Here’s the tip: KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! Maybe I should add “think before you buy!” but that gets cancelled out by “buy first, think later,” advice that is also valid for the holiday shopping season.
End of post. Or, read on for some examples.
A lot of little things will bug me this time of year, but I like to think that I’ve gotten better about shrugging them off.
The things that irk me are usually minor, with tool brands and retailers usually to blame. Let’s talk about this for a moment before I get to the main story.
Here’s a brand marketing example from this holiday season:
I believe that this is how Makita usually markets their cordless power tool kits, with the battery count and size clearly depicted on the retail packaging. I think we can all agree that this is clear and simple – right?
Well, Makita updated their 18V SubCompact cordless drill and impact driver kits this year, and we already knew they swapped in cheaper batteries. What else is different about the new versions? They won’t say.
What I didn’t know, until I saw it in person, was that apparently they have also “updated” their box marketing as well. What does this kit come with? “2x LXT batteries.” Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place, but I couldn’t for the life of me find the battery size on the box. It’s 1.5Ah, by the way, a size that Makita describes as “discontinued” on their website.
It took me a while, but I finally see where they put the charge capacity rating. It’s not in the “combo kit includes” section, or the specs list on the back of the box, but in the picture of the battery on the tool, right underneath the pocket clip. No matter how many times I looked over the boxes, I didn’t see the information I was looking for at ALL.
I like clarity when shopping for tools. It is too easy to miss something. Then again, why did Makita change their box labeling practices in the first place?
Here’s what the box of Milwaukee’s special buy cordless drill kit looks like, by the way. “CP 2.0 x 1.” It’s clear and informative – right?
Some of Makita’s other retail boxes are just as clear. So why not their 18V SubCompact “special buys” for Black Friday 2021?
We can argue the merits of 1x 2Ah, 2×1.3Ah or 1.5Ah, or 1x 3Ah another time. (For the record, I prefer 1 better battery over 2 cheaper/lower capacity ones.)
Here’s something else to look out for – I’ve noticed that hole saw set parts counting methods can change depending on the set. Regular sets, for instance, might not count pilot drills, while special buys might count everything as individual parts.
Or, take Wiha’s promo display of screwdriver bits at Lowe’s. $9.98 is the regular price! Sure, not everything has to be on sale for Black Friday, but don’t we all assume that everything put in our paths at stores are discounted at least a little bit?
What REALLY bugs me is when brands pull switcheroos, where something is different or lesser than expected. (I still won’t buy a certain brand of drill bits for this reason.) Luckily, this doesn’t happen as much anymore – at least from what I’ve observed and experienced.
I hope this gives you a good idea of the little things that bug me. It’s mainly marketing – type stuff. Marketing standards shouldn’t be different for Black Friday. Consumers’ expectations shouldn’t be toyed with.
But none of that is what really prompted this post. Here’s what I’m cautioning about:
This is what the Milwaukee M12 cordless screwdriver and 2x 1.5Ah battery deals display looks like at my closest Home Depot store. I checked another store and noticed the same. There are a couple of M12 screwdriver kits still on the shelf, and all of the 1.5Ah batteries are sold out.
I should point out that both of these two stores are each still reporting 12x of the battery 2-packs in stock. To me, this means they’re holding onto a box or two for Pro Black Friday or Black Friday week.
Also, prices can change on these “gift center” items, and we do see this every year. The chances of better Black Friday pricing is usually fairly low at Home Depot, and a bit higher at Lowe’s. Both are great about price adjustments, and so it’s not a big deal.
And no, you can’t look for late-season prices on the inner sides of the price boards anymore – it seems that Home Depot caught on and now either swaps out the price boards or supplies stores with large stickers to place over early-season prices.
Does anyone else notice that the $69 price is left-justified on the backboard sign, instead of being centered? I’d bet that the battery 2-pack will be discounted further for Pro Black Friday or Black Friday week, with a large sticker going right over the blank space. But, I digress.
What I want you to notice here is that the 1.5Ah batteries are sold out and the M12 cordless screwdriver kits are just sitting there.
At the time of this posting, the 1.5Ah battery 2-pack is $69.
And, the cordless screwdriver kit is also $69.
