its not the restaurants fault and you eat dinner without the wine.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:44AM
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The Toto and most fixtures are very reliable. If there is an issue with the install of the fixture not the fixture itself the installer should fix it under warranty. Check to see what warranty there is before you hire the individual.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Where did you see this in real life and why aren't you giving them a chance to price match what you find online? If people continue to use brick and mortars as "viewports" to see their fixtures before purchase and then purchase them elsewhere, then pretty soon those locations will be out of business and the only way you can buy something will be sight unseen.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 5:33PM
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My question was about whether it would be more beneficial to order through a plumber (given the discounts they may be able to get) if that kind of price is available online. I gave the online price as it is the lowest I've seen. I am not saying I would not give a local place a chance to price match or even get in the ballpark.

I was asking this here on the message forum in advance of any discussion about it with the store or my plumber. (When I talk to my plumber I want to have the best info at hand so the conversation can be efficient. This is part of my advance research.)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 11:43PM
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I've never had a problem with If you are going to install it yourself and handle any problems yourself, then it's probably a good deal. If you are expecting the plumber or tile contractor to deal with it then you should buy it through them.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 4:36PM
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I was going to post something similiar to this on plumbing or kitchen forume today. I'm just getting into this issue with my GC for a master bath addition and complete kitchen reno. I went to plumbing supply place and picked fixtures. (Well, mostly picked because I don't think I'm happy with bathroom sink and tub faucets.) Supply place sent quote to GC's plumber. I have yet to see the prices, but GC said expect to pay what the Kohler/Hansgrohe/etc website says they cost. WHAT???!! In the end I still have to pay full retail?? I have seen these fixtures for much, much less at places like and WITH the full warranty.

GC said he discourages people from buying these items themselves. He said the plumber marks everything up 15% for his overhead. If you bring your own fixtures, he'll still charge 15%. I didn't quite get that one but didn't have a chance to clarify yet. Does that mean I'll be charged more in labor??? Makes no sense. I understand that if the plumber buys the parts, installs them and then there's something wrong with the part he must fix it himself free of charge. (I want that in writing.) But is it worth paying so much extra for the fixtures just to have that "insurance"??

We plan to raise this topic again soon with GC to get clairification. I get that the plumber wants to make as much money as possible, but I'm trying to SAVE as much money as possible to get everything done on the house that we'd like. Very curious about this.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 2:10PM
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I had this very argument with my plumber and GC when we built. I bought all my own lighting fixtures w/no argument from the electrician, but plumbers can be stubborn about this issue. They think that the customer needs to buy the "insurance" up front in case they damage or don't order the right items. And, the more expensive the item, the more they want to charge you. It is absolutely ridiculous and I didn't stand for it.

Although I agree completely with live_wire about brick n mortar stores, I also know that they will match prices with online now to stay in business. So why then does a plumber get to overcharge, especially in a down economy? I would tell your GC that you will spec out the prices and you expect the plumber to match them with a small fee to cover his time verifying your parts. But labor is labor. And, I will never agree that installing a pricey faucet should cost you more than a standard one unless it takes more time.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 8:00PM
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And, the more expensive the item, the more they want to charge you. It is absolutely ridiculous and I didn't stand for it.

The reasoning behind that is if the fixture is damaged during the install, it's going to cost the plumber, electrician, etc. more to replace it. We're all human and even the best tradesman is going to make a mistake. Just like with any other business the cost of those mistakes is passed on to the consumer. At a restaurant some percentage of the food will spoil, be dropped on the floor, or burn while being cooked. Those costs are passed on in the menu prices. It's just a little more apparent in this situation.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 6:51AM
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The plumber needs to make a certain dollar amount to install a toilet. He either makes by getting fixture a wholesale price and charging less for labour or chraging more for labour.
As an example lets say he get $700 for installing toilet he supplied. Toilet cost him $300. He bills you $400 labour cost him $150. He bills you $300. He makes $250 profit. Now you supply the toilet. Labour still costs him $100 so to make his profit he bills you $350 and you still need to buy the toilet.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 8:25AM
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I don't see any reason for you not to buy the toilet from efaucets, the toilet will be the same. Although this should have been negiotiated from the begining, so everyone is one the same page. Some people only want to do business a certian way, for a variety of reasons, logistical, financial, etc. The key is to address these issues early, before any works starts, so both sides understand the agreement.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 10:57AM
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I'm completing a bathroom remodel now, where the owner bought half the parts online, while the other half were special order through a local place. There have been several returns and required items that had to be ordered later. She kept asking me to listen for knocking on the door when UPS, Ferguson, or Fedex would arrive to pick things back up.

