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Buying Carpet

In my experience in home remodeling and home building, I learned one thing about carpet: buying carpeting is confusing. It took me years to figure out what types of carpet are really good buys and which are junk. There are a lot of different carpet brand names to choose from. And although many of these brands are the same type and quality of carpet, they are all sold at different prices. Actually, many different carpet brands are the exact same carpet with different names. This is called “private labeling.” Most retailers enjoy this confusion because it helps them maintain their high profit margins. But this marketing ploy drives customers crazy. The days of being able to “compare apples to apples” are gone. You can no longer go to a store, find a carpet, write down the name of the carpet mill and carpet style, and go to another store to compare prices. Some of the old names like Bigelow and Karastan are still around, but now Mohawk owns Karastan, and Bigelow is no longer a mill. Carpet One bought the Bigelow name and has it put on carpet made by other manufacturers.

Other Marketing Ploys:

  1. The “Fiber Face Weight” Ripoff

    This happens when a sales person tells you that a carpet has a face weight that is higher than it actually is. They know that if a customer wants to get an actual face weight measurement, that customer would have to spend at least $200 to have the carpet tested, and that is only if the customer could figure out how to go about having it tested. Unfortunately, it is common in the carpet industry for sales people to lie when they know you will probably never know the truth, so many sales people do not hesitate to lie about the specifications of their carpet in order to get a sale. On a recent trip to Dalton, Georgia, I visited the stores of several companies that sell carpet over the internet, pretending to be a customer. I asked the sales people about the face weight of a particular product which I knew to be 65 oz. (according to the manufacturer's specification information). The product was sold at three stores under 3 different style names. Two out of the three told me that it was a 70 oz. carpet (the third was honest). I guess you could call me naive, but it always amazes me that these people can routinely get away with lying, without any fear of legal action.

    (read more about carpet face weight).

  2. The “Guaranteed Lowest Price” Ploy

    Retailers who offer this guarantee can do so because they are private labeling the brand that is being guaranteed. That retailer is the only retailer that carries that brand of carpet, which is why they can not be undersold.

  3. The “No payments and no interest for one year” Ploy

    Retailers use this gimmick to make you think you are getting free financing. In reality, the papers you sign when you buy the carpet are a loan agreement. The retailer pays the first year of interest on the loan with money generated by raising the price of the carpet. Then the retailer sells your loan to another company. I think you would be surprised by how much interest is actually paid (in the form of higher carpet prices). The interest rate is generally as high (or higher) than credit card interest rates.

If you are thinking about buying carpet, my first bit of advice is to get to know the person you will be buying from. The cheapest dealer is not always the best. You want to find someone whom you can trust and who understands carpet. Buying carpet should be a pleasant experience. Buying from someone who tries to sell you carpet that is not well suited to your needs will make it a miserable experience.

My second bit of advice is to do some research before you go to the carpet store. You will find a lot of useful information on this web site and sites that I have links to. So take the time to read through it. You are going to spend a lot of money on your carpet. The more you know about carpet, the better off you will be.


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