antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

how much does “quality” matter?

For several years, I have done business with Harbor Freight and Northern Tool and Equipment. Both are low-medium cost suppliers of tools, supplies, and equipment.

This morning I received the weekly email sales flier from Harbor Freight, and see they have a 19.2v cordless drill for $24.99 (regular price $29.99). This got me to thinking – why would I want to buy a “high quality” or “name brand” cordless drill from a place like Lowes, when their least-expensive, similarly-rated, drill is $79.97? Is a Black and Decker really nearly 3x better? Will it last more than 3x as long? Or drill 3x as well? Is the battery-life that much more impressive on the $80 item over the $30?

My gut feeling on this is no: the “name brand” is not that much better – but it’s what folks “expect” it to cost. And let’s not even go to high end (at Lowes, that’s about $280 for an 18v DeWalt). I do happen to like DeWalt drills (along with Bosch and Makita). But I have a hard time justifying spending 9x the money for something that – from all I can see – is not fundamentally different from the less-expensive off-brand.

If the batteries really don’t last as well, you can still buy 3 “drill master” drills and charge the out-of-use ones while using the next one in line. And if they do work as well, then you and your two bestest friends can have a drill party and get more done in less time – and for less money to boot!

The drill I use most frequently is a Coleman rechargeable drill I recovered from a car when I worked at Hertz about 10 years ago. It’s not the most amazing drill ever, but it does what I need it to far more well than I need it to.

I’d wager the above-mentioned drill from Harbor Freight would more than adequately meet the needs of most folks -and leave them $50 extra to pick up that other really cool item just down the aisle 🙂