Changes made, as I recall:
1) Toto toilet style, (I was asked to return it to the local place.
2) Drain for the Duravit sink (she bought two styles, so one went back)
3) Glass wall-mount shelf (etched with something she didn't want, so it gets replaced)
4) towel bars: returned due to style
5) medicine cabinet - returned due to "cheap looking"
6) needed 1/4" thick Schluter edging for tile baseboard, so that got held up (oversight of designer and tile guy).
7) add a wall sconce (special order thing, of course)...after all the wiring was done and walls were closed in.
8) the tub selection. That was a big one - back and forth with emails to me. I tried to educate on "tile flanges" vs. drop-in, but it kept getting in the way of what they wanted.

I was caught in the middle of this job, dealing with client purchases, separate tile guy, and a designer that kept getting consulted mid-job. Somehow I didn't see it coming at the beginning. What a headache.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 9:51AM
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I've ordered a few things from - which incidentally had amazing customer service. Decent prices, not the lowest, but very confidence-inspiring all over. It was very tempting to hit send and do the whole order that way.

After some footwork to two local plumbing supply showrooms, I found one overpriced and the other an absolute dream. It's thanks in part to the sales tech who was brilliant, efficient and agreed to provide contractor pricing. (I'd asked her whether better to have my plumber or tile guy come in and do the purchase or me, etc.) She gave me lower prices than FaucetDirect could (after FaucetDirect's 6% discount and free shipping), quite substantially lower on some things, and far lower than the other local place.

So the major things will come from this local supply place, delivered in one fell swoop except for one item that is special order and not needed till much later. Three things they did not carry or have in stock are coming from FaucetDirect.

On one shower valve where there are two options, after a discussion with my plumber I wasn't convinced they'd really be happy with the one they said they'd want to use instead of the other, so I ordered both from the local place, with their sales tech verifying that if unused I can return whichever one they don't need.

The research was time-consuming but I think this was the best approach for the type of consumer who wants to know what is going into their remodel in detail, wants a variety of choices and can coordinate for their plumbers and bathroom contractors rather than fuss around.

If you don't have time to go find out what a toilet rough-in is and measure it out yourself and think about the math of what the finished wall will be in terms of rough-in with tile behind it, and then look at toilet schematics, etc., and to do that sort of things with shower valves and other components ... augmented with a couple calls to your plumber and/or bathroom contractor ... then I think it's fine to rely just on what your plumber/contractor recommends.

Going only with the plumber/tile contractor's suggestions can be a good route if you know the general idea of what you have in mind but aren't particularly choosy about the exact style.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:27PM
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I tried to buy an American Standard toilet seat from efaucets. The shipping time was 3-7 days. When I hadn't received any word on shipping conformation, I contacted them and they told me the lead time was 3-4 weeks. After almost 4 weeks, I contacted them again and they told me it was in transit and would be another 2 weeks. In a few days, I received the seat in the wrong color. When I contacted efaucets, they told me they would send the right one, but it would be another 3-4 weeks. When I asked to speak with the supervisor, they said she was unavailable. I wouldn't dare buy from them., on the other hand, has been perfectly pleasant- I just ordered from them today though, so we'll see if the shipping time is accurate!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:50PM
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I realize this thread is 3 plus years old but wanted to reply regarding efaucets. I ordered a Kohler Memoirs toilet from their website just before Christmas and it arrived 2 days later! It was delivered via UPS but they did not let me know it was delivered. They always ring the doorbell but this time they just delivered the 2 boxes on the driveway without ringing the doorbell so I did not have a chance to inspect the toilet before they left. But it was in perfect condition! Our plumber installed it with no problem (it was a replacement toilet for an older one.). Just wanted to say that efaucets worked very well for me on this order.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Debbi Branka

Whiteycat, can you give me a review on the Kohler Memoirs toilet? That's the one that I'm planning on buying in the next week or so for our basement bathroom. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 12:35PM
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