Buying carpet today is more challenging than ever. As far back as the early
60's, all retail carpet
stores had an equal playing field, that is, they all had access to the same
carpet brands and styles. Bigger stores typically had better buying power and
could negotiate better prices from the carpet manufacturers. Smaller carpet
stores had a harder time getting the best deals from the mills and had to focus
harder on word-of-mouth reputation for great customer service and installations
in order to compete.
Nothing was more frustrating to a carpet store owner than to spend two hours
selling to Mrs. Jones only to end up losing the sale to the bigger carpet store
down the street with a lower price. The only thing Mrs. Jones had to do was
write down the name of the mill, the style name and number and take that
information to the next carpet retailer. Upon arrival, the next store owner
would easily be able to offer Mrs. Jones the exact same carpet for a little bit
less, and not have to spend two hours selling Mrs. Jones.
Even in the 70' and 80's all you really had to
do was call around and ask what they charged for this or that carpet brand and style.
Today, most retailers use private labels to disguise the true style name and
color numbers so consumers can't just call around to find the best deals.
Retailers discovered that all
they had to do was change the style and color name to make it very hard for
consumers to shop for the best deals. The idea worked quite well since most
customers didn't want to take the time to shop around with a pile of heavy
samples in their arms, and that meant bigger profits for the retailers who
adopted that practice. You may say it's not fair that carpet retailers use
private labels to confuse consumers but there are two sides to this story...
Carpet retailers who offer free
measuring and estimates are often left holding the bag. For a salesperson to
come to your home and measure for carpet, he could easily spend one to three
hours of his time in order to prepare an accurate estimate for you and still not make
a dime. If you take his free estimate and measurement information and use it to
buy carpet from another store, you can see how that might not be very fair to
salesperson who has taken the time to work with you, listen to you, explain
everything to you and measure your home and prepare an estimate for you.
a salespersons point of view, this can be very disappointing. From a consumers'
point of view, you need to get three estimates in order to be sure you are
getting a fair deal.
I knew a man named Gene who owned a small carpet store down on the Oregon
Coast who was fed up with people who would ask for a free estimate and measure
only to take his information over to Portland and buy carpet a few dollars
cheaper from a large discount retailer. It cost Gene extra in shipping costs to
have carpet delivered to the Coast. He finally solved the problem by
shorting every free estimate he gave by a "few yards" on the estimate.
If they accepted his bid, he would simply add the few yards back in when he
submitted the order to the mill. However, if the customer tried to use his free
measurements at another store, the customer would end up not having enough
carpet to finish the job.
One customer who tried to take advantage of his free
estimates did call him to complain that his measurements were not accurate and
that they had to order more carpet just to finish the job. Gene got a good laugh
because he knew who that guy was and knew he had every intention of taking
Gene's free measurements and buying carpet cheaper in Portland.
Times have changed and many Carpet stores now charge a fee for measuring and no longer offer free
estimates. Some ask for a $50 or $100 deposit that will be applied to the final
bill if you decide to go with them, otherwise it is non-refundable. Add to
that the private labeling and it becomes very frustrating to try and find a good
deal on carpet these days.
Some of you may be tempted to buy from an Online
Carpet Re-seller or from a Wholesale Carpet Warehouse in Georgia. Huge savings
are there to be had, but you had better do your homework first. That's what this
article is all about, how to save money on carpet without getting taken to the
cleaners. That's why you also need to order my Carpet
Buying Guide eBook.