I haven’t posted about Harbor Freight’s Bauer line of 20V Max cordless power tools yet.
To sum them up, Harbor Freight has come out with several new 20V Max Bauer Hypermax Li-ion cordless power tools – seemingly value-focused tools at entry-level prices.
There’s a drill/driver, hammer drill, and impact driver, with prices ranging from $60 to $70 (after coupon) for the kits. Each kit comes with a 1.5Ah battery pack, charger, and carrying case.
But here’s the story:
The new Harbor Freight Bauer Hypermax cordless power tools are being sold on Amazon, by Amazon. And at HUGE markups.
Bauer Drill/Driver: $60 at HF after coupon, $129.04 at Amazon
Bauer Hammer Drill: $65 at HF after coupon, $128.49 at Amazon
Bauer Impact Driver: $70 at HF after coupon, $137.03 at Amazon
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com
There’s a 3 to 5 day shipping ETA on each of the items.
What is going on here? I’ve seen Harbor Freight items resold or drop-shipped on Amazon, ebay, and elsewhere at marked up prices, but by 3rd party sellers.
Amazon still sells some Milwaukee tools and accessories, directly, despite not being an authorized dealer. It’s unclear as to where they get those tools from. (I don’t think even Milwaukee Tool knows the answer to this.)
But Harbor Freight tools?
There are certain Craftsman tools that were sold on Amazon in the past. Right now, I can only find 3rd party listings. You can find other private label brands, such as Ryobi, Husky, and Kobalt. But again, only through 3rd party sellers.
What is going on here? Does Amazon have some sort of distribution arrangement with Harbor Freight? Or is Amazon buying the tools at retail and marking them way up, and if so, why?
Maybe that’s why the tools are said to ship in 3 to 5 days.
If this is resulting from some sort of official distribution partnership, will the prices stabilize? I would understand if Amazon listed them at the “regular” before-coupon prices. But marked up $64-$69, when the tool kits are priced at $70 or less to start with? Bizarre.
Could this be a search engine results strategy?
How would you make sense of this?
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Buy Now(via Harbor Freight)
Current coupons: 41446120, 41497165, 41485924, for the drill, hammer drill, impact driver, respectively.
Update: Here is the official reply from Harbor Freight:
We were surprised to read on ToolGuyd that Bauer power tools were being sold on Amazon. Bauer power tools are only authorized for sale at Harbor Freight Tools stores and on HarborFreight.com, and as you noted in your post, we sell them at low Harbor Freight prices. Harbor Freight does not sell products on Amazon or through any other third-party.
There’s no mention of Harbor Freight anywhere on the Amazon pages. Could this be a case of a cheap Chinese manufacturer selling the same product to Amazon and HF? That would make more sense than Amazon selling a “HF product”. As for the obscene markup… well it wouldn’t be the first time Amazon marked something up a lot because they could.
Nathan, don’t search for Harbor Freight on Amazon, search for Bauer Cordless tools. Then you will find what was mentioned in the article
Hey Stuart, slightly off topic, did you see the email I got from HF using toolguyd to promote themselves. I posted it on the forum. I was just wondering if you were aware.
I did, and it made me smile.
They told me about it a few days before it went out. It gave us a traffic spike for 2 days, and a ton of new comments to the post.
A few readers emailed me after seeing it too.
My reaction to things like that must be careful and measured, so as to avoid being influenced. It’s not very uncommon for brands or retailers to use a quote, repeat something via social media, link to a post or review, or use something I’ve created in marketing materials. But it’s not all that frequent, either. I try hard to avoid writing with sharing and promotion in mind.
While I was told about the email before the weekend – they called me Friday afternoon while I was on the way to pick up my son – it was completely out of the blue and unexpected.
I expected some new visits to the post and site, but my anticipation was off by an order of magnitude.
You never know who will read a post. Maybe the engineers and designers that worked on that product or brand, maybe a tool buyer at a nationwide retailer, maybe a company president, the head of a competing brand or retailer, a contractor down the street, and sometimes my father.