Shown here is what the M12 screwdriver kit comes with.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
Why buy 2x 1.5Ah batteries for $69 when you can buy 2x 1.5Ah batteries plus a cordless screwdriver, charger, and tool bag for the same exact price?
What would you rather buy? A hammer for $5, or the same hammer plus a pry bar for $5? If you don’t need the extra stuff, take them and put them aside for spares, future use, or “I might as well try it” purposes.
How many customers are buying the 1.5Ah battery kits because they don’t want the other stuff? But couldn’t everyone use a spare M12 charger at the least if they’re buying M12 batteries?
And how many customers simply aren’t reading the signs?
The “includes CP 1.5Ah x 2” part isn’t large, but it’s easy to read in person. You can see in the image that the M12 kit comes with 2x batteries. The boxes are crystal clear about this.
I am sure that at least some of these people buying the battery packs could and would have gotten the better deal!! The frustrating part is that it would have been in the customers’ full power had they just taken an extra couple of seconds to look things over on the screwdriver side of the display.
A little more than 20 years ago, I worked part time as a cashier at a supermarket. The store occasionally had “buy one, get one free” promotions, and I tried my best to inform my customers of this when relevant. Most were appreciative and I would hold their place while they grabbed another item. I don’t remember much more than that, but would assume not everyone grabbed the freebie item, such as a free second bag of sugar, especially if they were walking home with their groceries.
But is that’s what is happening here? Are the customers choosing less for the same money? Or are they just not taking the time to even look at the cordless screwdriver deal?
For the most part, I don’t think there’s anything that Milwaukee Tool or Home Depot could do to make this clearer. If the two tools were in different areas of the store or promo center? Maybe. But they share a display!
Please, keep your eyes open! How many people might have purchased the screwdriver kits if I were there to point out that you get the same batteries plus bonuses?
I can tell that some people are keeping their eyes open, such as when I find individual tape measures next to the “get two for one” tape measure 2-pack deals.
As an aside, this happened all the time when I was a cashier. I had to ask people not to put raw chicken in the magazine stand. Hand the chicken to a cashier and someone will bring it back to the refrigerated meat department! If you’re at a home center and in a rush back to work, maybe drop unwanted items by the pro desk?
Anyway, I wish I could stand there and give a nudge to everyone looking to buy the battery 2-pack – “pick up the screwdriver set, you might even like it.” Part of this is because I’d want everyone to get the better bargain, but also because I know a lot of people dismiss cordless screwdrivers as unnecessary. Sure, you might already have a drill and impact driver, but cordless screwdrivers still have their place! At the same price (right now), it doesn’t cost anything extra, so what’s the risk?
If anyone insisted on only buying the batteries, I’d advise them to hold onto their receipt. Milwaukee M12 battery 2-pack special buys have a history of lower pricing for Black Friday, and a clue in the pricing signage suggests the same will be true this year.
This is just one instance where it’s not a brand or retailer irking me, but customer behaviors.
Keep your eyes open!
Then again, I completely missed that Makita printed their battery sizing on their box instead of where such information usually goes.
What makes things harder is that this time of year it can be smart to buy first and think later. I’m sorry – I know this is a bit contradictory.
Here’s what I found at my store yesterday when I went to pick up the Dewalt 130pc screwdriver bit set that I held in my hands last week and should have purchased. But, there’s good news – this set is now available for online ordering with free shipping!
I also tend to develop rules when shopping. If I come across a deal that I’m uncertain about, I try to think of different scenarios. For instance, if I’m looking at an item that might be available at a lower discount, should I buy now or wait? What would be less-frustrating – buying something now and potentially paying a little more for it, or missing out on a deal entirely and having to spend full price later or someplace else?
Maybe I’m too sensitive about the examples discussed above, but I feel that the advice is the same regardless. Keep your eyes open. There are lots of “gotchas,” and at least some of them are in your power to avoid.
Even after shopping and reporting on holiday tool deals for years now, I still miss things on occasion. As evident by the half-sold-out displays discussed above, at least some shoppers are missing important details as well.
A reader asked why I went through the trouble of analyzing several Dewalt drill bit deals last week. Frankly, that was the only way to make sense of them. When you have 10pc and 13pc sets at $8 each, and a 14pc set at $10, which is the better bargain? You really have to break things down.
Please let us know if you come across any tricky marketing this holiday season! Good luck!