After 30+ years in the business, I'm sharing my knowledge and experience with homeowners who want to choose wisely, avoid scams and get qualified installs from a reputable dealer.
"How To Choose New Flooring Like A Pro"
Should I Buy Carpet at Lowe's, Home Depot, Empire or Costco?
Have you seen the carpet in Lowe's and Home Depot Lately? Here are a few things you might want to consider before you sign any sales contract for new Carpet or Flooring...
Did you know... Nationally Advertised Retailers like these use OTHER companies to handle their outside carpet sales, in-home measuring & estimating, and carpet installation services?
Lowe's and Home Depot only sell you the materials. They contract out all the other services to privately held companies. They do not provide any carpet warranties or installation guarantees.
It doesn't matter if the carpet is defective, if the padding is bad or if the installation is done incorrectly. Lowe's and Home Depot cannot be held responsible for any flooring materials or installation problems you might encounter.
Why Do They Require Payment In-Full Upfront?
Once you place your order with Lowe's or Home Depot and have paid for your order in full, you will have lost your best and only bargaining chip for getting the job done right the first time.
Why do they require you to pay for the entire job in-full upfront? Maybe they don't want you to be able withhold the final payment if you are not satisfied with the completed job. It goes deeper than that.
Without the ability to withhold the final payment due, means you may have a hard time getting anyone to help you or take responsibility for making things turn out alright, when something goes terribly wrong!
If you have never had new carpet installed, you may not realize all the things that can go wrong. Most of the time it is not a serious issue, but still someone needs to fix it.
What Can Go Wrong You Ask?
Sometimes the installers forget to cut out the carpet around a floor vent. Sometimes they damage wall moldings or damage the wall paint when bringing in the roll of carpet. Other times you might find a small lump underneath the carpet. It is usually a loose piece of padding that needs to be removed.
Sometimes furniture can be damaged when you pay to have them move the furniture. Defective carpet, wrong color, shoddy workmanship, ugly seams, loose tufts... the list is endless and I have seen it all.
Look at it this way... If you ever have a carpet problem concern or complaint, these nationally advertised retailers have already taken their profit right off the top and have washed their hands of any future problems or complaints you might have.
When you call with a complaint, they will simply refer you to the carpet manufacturer, the carpet installation company or the padding manufacturer for you to seek a remedy on your own.
Of those three, it is unlikely that any will want to accept responsibility for addressing your complaint. Each company representative will simply blame the other guy.... That is until you get tired of calling and waiting and calling... and give up.
This is another reason why homeowners would be wise to buy new flooring from an honest and reputable, locally-owned carpet store. Reputable carpet stores usually ask for 50% down when ordering new carpet from the mill and the balance is due the entire job is done to your complete satisfaction.
Should I Buy Carpet From Lowe's
Home Depot, Empire or Costco?
What does this all mean to YOU the homeowner?
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 shot at making more money from you.
From costly measuring fees to needless carpet and padding upgrades, from carpet and padding removal and disposal fees to costly installation extras, floor repairs, upholstery work and other add-ons. There are plenty of ways they can get you to cough up more money.
Tempted by Amazing Carpet Deals on TV?
Do These TV Ad Claims Sound Familiar?
Before you sign your hard-earned money away on the dotted line... Get out your magnifying glass so you can read all the fine print on these great-sounding, but often deceptive TV offers.
These commonly advertised TV ads are designed to attract unsuspecting homeowners who would like to save money but don't know about the best places to shop for new carpet.
The four major retail monoliths I mentioned, advertise heavily and have only one thing in mind: Getting more of your hard earned money!
Don't fall for advertised sales gimmicks! Buy from a reputable locally-owned carpet retailer! Why? Because you want a fair and square deal and someone who will stand behind their products and provide qualified installation!
Free Whole-House Carpet Installation?
Both Lowe's and Home Depot have been successful at luring in unsuspecting homeowners by giving away free "basic" whole house carpet installation specials.
Their TV commercials advertise free or almost free carpet and flooring installations if you buy a certain amount of flooring materials. Please don't fall for this common retail rip-offs.
I guarantee you can do better in the long run if you buy from a locally owned and family run Flooring dealer, that is, if you make sure you buy from an honest and reputable carpet retailer. See who I recommend near you!