Who doesn’t like more exposure? But I have block it from getting to my head.
Count me among the new readers. I had never heard about this page/blog before I received the HF email, and now this site is on my daily reading list.
Caveat Emptor applies even to dealings with what we consider to be good retailers.
Amazon like every other merchandizer is out to make money – and sometimes they save you some of it along the way – but not always. No surprise here with the possible exception that they have chosen to “resell” Harbor Freight tools (possibly of dubious quality depending on your perspective.)
That’s why I use the two Google Chrome extensions The Camelizer (CamelCamelCamel) to check out the Amazon price history of a product and Personal Shopping Assistant to compare it instantly vs other website prices online. As you’ve said not everything on Amazon is the lowest price you can get.
I find tools on amazon a bizarre thing overall. Sometimes makita/hitachi drills are over $1500. Just regular drills with batteries and chargers. I am not sure if this applies to other brands as well, can only remembering seeing this for these brands. I check amazon for tools pretty often, but always find them cheaper somewhere else.
A lot of the time that’s 3rd party sellers. A lot of them use algorithms to set their prices in comparison to other sellers or other items. Sometimes they go crazy and compete against each other and the prices drop or rise by insane amounts before the seller has a chance to manually fix it.
I thought HFTs new cordless lineup was called “Hercules” but looking at their current advertisement I see both the “Hercules”and the “Bauer” advertised and promoted at the same time with the “Hercules” being the more expensive? Wonder what the quality difference between them is? HFT has really stepped up their marketing in the cordless with these two lineups!
There are multiple new product lines.
The Bauer seems to be designed and positioned as entry-level tools, and the Hercules as more pro-oriented tools.
For example, the Bauer drill has lower torque and is kitted with a 1.5Ah battery. The Hercules is more powerful and is kitted with a 2.5Ah battery.
Probably different OEMs?
Anyway they chose one brand name (Bauer) that sounds Germanic and another (Hercules) meant to sound strong. At least they got away from that Chicago Electric brand name that was meant to deceive (IMO)the hoi polloi but did not fool any real tool users.
Wait a second… You mean Chicago Electric isn’t made in Chicago? Geez, they had me fooled with their Pittsburgh and US General brands too.
It’s a weird choice since they also branded their big rotary hammers and some other tools as Bauer and then positioned it as the cheaper of the cordless tools.
If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Harbor Freight’s marketing team wanted these listed on Amazon at a huge markup. That way HF can market them in the stores with true-but-misleading “SOLD ELSEWHERE FOR HUNDREDS MORE!!!!!!!1!!!”
^^^ This. It would not surprise me if HF fulfilled the Amazon order. That would be a win/win for Harbor Freight; a marketing angle for its advertising as well as a higher profit margin on the product(s) actually sold on Amazon.
Maybe they’re using it to justify their all-but-constant sale prices. Didn’t they get hit with a lawsuit over that last year?
This is exactly the kind of marketing that HF does all the time. You are dead on.
Yep. Exactly this. Whatever it costs HF to have the tools on Amazon, it more than makes up for it by what they can get away with in advertising.
After all the lawsuits HF has been through, just being able to cover themselves legally by showing that the tools really do “retail” for that “compare to” price somewhere else is worth it. For it to be a major retailer like Amazon is worth whatever they are paying, for sure.
And hey, they probably do sell quite a few on Amazon as well. Plenty of stupid people out there.
^^^ That’s what I am thinking too.
In Canada, you can buy Gray Tools on Amazon.ca, “Shipped from and sold by Amazon.” These are usually listed as taking 3-5 days to ship even though I have Prime, because they are not actually shipped by Amazon. When you order Gray Tools from Amazon.ca, they are actually drop shipped directly from Gray. This is the only time I have had an Amazon order fulfilled by a third party, when it wasn’t sold by a third party, but perhaps something similar is going on here.
With the 3-5 day shipping window these are FBM(fulfilled by merchant). FBA(fulfilled by amazon) is when you see prime items. there are benefits to having FBA items though a laundry list of criteria Amazon requires if they will stock it and well it. FBM depending if Bauer is owned outright by HF may be the manufacturer setting up an merchant account with amazon.
