Big-box stores that bad????


Old 09-25-07, 11:17 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maryland
Posts: 131
Big-box stores that bad????

I am looking to purchase a new snowblower this year and was looking at Lowes. They have a nice Troybilt that is exactly what I want in my price range:

However, I am leary to purchase on from them because of everyone saying that they lack the quality. Are they really that bad?
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Old 09-25-07, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 215
WOW this thread could open up a can of worms in a hurry.

Certainly it's not always the product thats that bad, Brand name products are made the same for all vendors , including big box stores. Troybuilt has been around for a long time and has good name recognition as do many of the products that the big box stores offer. The primary thing that everyone seems to have a problem with the big box stores is their in-store service or rather lack of it and technical knowledge or rather lack of it.

Big Box stores never seem to have anyone around when you need them and when there is, they "don't work in that department".

Remember the operative word that these stores advertize stores is DIY and thats exactly what they mean, Do It Yourself.

Their only real strength is they are convienent. That is; for me they are conviently located and they stock much of what I need for my job.

My big complaint is the same with grocery stores, why have
10 registers and only 1 person manning them.

From a pricing standpoint, they are generally, reasonably priced for the items they stock Just don't have to buy an
item that they don't stock. The price is double or more,
even when the item is a standard item for the supplier.

WOW, I could go on and on - but I won't
Old 09-25-07, 12:05 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maryland
Posts: 131
Good answer..thanks! This machine I am looking at seems about the same as what Troybilt sales on their site with a few different features that I like (ex. heated handgrips). Plus, I have a bunch of Lowes around to choose from. I do have a troybilt service center near but they dont sale.
Old 09-25-07, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,320
Not to nit pick but....

Originally Posted by MissTFried View Post
Brand name products are made the same for all vendors , including big box stores.
This statement is in fact not true
In fact, many (most-depending on which dept.) brand name products sold in those Big Box stores are cheaper de-spec'd models, sold as exclusives to the store

That doesn't mean they aren't worth the money, it just means keep your eyes wide open

It's all about CPV

Lets say Porter-Cable has a framing saw, you see it in your local tool shop for...say $189
It's quiet, light, strong, and has a great blade
You shop around a bit and see it in HD for less
It's only $159...what a bargain!

Hold on there partner, here's what happened
BigBox brass saw the P/C saw and said great, we want to carry that, but we want to charge less than $189
P/C says we can't lower our price to you (or maybe can 2-4%), it's a great price

Now comes the CPV
Customer Perceived Value

Big Box says well, our average customer won't see the value (extra $) of that magnesium guide...can you make it steel?
Our avg. cust won't perceive the value of those fancy motor bushings, or that fancy blade
Make your saw for us to these new specs and we'll carry your saw
And we'll sell it for $159

If P/C says no, then Big Box won't carry a P/C framing saw

Voila, Big Box has a de-spec'd P/C saw that looks like the one at the local tool shop

(the irony is your local tool shop would carry the de-spec'd tool for 149, if they could get it and actually wanted it)

Now, that may be fine for many consumers
Obviously the Big Boxes think so
Just be aware
Don't think for one moment that the "Honda Powered" lawn mower in the Big Box is actually the same quality motor that's in your Groundskeeper's lawnmower
It is not
Old 09-25-07, 06:16 PM
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My snowblower came from a big box and it's just fine for the handful of times I need it each year.
Old 09-25-07, 06:36 PM
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Could be a touchy subject, but so far it's a pleasant conversation.

I will add a couple of things here.

It is common enough for mega-retailers to have similar items "de-specd" to meet their price range, but at the same time, these items usually have a model number that it slightly different. For instance, a (fictional) model 7583 saw that you see at your local tool store might be more expensive, better built, and look EXACTLY like model 7583a saw at the mega store. Not everything in the box stores is of lesser quality, but some things are made specifically for sale in their stores, that's true.

