SCREW HOME DESPOT
All big box stores pretty much blow chunks anymore, and anymore they are some of the few retail establishments left. Well, there are some Mom& Pop’s but if you thought Big Box prices are bad, wait until you see the smaller outlets. Online is the only place to get items affordably, and that only goes so far. Nobody is going to sell generic laundry soap or plywood online at reasonable prices ( you might be able to get $6 Tide at Amazon with free shipping, and it might beat the $8 price at Wally, but I’ll stick with $2 generic soap at the Family Dollar store, thank you. Not that Family is all that cheap. It is the Big Box of discount and their prices are usually NOT reasonable for 90% of what is in stock ). So for anything you can’t get online you are forced to buy Big Box regardless of price. So, we complain about Wal-Mart but are still forced to go there for certain items, even though they went from Adequate Items Low Price Leader to Abysmal Quality At Higher Prices Leader. And I’m not talking about buying False Economics items, either, but just basic stuff you can’t find otherwise ( it is cheaper to pay $65 online for a pair jeans that last ten years than to buy a $16 pair at Wally that last six months. That is avoiding false economics. But what about something like a rope or a trash can? Few options to pursue quality there ).
The issue has become, I believe, the universal business practices that work as a monopoly but are perfect-even without the ever present FedGov collusion that passes for oversight these days-because they are standards rather than practices. No one will ever see rival CEO’s gathered in a smoke filled room agreeing on prices or lowering quality, that is no longer necessary. It is all legal and aboveboard. Everyone buys the same crap from China and has the same costs and the same percent mark-up and the same costs retail within set parameters. You have a Lowe’s and a Home Depot in the same town, the only difference is that of location and stocking different items, not quality or price. Home Despot says, oh, you have six foot florescent fixtures at Lowes? No need for us to stock that, because unmoved inventory is a waste of money, we’ll just carry three footers only. Perhaps their idea of competition is to buy an extra boatload of one item the other guy has, sell it at cost but never order it again, and hope to poach some customers. But they were already customers to some extent because of the specialization ( the successful ones stay alive this way. “Me-Too selling” leads to eventually bankruptcy, like Radio Shack trying to be a cell phone seller ). The one off sale was just adding a bit more chum to the fishing ground, someone keeping their job by actually doing it once in awhile.
And those one of a kind items only they carry? They can lower the quality. I complained about Home Despot screws before, when I tried to build a two by four bookshelf. The heads striped out, even after I drilled a guide hole. I returned them for nails, because all of the screws are the same type. How do they expect to have any repeat sales? I knew their nails were not the best, but at least MOST of the box works. If I didn’t know better I’d swear the manufacture has 20% of the batch made with cheaper metal to save on the cost to the Big Box. Anyway, this last weekends project-the rain/snow finally stopping at least for a time-was to install stair handrails. NOL rents two thirds of the house out as apartments and the insurance guy wanted those put in even though the steps are only a few high ( the house on a hill so the front is level but the back elevated ). We went to Home Despot and got metal plates that mount to a wall and you screw in an iron pipe to it. We got those big screws that have a hex head so I could install with a wrench ( hence avoiding the screw problem of soft heads-or so I thought! ).
I swear the threads were not at the correct angle. They wouldn’t bite into the wood. Then, after trying to push/turn, some broke. These are big ass screws. And, again, pre-drilled didn’t even work. So we went back and got the thickest nails they had and just nailed the damn things to the wall. Of course, the nails were crap also. It was a bit more than a 20% failure rate. Those that didn’t come out of the box already bent were that way soon enough. We went through over half the box to get sixteen nails rigid enough to complete the job ( I know it sounds like the railings were Jerry Rigged, but the walls are old, really thick boards and stacked two deep. The nails have a lot of wood to bite into. Not by any means perfect or preferred, but they should be adequate ). The nails were much more expensive but a far worse quality from my B-POD project five years ago. Aside from greed and incompetence, I would submit to you that this is yet another indicator that our Industrial Age is on its very last gasps of breath. Industrial Age products were NEVER about craftsman quality but about good enough quality at a drastically reduced price. And it has ALWAYS been about volume selling.
Now, the volume has declined enough to force vast economic disruptions, which is not so bad if this was cyclical. But it ain’t. 2008 was it. This is the end, my friend. There is no more recoveries, just varying degrees of success in kicking the can down the road just a bit longer. The oil net energy is too low for a conventional recovery ( EVERY previous recovery was predicated on increased energy supplies ). Financially or materially. The quality is to a point where that is now too impacting the volume. You still go out and buy fasteners, obviously, but you fasten less if possible due to the quality issues. Even if sales are barely impacted, you know the rot extends to every other product in various ways, and if the customer knows he is getting crap, he’ll be just a little enough reluctant to buy a higher end item that sales on the better products will decrease ( aside from the less disposable income issue ). Profits are so bad, Home Despot must screw everyone on the quality of screws. Not only are they so desperate that they can’t care about repeat sales on the same item, they don’t care they are cannibalizing their more profitable sales. What else could be such a perfect indicator? The Industrial Age ship has hit the iceberg of Peak Oil and is going down, the last of the metal ore in the form of recycled junked cars shipped across the Pacific to produce unusable fasteners that are hoped to be used keeping crap quality McMansions from falling apart.
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