I found myself incredibly disappointed with Kobalt today, and think it will make me feel better to get a few things off my chest.
1. Deceptive Pricing
I discussed this before, and nothing has changed. Lowes listed their new Kobalt tools on Lowes.com in late October, but you couldn’t buy them even if you wanted to. I tried and my order was cancelled.
Then, when the inventory was actually put out on the floor at local stores, they had “New Lower Price!” posters.
It seems to me that Lowes violated FTC guidelines that are meant to protect consumers against deceptive pricing, because the products were not openly and actively offered for sale, for a reasonably substantial period of time at the advertised “was” price. Section 233.1, part B.
At my local store, and possibly around the country, the products were not available for sale at anything higher than the initial “New Lower Price” prices.
2. Tools without Proper Instructions
I purchased and reviewed the new Kobalt Hypercoil flashlight, and it’s a decent product. It even came with okay instructions.
On the other hand, Kobalt’s Magnum Grip locking pliers and Triple Cut Multi-Cutters had poor instructions.
Interest in my how to change Kobalt multi-cutter blades post surged after Christmas. I am also receiving questions about how to charge the Hypercoil flashlight, but not as many.
3. Disappointing Tool Designs and Engineering
I was very severely disappointed by Kobalt’s Magnum Grip locking pliers and Triple Cut multi-cutters. SEVERELY DISAPPOINTED. I don’t say that lightly.
The Magnum Grip pliers were hard to use – when they worked at all. I had a lot of problems with these pliers, and can say with utter and frank honesty that these are the WORST locking pliers I have ever used.
The Triple Cut multi-cutters are not user-friendly either, and I would go as far to say that I feel threatened by them. To me, they feel unsafe. Not only that, they were sold with insufficient documentation. It did not take a lot of effort to figure out how to change the blades, but tools with exposed 4-inch-long razor blades and screw-down blade holders should come with blade-changing instructions.
Neither of the Triple Cut cutters work well at actually cutting things, but someone somewhere at Lowes or Kobalt thought it would be a great idea to design the smaller cutters with a built-in measuring tape.
A few months ago, I kept asking Lowes’ PR team for information about upcoming Kobalt tools, and then I requested samples. They never got back to me. This is the last email I sent them:
I checked with a 3rd Lowes store in my area and was able to pick up the tools I wanted to test and review, so please disregard my request.
I understand that you’re busy this time of year, but in case you were hesitant to send these tools for review, I can definitely understand why – some of them are downright terrible products.
On the bright side, some of tools work well and will be receiving positive reviews. I tried to be fair with the negative reviews and explained my feelings as objectively as possible.
I meant every word of it. My policy is to remain as neutral as possible with reviews. In my reviews, the new Magnum Grip and Triple Cut tools received 10/20 and 11/20 ratings. If I let my emotions get the better of me, I would have given them both -5/20 ratings, they were that bad.
I also mean the part where I said I felt some of the new products were downright terrible.
If not for the decent Hypercoil flashlight and new Double Drive products that I do like, I would consider Kobalt beyond redemption. But, thanks to these few positive points, I still have a sliver of respect and good feelings left for the brand.
4. Ineffective Marketing and Advertising Strategies
In the past few years, Lowes has benefited greatly from their holiday-timed new tools. This year, they tried something new and released several new flagship products at once.
I noticed heavy Kobalt advertising in Popular Mechanics, but not as many TV commercials as in recent years. Kobalt did too little to promote their new tools, and their efforts and promotional budget had to be divided three ways.
Well, whatever they did, it didn’t work.
Right now, a few days after Christmas, the 5 Lowes stores closest to me have a LOT of these Kobalt tools in stock. The following values reflect total inventory at my nearest 5 stores, combined, as reported on Lowes.com:
Magnum Grip locking pliers: 953
Triple Cut multi-cutters: 1310
Hypercoil LED worklight: 1353
When I purchased one of each for review nearly 8 weeks ago, the Hypercoil cost $30 and the other tools were $20 each. Now, the Hypercoil is $18 and the other tools are $13 each. And Lowes STILL can’t move them.
