Does Home Depot "cheapen" their toilets?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by gramps, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. gramps

    gramps New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Ontario
    hello,
    I am talking about the process to take a perfectly working design of a particular brand, such as say, a coffee maker made by black and decker, and strip it down the parts so it is not over designed at all. You get plastic where you should get metal and so on. This is how WalMart offers the lowest prices on some items. But only some brands will participate. Some will refuse the practice. This is why some model numbers can only be found at a store that despecs.
    Home depot practices this on some of their cordless drills, though i am not sure about other departments

    I have been eyeing a new american standard cadet 3 at home depot.

    What I want to know is, does american standard "cheapen" their products, say at a home depot? I would not to know what to look for if they did. what is this process called anyway?

    Better yet, which brands despec at all? which refuse. I would be interested to find out.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2010
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    What actually happens is widely debated, never acknowledged by anyone "official". The anecdotal evidence is there, as are some obvious differences like the plastic drain valves on the Rheem water heaters.
    The classic example I point to is Buck Knives. Walmart wanted Buck knives. Buck wanted to sell to walmart, because it is hard to ignore that potential volume of sales. Walmart demands a price point which Buck cannot possibly achieve. RESULT: Buck opened a factory in China. Those knives are sold ONLY at walmart. Is it the same knife you buy at a sporting goods store? You decide.

    In answer to your question about who refused to knuckle under: you will find the answer if you find a product which is NOT sold at wm/hd/lowes/target
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,754
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I don't know about cheapen, but I would surely open the boxes before I bought them.

    Stihl refuses to sell to the box stores. And why should they when they have the best product on the market. It's the only saw I will own.

    [​IMG]
    Best chainsaw you can buy. Not sold at box stores.

    Many brands like Delta and Moen have separate part numbers for plumbing supply and box stores. The box store faucets have always been lighter in the box. Sometimes amazingly so.

    Jacuzzi didn't used to sell there, but then they made their deal with the "D".
    Volume went up high enough that they had to build a new factory. When the factory was finished, the new contract required a drop in price. File for bankruptcy or lower the price. They didn't really have a choice, so they are doing much more work then ever before, but without the profit. I heard that one about Jacuzzi from an American Standard rep that used to work for Jacuzzi.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  4. gramps

    gramps New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Ontario
    so what about american standard products?
    you mentioned opening the box. I don't know what to look for.
  5. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Check it very carefully like you would if you were a Quality Control Inspector at the Am. Std, plant.
    It probably will be the first time anyone has looked at the product with a critical eye.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    If you set a toilet on a flat floor, does it rock? Does it sit level? Are there any obvious cracks? Missing glaze? Rough spots where there shouldn't be any? Are the holes under the rim open so it can rinse the bowl? Do the holes for the tank to the bowl line up? Are they correctly placed so the tank and bowl will be symmetrical? Does the top cover the tank and sit evenly? things your wife and maybe yourself would complain about after installed when you then had to look at it for years on end. A toilet is a once in a long time investment. It doesn't make sense to buy a second rate product. Make sure yours is as good as it gets. Toto does this at the factory, some others let stuff that shouldn't out. Everyone has an occassional glitch (you've never had a bad day?), but not all companies take the pride to ensure their quality is consistently good. It also helps to have a good design. It seems many copy Toto. AS design on some of their stuff is fine, others. Execution is probably more important than design, and they don't always execute well.

    Cadet thread

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2010
  7. CSP

    CSP In the Trades

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Michigan
    Take it out and sit on it. Bring a newspaper too! If it feels sturdy and heavy duty you should be good to go. Jadnashua pretty much nails what you're looking for.

    I went through the same process when looking for a TV. It was cheaper at a box store, but after reading, I found out certain features were taken out and they were "cheaper."
  8. FJK

    FJK New Member

    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    Illinois
    Here, here to Stihl chain saws!

    Worst item to figure out what you are getting are matresses; for a given manufacturer, each store has a different name for a given model. Can't do an apples to apples comparison on price.

