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Harbor Freight Reviews

The unofficial review forum for Harbor Freight™ tools.


Frequently Asked (or at least pondered) Questions

Q: Do you work for Harbor Freight? You keep writing complementary reviews of their products and seem to have little negative to say about them.
A: No, I (the primary writer) have a day job and we have other sources of income. We like Harbor Freight and their products; that's why we started this website reviewing their tools. We are aware that they sell some inferior products (e.g., see our list of The Junk), but overall we are very pleased with the quality of their merchandise. We try to help others sort out the good from the bad products with our honest reviews. Occasionally, we add pointers on the use of a product (e.g., see The Poor Man's "Toad") and compile tool lists for special applications (see Special Products for RVers).

Q: You seem to have very few product reviews compared with other websites. Why should I visit your website and read your reviews?
A: We personally evaluate each product before writing our review. Some products are tested extensively; some reviews are updated as we test the products further. Our first-hand reviews are vetted in the sense that we don't allow any one to post any comments they please about these products. Our reputation is based on the honesty and quality of OUR reviews, not on who submits what to our website. Visitors that read our reviews and then compare their own experiences with a product will develop a 'feel' for our evaluation and a better understand how they relate to their own assessment. Profit-oriented tool-review websites often have owners that assert little control on the contents; they usually just set them up and let the money roll in from the work of others. They often accept direct advertising and usually profit from purchases made through their website (using their links). We too profit from you 'clicking-on' our advertisers links, but they are not solicited by us and therefore have no influence on our reviews or other website content. Our small revenue from advertising is for Internet traffic not purchases. The distinction may seem subtle but it's very important.

Q: Does Harbor Freight give you products to test?
A: No, I wish they did. That would cut-down considerably on our costs and allow us to test more products more quickly. We would have no problem ethically accepting products to test directly from Harbor Freight because it would not influence our evaluation in any way -- our integrity is our most important asset. I suppose if we generated a lot of negative evaluations they might stop sending products, but we are fortunate that we do not depend on our work at Harbor Freight Reviews to 'eat;' we have decent-paying 'day' jobs and investment income.

(part two of a long answer)
We buy products at our local Harbor Freight outlets (we have two nearby and a third 40 miles away -- lucky us), occasionally online, and at auction from returns facility liquidator. When we buy from Harbor Freight we usually purchase the product when it's on sale and use any and all available coupons to get the lowest possible price (Where do you think our "target prices" come from?) Occasionally, like yourself, we have an immediate need that demands paying the full retail price for an item, but we try to avoid that situation whenever possible. We purchase a lot of items from a returns facility that auctions open-box and returned merchandise from Harbor Freight's product lines. We are often (but not always) able to save a lot of money by buying these items at a significant discount off even the sale prices at Harbor Freight. However, we never write negative evaluations based on such merchandise -- all unfavorable product reviews are from normal retail products purchased directly from Harbor Freight. On-the-other-hand, products that test favorably that were open-box or even items returned by a dissatisfied customer attest to the quality of these products. In some cases they have been used extensively and even suffered minor damage, but if they still perform well then it's "zoom, zoom, zoom" (translation: they're even better than expected). Short version: we buy lot of the pricier items from a returns facility. If they test out well, we write favorable evaluations; if they test out poorly, we 'shelve' the evaluation (and the item) until we have the opportunity to test the regular retail product. By watching and buying from a returns liquidator we are also able to see what products are frequently sold through this channel and therefore which are likely to have an unusually high number of returns or other problems. So we win in a couple of ways -- saving money, having pre-used (broken-in) items to test, and observing the return patterns for Harbor Freight products.

Q: How long do you test an item before writing your evaluation?
A: Generally from 5 days to3 years. It varies greatly with the item. We have gone back and written reviews for items we have owned for several years, long before we ever imagined that we would be writing reviews of these products. Some other hot products are purchased and tested much quicker. We can't wait for a year or two before writing our reviews. However, we can and do revise our reviews from time-to-time and even change our opinion about a product. The primary writer here is a scientist and one of the basic tenets of science is to be open to change and to revising your hypothesis (AKA opinion). There are a number of other features that being a scientist brings uniquely to product testing, but we won't bore you with the details at the present. Bottom line: items are usually owned between 6 months and 2 years before we write the reviews, but most items are used only occasionally. Poor quality tools often break very fast, while items such as birdbaths and solar lights take much long to truly evaluate.

