Recently, consumers have begun to notice a trend in buying products from big box home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. Specifically, consumers have begun to learn that what you see is not always what you get. Many customers of these big box stores have claimed that they are selling OEM parts that are not actually OEM parts. When these customers purchase parts to repair water heaters, faucets or other home necessities, those parts are not matching up, even when the customer matches the part properly.

In other cases, customers are learning that the name brand products that they are purchasing are not actually made by the manufacturer whose stamp they bear. What does this mean? It means that customers are buying Kohler faucets and learning later that they are nothing like the actual Kohler brand. Customers, when they have to purchase replacement parts for these faucets, find out quickly that the original manufacturer’s website does not have these parts in stock. Why? Because the parts are not being made by Kohler, or whatever brand is in question.

Home Improvement and Lowes typically offer lower prices on name brand products, something that they could easily do if those products are not actually name brand. Many customers have learned that they need to check the quality of a product before they purchase it. Once they have their faucet or water heater or other product in hand, they find that nowhere on the manufacturer’s website can they even begin to order replacement parts for that product. Where can they get replacement parts? At the store where they purchased the original product. That’s a great way for those home improvement stores to monopolize their customers and make it impossible for them to shop anywhere else.

The thing is, customers should get what they buy, meaning that they should know what they are purchasing without a doubt. Many times, customers of these stores have purchased parts to repair their original manufacturer item only to find out that they have actually purchased an aftermarket part. Manufacturers will tell you that there are certain dangers of putting an aftermarket product into an original product. Most of the time, it is best to use a part that comes from the original manufacturer because those parts are designed specifically to fit that product. Aftermarket products may be designed to fit anything that resembles that original product.

The problem here is that consumers are begin taken and most of them do not even know it. Large home improvement stores are selling quite shoddy products and then claiming that they are original. In most cases, the original manufacturer items would be around the same price from the manufacturer but those big box stores make it so convenient to purchase that consumers just have to buy there. Another problem is that if these products actually are not made from the original manufacturer then any warranty that the manufacturer offers for their products would not apply. If and when that product breaks or otherwise needs to be repaired or replaced, the warranty would not kick in and the consumer would be out the entire cost. This could be quite expensive in the case of water heaters, air conditioners and other larger items.

The real problem is with durability. Products that are made with cheaper materials and in some cases, using cheaper labor or manufacturing processes, are going to be cheap. They will not last as long as brand name products. Consumers may feel that the new Kohler faucet they are buying from Lowes is going to last them for 10 years or so when in reality, that faucet is nothing more than a cheap knockoff made from shoddy materials that will likely break within the next few years or so. Consumers then are tasked with having that faucet fixed. They go on to the original manufacturer’s website to order the part that they need to fix it, only to realize that the manufacturer does not have that part number. They may have a similar part but if the part numbers do not match then the consumer does not know whether or not that part will fit their faucet. So, they head back to the big box store to buy the part because that is the only place that they can find it. Why? Because it is the only place that those parts are sold for that product because it is simply not an OEM product.

Consumers have to make sure that they are getting what they pay for. If you believe that something looks too good to be true, it probably is. You are not likely to find a $100 faucet for $25 and get the same model, brand new. If those big box home improvement stores have cheaper faucets, much cheaper than on the manufacturer’s website or in their official stores, then you need to understand that these are likely not manufactured by that company or at least, not in the same way that the models in the manufacturer’s store are made.