    Back to the question, doing what Jim suggests is really time consuming, even IF you know what you are looking for. A guy would have to do a side by side comparison to really know, which is also out of the question. If possible, best way is to ask or see that item from a friend that actually bought it.
  9. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,297
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Perhaps the best way to be sure of a quality toilet is to buy a Toto. Less than 1% defects. Big Box Stores buy cheap to sell cheap. Most of their toilets are builder grade which in plain English is "junk". I'm sure no one a the Depot or other Box Store will ever admit that the company buys factory seconds or blems, but there sure are a lot of problems. It's not just toilets either, faucets and other fixtures also are often a cheaper version. This is at least one reason Toto is not available in Big Box Stores.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,240
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Also maybe apocryphal is the legend that the big box stores items are NOT properly inspected. If the manufacturer does not have to discard defective items, they can price the "run" for less, and if HD, etc., can sell them as "good", and the customer does not return the item, then they have made a profit on it. If the customer does return it, then they just throw it away like they would have done in the first place and the store charges the manufacturer for the item. When a store guarantees the price on the "same item" it usually means that the manufacturer has given their product a unique number which other stores CANNOT match, even if it is actually the same item.
  11. achutch

    achutch New Member

    Messages:
    193
    Location:
    Vermont
    The photo that Terry inserted above is of my Cadet 3. It was replaced 2 days ago with a Toto Eco Drake and now sits in the garage waiting to be disposed of.

    The following is a quote (used with permission) from a note from my partner to a friend of ours:

    "<achutch> and I went out to get a new toilet today. The one in the downstairs bathroom is only a couple of years old, but I started smelling an off smell down there almost from when I got here in February. I could really smell it when I was cleaning the bowl. I pointed it out to <achutch>, and he's been smelling it too. He thoroughly checked it out, and just below the rim is a large area that the glaze didn't cover the porcelain. He got the toilet at <one of the big box stores> (and it was the third one because the first two he brought home from there were defective.) The lady at the plumbing store today said that this was only one in a long line of horror stories she's heard about toilets from <the big box stores>. Apparently, the name brand companies have their toilets that are going to places like <the big box stores> made at different factories which are substandard to their regular products. That's how the "big box" hardware stores can sell them so cheaply!!"

    I will add that the lady in the plumbing show room, who is the self proclaimed Toilet Queen, told us that the Cadet 3 sold there is "a whole different animal" from those sold in the box stores. I even inspected the one on display and found it to be without any of the noticeable defects that mine had. However, once burned, one doesn't give second chances. Toto for me!

    On a side note, the lady told us that she has a friend who works in one of the box stores. Her friend told her that she should NEVER by appliances (or anything with a plug) from one of the big boxes.

    My washer & dryer came from one, almost 4 years ago...... I hope they don't decide to self destruct!

    achutch
  12. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    Messages:
    885
    Location:
    South of Boston, MA
    My last 3 toilets have been Kohlers from HD....no problems
    2 at this house - 2 bathrooms, one at last house
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,240
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Then there is the Kohler a neighbor bought from HD. He called me and asked if I would install it properly because he had tried many times and it still leaked. As soon as I removed the tank, I told him that it had been marked "defective" with a red stripe in the outlet opening, and should never have left the factory, and wouldn't if it had been going to a plumbing wholesaler. I turned it upside down and the bottom of the trap was not sealed to the sides. EVERY drop of water that went into the toilet came out the bottom onto the floor. He asked me what he could do. I told him, "Take it back to HD and get one which was not branded defective."
  14. Peterson

