Free Carpet Information and Buying Guide
Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert / Consumer Advocate - Retired after 30 years, do not sell or install carpet.
Buying Carpet From Home Depot, Lowe's, Empire or Costco?
Learn the honest truth about choosing new Carpet wisely, How to quickly spot common retail Carpet scams and how to make smarter Carpet and padding choices!
The last time I checked, all four of these Giant Nationally Advertised Carpet sellers use other companies to facilitate their carpet sales, measuring and installation services too. That means if you ever have a carpet installation problem or carpet complaint, you may have a hard time finding anyone to help you or accept any responsibility for making things right.
Did You Know?
How Does This Affect You?
With so many fingers in the pie it is not too hard to figure out that you might end up paying way too much for your new carpet, padding and installation if you buy carpeting at Home Depot or Lowe's.
Empire and Costco have other companies do all the heavy lifting. They take the lion's share of the profits right off the top and leave any carpet complaints or installation concerns in the hands of other companies.
These four nationally advertised conglomerates take a large chunk of the profit right off the top and then let all the other privately held companies and independent sales contractors each have a crack at making more money from your purchase by convincing you to agree to unnecessary add-ons and worthless upgrades.
From costly measuring fees to needless carpet and padding upgrades, from carpet and padding removal and disposal fees to costly installation extras and add-ons, there are plenty of ways they can make you cough up a lot more money before it's all said and done.
The Lure of a Great Sounding Carpet Deal...
Do These Carpet Sales Gimmicks Sound Familiar?
Get out your magnifying glass so you can read all the fine print on these great sounding offers. These advertised 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 heavy-hitters with deep pockets and have only one thing in mind: Making huge profits.
Carpet at Lowe's and Home Depot
These guys spend millions on advertising to lure-in unsuspecting homeowners by giving away free "basic" carpet installation.
They make up a portion of the free installation costs with increased carpet and padding charges. Then they increase the add-on charges for anything and everything that is considered beyond their limited definition of a "basic" carpet installation.
What Does Carpet On Sale Really Mean?
Their so-called "free" carpet installation you saw on TV may not end up being totally free once their sub-contracted measurers and installers get a real good look inside your home. It's highly likely there will be numerous extra fees & charges tacked-on to your final bill.
Final Bill? While they always require that you pay UPFRONT and IN FULL for the whole carpet job before they will place your carpet order, the final bill may come on the day of installation if the independent installer determines that your job requires extra things like - floor prep, old carpet and padding removal or dump fees, new flooring transitions, custom upholstery work for stairs.
Then there's additional labor fees for moving furniture, removing and replacing damaged tackless strips, fixing a squeaky subfloor, repairing rotten wood caused from hidden water damage or any other extra fee or charge for labor and supplies that they deem is beyond their limited definition of a "basic" carpet installation.
These hidden factors can easily cost you hundreds more for extra fees & charges that you were not prepared for or warned about. As Gomer Pyle would say... Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
Home Depot Carpet Low-Price Guarantee?
Home Depot says they will beat any competitor's price by 10%, but according to their fine print, that's only on identical in-stock items. That makes it virtually impossible to substantiate a claim because they use private labels on all their carpet samples.
They change the name of all their carpet styles and colors to make it difficult (if not impossible) for you to comparison shop. A low-price guarantee sure sounds good until you read all the fine print. In the end... They win.
The Big Box home improvement warehouses have been charging homeowners a sizeable measuring fee just for coming to your home and measuring your home. From what I hear, the licensed & certified measuring specialists they contract out to... are required to measure your home using a "special measuring method".
Do They Measure for Carpet Accurately?
Home Depot and Lowe's will send out an expert estimator to measure your home. Their job is to make sure there is enough carpet to do the job. Does that mean they add another 5, 10 or 15% of material to the total?
You may never know for sure, but basically they want to make darn sure there is MORE THAN ENOUGH carpet to work with so they never have to worry about running short of carpet and padding for your home.
Over-measuring your home for carpet translates into you paying for a lot more for new carpet & pad then you might actually need. Adding just an extra 10 yards of material to your order could easily add $500 to your total cost of your job. Ouch!
Empire Today Carpet
Empire likes to attract new customers by airing repetitive TV ads offering unbelievable carpet and flooring deals with next day installation. Next day doesn't mean tomorrow, they first have to schedule an in-home appointment and measure up your home and you.
When you call their toll-free number, they will send out a sales professional to your home who will show you carpet samples and try to "close the sale" on the spot. Here are some questions for you to consider asking yourself...
These are just a few questions that you need solid answers to before you should commit yourself to buying carpet from any shop-at-home flooring retailer. This is also why you need to get several estimates before you make your final choices. Use my free Carpet Shopping Form to make sure you ask all the right questions.
My Free Carpet Shopping Form
To make shopping for new carpet easier for you I have a Free Carpet Shopping Form you should print up and use to your advantage.
It will help you choose wisely and narrow down your final choices. Knowing what questions to ask will also give you the upper hand when dealing with carpet salespeople. Print up several copies. You need one page for every carpet you are considering.
Are you looking for Carpet On Sale? Discover the best and worst places to buy new carpet.
Have a Carpet Complaint?