According to Lowes latest 10-K filing (PDF via SEC), they had 1754 stores open and operating in the USA, Canada, and Mexico as of Feb 1st, 2013. They expected to open 10 more stores in 2013, boosting this to a total of 1764 stores in North America.
Update: According to Lowes’ 3Q 2013 earnings report, they operated 1,831 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as of November 1st, 2013.
Working with the numbers above, the 5 stores nearest to me each have an estimated average of 723.2 unsold Kobalt Magnum Grip, Triple Cut, and Hypercoil products combined. Let’s round this down to 720 for simplicity.
So this means there might be 1,270,080 estimated unsold holiday-released Kobalt tools sitting around on store shelves in North America. Knock a quarter million units (nearly 20%) off the calculated estimate due to unforeseen errors, and the new estimate would still top one million products.
Most of the stores near me have similar stock levels, but the numbers do vary. For instance, the Bayonne, NJ store reports having 119 Hypercoil LED flashlights in stock while the Brooklyn, NY 2nd Ave location reports having 585 in stock.
Maybe the new Kobalt tools sold better in some regions than others. I checked Lowes.com inventories using zip codes for the following cities: my own, Brooklyn, Miami, Seattle, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Tulsa, Sacramento, and Albuquerque. Some tools did sell better, but it is clear that there are a LOT of unsold tools around the country.
So let’s for a second imagine that all the stores at the zip codes I looked at had higher-than average residual inventories. Instead of the average of 720 unsold products per store that reflects inventories at the stores closest to me, let’s imagine that each store only had a combined average total of 300 Hypercoil, Triple Cut, and Magnum Grip products. This would still mean over 500,000 estimated unsold holiday-timed products.
If Lowes isn’t currently selling these tools at cost, they probably will soon. After that, they might start selling them at a loss.
5. Kobalt 20V Max Product Line
Back in June, I wrote about Kobalt’s “new” 20V Max cordless power tools. I discussed how it seemed all Kobalt did was slap a “20V Max” label onto their 2-year old 18V tools to make them seem fresh and updated. The tools themselves looked to be exactly the same.
I received a call in August from a Kobalt brand manager, and we discussed a little about the new cordless tool line. They were sending over a 4-piece combo kit for review and wanted to talk a little about it.
From the call I learned that the new combo kits were packaged with 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah battery packs that provide longer runtime, and that the drills featured a new Jacobs pro-grade chuck.
After I pressed for additional details, all I was told is that they tweaked tool specs, which is about as vague and ambiguous as it gets.
Additional products might be coming down the pipeline is pretty much exactly what we were told two years ago.
I asked the Kobalt brand manager to follow up with his email address, as I had more questions to ask, but he never did. I asked Lowes’ PR for the brand manager’s contact info, and they never got back to me.
In the past few months since the tools were released, I walked around the tool departments of the three nearest Lowes stores and hardly saw any mention of the Kobalt cordless power tools. These tools aren’t going to just sell themselves.
Which Kobalt power tools were on sale Black Friday? Throughout the holiday season? The only Kobalt cordless product Lowes noticeably promoted was an inexpensive 18V Li-ion drill/driver kit. I suppose that’s better than nothing.
If Lowes wants their Kobalt 20V Max cordless tool line to gain in popularity, they’re going to have to throw down big bucks to promote it. Or shut it down and continue emphasizing Porter Cable 18V and 20V Max products, which honestly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Personally, if I were looking for mid-range cordless tools I would look at Hitachi, Ridgid, Ryobi, and Porter Cable long before I would seriously consider Kobalt. Their 20V Max tools just aren’t compelling enough to be competitive, and Lowes’ seeming lack of interest to promote the products isn’t helping.
So What Brought All This to Mind?
I had received another email about how to charge the Kobalt Hypercoil flashlight. The instructions, or rather the back of the product packaging, show a 2-prong plug in a thumbnail-sized graphic, but don’t explicitly mention that you have to unscrew parts of the Li-ion battery pack to get to the plug. The back page does do a good job of mentioning that users should always wear impact eye protection.
I had been frustrated with the aforementioned gripes for some time, but this set off an avalanche of disappointment.
