Buyer Beware: Amazon vs. Home Depot

If you have never heard of a 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool, you have probably never done much home improvement work.

The 5-in-1 tool, commonly referred to as a painter’s knife, is one of those indispensable tools that are closely guarded trade secrets of the home improvement industry. You can use it to clean paint rollers, restore paint brushes, open and close paint cans, cut drywall, cut drywall tape, spackle drywall tape, fill holes in drywall,  pry things apart, scrape things off old paint and spackling…and newer models can pry off bottle caps, open cans, scribe cut lines, drive or remove screws, drive and remove nuts and bolts.

You can buy a painter’s knife for as little as two or three dollars at your local Ace hardware store, but the best in breed right now is probably the Husky 15-in-1 Painter’s tool…but you have to be careful when you buy this simple tool because, right now, you will pay either TWICE AS MUCH or HALF AS MUCH, depending upon where you buy it.

On September 9, 2020, as shown below, this product was on sale on Amazon for $15.95.


On the same day, at the same time, the same EXACT tool was on sale at Home Depot for $7.47, as shown below


So, how do you explain things like this?  Does Home Depot “shop” Amazon and compare their prices against Amazon’s.  They absolutely do, and Amazon shops Home Depot just as diligently as Home Depot shops Amazon.

Why, then, would Amazon allow itself to be beaten by Home Depot by so wide a margin?

Home Depot knows that painter’s knives are an impulse purchase option. Painter’s knives never break, but they disappear with amazing regularity so that customers who are prowling around in the paint aisles are quite likely to grab another painter’s tool while they are buying other painting supplies and tools. Home Depot also knows where the “ouch point” is for this type of product. If it costs ten bucks, a handyman is more likely to pass it up on the theory that he probably can find one lying around.

On the other hand, the only way that a customer is going to come across a 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool on Amazon is if they are specifically looking for that item, which means that it is now a sought purchase item rather than an impulse purchase item, and that means Amazon can get away with charging more for the exact same product. They get away with this because they also know that Amazon shoppers are far less likely to comparison shop for inexpensive items.

This is just one example of thousands that I could have mentioned…but I just happened to be looking for a painter’s tool today. Since I hate shopping at Home Depot because of the company’s Trumpism, I always cross-shop between Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon.

By the way, Lowe’s doesn’t even carry this product. I don’t know why, since every handyman and woman in America buys at least three of these a year.

File this one under Caveat Emptor: Let the buyer beware.


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