My guess is that whoever is making the power tools for Harbor Freight is also listing them on Amazon at a markup. Maybe they have some sort of exclusivity agreement with Harbor Freight that the tools, if sold somewhere else, have to be priced higher. Don’t know. My problem with these Chinese power tools is that they’re not really cheaper than other power tool brands that sell Chinese power tools. I mean a Black & Decker drill kit from Home Depot costs $60 as well.
Harbor freight is what it is, cheap tools that are for people that don’t use Tools much.
That’s not true across the board. They do carry some decent tools.
To me it looks like Stanley Black and Decker are making these for Harbor Freight the Hercules looks like Dewalt and the Bauer are Porter Cable
The Bauer line looks just like the new 20v craftsman.
Amazon does this all the time with new tools. I’d say check back in a week or so and see what it’s listed at. When it first came on amazon, Makitas new cordless miter saw was listed at over $1,00. Now it’s back down to $650
Amazon does this all the time with new tools. I’d say check back in a week or so and see what it’s listed at. When it first came on amazon, Makitas new cordless miter saw was listed at over $1,000. Now it’s back down to $650
I like HF for many things, but I still don’t think there is enough of a price difference between Bauer/Hercules and the actual brand name stuff. It’s only Why buy a Hercules when you can get a Dewalt (with 2 batteries) for $20 more? Matter of fact, Hitachi, Ridgid, Porter Cable, and other are just about the same price point…sometimes I see deals on Makita and Bosch stuff and those are fantastic tools. Important to mention that with the major brands you’re buying into a whole system….I bet HF plans to roll out other battery operated Hercules tools, but I’d just as soon go with Ryobi if looking for a value priced set of cordless tools because they have a myriad of options at cheap prices.
So I’m a Canadian. . Baur to me is a company that makes hockey sticks skates and helmets. Used to make rollerblades . Surprised harbor freight is allowed to steal a 100 year old brand name
Sorry about my atrocious spelling. Bauer is the brand name
While true that I have Bauer skates, a trademark is only valid in a particular industry or line of work, so unless they registered the Bauer name in both Sporting Goods and Tools, this is OK.
That’s sometimes true, but there have been plenty of lawsuits where a company in a completely different industry was able to force a name change or sometimes even completely force the closing of a company that had the same or similar name.
Echo lawn tools famously won such a bizarre suit and forced the name change of another Echo-named company who made helmets. The Echo name was such that the couple who owned and operated the helmet biz were called Pa Echo and Ma Echo by their customers.They re-named themselves to Ecko but that wasn’t enough for the lawn tool people and the business was eventually shut down.
Of course, it was a corrupt abuse of the copyright law and the legal system, and Echo lawn tools probably paid off a lot of people to get that “legal” ruling, but being in a completely different industry sure didn’t help Echo helmets.
I have to think if some tool maker called themself general motors. There would be an issue . I do realize the odds of confusion between a drill and some skates are less . Can not imagine people at Bauer being happy about this name used on cheap tools
All of you are right, trademark can get very complex. The general rule is that the if it’s two different industry they can share the same name. Now if one side can prove that the intent for the name is to deceit and/or cause financial damages then they can duke each other out in court.
Toolfreak, Do you have more details on the case? I would love to know more about it. Based on what you said, it make me wanting to avoid all Echo product in the future…
While GM may not have their name plastered on third-party tools, AC-Delco did license its name to be put on tools made by Mobiltron
Firefly – unfortunately I never saved any documentation on the case, and most of what’s out there now is just vague recollections from former Echo helmet buyers and it comes up every now and then when new people ask why Echo helmets changed their name to Ecko.
I do remember there being a quite detailed account with specifics on a website in the earlier days of the internet, but it may no longer exist. Some digging may turn up the actual case, but it was in the late 80’s/early 90’s, so way before public records were online. It may even be a case where Echo made sure the case stays out of public view due to bad publicity in an age where that sort of thing can go viral quickly.