Home Depot or Lowe's Carpet Complaint? You won't get quick results by calling the box store where you bought the carpet. You will be told that you need to contact the carpet manufacturer directly if you think your new carpet has a defect. The carpet manufacturer might send out an inspector in a few weeks to look at your carpet and determine if it is a covered defect and if so, make arrangements to remedy the problem.
Most of the time the carpet manufacturer's representative will blame someone else and eventually deny your claim by sending you a formal denial letter. They often blame the installer for not installing the carpet properly or they blame you for not maintaining your carpet according to your new carpet warranty requirements.
If you have kids, pets or use the wrong type or quality of vacuum, they can place the blame on those factors too. If your carpet is matting down, then your claim will be denied because matting and crushing of the pile is usually not covered by your new carpet warranty.
Carpet Stain Warranties
There are lots of warranty coverage exclusions that you might not know about. This is especially true when it comes to carpet spot cleaning and carpet stains. No carpet is stain-proof so if a stain won't come out, there might not be any warranty coverage for you. In fact, any warranty claims regarding stains will need to be handled through the carpet fiber manufacturer. This is just another time consuming avenue for you to go down in your efforts to find someone, anyone who is willing to help you address your carpet stain problem or other carpet concerns.
Proof of Periodic Carpet Cleaning?
If your carpet is a few years old, and still under warranty, then you better have all the receipts for professional cleanings as required periodically by your new carpet warranty. Carpet cleaning is usually required at least every 18 months. If you don't have those receipts as proof of compliance, your warranty claim will be instantly denied regardless of the reason for your carpet complaint.
Have a Carpet Installation Problem?
You'll have to contact the carpet installer directly if you think your new carpet was installed improperly. Someone might come by to look at your carpet to determine if it is in fact a carpet installation problem. If it is an obvious and easily fixed issue, they may take care of it right away, if it is still under warranty.
Most Carpet Installations Have a One-Year Limited Warranty.
If they determine your carpet problem is not an installation issue, they will blame someone else, usually the carpet manufacturer, and deny your claim. Even if your carpet has noticeable wrinkles, they can still say it is a carpet defect and not an installation issue. In this case, no one will accept responsibility for your complaint and you will be left holding the bag, as they say.
Did the Empire Salesperson Give Bad Advice?
If you are unhappy with the performance of the carpet your selected, maybe you think it is the salesperson's fault. It is unlikely that you will ever be able to get any recourse from the salesperson.
Did the salesperson tell you that polyester carpet is just as durable as a nylon carpet? Rarely, if ever, will any salesperson be held responsible for your carpet or padding selection. Even if they said it was the perfect choice for you. Even if they lied to you.
Ultimately the brand, type, style, color and grade of carpet and padding you agree to buy is solely your choice to make.
This is why it is so important for every homeowner to take the time to learn about carpet specifications. It is the only way to be sure that the carpet you select is able to meet your needs, goals and lifestyle. Start here What Grade of Carpet Should I Select? to determine your level of foot traffic in your home.
If you can't get a remedy from any of these sources you could file a claim in small claims court, but against who? Get ready for some serious headaches trying to figure out who is actually to blame for your carpet problem and then be able to prove it.
Is it really worth all the time and trouble and cost to go this route? The carpet manufacturer, the carpet installer, the carpet fiber maker, the carpet salesperson and the carpet retailer all know that you will eventually get tired of all the runaround and give up.
Costco Carpet Program
Costco used to have a small display with miniature carpet samples, but they took them down. Now they just have a fancy brochure that provides you with a phone number to call to start your in-home Carpet Consultation Process. A independent salesperson will bring carpet and flooring samples to your home and be happy to write up your order and arrange for installation. They are not a Costco employee. They work for another company.
While the flooring company Costco has partnered with may carry some good quality carpet, be prepared for sticker shock when you see what the total cost will be. Even after receiving a Costco Cash Card as a consolation prize, the final cost you will pay will be significant.
Costco takes their share of the profits right off the top, then the commissioned salesperson gets their share of the profits, then the carpet and padding manufacturers get paid for shipping their products and finally the carpet installers are well paid for their services. It's not hard to figure out why they offer you a Cash Card if you buy new carpet or flooring. Costco makes a profit from the Cash Card too.
Do they use private labels? If so, then you can't comparison shop because they have changed the carpet style names and color names to thwart you. You would need to take their carpet samples with you into other local carpet stores to try to compare both samples side by side.
"Many Carpet retailers use private labels on their Carpet Samples and use independent contractors to measure, sell or install their products. If you have a complaint, you may have to deal directly with the independent contractors to get a remedy"
A Better Way To Go...
I've spent 30+ years in the carpet business and my father was a 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 local carpet stores that I have listed in my Preferred Carpet Dealer Directory.
It's taken me over 15 years to locate, investigate and identify these locally-owned and family-run carpet stores and I know they are the best of the best here in America.
I suggest you visit several locally-owned carpet stores near you and get several FREE estimates. Visit one of my preferred carpet stores if you can. You can then decide for yourself who to buy from when you see your estimates side by side and consider everything.
The lowest price is not always the best price when you consider the value of getting the first-class customer service. It's reassuring to know that someone who cares will be there to help you if you ever have a carpet problem or concern.
I am sure that you you'll be treated with respect, get a fair & square deal and enjoy top rate customer service... before, during and after the sale. I have more money-saving carpet information and advice you can use to your advantage before you head out to shop for new carpet.