The issues discussed in gripes 1-3 severely affect how I feel about Kobalt as a customer. I am also highly unlikely to buy Kobalt tools in the near future. As a reviewer, the issues also make me very hesitant to generally recommend Kobalt as a brand. My recommendations would reflect my newfound hesitation to go anywhere near the brand except for proven products.
Point 4 makes me wonder how hundreds of thousands of estimated unsold tools, some of which I find to be horrible products, will affect Kobalt’s future strategies.
Point 5 compounds my disappointment in the brand and further leads me to believe that Kobalt is driven by marketing and not product innovations.
I’ve been incredibly weary of Kobalt tools since my sister in law got me the Magnum Grip Pliers last year after I asked for them for Christmas.
Worst pliers I’ve ever used. The small plier didn’t work at all… not once. The large plier was hit or miss but a few misses in a row and they went into the trash can shortly after the smalls.
Should have returned them to Lowes and gotten a refund. Why shoot your self in the hand and throw them away. Let Lowes suffer from their own wrong doing.
I 100% with you on this. I’ve walked around two of my Local Lowe’s stores today and they are full of crappy black Friday stuff all over. I’m slowly getting rid of my work older Kobalt pliers for chanellock. Year after year their black Friday stuff keeps getting weaker and weaker. Too bad I like them better then home depot.
‘S Rubbish stuff.
Buy from a reputable tool maker rather than a company who is unable to even spell.
Criminal scam, they’l just hurt you
Dean in Des Moines
I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said here. I will say, though, that we now have a hypercoil light in the household and it’s a good light at a fair price. Sure the directions could have been better, but it’s a $20 flashlight. My 12 year old figured it all out in 10 minutes.
Not a fan of Lowe’s at all. They tend to be cleaner, more organized, and have friendlier customer service than the Home Depot locations around here but they don’t have any of the hand tool brands I want. They also tend to be more expensive than Home Depot and even with the price match not usually worth my time to deal with. They stopped carrying a lot of good brands in favor of their own stuff. Home Depot is also carrying a better selection of LED lights(Cree and Philips), something I am always buying for family members to get them to switch over.
I would like to weigh in on the subject but I don’t own many Kobalt tools. I’m picky about what I buy for work at the hangar and the only Kobalt “tool” I’ve bought was a 5/32 socket for relays. However I will say that their 42 inch toolbox I previously owned was pretty stout. From the outside looking in I would say that I’d rather had a great tool that did one thing rather than a subpar tool that is supposed to do many things. Seems like alot of these tool companies are trying to hit it big with gimmicky tools. I cant speak for others but I seriously doubt if I bought the Kobalt cutters that I would be measuring things at the hangar with the handle. As a matter of fact I have a SOG multitool I bought in basic training in 1999 and have never used the handles to measure something despite having a 6 inch ruler when the handles are fully extended. Just my two cents…YMMV
I work in the power tool industry and what you are saying about Lowe’s with thier house brands seems true for many things. They did not execute well for the holidays anywhere that I am aware of for hardware sales.
I don’t deal with Lowe’s directly but that is what I have been told by people who know more than I do.
Great article. I think the Kobalt lineup is going the way Husky did for Home Depot. Years ago the Husky hand tools were, for the most part, good tools and competively priced but over time they became gimicky. I believe most of their older hand tools were made by the Stanley Tool Division and if you needed a tool replaced under warranty the phone number would be that of Stanley and they would give a option to enter number selection on the phone call if it pertained to Husky Tool Replacement. Husky still has a supposedly lifetime warranty but I have many Husky hand tools that are no longer carried in the store so I have no idea how they would be replaced under warranty? For awhile Home Depot really started to “thin” out their hand tool lineup, sockets, wrenches, etc. but it looks like they are starting to bring some of that back slowly?