I will never, ever buy an Echo-branded lawn or power tool as long as I live, nor would I ever accept a free one or do business with their company in any capacity. I’m sure the management has changed hands since then, but short of a public admonition of wrongdoing and a private apology and settlement with the surviving family of the now-deceased Ma and Pa Echo, I doubt I or any other past or current Echo/Ecko helmet user cares to have anything to do with them.
With the price inflation of those tools, is there any chance that people from other countries will buy them? This seems to be true on some Ebay “buy now” prices, where many items are listed at or above what I can get them locally or on Amazon. Somewhere I heard that people from abroad will buy them at those prices because they are more expensive in their own countries and the exchange rate may figure in to it as well. I don’t buy tools on Ebay, but do buy other items.
I would guess not really. Harbor Fright tends to cater solely to U.S. buyers. There are plenty of other discount tool brands in other countries to choose from. There might be a few sold due to novelty or by buyers who mistake them for high-end tools, but for the most part, I’d say buyers in other countries would get more locally popular brands they are more familiar with and that have an actual warranty.
What manufacturer(s) make the brands ‘Bauer’, ‘Hercules,’ & ‘Earthquake’ for Harbor Freight??
I have my suspicions as to which makes which, but haven’t seen/heard of any hard evidence.
To be more explicit, Harbor Freight just uses the “brand” names on its tools as if they were actual independent brands when they are all manufactured by and for Harbor Freight.
All the Bauer, Hercules, Earthquake, Pittsburgh, Chicago Electric, Central Pneumatic, U.S. General, etc. names are just stuck on stuff to give the APPEARANCE that they sell a lot of different things from multiple brands like most other retail stores when in reality they do not.
To be fair, HF does source a few items from other manufacturers where it makes no sense to make it themselves (including the not-to-bad “free” with coupon multimeter), but the vast majority of products in every HF store are made by and for Harbor Freight.
I work for HF, and I will say this. The company now owns the factories of 99% of the brand names they sell. The Bauer brand is essentially as close to a clone to Dewalt as they can get without getting sued. Trust me they love to get sued: after the debacle with Snap On suing over our “Daytona” racing jacks (even I can’t believe we won, they did the marketing research and launched a full scale war on most major competitors. Make no mistake tho: they are trying to rid themselves of the “use it then throw it away” rep and in my opinion the Bauer is a huge step in that direction. I literally compared my Bauer 20v tools with a friends dewalts and they’re almost identical. The price gap is narrowing “you get what you pay for” is still true. Harbor Freight has a unique and imo awesome R&D process in the form of Replacement Plans: We take tools with extended coverage back even if they still work. They want to see what they look like on a large scale real world basis.
In reply to the name “GMC” not being used on other things, I personally have seen bicycles using the “GMC” name. I have seen other things with the “GMC” name. Apparently, the different market thing was applied here allowing whomever is making these things to avoid lawsuites.
Btw, I am new here also and am in process of adding outdoor wireless tools and preserving/restoring my indoor wireless tools. HF’s least expensive (nkcd) tool (Drill Master) batteries last a long time if charged for less than 8 hours. Even less if at 1/2 to 1/4 charge (estimated). One drill has lasted 5 years now and original battery is going strong. I also have an apparently rare jigsaw for this battery also and was given another drill. I recently purchased 2 more batteries at 12.99 each so each tool can have it’s own battery. At that price, they cost less than buying the cells individually to rebuild them.
I saw the Hercules sliding mitre saw. It seems to be a ditto of my Dewalt saw down to the castings. No way to know whether the tolerances are the same but the rest is. $200 cheaper and with a 1 year risk free trial.
Bauer tools seem to be built well in all reality I like them. I have numerous tools. My problem is that the charging system and batteries are poor .because of that I’m going to be putting them in a yard sale and replace them .
Are there any cordless batteries the same and interchangeable with Bauer tools??
I have several Bauer tools. Could use extras !
Not that I know of.