Cheaper @ at Big Box store are they REALLY lower quality?

compumomSeptember 23, 2013

What's the thinking on this? Is it an Urban Myth perpetrated by higher price retailers or are the components a lower quality than from a company like Ferguson? I'm confused when I see a Hans Grohe Allegra faucet at Costco for $200 less than from Pacific Sales. The rationale I've heard over and over is that the ones in the big box stores have inferior components. Why would a manufacturer ruin their reputation to gain market share?

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Sophie Wheeler

If the model numbers are exactly the same, then it's the same product. If there's one digit off, it can be a model produced for that retailer that isn't found elsewhere. Big Orange guarantees the manufacturer 100,000 sales of the Kohler K-9738 faucet, so the manufacturer drops the price from a wholesale $100 to $80, meaning that Big Orange can sell the faucet for $100 when other stores pay that amount themselves wholesale and then have to mark it up. Volume rules. The numbers on the box are the same, and it's the same faucet.

Or, the Kohler K-2002 found at Online Plumbing Plus isn't the same as the K-2002A found at Big Orange, even though it may look the same on the exterior. The numbers are different.

And there are some manufacturers that produce specific models that cannot be found anywhere else, even though the specs are the same as elsewhere. So, you find a Kohler Tiddlywinks 1001 faucet at Big Blue and try to comparison shop to find a lower price elsewhere. You can't. They make that faucet only for Big Blue.

The appliance game (and MANY other products) is played that way as well.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks, Hollysprings. Nice and clear.

Even on these forums, some pros insist the Big Boxes sell junky versions, even with the same model number.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 4:33PM
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foodonastump

Copy/pasting my response on another thread:

This goes back and forth so often that I decided to make a phone call. According to the rep at a major brand, there is often a slightly different model number on the products sold at big box stores, and there IS a difference in construction. The example he gave was a faucet, buy from a plumbing supply house and the drain tailpiece will be metal, at HD it will be plastic. Same goes for some internal parts. That said, both units will be quality products that come with the same lifetime warranty. He said he wouldn't let the difference deter you from buying at a big box store.

If the model number is exactly the same then it's the same product.

End of quote
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Of course parts warranty is nice, but labor isn't included. So the real question becomes are the brass parts better than plastic in the long run? I don't know either way.

One thing about perceived quality. I'd put a chromed brass trap behind a pedestal sink because it looks richer than PVC. But I've replaced many corroded brass traps in my lifetime, never replaced PVC.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 5:41PM
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compumom

Hmm, that's an interesting point of view...I think as an aggregate, brass is better for a water supply!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:06PM
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foodonastump

I was talking drain, not supply. Similar concept though. A braided flexible supply is less likely to fail (due to workmanship or movement) and certainly easier to install, but I'd choose chromed copper with a compression fitting behind a pedastal sink.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:26PM
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dedtired

What are you two doing over here??

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 8:41PM
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compumom

Plotting! LOL

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:31PM
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dedtired

So I see! Can't let you out of my sight for a minute.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:31PM
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