Q: Where's my flash? You seem to have a very 'plain-Jane' website without the scrolling banners and flash seen on most modern websites. Where's yours?
A: We don't have any and we like it that way! (No offense intended to Adobe.) We're a plain-and-simple, to the point kind of website. We started this website using a template with a 'make your own website' type of interface provided by our Internet hosting service. We don't like it and are now beta testing our traditional straightforward approach to developing a website (see our www.AddictionScience.net website for an example). You're there now -- in our beta testing area. We're content oriented, de-emphasizing the window dressing which often distracts from quality content or disguishes poor quality content. Our intended audience is people who want honest, first-hand reviews of products sold by Harbor Freight. We wish to appeal to everyone but we are especially sensitive to users who are not as sophisticated as most young people at using the Internet. You can find the pretty pictures (and websites) elsewhere.

Q: What's your "target price"?
A: Our "target price" is basically what we would expect to pay for the item. It takes in to consideration the item's basic value and the frequent sale/coupon prices we've seen for that item. We are often willing to pay more than the target price we set for the item if we have an immediate need and would usually buy the item when it hits our target price in anticipation of a future need.

Q: What's your "frequent sale price"?
A: The price of the item that we have seen it sell for frequently and that we would expect to see again in the near future.

Q: What your "best price"?
A: The lowest price we've seen the item sell for within the past year but not necessarily one we would expect to see repeated soon.

Q: Why do you sometimes state that the price is "with coupon"? Who cares?
A: There are two reasons we specify "with coupon" -- first, you need to go to the store armed with the appropriate coupon or else you'll pay a higher price (sometimes a sale price, sometimes the normal retail price, sometimes you might have a coupon for a higher price) and second, don't expect to use your 20%-off coupon with an item for which you're already using a coupon to reduce its price. Harbor Freight honors the 20%-off (and other discount coupons) on their sale prices, but they don't allow you to use more than one coupon on an item (i.e., stack your coupons so that you receive an additional 20% off an item already being purchased with another coupon). Generally, Harbor Freight does not provide coupons in the store; don't expect them to whip one out from behind the counter, although you might walk around in the store and find one or two coupons left by a considerate customer.

Q: You seem to be adding almost everything to your Hot Buys list. What's the list good for if everything is on it?
A: Our Hot Buys list is composed of items we feel are a good deal when purchased at our target price. And that is almost everything we review. A few things make our list of The Junk and we recommend not purchasing these items. And still others (very few) are somewhere in between, in the gray soon we call "everything else." Think about it: we started this website because we like the tools we can buy inexpensively from Harbor Freight. We shop for the best price on the good items they sell and try to avoid the junk at any price. So naturally, almost everything in the store (at the right price) is a "hot buy" for us.

Q: I hate Harbor Freight and want to say bad things about them and the junk they sell. Where do I post these comments?
A. Start your own website. We will consider publishing complaints about products and store policies that we feel may serve as legitimate warnings to others, but this is not a grumble about Harbor Freight website. We are pro-Harbor Freight, not because they pay us but because we like most of their products and think they treat us fairly (usually but not always, see Harbor Freight Strikes Out this Month).

Q: How do you make your money?
A: We don't make (much) money from this tool review forum; we do it for the fun of it! We make our main source of income from our 'day jobs' and from investments unrelated to Harbor Freight. Our parent company, Beaux Arts USA, underwrites expenses incurred with this review forum such as website hosting.

Q: What's your real name, "Professor"?
A. That's a secret but it's not hard to find out.


Copyright 2010 Beaux Arts USA

Last revised: 28 August 2010 18:57 (EDT)

Contact: info@HarborFreightReviews.com