Now, since you're asking for opinions, mine is that the only Troy-bilt I would have is the good old tillers they made (before the MTD acquisition of the name). I personally rank their mowers near the bottom of my list. They are also about the lowest priced on the list they fill the niche they're in. That's about as nicely as I can put it.
Old 09-26-07, 06:05 AM
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Location: Maryland
Posts: 131
All good answers. I will reconsider and maybe do a little more research. I need a fairly heavy duty blower since my driveway is long and steep. Maybe there is something better out there for me.
Old 09-26-07, 08:00 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 592
My complaint about Box Stores besides terrible service, is that they carry parts only as long as they want to. REAL Example: Lowe's used to carry Cub Cadet, but dropped the line for whatever reason, parts disappeared prettty quick. So if you bought your Cub from Lowes in 2005, and wanted to get some parts in 2007, you were screwed. The local dealer typically has a looooooong standing relationship with the brands they sell. Most dealers stock common parts and will order anything else. BUT!!! If the dealer ain't selling enough machines to stay in business, then he closes and then the ONLY option is the box store. I recently lost my local Deere dealer who happily ordered stuff for my 25-30 year old machines as he was a collector as well. Now I have to drive over 40 minutes to a Deere dealer. Support your local dealers. Because that's were the service is in the future. Of course if you have a bad dealer, or no one local, feel free to shop elsewhere.
Old 09-26-07, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Southern Wisconsin
Posts: 354
Your statement the Troy-Bilt has been arround a long time is true so far as the name is concerned. Troy-Bilt went bankrupt several years ago and the name was bought up by a mass merchandizer, MTD, which also owns Cub Cadet and Bolens, etc. which also were companies that went bankrupt and the names bought out. Murray is another that met the same fate.

Did you check the price at a local dealer? You probably find it to be the same plus you will get service and most of the time a unit that is set up, tested and ready to go. You will also develop a relationship that when you need warranty work, etc. that will help your community more than a purchase at the big box store. You do not really save anything with a purchase at the big box store.
Old 09-26-07, 09:25 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: USA
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I'll second Joe there for the following condensed reasons: I bought a push mower from a big box, they still sell the mower but don't carry the blades. Does that make sense to anyone? I needed trimmer fuel line but the local shop had closed. Neighbor really needed it running bad so I went to the big box and think I paid 4 or 5 bucks for some fuel line in a box, maybe a foot or two of it. I needed fuel line for a trimmer 2 days ago, went to a local shop and walked away with a better quality fuel line for $0.75 a foot. Unrelated to power equipment a big box wouldn't accept a return of my child's riding toy because they don't carry it anymore (they still had the last floor model but the numbers weren't in the system). Then we were told a new policy had been adopted that anything over $50 required a receipt (this was a gift from out of state) so we are out gas. This is the big box that stripped a skid pan bolt while changing my wife's oil yet failed to see the reasoning that since they were the ones that changed the oil the previous time they are the ones that stripped the bolts. It seems big boxes don't care about people or customer service anymore, only volume of sales. I'll get off my soapbox now. Oh yea, you asked about a snowthrower......I've never even seen a snowthrower in person and can't offer any advice there
Old 09-26-07, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: St. Louis
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My $.02, One of the main problems I have seen recently is people still think Troybilt is still the Troybilt of old. My brother in law has a barn full of old Troybilt equipment that still works fine. However, in recent years he has purchased 2 mowers, both quit, and is on his second TB trimmer that is giving him problems. I keep telling him they aren't the same any more and he won't listen, in his mind they are in the same class as Stihl, Echo, etc. Oh well. Have a good one. Geo
Old 09-26-07, 06:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: MA
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I bought 8 brand new SnowKing engines from dealer who was closing his shop. I have been looking for "newer" snow blowers to put them on. I just picked up a 8HP 26" Yard Machines by MTD that the owner had bought at a big box store last year for $800. Used it for 2 hours and the engine blew. They told him to change oil after 5hrs. When he returned it they saw metal shavings in oil and told him he did not change the oil. His argument was he had not used it for 5 hours. They did nothing and he was out $800. Cursed the store up and down. I have a nice machine now with 2 hours on it for very cheap. I am pretty sure he would have fared better at an outdoor power equipment dealer.
Old 09-26-07, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Dayton area GO Bucks!
Posts: 101
I'll add another .02 cents. I bought a 26" Huskavarna from a box store 2 yrs ago and haven't had a problem. I 've used it probably a dozen times and have about 24hrs. on it. I'm not normally a big fan of buying major tools or eqipment from the box stores, but it has woked out this time.
Old 09-27-07, 06:23 AM
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I'm gonna stay out of the "Big box" argument here. I have my likes and dislikes and I go to several stores for what I need depending on what I need. But I am glad hubby has access to electrical supply houses.

