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Buying Carpet From Lowe's, Home Depot, Costco or Empire?

By Alan Fletcher - 30-Year Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate

 

What To Know Before You Buy Carpet... 

 

The last time I checked, all of the above nationally advertised Carpet Retailers contract with OTHER independently owned businesses to help facilitate their Carpet Sales; Their Carpet Measuring and Estimating; and their Carpet Installation Services. This is not good news for you!

 

This means should you ever have a carpet problem or complaint, you may have a very hard time knowing what to do, who to call, what your options are or possibly finding anyone willing to listen to your complaints or agree to take responsibility for your issues and eventually agree to make things right. I suggest you take a few seconds to read this paragraph again. Best and Worst Places to Buy Carpet

 

 

Important Facts to Consider:

  • Home Depot and Lowe's sub-contract out their in-home measuring & installation services to other privately held companies. So if you ever have an installation complaint, you must deal with the installer directly. If you suspect their measuring is inaccurate, then you have to deal with the company that they contracted to do the measuring services. 

  • Empire Today requires their salespeople to form their own corporation so they will be totally independent sales contractors. This frees Empire from responsibilities arising from the sale of their products and from negative ratings from the Better Business Bureau.

  • Costco refers their members to "Custom Decorators" a privately held company contracted to handle all their in-home carpet and flooring sales, measuring & arrange installations. This relieves Costco from all responsibility from consumer sales, material and installation complaints and claims. 

In a nutshell, when you agree to buy from any of these four popular carpet and flooring retailers, you may not have as much recourse as you might have if you were to purchase your new flooring from a locally-owned and family-run business. 

 

While not all locally owned and family-run businesses are reputable, I have compiled my owned short-list of my own preferred and locally owned carpet dealers that I personally recommend to my readers. 

Visit Alan's List of Recommended Carpet Dealers  

 

 

What does this mean to YOU the homeowner? 

 

With so many fingers in the pie, it is not too hard to figure out that you might end up paying too much for your new carpet, padding and installation if you buy from the wrong carpet retailer. 

 

The four big national retailers mentioned here, often take a large chunk of the profit right off the top and then allow all the other privately held corporations and independent contractors and subcontractors have a free shot at making a hefty profit from your purchase too. 

 

From costly measuring fees to needless padding upgrades, from hefty carpet removal and disposal fees to costly installation add-ons. There are plenty of ways these sub-contracted carpet retailers will try to make you cough up more money before it's all said and done. There is only one sure-fire way to avoid becoming a victim of a common carpet scam... Visit Alan's List of Recommended Carpet Dealers  

 

 

The Lure of a Great Sounding Deal...

 

Do These Nationally Advertised Sales Phrases Sound Familiar?

  • Get Three Rooms for the Price of One!

  • Get 60% OFF New Carpet

  • Free Basic Carpet Installation!

  • Free Carpet Padding!

  • Low Price Guarantee!

  • Next-Day Installation

 

So if you are considering buying from any of the Carpet Retailers mentioned above, then I suggest you use a magnifying glass to help you read all the fine print on their great sounding offers. 

 

These great sounding deals are designed to attract homeowners who would like to save money but don't know exactly how to go about it. Unfortunately, these four conglomerates only one thing in mind: Profits. 

 

Both Lowe's and Home Depot have been advertising on television non-stop to lure-in homeowners by claiming to give away free "basic" carpet installation. They make up a portion of the free installation costs by charging more for carpet and padding, and they increase the surcharges for anything and everything that is considered above and beyond their very limited definition of a "basic" carpet installation. 

 

Even their so-called "free" carpet installation may not end up being totally free once their sub-contracted "estimator" gets a good look at your home. It's highly likely there will be numerous extra fees & charges that will be tacked-on to your final installation cost.

 

 

Placing Your Order for New Carpet?

 

Both Lowe's and Home Depot require that you pay for your entire carpet job in full before they will place your carpet order. Most locally owned carpet retailers usually require 50% upfront when you place your carpet order and will wait until the job is finished to ask for the final payment due... 