I suppose they make up a portion of the so-called "free" installation with increased carpet and padding cost. Then increase installation charges for anything and everything that is beyond their limited definition of a "basic" installation.
Their so-called "free" carpet installation that lured you in, may not end up being such a good deal once their sub-contracted measuring experts and installers get a good look at your home.
They will look for, and likely find many other ways to charge you more and more. In the end, you may not be getting the great deal that you hoped for. So when you see the display racks of carpet in Lowes or Home Depot, I hope you realize that buying from a reputable locally-owned carpet dealer is a better choice.
As Gomer Pyle would say...
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
Yes! They always require that you pay for the entire carpet job in full before they place your carpet order, but the final bill comes on the day of installation when the installer determines that your job requires additional labor or unexpected add-ons.
More for moving furniture, or any forgotten extra labor costs, extra fees for handling of materials, or anything that they consider beyond the limited definition of a "Basic" carpet installation. These extra fees can easily add hundreds to your final bill.
Get ready to hear this: We need you to write us a check or give us your credit card before we can begin installing you new carpet or flooring! Learn more about: Whole House Carpet Installation
What About Their 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 for YOU to substantiate this because they use private labels on all their carpet samples. This also makes it impossible for you comparison shop to find the lowest price.
A low-price guarantee sure sounds good until you read all the fine print. Do you have a magnifying glass and a lawyer to help you unravel and understand all their fine-print?
Is a Measuring Fee a Scam?
The Big Box home improvement warehouses like Home Depot and Lowe's have been charging homeowners a sizable measuring fee just for coming to your home to measure your flooring needs.
From what I have heard, they use an independent measuring company who hires independent licensed & certified measuring specialists.
These private measuring contractors are required to measure your home using a special measuring method?
Does that mean they automatically add another 10% to 20% of material to the total? I think so, and doing this can easily cost you hundreds more than you need to pay if you blindly trust their measurements of your home.
You may never know for sure if their measurements are accurate unless you get more than two or three estimates, but basically the big box retailers want to make darn sure there is way more than enough material to complete your job.
This way, they never have to worry about running short of material during installation and they stand to make more profits by over-charging you for materials and labor.
This might translate into you paying hundreds more for your new carpet & pad then you actually need. Just an extra 10 yards of material could easily add up to $500 or more to the total cost of your job. Ouch!
I have seen cases where homeowners have been over-charged by more than 30 to 40 yards when new carpet is ordered for the entire home, that is, a home of 2000 square feet or more.
Is "Next-Day" Carpet Installation a Scam?
Empire Today likes to attract new customers by airing repetitive TV ads featuring unbelievable sales offers with next day installation as a lure.
If you call them, they will send a independent sales professional to your home who will show you private labeled carpet samples, measure your home and try to "close the sale" on the spot while they are in your home.
I think Next-Day Carpet Installation is a scam because it doesn't give you any time to change your mind, to comparison shop at other nearby carpet retailers, or make sure their measurements are accurate.
Are you be getting a fair & square deal? How would you know? Did you get several estimates? Did you compare the same or similar carpet or flooring specifications side by side?
Are they selling you a cheap Polyester fiber carpet and say it is just as durable as a Nylon carpet? Learn more: What Grade of Carpet Should I Select?
Does Empire Sell Quality Carpet?
Do you know anything about carpet specifications? You need to do your carpet homework before you buy.
How long will certain carpet or flooring products last in your home based on Your Level of Foot Traffic.
Unscrupulous carpet retailers may try to sell you a low-quality Polyester carpet and try to convince you that it's just as durable as a Nylon Carpet. Learn more about Carpet Fibers
There are a few important questions that you need solid answers to before you should commit yourself to buying from any shop-at-home flooring retailer.
Learn more about Carpet Specifications
Empire uses independent contractors to sell and install their products.
If you have a complaint, you may have to deal directly with the independent contractors to get a remedy. Trying to get anyone to help you with your carpet complaint can be quite difficult, time consuming and frustrating.
If I Have a Carpet Complaint? Who Do I Call?
1. If your new CARPET IS DEFECTIVE...
You'll have to contact the carpet manufacturer to come out and inspect your carpet.