In summary, Husky was and still is a market driven tool product and Kobalt has evolved into such a product also. Home Depot owns the “Husky” name but its products are manufactured by who knows what company depending on the product lineup. Does anyone remember a few years ago when Home Depot tried to market a Husky Brand of shop vacs that replaced the Ridgid mid to entry level vacs? It was a disaster for Home Depot and the Husky Shop Vacs stunk (was going to say sucks) and were cheap in quality compared to Ridgid. Now much of the “Husky” gimicky tools have been taken over by the HDX lineup within the Depots…..junk stuff! Not sure what the marketing plan is but it seems more of a packaging change rather than manufacturing change as the tools look similiar and sometimes are caught between the packing change for reviewing both lines. I guess in summary it is “Caveat Emptor” and when I look at the tool offerings at either store, I examine it closely and both Lowes and Home Depot have great return policies if your purchase turns out to be junk.
Sounds like Lowes may need some new management and/or marketing folks for their Kobalt line. I was never a fan of house brand tools – and that went for Sears’ Craftsman as well as Home Depot’s Husky and Lowe’s Kobalt. In the 60’s and 70’s I mostly bought plumbing tools with names like Ridgid, Reed, Wheeler-Rex and Oster – eschewing tools like Craftsman labelled pipe wrenches – because they were just a notch below. I didn’t run an auto repair business so Craftsman socket wrenches – which seemed to me to be the mainstay of their business – were never really on my Radar Screen. When Home Depot began to dominate and seemingly bought out some brands (like Husky) and probably came to some brand licensing arrangements (e.g. slapping the Ridgid name on Ames shovels comes to mind) things became a bit more confusing – and some old venerable brands may not be what they once were. Also. there are always shares of Christmas and Father’s Day special tools that turn out to be anything but special and some of these come from long established brands – but it sounds like these Kobalt items were real screw-ups – both on a design level and on how their potential market was calculated. I guess that Lowes is just trying to compete with their Kobalt line – but if they keep producing junk and engage in deceptive “markdowns” then the entire brand will become tarnished.
But its me!
I thought the Kobalt brand was originally a US made line? Their sockets and wrenches were pretty good quality in feel and finish, but then they appeared to switch to overseas and the quality declined (without a noticeable drop in price). Or is it just my poor memory? Since I was partial to the US made Craftsman sockets and wrenches, I stuck with those (especially when they had the Craftsman Club sales). Not that I needed many more sockets, mostly just to replace lost pieces and get more metric sizes. Anyway, most of the Kobalt stuff has not impressed me since then to purchase. I was in a pinch when my well worn, trusty Craftsman ’70s coping saw handle slipped off the ferrule, and impulse purchased a Kobalt coping saw that fell apart after only two cuts on plain crown molding (avoid their coping saw is my advice). Now they look and feel cheap, with no commensurate price drop. Given the large number of new Kobalt items stocked at my local Lowes I expect to see big clearance prices in the coming months. I also agree about the Husky line, especially their screwdrivers, which were pretty stout (and US made, to boot).
Yes, as I recall originally the Kobalt line of mechanics hand tools was made in USA by Snap-on’s Williams division.
Until last month I was an avid fan of the Kobalt tool line up. Now I’m terribly disappointed in any tool that is labeled “Kobalt” Husky tools are now sounding a lot better to me. The tool that really caught my attention was Versa adjustable pliers. Now there is an award winning product in my eyes. Lowes upset me long before Kobalt did. Along with being A tool lover, I’m a dog lover. Just before Thanksgiving the store closest to me started posting these self standing signs right smack in front of the store entrance, “No Dogs Allowed in the Store.” I don’t know what their beef was against canines but I sent them a complaint email.
I received a copy of one of the most generalized emails put out by just about every retail store. In anger I sent them a protest letter and said was going to announce their dog hating behavior to numerous clubs I belong to. No response. This just tells me that my preferred shopping will be at Home Depot from now on. I will insist on DeWalt, Rigid and Husky tools instead.
I like tools and gadgets. but I also have to say that the tools you mentioned
did not grab me at all so I can only guess why they did not appeal to the general public. some them again at a lower price tonight and nuthin, no interest at all.
kinda sad actually.
