Harbor Freight

Capt. Mike

:mad:I'm sure everyone has heard of Harbor Frieght. One of the big discount tool vendors like Northern Tool. Lots of stores, big mail-order operation. They specialize in the bottom end of the market -- cheap tools, mostly from China.

OK, there is a market for some of that. I use a few myself. It's hard to justify $90 for a Snap-on bearing separator I'll use once or twice. The $20 Harbor Freight job will suffice. I'll gladly pay premium prices for pro-level tools I use every day, but the very occassional dust-collector can sometimes be served by the Harbor Freight level.

However, my experiences of late have left me unhappy with their service and questioning their ethics. At the local store, they won't have something advertised in the local newspaper fliers. Or the price won't be what was advertised. Or the picture in the ad won't be what was really on sale.

My last incident will probably stop me from using them in the future. I ordered several tools March 17. All were "in stock".

When I hadn't received them by the 27th, I called their customer service. Let me start, by saying "Don't lie to me!" Tell me you've screwed up and we'll work on a solution, but don't lie.

The customer service rep told me the items had been shipped March 17th via US Postal Service parcel post. Big lie! Then had the gall to tell me it would take 14-20 days! (USPS average is 4.66 days -- he didn't know I did a major research on the USPS a few years ago.) Only then, did they tell me 2 items had gone on back-order.

The packages arrived March 31st via UPS -- not parcel post! I did a quick tracking and found they weren't even shipped until March 29th.

When I called customer service, I first got shuffled to the tech department. I had to go through the whole scenario with him before he'd put me through to a supervisor in customer service. When I finally got her, the "explanation" blew my mind!

'Your order was sent via a commercial truck line to UPS and that's where it's been for the 12 days between March 17 and March 29!' I kid you not. They want me to believe they used a motor-freight company to deliver the order from their wharehouse to UPS? Get real! First, they are a suburb of LA! They're not going to motor frieght my little 10# order 1.6 miles to the UPS store? And 2nd, UPS picks up! What should be a big shipper like Harbor Frieght would have a UPS truck backed up to the door to load full time. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck -- two of my degrees are in transportation/logistics and 21 years in the business. Preposterous.

Oh, according to her, my back-order was shipped April 1st via parcel post. Believe that when I see it!

Harbor Frieght has some competition. Northern Tool is the most similar. I've used and have friends that swear by Tool Crib of the North out of N. Dakota. My orders from them have arrived UPS within a couple days -- free shipping. They aren't big into automotive tools, but do carry some premium lines at good prices. Meantime, I guess it's back to Northern Tool.

Just an update. The two back-order items were shipped 4/1/04 via Parcel Post as stated and arrived 4/8/04. I also received an apology and small coupon if I order again; not noted as useable in a store.
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Capt. Mike

I ran into an interesting Harbor Freight situation the other day. Harbor Freight had sent me a $10 gift certificate. The latest catalog showed an item I wanted so I dropped by the local store. Frustration city!

I picked 4 items I wanted from the catalog before I went. I know the stores don't stock everything in the catalog but what the heck? Worth a shot.

I ended up with one -- and that only because Northern Tool didn't have one. I was so disgusted I walked out and left some items they did have on the shelf.

First, the item they did have, was big & boxed so I had to ask a clerk to get one from stock. It took him 15 minutes to find it. Then I asked for the 2nd item. It was in stock but another 10 minutes couldn't find it in the store, so he gave up. The 3rd, a replacement Unibit, "We don't stock." (They did in sets but not individually -- I didn't need to replace the whole set and of course the most used was the only one of the set they don't stock individually.)

I gave up, too, and went to pay for the first item so I could get on with my shopping elsewhere. Guess what? The gift certificate is no good. There are 2 Harbor Freights! The catalog and the stores are 2 different companies and they DON'T cooperate or do business with each other. I didn't believe it until a District Manager called me to confirm.

