Last week, we had a couple of things break around the house.
The thumb lever on our front door broke and failed to make a connection with the thingy (or whatever technical term it is) inside to turn the lock. A couple of days later, our toilet overflowed on normal usage (sorry, I won't go into details there.) It wasn't he first time, and the plumber had previously suggested that it might be time for a replacement.
These two incidents had something in common. Our natural urge is typically to go to Home Depot, but we didn't. The plumber for the toilet had said that Home Depot buys product in bulk and negotiates a cheap price, which the manufacturer can meet by creating a cheaper product. I don't know how true it is, but we decided to take his word and check out a local plumbing supply house. They pointed us towards a Kohler Cimarron toilet saying that it is both powerful and water efficient. The salesman also said that it was what every contractor is getting nowadays.
For some reason, I expected toilets to cost a lot of money. I think because they are solidly built and heavy. However, it only cost us around $275... though it was closer to $400 with toilet seat, tax, delivery and installation.
In looking to replace our lock, we went to the local locksmith. We've been unsure about Home Depot's locks since they were unable to make a duplicate of our house key last year. They tried and gave us a key, but the keys never worked. Also, the key to my wife's rental property has a unique "feature" of being able to open up my rental property. That's scary stuff.
The local locksmith showed us the Schlage that we had now. (Doesn't everyone have Schlage locks.) Then he showed us one by a company called Baldwin. You could see the difference in quality. The Baldwin looks like it could withstand a whole lot more punishment. He pointed across the street at a shiny lock and said, "See that over there? That lock is 15 years old." Then he picked up an extremely tarnished lock that a longtime customer had just brought in. "This is what most locks look like after a couple of years."
I know no one sets out saying, "I'm going to buy a crappy product that I'll have replace soon to save a buck." However, many times when I can't determine what is a better product, I'll go with the cheaper price. This feels like a bit of a change. I'm now more interested in putting in the extra effort to determine quality when I can.
Update: Well, at least part of this article is kind of a dud. I did a little more research and Home Depot has the exact same toilet we bought for a slightly better price. On the bright side, the reviews are really good, so that's a win. If we had just gone to Home Depot, I don't know if we would have gotten the same advice or come away with the same product.
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