 

Some dealers may give you 30 days to pay the final bill if you have good credit.....Don't assume, ask if you are not sure.

 

 

Important Question:

 

Why do all the Big Box Retailers require to be paid upfront for the total amount of the sale?

It is because the big box retailers take their profits right off the top of the sale. They don't want to wait to get their full commission for making the sale. Everyone else involved is paid for their services rendered after the job has been completed. 

 

 

Extra Fees and Charges? You Never Know!

Never assume that the bid/estimate you were given will end up being totally accurate. It's almost impossible to predict what might be discovered and unforeseen underneath you old carpet and padding. Your final bill may be updated on the day of installation when the carpet installer determines that your carpet job requires extra services including floor prep, haul away, transitions, upholstery work, stairs, additional labor, and/or materials that is considered above and beyond their limited definition of a "Basic" carpet installation. This can easily add up to hundreds in extra fees and charges that you were unprepared for. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! 

 

 

Opening Pandora's Box

What decades-old problems might be lurking and for decades hidden underneath your old carpet and padding? You could easily encounter a hefty extra installation charge due to the fact that once your old carpet and padding is removed, it may reveal some serious flooring problems that the carpet salesperson or carpet estimator could not foresee in advance. This can include damage caused from years of unchecked dry-rot, pet urine damage that requires subfloor replacement or concrete water-sealing. 

 

In some cases, tackless strips need to be removed and replaced, squeaky sub-flooring repaired or other hidden floor preparation issues that must be fixed or repaired prior to installing new carpet. There is no way to foresee some of these issues and homeowners need to know that there may be some added costs to having new carpets installed.

 

Home Depot's Low Price Guarantee? 

Home Depot says they will beat out anyone with a lower price by 10%, but according to their fine print, that's only on identical in-stock items. That's virtually impossible to substantiate because they use private labels on all their carpets. This means they change the name of their carpet styles and colors to make sure you have a difficult time comparison shopping at any other local carpet dealers. A low price guarantee sure sounds good until you read the fine print.

 

The Big Box home improvement warehouses have been charging homeowners a measuring fee just for coming to your home and sizing you up. From what I have been told, the licensed & certified measuring specialists they contract with are required to measure your home using a special method. Does that mean they tack on an extra 5, 10 or 15% of labor and materials to the total? I'm not exactly sure, but basically they want to make darn sure there is more than enough carpet to work with so they don't run short of carpet during installation. That might translate into you paying for a lot more carpet and pad then you might actually need. Just an extra 10 yards of material could easily add $250 to the total cost of your job. 

 

Learn about How to Measure for Carpet in 4 Simple Steps

 

 

Empire Today  

Empire likes to attract customers by airing repetitive TV ads featuring great sounding sales gimmicks and offering next-day installation. If you call them, they will send out a non-employee sales professional to your home who will show you samples and try to "close the sale" before they leave your home. You might find that these salespeople know more about sales than they do about the products they sell. 

 

Are you getting a fair & square deal? How long will the flooring products they offer last in your home based on your level of foot traffic? These are just two critical questions from many that you need solid answers to before you should commit yourself to buying from any flooring retailer. 

 

My Advice? "Never buy any flooring product without taking time to comparison shop and be sure to get several free estimates and compare!". 

 

 

Good Luck Filing a Complaint About Empire!

Empire Today uses private labels on all their products and use independent contractors to sell and install their products. This means if you have a carpet problem or complaint, you can't expect to get a remedy from Empire Today directly. You have to contact and deal with the sales contractor, or the carpet manufacturer or the independent installation contractors, to try to get a remedy to your specific carpet problem or complaint. I know this is confusing...

 

 

Let me explain... 

When you agree to buy carpet or flooring from Empire Today, you are actually buying directly from an independent salesperson who has been contracted as an independent sales consultant

 

These sales professionals have been required by Empire Today to form their own unique corporate entity to be totally separate from Empire Today. These sales consultants are free to charge as much as they want for carpet and padding as they want, within the basic guidelines set forth in their contract by Empire Today.