We bought a used craftsman 26" snowblower two years ago from a local small engine repair and sales shop for about $600. It was practically new - spare shear pins still in the plastic bag! At some point the electric igniter stopped working (it could just be the button) but the pull start is so easy even a little 115 lb chick like me can start it on one or two pulls. It chewed through four blizzards last year without a hiccup and has taken every single stick and rock that came in contact with it (hey we clear the drive and walk every fall, but rocks grow in the snow I think!). The only problem was the plastic chute cracked severely when one too many hard objects came sailing through - I fixed it with sheet metal scraps that give it a very Mad Max demeanor. For reference we have a 100 ft dirt/gravel walkway that ascends about 8 ft, and a large but not long dirt/gravel driveway (parking for about 8 cars). We have snow for about 6 months a year - winter snow is so fluffy you can sweep it off the deck, spring snow is the consistency of mashed potatoes. So I am a big fan of Craftsman snow blowers.

Long and short of it, find a good brand used at a reputable small engine repair place and you have not only found a good deal, but a reliable place to take it in for service.
Old 10-18-07, 08:36 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Sparta, NJ
Posts: 169
WOW, I'm clearly in the minority here. Back in 1998 I bought a Murray push mower, an Echo backpack leafblower, an Echo weed wacker and an Ariens 10hp snow blower all from Home Depot. Today I still have all these items in perfect working order, none have ever needed to be repaired. I change the oil and air filters myself as required and sharpen the mower blades every year.
Old 10-18-07, 12:09 PM
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Location: massachusetts
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I bought a new Ariens snow thrower from a dealer as opposed from a big box store for two reasons. Depending on the model,their are some brand name machines that are made according to what a big box store specs. out. So,ya you could get machine at a bargain price that you thought was what the Manufacture was actually selling from "their" stock. Second reason was i wanted someone to call when i need service, Hey! i got one of your machines that needs fixin"! I'm sure the big box stores don't really care.
I bought a Toro lawn mower from a big box store and when i went to get a new blade ,and air filter they didn't carry them
so i ended going to a dealer anyhow.
I can relate to what your going through .
Good Luck
Old 10-18-07, 01:47 PM
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Joe, you said you service and maintain those yourself, and have not needed repair yet. That's the are providing your own service, and apparently taking well enough care of them to not have needed repair yet. Some people can really keep up equipment and don't have enough yard to put much demand on the equipment. Those are the folks who have 20 year old equipment that still looks and works like new.

If and when you do need repair, see what kind of service you get from the box store vs. the dealer. When you buy from a dealer, he/she knows you put your trust in them to treat you right and sell you something they will be glad you bought. They know you could have gone to the box store. So, you have made a bond with them from the get go. They feel the obligation to make you happy and keep you as a customer and make sure you'll buy from them the next time the need arises. The box stores don't care if you as one single individual buy from them or not. Your $500 purchase is an un-noticeable drop in the bucket for them and if you decide to never darken their doorway again, so what. Millions of other people will be there spending their money tomorrow. That's what happened to customer service.
Old 10-18-07, 06:09 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Southern Wisconsin
Posts: 354
Another thing about buying from a local dealer comes when you need service or warranty work. If you bought it there, it most likely will get priority service vs put at the back of the line of service orders if purchased at the big box stores. The best thing I saw last winter on snow blowers was the unit was made to look like the rest of the snow blowers and the couple bought it, but the engine did not have a heater box so the carb iced up all the time. Also the belts would not stay on the pullies as there were no belt guiides. When they wanted to take it back for a refund they got a sorry but no refunds. It still runs and it is yours!! They were a very unhappy couple and I am waiting to hear how their law suit comes out with the big box store. By the way the engine was a chinese version of a Honda.
Old 10-18-07, 06:52 PM
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Location: Winnipeg MB, Canada.
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Box Store.

I agree with the BB store statement.
They sell-know very little to nothing.
I would buy from Sears-Craftsman. They do stand behind what they sell.
I'm eyeing up a new Snow Blower at a great dealer here in Winnipeg now. The same place I'm going to buy the ignition coil for my old Craftsman 8HP from 1978!!!

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