I have been very disappointed with Lowes tool offerings recently. The original Kobalt hand tools were very good. They also used to carry brands like Klein and Knipex for people looking for better more professional use tools. Now all they have is import junk. I just walk by anything with the name Kobalt on it. I heard they had the Kobalt aluminum pipe wrenches on clearance. I took my gift cards I received for Christmas and went to take a look. Even at half off and two gift cards in my hand I walked out with no tools. Kobalt is now ALL JUNK.
I’m not really impressed with many of Kobalt’s offerings either. I know that retailers often offer gimmicky tools around the holidays and I really wish that they’d stop doing that. Nobody needs another spline drive, ratcheting dogbone. Maybe if they stopped working on worthless new tools and spent the additional time and money on their power tools and hard-line tools, we’d buy more.
In the past your (Kobalt) tool reviews have shown the good, the bad and the ugly in a fair and upbeat way. You report… we decide. After reading this posting I now see you have exhausted your tolerance for Kobalt tools and Lowes poor business practices.
I’m in your camp. I have a number of impulse purchased Kobalt tools that I just don’t use….. just not worth getting them out. Kobalt tools and the Lowes related business plans point towards a focus on high product differentiation, poor to fair execution/quality and a low price to attract sales/business. This product design/marketing approach may work for the short term, but for the long term this is a recipe for failure. Not good for the Lowes brand. (I just wonder how much Lowes spent on related tv ads this holiday, spending good money to sell these poor products.)
Lowes sold plenty of Multi-Drive wrenches and Double Drive screwdrivers in past holiday seasons, so maybe they thought they could the same thus year with 3 flagship tools.
Gimmicky tools always sell well during the holidays, but they don’t sell themselves.
If my estimates are correct, Lowes has hundreds of thousands of unsold new gimmicky Kobalt tools, if not more. This could have great bearing on their future holiday tool plans.
The way I see it, they have three options for next year. They might 1) try again to recreate the success of past years’ holiday tools; 2) increase the gimmicky giftable nature of new tool designs; 3) give up on trying to create flagship holiday tools of their own and forge additional partnerships with other tool brands.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall in Lowes’ head offices. This really was not a good year for them. It started with the Raven mower, a product I heard nothing but bad things about, and the year is wrapping up with more unsold holiday tools than they know what to do with. They could box them all up and try to sell more when Fathers Day comes around, but by then user feedback about the Triple Cut and Magnum Grip pliers might hurt further sales. I don’t envy the person who has to figure out where to go from here.
I didn’t even go into a Lowes this holiday season…too busy with real deals that were out there.
I completely agree, they’ve gone too far with gimmicky and low quality. I was in Lowes yesterday it didnt look like they sold a thing. There is only so much room at the bottom where it seems all the major stores have gone with their house brands.
What a lovely indictment of near Harvard Business Review level of reportage. I’ve always tried to support Channel Lock, Klein and USA made brands in general. The Germans and the Japaneses as well. Power tools are more problematic as to sourcing. Obviously.
Home Depot and Lowe’s both are retail big box bottom feeders by definition. And Christmas “tool promotions” bring the worst out in their respective marketing departments.
It’s all about placement and shelving payments. Ever notice how entire brands will disappear nearly overnight at Home Depot? It’s just “business”. Not love (or even much caring) of the best tool quality or value.
So get off our collective lazy asses and support specialty tool sellers. They’re in every town. Sometimes even the local Ace hardware franchise has a fabulous selection of better made and sourced brands. Not always but get out of our comfort zones and seek them out.
Carry on. Dude.
Great Article!!! I feel that this year’s selection of Kobalt oddities for the holidays has demonstrated that you can take a gimmick too far. perhaps next year they could come up with simpler collections of simple hand tools that could represent a decent bang for your buck. Substance over gimmick should be what they strive for. Who am I kidding, Lowes will somehow manage to make it worse next year.
I tried the cutters in store, and whatever demo piece they had to try them out on, performed absolutely awful. I would think they would use something to show how good they are, not how bad. I suppose they are saving you time with the hassle of a return.
I don’t recall exactly, but I think the demo cutters at my local Lowes were equipped with mock plastic blades. It would be a HUGE liability if they were to leave exposed razor cutters on display unsupervised.
