Unless you have been living under a rock for the better part of the last decade, you have likely heard the commotion about home improvement stores and the question of whether or not stores like Home Depot and Lowes are actually selling brand name products. Many consumers have noticed the differences and have now begun to confront the big box stores with these issues.

One plumber in Texas states that he purchased a Delta faucet from Home Depot around 15 years ago and then discovered that the brand names of faucets that are available from Home Depot and Lowes bear unique part numbers that cannot be found on the original manufacturer’s website. What does this mean? It means that while these products bear the name of certain brands, they are possibly not made by those brands at all, but are a cheaper version of that brand with the brand name attached. Consumers will find that these products may look and function just like the original manufacturer’s version of that product but if and when a replacement product is needed, you’re going to have difficulties finding it anywhere, but where you purchase the actual product.

These products are often of a much lower quality than the actual brand and can even be more expensive than going through your local hardware store. Big brands carry big prices, which you would expect. However, if you are paying big prices then you expect to get the big brand that you want, not a shoddy knockoff that big box home improvement stores want you to believe are the actual brand.

The business model of Home Depot and Lowes is a solid one. They are offering exclusive products that people believe are recognizable brand names but they are putting in unique part numbers so that if you need to repair that product, you are unable to search for the replacement part on the website of the original manufacturer or any other wholesale website for that matter. You will not be able to shop around to find a more competitive price. The price you will have to pay for those parts are whatever the big box home improvement stores want to charge you. And you can bet that if they are passing off low quality products as brand names, then they are going to get those replacement parts made as cheaply as possible.

Faucets and smaller products are not the only ones that Home Depot and Lowes are passing off as quality. Water heaters have become a problem, as well. Rheem manufacturers a line of water heaters for Home Depot. Recently, Rheem had a recall on every single water heater that Home Depot sold. Note that none of the models that Rheem sells themselves through their stores or on their website were affected. This recall happened only to the models that were being sold by Home Depot and it affected every single Rheem water heater that Home Depot sells.

Many consumers, after Home Depot began offering their line of Rheem water heaters, began noticing that these were not nearly as nice as the water heaters that they purchased directly from the supplier. More specifically, many noted that the thermostat was a different brand and was a different style than what the manufacturer offered.

When customers had issues with the water heaters that they purchased at Home Depot, they found out quickly that there was a problem with the warranty. Even products that were still well within their warranties were not being repaired by Home Depot or by Rheem. Home Depot was telling customers to call Rheem and vice-versa. When you purchase a product that bears a specific brand name, you expect that brand to replace the product if it is faulty. At the very least, you expect to be able to take the product back to the store where you purchased it for a refund or a replacement. This was not the case for some customers and their Rheem water heaters purchased through Home Depot.

The problem with big box stores is that they lure customers into thinking that their products are of the highest quality and offer the lowest prices. In reality, many of these major home improvement stores are simply offering their customers low quality products with the illusion of being a brand name. Once the consumer purchases those products, they find that they would have been better off paying a bit more at the original manufacturer and avoiding all of the headaches that come with shoddy products and warranties.