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Thinking About Buying New Carpet From Lowe's, 

Home Depot, Empire Today or Costco?

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

Here's what you might want to know BEFORE you write the check... The last time I looked, all four of these National Carpet Retailers use OTHER companies to help facilitate their carpet sales, in-home measuring and/or sub-contracted installation services. That means if you ever have a carpet problem or complaint, you may have a hard time knowing what to do,  who to call or possibly find anyone willing to take responsibility for making things right. 


Did you know?

  • Home Depot and Lowe's sub-contract out their in-home measuring & installation services to other privately held companies?

  • Empire Today REQUIRES their all salespeople form their own corporation so they can be totally independent sales contractors?

  • Costco refers their members to "Custom Decorators" a privately held company to handle all their in-home carpet sales, measuring & installations?


What does this all 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. These four big national retailers take a large chunk of the profit right off the top and then let these other privately held corporations and independent contractors and subcontractors have a shot at making some money from you too. From costly measuring fees to needless padding upgrades, from carpet removal and disposal fees to costly installation add-ons. There are plenty of ways they will try to make you cough up more money before it's all said and done. 


The Lure of a Great Sounding Deal...

  • Get Three Rooms for the Price of One!

  • Get 60% OFF New Carpet

  • Free Basic Installation!

  • Free Padding!

  • Low Price Guarantee!


Do these claims sound familiar? Take out your magnifying glass so you can read all the fine print on these great sounding offers. These great sounding deals are designed to attract unsuspecting homeowners who would like to save money but don't know how to go about it. Unfortunately, these four conglomerates are big players who have only one thing in mind: Making Big Money. The board of directors must satisfy their stockholders or risk being fired, and the stockholders only care about one thing... Making Big Profits from your carpet purchase! 


Both Lowe's and Home Depot have been advertising non-stop to lure-in unsuspecting homeowners by giving away free "basic" carpet installation. They make up a portion of the free installation costs within the carpet and padding charges, and they increase the charges for anything and everything that is considered beyond their limited definition of a "basic" installation. Their so-called "free" carpet installation you were told about may not end up being totally free once their sub-contracted installers get a good look at your home. It's highly likely there will be numerous extra fees & charges tacked-on to your final installation cost. 


Final bill? 

Yes, while they do require that you pay for the whole carpet job In Full before they will place your carpet order. The final bill comes on the day of installation when they determine that your 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! 


Home Depot's Low Price Guarantee? They say 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 carpet samples. 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. Ouch! How to Measure for Carpet in 4 Simple Steps


Empire Today likes to attract customers by airing repetitive TV ads featuring great sounding sales and offering next day installation. If you call them, they will send a sales professional to your home who will show you samples and try to "close the sale" on the spot. Are you getting a fair & square deal? How long will these flooring products 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 more than one estimate. 


They use private labels on their products and use independent contractors to install their products. If you have a complaint, you have to deal with the independent contractors to get a remedy. Have a Carpet defect? You may have to contact the carpet manufacturer. Have an installation problem? You may have to contact the carpet installer directly.


Costco members walk by a small carpet display rack and can pick up a brochure. (Lately they have been taking the carpet samples down) See the photo at the top of this page? If you grab their free brochure you will be provided with a phone number to call to start your in-home Carpet Consultation Process. A well-trained sales professional will bring samples to your home and be happy to write up your order and arrange for installation. They do carry good quality carpet, but be prepared for sticker shock when you see what the total cost will be. Again, you can't comparison shop easily because they change the carpet style names and colors to thwart you. 


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 the 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 List of Recommended Carpet Dealers  


Should I buy New Carpet from Lowe's or Home Depot?


Best and Worst Places to Buy Carpet


Common Consumer Carpet Problems & Complaints


Alan's Preferred Carpet Dealers




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