At Northern Tool, you can walk in with the catalog and say I want item such-&-such; if they don't stock it, they can get it for you if you choose not to mail-order. Not so Harbor Freight.

Of course this also leaves you out on a limb for warranty or parts -- they don't honor each other's.
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Capt. Mike

Typically Chinese design, I bought a 3-way machinist vise for my drill press from Harbor Freight on sale. Natch' the brilliant Chinese didn't leave enough room for the crank handle for the lower adjustment plane to turn without hitting the press base plate. I finally got a piece of ½" plate, drilled and tapped it and mounted the vise on this 'spacer'.

But then the Vise-grip style clamps to secure the whole thing to the press won't fit without fouling the cranks. So yesterday I fabricated a pair of blocks with a lip. They are basically a 1"x2"x½" base with a 1"x2¼"x1/8" plate welded to the top that uses the ¼" overhang to clamp over the vice spacer plate. Drilled it to hold down with the bolts I made for other clamping. So I spent $17 for the plate and about 2 hours welding & work to save $10. The only reason I didn't catch that the crank would hit the base was somebody had already stolen the cranks off the display unit!

The quality is so crappy that, despite fancy .1mm graduations on the adjustment cranks, the whole thing will still move 2mm in any direction. Guess my quality Delta non-adjustable vise will get most of the work. Noble experiment and $40 -- correction $57 -- down the drain.
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Capt. Mike

Shipping delays & coverup

:mad: Harbor Frieght's service & ethics haven't improved. Not long ago, they had a sale on a pump I wanted and hadn't been able to find elsewhere. Plus a sale on disks for a new grinder I got for Christmas. The local store didn't carry the tool, and didn't match the catalog price on a couple of items they did carry.

I placed an 8-item order through the catalog 31 Jan '08. When I hadn't heard anything for 2 weeks, I called them. They refused to talk to me -- the "computer was down" -- and wouldn't return the call when it was running. So I emailed them.

I got a reply that my order had been shipped 8 Feb., but when I went to FedEx's tracking info, I discovered it wasn't actually shipped until 14 Feb. Apparently they cut a "shipping order" and then sit on it for a week. When I called them on the lie, their only response was that it should arrive 20 Feb. No explanation of the whopper.


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Harbor freight

Lol guys it is harbor frieght, You are better off spending a little more money on the real thing. All they sell is junk. Buy professional tools that will last a lifetime.


New member
I've bought quite a few items from HF.

*3" blue casters, swivel & rigid - PASS for light duty. I have them on my (VW) engine stand and they work ok. One doesn't roll as well as the others but it may be because I welded them on instead of bolting them.
*5" swivel solid casters - PASS. I just welded four of these to the body rotisserie and they work great even with the body bolted on.
*weld wire - PASS. I have .023 & .035 and it welds fine. It does semm to rust a little quicker than name brand stuff but I do live in humid FL. It welds better than the stuff I bought at Tractor Supply.
*step-drill bits - PASS. I bought the 3-pc set and have used two of them. I drilled small holes bigger in some 1/4" tube with no problem. I haven't had them long so can't say how they will do long term.
*40 lb pressure pot sandblaster - FAIL. I broke two parts trying to assemble it, bought better quality replacements and still couldn't get it to work right. I returned it for a refund. It may have been a fluke...see below
*20 lb pressure pot sandblaster - PASS. I bought this one used at a yard sale, same style & brand as one above. It works okay but is too small for most jobs.
*dead-man valve for sandblaster - PASS. I've used it quite a bit now. It does what it is supposed to.
*blast hood - PASS. This is the orange w/ yellow trim one, has a hard hat inside. It works good and uses standard weld hood coverplates.
*4" cut-off wheels - PASS. They aren't DeWalt quality but they aren't DeWalt priced either.

I bought their small welder cart on sale for $40, modified it a little and it does quite well with my Hobart Handler 140 welder.
Harbor Friegn weldng cart.jpg
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