Some of these Gimmicky tools they sell around Christmas and fathers day are fine, but most of them don’t solve a real problem. My wife bought me a Autowrench 8″ Automatic Adjustable a few years back. I don’t recall anyone ever needing an auto wrench and the size kind of was cumbersome.
Another disappointment for me was the overall lack of worthwhile bargains at Lowe’s during the holidays. I happened to be there on black Friday, and I found NO compelling values either in the store or the circular… Actually that was true for most stores this year. I usually find a deal or two at Lowe’s, but I didn’t this year.
I think you are right about deceptive pricing practices. For the past several years I have noticed that as the season approaches, all of a sudden rows of cardboard shippers with compact socket sets appear in the aisle and on endcaps with yellow stickers proclaiming new lower price at about half the ‘original’ price. I never saw these half-price stickers in the tool aisles before then.
One good thing though: the socket sets I looked at were made in Taiwan, not in the People’s Republic like similar Husky crap at Home Depot, and the Taiwan stuff appeared to be better quality from what I could see.
One Kobalt line I do like is their Xtreme Access go-thru sockets. The quality has been excellent, and again, made in Taiwan. It would be better if they were made in USA, but that’s not happening.
I saw the Magnum Pliers in a demo display before Christmas, tried them and they just wouldn’t lock for me. That was enough for me to avoid them.
Bosch got caught by the “new normal” LiIon “max” voltage ratings- twice. First their 10.8V lineup (now 12V “max”), and again with their 18V, which they’ve left alone, possibly leaving them at a competitive disadvantage. It seems Kobalt got caught by the same ridiculous nominal rating game as well.
I have mixed feelings about Lowe’s. I get great customer service and they usually have everything I need. HD’s continuing process of exclusive deals with TTi leaves Lowe’s with deWalt and all the brand leftovers. I would like to see more Bosch to compensate but Lowe’s would rather stock lots of Skil and B&D. If that continues they’ll get only the clientele they are marketing too. Do they really want to compete with Walmart’s B&D selection? That’s a losing move.
I don’t know why Lowes didn’t try to lock down a power tool company like Home Depot. Besides Dewalt and Bosch they don’t have much else in power tools I would buy. Hitachi cordless tools seem decent but they don’t have much choice in expansion of the line like the other companies. The rest of the stuff they carry is Diy grade or worese.
One good tip-off to the Kobalt level of ‘quality’ happened when a buddy received a Kobalt hand tool assortment as a gift last year.. Seemed like a good gift, until we read the LEAD WARNING on the box in tiny type! “Use of this product exposes user to LEAD”! Junk hand tools covered in lead?! I’ll pass..
I’ve seen the same warnings on cables and random other products. It probably refers to lead additives incorporated in the handle grip material.
Well said! I agree.
I work for a competing major tool retailer, and it was pretty interesting this year to do a post-Christmas competetive shop at Lowes only to see the massive displays of holiday-SKU merchandise like the Magnum Grips still loaded up with stock.
I remember years ago we had similar flops at our workplace with holiday SKUs, and nearly everything remaining after Christmas had to be marked down and sold at a loss to move it out the door. I wonder if Lowes is going to need to do this for their inventory, or if they have a backflow program to get it out of the stores en masse.
They certainly did market reasonably well, given the number of people I ran into going to a completely different retailer (us) in search of a store-brand tool like Kobalt, but there’s only so much you can do to polish a turd. I guess Lowes thought it was pretty shiny before the holidays.
I imagine that certain tools can be folded into regular inventory. But what can be done when stores have dozens and even hundreds of tools left over?
In October Lowes lowered the prices of last year’s holiday tools (https://toolguyd.com/kobalt-double-drive-screwdriver-set-deal-102013/), and there are STILL tools left over.
With this year’s tools, the Hypercoil is decent and will move quick if they price it low enough, but the Magnum Grip locking pliers and Triple Cut cutters are so bad that they might not move at any price.
At the local Home Depot and Sears, there are still holiday tools left over, but in more manageable quantities.
Some tools can be moved into regular inventory, but then that also assumes the buying group and supply chain is set up to regularly restock and flow merchandise.