2. If you have a CARPET INSTALLATION problem...
You'll have to contact the independent carpet installer, to come out and inspect your carpet.
3. Did the salesperson MISREPRESENT the product you purchased?
You will have to contact the independently contracted salesperson, to come out and inspect your carpet.
The manufacturer might tell you that your problem is YOUR FAULT because you improperly maintained your new carpet according to the new warranty requirements.
Your warranty has been voided and you get no recourse. Read your new carpet warranty.
Once in a while, someone will step-up and agree to be responsible for your handling your carpet complaint.
They just might fix or correct your carpet problem and make you a happy camper. This is not the norm.
No matter what the problem, no matter who you call, be prepared for a large dose of frustration. Everyone will put the blame on the other guy.
The carpet manufacturer might say it is an installation problem, the carpet installer might tell you it is a carpet defect.
The Salesperson might tell you the manufacturer sent the wrong carpet, and the big-box retailer, or the conglomerate where you originally bought it, will not help you or return your calls. This is the norm.
Who should be held responsible for your problem and what proof do you have to substantiate your claim?
Costco Members Who Need New Carpet
I am a Costco member and enjoy saving money buying the products I need and use all year long! As you are leaving, you might notice some of their vendors have displays on the left side of the wall.
They may have Heating and Air Conditioning companies, Leaf-Guard Gutters, Garage Door Replacements, Kitchen cabinets, Vacation and Travel Charters, Carpet and Flooring products and other home improvement offers and brochures.
However, of all these great sounding deals, I myself would never buy new carpet or flooring from Costco's vendor. Why? If you take a look at their free Carpet or Flooring brochure, they list a phone number for you to call to start your in-home Carpet or Flooring Consultation Process...
The Costco Carpet Flooring Program
It is now called Costco's Shaw Premier Flooring Program. Executive Members can earn a 10% Costco Shop Card, a 2% rebate if you have an executive Membership, a 2% rebate if you use their Costco Visa Credit Card, and enhanced warranties and benefits if you purchase their Costco Branded Carpet or Waterproof Flooring.
Calling their toll-free phone number will put you in touch with a Shaw Flooring Design Consultant or someone else who is paid on a commission basis. They will schedule an in-home consultation with you at your earliest convenience.
The Shaw Design Consultant will come to your home and present you with certain carpet or flooring samples, and then will try to help you choose the right product for your specific needs.
They will also measure your home and give you a free, no-obligation estimate of all the costs. Is this the best way for you to purchase new carpet or flooring? It sure sounds easy.
The Problem With Costco Carpet?
While the Carpet Consultant who contacts you may carry some good quality carpet and flooring, be prepared for major 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. You would need to take their carpet samples with you into other carpet stores to try to compare samples side by side.
They won't leave any of the the carpet samples with you to consider for a few days, so comparison shopping to find your best deal for similar or the exact same products is definitely not easy to do.
A Shaw Flooring Design Consultant would rather you just agree to make your selection right now, while they are still in your home.
They do not want you to comparison shop
because if you were able to compare prices, styles and colors, you would likely find that you could find a much better deal for a better product, or the exact same product elsewhere.
With Costco, you only get to look at products from just one carpet manufacturer: Shaw. There are many other Carpet Manufacturers that have different styles, patterns and colors you may be interested in.
There is Mohawk, Fabrica, Masland and Atlas to name a few. Not every local carpet retailer carries all of these carpet brands. You can visit their website to see which carpet brands they carry.
Should I Buy Carpet From Lowe's
Home Depot, Empire or Costco?
Locally-owned carpet dealers will allow you to take several carpet samples home for you to consider for a few days. This is what you should do.
If colors are important to you, it would be wise to consider the samples under your own home's lighting in the morning, at mid-day with the curtains wide open and in evening scenarios. Don't be afraid to take your sweet time and change your mind many times before you make your final choices.
You must determine for yourself who you should buy from. I suggest you visit several locally-owned carpet stores near you and get several free estimates. Use my free carpet shopping form and carpet durability guide chart to help narrow down your final choices.
Visit a carpet store that I recommend if you can. When it's all said and done, I think you will agree that my preferred dealers are knowledgeable, honest, reliable and reputable! You'll be treated with respect, get a fair & square deal and get great customer service... Before, during and after the sale. See who I recommend near you!