 

 

How Might this affect you?

  1. Do you have a potential Carpet defect? You have to contact the carpet manufacturer. 

  2. Do you have a carpet installation problem? You have to contact the carpet installer directly within the standard one year installation warranty. This can be difficult especially if the installer has moved away, or is no longer affiliated with Empire Today. In this case you may have to file a complaint with your state contractors board to seek a remedy. You will need to know the full name of the installer and his contractors license number if required by your state.

 

The problem is, you can't file a complaint against Empire Today Directly for the products they sell, the salespeople they contract with or the subcontracted carpet installers they use. This is why Empire Today has a perfect A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. In their national advertisements, they openly boast about their A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but from my perspective, the rating is not a good representation that consumers need to be aware of. In my opinion, when it comes to Empire Today, it's Buyer Beware!

 

Don't take my word for it. Here is a link to My3cents.com, a free consumer friendly website to help homeowners search for honest consumer feedback on home improvement, shopping, travel, restaurants, insurance companies and more to help make wise and informed purchases... 

 

Visit http://mythreecents.com/reviews/empire-today. While this website has some homeowner reviews based on their own unique experiences, my own personal knowledge and experience has shown that Empire Today is not a business who I would recommend to my readers who are the market for new carpet or flooring.

 

 

Costco Carpet Sales

 

I love Costco. I shop there often and enjoy the savings by buying larger quantities of the main products I use on a frequent basis. However, I have found that not all of their offers are a good deal. Sometimes I can get a better deal on meat and fish at other local sources. Sometimes their fruit and vegetables can be found at lower prices at other local grocery stores. 

 

My point is, just because they are known as a discount warehouse, doesn't mean they have the lowest prices on everything. I have found this to be especially true when it come to buying new carpet and flooring.

 

When you are finished shopping today at Costco, you might walk past a carpet display rack like the one shown below. Do you recognize the photo on the right? Grab the free carpet brochure and you will be provided with some carpet information and a toll-free phone number to begin your free in-home Carpet Consultation Process...

 

Once you make the call... 

 

A carpet sales professional will call you to set up a time to bring carpet samples to your home to show you and be happy to write up your order and arrange for professional installation. 

 

The company they use is called Custom Decorators (Informational link) and while they do offer good quality carpet, be prepared for sticker shock when you see what the total cost will be. Sure they will offer you a Costco Bonus Card of some amount but you can't comparison shop easily because they use private labels and change the carpet style names and colors to thwart you. 

 

Even with a monetary bonus of a Costco card, the price you end up paying for new carpet will be substantial. I think you could do much better by buying new carpet from one of my Preferred Carpet Dealers. My advice? Get several bids or estimates. Where to buy new carpet? Visit Alan's Preferred Carpet Dealers

 

I've spent over 30-years in the carpet business and my father was a carpet mill rep for 35 years. If you are in the market for new carpet or flooring of any kind, I think you should consider buying from one of the dealers that I have listed in my Preferred Carpet Dealer Directory. It's taken me years to locate, investigate and verify all these locally owned and family run carpet dealers and I think they are the best of the best in America.

 

I suggest you visit several flooring retailers near you and then visit a carpet store that I recommend. You can decide for yourself who to buy from. When it's all said and done, I think you will agree that my preferred carpet dealers are the best! You'll be treated with respect, get a fair and square deal, quality installation, and great service before, during and after the sale. 

 

See who I recommend near you! Visit Alan's Recommended Carpet Dealers  

 

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Thinking about buying new Carpet from Lowe's, Home Depot, Empire Today or Costco? 

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Selecting the Right Carpet Pad, Padding, Cushion  Best and Worst Places to Buy New Carpet

Unbiased Carpet Information - Who Should You Trust?   Accurately Measuring Your Home for Carpet

 

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