For me, at least.
Been shopping there for at least the last 5 years. Loved their value for the price point. Never had a problem when something broke down... took it back, the manager simply replaced it with a new one from the floor. "no problem".
Yesterday I went to HF and had one of the worst shopping experiences, ever. My angle cutter stripped the screw. WELL... the guy at the counter semi-explained to me that they have a "new" policy of not returning "used merchandise". Now, at least in the Norfolk store, if you don't have a pre-purchased "extra" warranty, you must contact the manufacturer to get relief. No exceptions.
Well I would be OK with that and just go buy a new one, since I did only pay $25 for it and it has served its purpose well. I've worn down many cutting disks with it, and it was even the tool I used to build the first bolt cutter rivet tool.
HOWEVER... here's the rub - the manager for the day (the associate manager) was called to help... and instead of that wink and a nod and let's go get a new one attitude, I got looked at like I tried to shoplift something:
"It has been used... look at how the wheel is worn down"
"How come the wheel retainer pin is missing?" He asked. "It broke on day 1, I've been using a screwdriver to secure it whilst replacing wheels"... said I. I've never bothered to replace it because it hasn't bothered me". "pushaw.." said he. "We can't work on it without the right tools... I don't know..."
"Look at the sheild at how it is all bent up"...
OH MY GOSH - a work tool that was actually used!!! How could it be?!?!?
After one last "go fuck yourself" scowl, he walked away chanting something about "I can't help you"... So I took my busted-ass made-in-China angle grinder and left the store.
LESSON LEARNED - YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. PERIOD, END OF DISCUSSION.
The fact that they have a new policy doesn't bother me. The fact that they treat their PAYING CUSTOMERS LIKE CRIMINALS does. Yes, my tools are actually used!!! They get dirty. If I never use them, then I wouldn't need the !@#$%ing warranty, would I?!?
So for me, from this day forward, I am not buying cheap-assed tools from HF. I may buy some sanding disks from them, or then again I may not. The cheap bolt cutters are probably all that I'll ever buy from them again. Off to Home Depot I will go. Hell, before I shop at HF again, I'd even give the ANTI-GUN people who own Lowe's my money! There is a poetic irony in buying tools from Lowes to make guns.
YES I KNOW - there are about 5 tool factories on the planet, and all the "Made in USA" people buy from them. I know that. I know that Craftsman tools are made in the same building that makita or ryobi or whatever are made in. Understood. These people will stand behind their tools with a warranty, however, and not give you that "go fuck yourself" attitude that I got yesterday.
This has me worked up enough that I'm going to write them a letter (on paper!). That, and I will decide with my checkbook to support those 'other' companies.
BUYER BEWARE. This is the end of my PSA. Sorry for the semi-rant.