    Peterson New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    PA
    A few years ago when we were updating our bathrooms, I visited a Kohler showroom and a a big plumbing warehouse (which carried all brands) to look for products and the managers there both told me to NEVER buy faucets or bathroom fixtures from the big box stores as the products (the same products sold at the specialty warehouses) are of a cheaper grade and usually have a shorter lifespan than what you would buy directly from the manufacturer. They said the faucets at the big box stores all have cheap plastic parts inside of them instead of real chrome or brass parts - for the identical faucet available. It's true! - I found an identical faucet at a big box store and it was all full of plastic parts. They also said the toilets can be made wrong and have pinhole leaks/cracks in them, compromising their integrity. I had opened a couple of boxes that contained toilet bowls and sinks at these specialty stores and their toilets were in PERFECT condition - a far cry than what you can find at your local big box store.
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    The inspections required for decent quality control cost something. Some manufactuers won't skimp on those, and generally, that's why you don't see them at the big-box stores - they won't compete on prices, and the big-box stores are all about low prices...quality is a second-thought (people often just don't know the differece like a pro would who deals with the things day-in and day-out). CA is throwing a wrench into things with the lead ban, which means many plumbing parts will have to use plastic in order to be sold there. It may take awhile for everyone to get that right, and things may never be as durable.
  16. asong4u

    asong4u New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Franklin, TN
    Big Box stores and pricing

    I don't know if this is still true, but for a while Wal-mart purchased televisions and other electronics from Sony and Phillips/Magnavox/Sylvania in which the final inspection was skipped at the factory, and the manufacturer was relieved of the warranty duties. This saved Wal-mart 10% on the price of the item, and if you had a problem with it, you took it back to Wal-mart, not to a manufacturers' repair center. Panasonic refused to go along with the practice. That's why you don't see many Panasonic products in Wal-mart. Wal-mart will buy from Panasonic only if it is a really hot item that their customers are demanding like some of the Panasonic Vierra system TVs and DVD players/recorders.

    You'll also note that on items above $500, the exact same item at Best Buy and some other stores will have different model numbers. This is done so that Best Buy doesn't have to price match.
  17. moisheh

    moisheh New Member

    Messages:
    42
    Location:
    Mexico and Canada
    Do not let the "Toto is in my blood" types disuade you. We installed a Cadet 3 one piece from HD Canada. It is no different than any other AS product. You can take down the model # and search the AS site, Think about this: How many toilets do you think are sold in NA every year? I dn't know the answer but it must be in the millions or close. Ignoring the cheap chinese junk I would guess that Toto has less than 10% of the market. Maybe less than 5 %. AS probably has 25% or more. Do you think that all of those are poorly made? Or that every person who bought one had to repair or return? WE are happy with ours and I would buy another in a flash. Lots of urban legends in this thread. Wal Mart did indeed buy items with no warranty to save money. But they are the same products that others sell. WM gave their own one year warranty instead of 2 on many of those items. Every retailer sells some products that are exclusive. Sears is probably the worst offender. But the basic product is the same. Just different bells and whistles.

    Moisheh
  18. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    Messages:
    450
    Location:
    Hawaii
    save yourself a nightmare and buy from a plumbing wholesaler.
  19. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I do welding machine repairs.....I am Certified by both Miller and Lincoln....the two biggest names in welding equipment in the US. I have been to schools and update classes for both.
    Lincoln sells some smaller machines in big box stores.....
    Miller does not....
    Lincoln builds the machines sold in the big box stores with cheaper components.......transformers are aluminum...not copper.....other items are plastic rather than metal....
    Miller did not like the idea of building cheaper machines for sale in catalogs or box stores......they only sell Miller welders thru authorized dealers..
    They did buy the Hobart name and use it to sell machines that are a little lower quality. They sell them at a lot of stores and in catalogs.....
    I repair them too and they are very close to a std Miller......
    I find more and more parts inside these machines that are clearly marked......Made in China or elsewhere.....Big name companies in electrical components.....they are all doing it......and I think Wal Mart is probably the company that really started this trend and has had a huge hand in destroying our countries manufacturing base......They set the std....everyone else saw it and followed....
  20. MFfan310

    MFfan310 New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Indiana
    Toto might have signed a deal with HD...

    I was at HD (Fort Wayne, IN store) today and noticed freshly-installed Toto toilets and urinals in the bathroom. Those toilets and urinals that the Totos replaced were American Standard products, probably dating back to when the store was a Builders Square II. Yet the toilet section sells Kohler, American Standard, and their store brand, and not Toto, just like before.

    I found this funny, as HD typically uses the brands it sells in their bathrooms. I wonder if Toto signed a deal with HD.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
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