Boycott Watch  
January 13, 2010
When good tools go bad - It pays to research before you buy
Summary:While cheap imports have taken the market by storm, smart shoppers save money
    People who work with tools will tell you that it is getting harder and harder to find good quality tools these days. If you attend the famous National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, you can speak to manufacturers who will tell you that a single manufacturer may make three different quality tool lines, selling each under a different brand name in order to maximize market reach. Still, a home do it yourself person may chose a more inexpensive tool than a professional. The professional, however, will tell you that the tool quality makes a difference in the quality of the overall job.

    Unfortunately, some tools which have limited market demand have ended up in the low grade only realm because of the low demand. Prices, however, can still vary greatly. A great example of this is the 1x30 inch belt sander, a tool professionals are clamoring to find old and broken models of to fix because you just can't get the same old-fashioned high quality in a new tool anymore. And when you do find it new, you can find the same exact machine with just a different label sold at each end of the tool market priced accordingly. Boycott Watch found the exact same tool with different names at two very different suppliers.

1x30 inch belt sanders:
Grizzly Industrial price: $54.95
Harbor Freight price: $39.99

    If you look at the photos, you will see that these are not only the exact same tools with different stickers, but the photos appear to be taken in the exact same angle, indicating the manufacturer took all the photos of this product for all their private label customers at the same place and at the same time. The only difference is the stickers.

    While Grizzly is known as a professional tool supplier, Harbor Freight is a deep discounter. The lesson for consumers is to shop around. Just because you find a tool at a professional supplier, look for the same exact tool elsewhere. When a manufacturer has multiple product lines and versions for the same tool, the housing will be different for each. In this case, it is all one product line with different stickers.

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