Holiday SKUs are often one-time-buys, with all production occurring at once and no further merchandise flow possible. Since most retailers do not have a reverse-flow system in place, if parts of the country oversell and parts of the country undersell then availability is hit and there’s no way of redistributing inventory to where it will be most impactful.
It’ll be interesting to see what approach Lowes takes with this – like you said the Hypercoil lights will move eventually, but the other holiday items might be a bit more of a thorn.
Deceptive pricing and marketing techniques are one of my biggest pet peeves. Lowe’s has also famously advertised things on a large national level and then not had those offers available in stores. They get out of it with the “participating stores only” loophole, but if no stores are participating, they shouldn’t be advertising it.
Couldn’t help notice a common mathematical error in Stuart’s calculations. If we were to knock 25% off of 1,270,080, we would get 952,560 unsold Kobalt tools. Knocking off 20% would give us 1,016,064 tools. Now if we add 25% to 1,016,014, we would get back to 1,270,080 unwanted Kobalt tools.
All told, I am presently the proud owner of zero (0) Kobalt tools, and I am happy with all of them. (:o>)
To be fair, the error was in my expression, not in my math. =P I was thinking $1.27M is ~25% more than $1.0M and wrote 25% without checking the math. But the way I wrote it, $1.0M is ~20% less than $1.27M as you suggested. I was thinking about $1.0M as the starting point, but wrote it down with $1.27M as the starting point.
Doesn’t surprise me. Lowes always seemed like a second rate retailer compared to others, especially Home Depot. Way too many 2nd tier and low end brands compared, to HD or even a local lumber store. And the prices are OK – better than HD on some worse on others.
I try to like Lowes but every time I go in there it just seems low end compared to the Home Depot across the street. And you have to look no further than the Chinese drywall they sold a few years ago….
I interviewed at Lowes for a product development job 10 years ago before they got into all this house branded novelty junk. SO glad it didn’t work out because my standards are much much higher. It takes alot of time / money to develop a product that is not just junk. It looks like Lowes is counting on clueless DIY’s to buy the massive amount of junk they pack in containers from China. They should take that NASCAR money and use it on design, testing and engineering and hire people that think junk is good enough for the American public.
Their practice of selling “giftable” tools in the past worked out well.
Three years ago they had one flagship tool (Kobalt Multi-Drive wrench), and it sold remarkably well.
Two years ago they had one flagship tool (Kobalt Double Drive screwdriver), and it also sold remarkably well.
Last year they had 3 flagship tools (a new Kobalt Double Drive screwdriver, Double Drive ratchet, and Magnum Grip pliers), and the Xtreme Access socket sets that sold well during Father’s Day. Sales didn’t look to be too good. I took a photo at my local Lowes on 12/30/12 showing a near-full endcap display with lots of unsold Magnum Grip pliers.
Lowes was able to sell gimmicky and genuinely innovative holiday tools to “clueless DIYers” in the past, but for a couple of reasons this is no longer working for them.
You’re right on.
I went to Lowe’s a couple of days after Christmas and bought the pair of Kobalt Magnum Grip Self-Adjusting Total Pieces Of Crap (TM).
I used to have a good pair of Vice-grips and was hoping to replace it. No dice. These are next to worthless – and like you wrote in your review on another page, the smaller ones won’t even lock.
Pathetic. They’re getting returned with a complaint. I feel for the dads that got these for Christmas. Nobody deserves such worthless tools.
Lowes has gone all in on cheap Chinese throw away tools. AKA junk! Kobalt Tools is a brand not a tool maker or service provider. They are the distributor of a spread of Chinese companies manufacturing cheap crap made in China that WILL FAIL in 2 or 3 years. I had a 10 inch table saw , light use and in less than 2 years the motor fails. I had an electric paint sprayer also by Kobalt that failed in less than a year. I’m not talking professional usage more like one or two DYI’s and they break. This is bull$hit. OH by the way, Kobalt doesn’t stand by their warranties, because they can’t get parts from their manufacturers in China. So really there is no reason to buy any power tool made by Kobalt unless you plan on returning it when you job is done.