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15 Things Harbor Freight Employees Won’t Tell You

Everyone seems to have an opinion on deep-discount retailer Harbor Freight. Some DIY enthusiasts love it, while others don't. As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between. While Harbor Freight may not be the best stop for every purchase, there are still plenty of reasons to keep it on your list of favorite stores. Don't believe us? Scroll through this list of 15 secrets you won't hear from Harbor Freight employees, and see for yourself!

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There are Sales, and There are SALES!

Harbor Freight is well-known for its heavy discounts, and there’s no doubt that products are available at a great price. But if you’re not in a rush to buy a specific item, consider waiting for events such as Parking Lot Sales, which happen seven times a year and tend to have especially discounted pricing. This kind of savvy shopping can help you save money on everything from garage staples to stocking your pantry.

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Things Harbor Freight Employees Won’t Tell You

While Harbor Freight may not be the best stop for every purchase, there are still plenty of reasons to keep it on your list of favorite stores. Don’t believe us?

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Do You Need a Paid Membership?

Harbor Freight’s Insider Track Club comes with more coupons by mail and email, a $10 gift card when you purchase or renew a membership and early access to Parking Lot Sales and other special events. So the question is, do all of these benefits make the $30 annual fee worth it to you? (Also note that you can join for two years for $45.) Learn what other benefits Harbor Freight’s Insider Track Club provides. 

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There’s also a Catalog and Website

It’s no secret that Harbor Freight has loads of coupons that show up in weekly flyers, newspapers, post office boxes and emails. But those aren’t the only way to find deals! There’s also a website (harborfreight.com) and a catalog, both of which have far more specials, sales and information than the weekly flyer. In addition, Harbor Freight locations will match the online pricing. The online price isn’t always better than the store’s, but when it does happen, it’s worth bringing it to the cashier’s attention so that you can get the best possible value. If you want help finding even more great online deals, check out our collection of tips on finding the very best tool deals online.

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Return Online Purchases in Person

Speaking of the website, while online shopping is fantastic, it often comes with complications if you want to return something. Should your purchase not live up to expectations, it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth to go through packaging it up and sending it back to the retailer. One great service that Harbor Freight offers is a return policy that allows for in-store returns of online purchases.

In other words, if you buy a tool or item online only to find that it doesn’t work as promised, you don’t have to worry about shipping it back. Simply take it to your nearest Harbor Freight for a full refund or replacement. If you love time-saving tips like this, you’ll love our collection of 12 Tips for a Faster Home Center Trip.

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Coupon & Deal Aggregate Sites

Another online resource are the various coupon and deal aggregating sites found on the web. These sites gather coupons, special deals and incentives in the hopes of drawing savvy shoppers. Harbor Freight has plenty of coupons that are easy to find, but these sites are also great resources when coming up on special events like tent sales or Black Friday deals.

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Free Stuff!

While we’re talking about coupons, one of the best deals Harbor Freight offers are the featured free items on their weekly flyers. These fall into the free-with-purchase category. Although this is fairly self-explanatory, it probably deserves a quick overview. “Free” means that you can simply walk in with the coupon and get that item. “Free with purchase” means that you need to buy something to get the item for free.

This is especially great for free shop materials, such as paper towels or those plastic tarps that are so useful to help protect your home during remodeling.

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Gateway Purchase Items

Of course, once you’re ready to use your free-with-purchase coupon, you’ll need something to buy! If you want to maximize your value, keep an eye out for the cheapest possible item. Although this varies from month to month, it’s often a single utility knife, frequently on sale for $0.50 or less. Combine that purchase with the free coupon, and you’ll walk out of the store with an amazing amount of value for your half dollar.

But if you want to buy something a little more fun, you can do that as well! Check out this list of things you probably didn’t know you could buy at Harbor Freight for some creative suggestions.

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Instant Coupon

If you ever get to Harbor Freight and realize you left your discount coupon at home, just grab your phone and text TOOLS to 222377, and you’ll get a 20% coupon sent to your phone immediately. It’s no surprise that in the 21st century, a smart phone is one of the most useful things you can keep on your tool belt.

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Clearance Options

The next time you’re in Harbor Freight you may notice a clearance section. As you might expect, these tend to be great deals, but what an employee is unlikely to tell you is that you are also open to negotiation! After all, the store’s goal with clearance items is to get them out of the building as fast as possible, and if you’ll be buying several items you have some leverage to get a better deal.

You’ll have to ask to speak with a manager or supervisor, and it may take a little bit of time, but if you can get a sufficient discount it will be well worth your while. While you’re waiting to talk to the manager, scroll over to this article on car price negotiations to help you get in the right mindset.

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Check for Damage

Part of the reason Harbor Freight has such great deals is that they buy from manufacturers all over the world. As with any items shipped across the globe, it’s important to inspect for damage and check the tool itself as soon as possible to make sure that it isn’t damaged. If it’s not, turn right around and return it.

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Online User Manuals

If you ever have a question about a tool part or usage, keep in mind that Harbor Freight puts scans of user manuals on their website, right on the product page. This isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s amazing how many people (including employees) aren’t aware of this perk. It’s a great way to check for part diagrams or operating instructions. Online user manuals are also handy when repairing appliances

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Same Item, Different Item Number

This is a fascinating quirk of the Harbor Freight website. Because Harbor Freight buyers source from so many different suppliers, they sometimes stock identical equipment from multiple manufacturers. This means that a single item may have different item numbers—each item number representing a different manufacturer source. This can pay off for customers when one manufacturer’s price is lower than the other.

In other words, when you’re shopping on the website, be sure to check all the instances of that item, because one of them may be lower in price! Similar tricks can help keep your costs down at other hardware stores, or even when grocery shopping!

Note: According to Harbor Freight, this tip is no longer applicable. The company recently updated their website, so now there is only one listing with one price for each product. 

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Lifetime Warranty on Hand Tools

Craftsman isn’t the only brand to have a lifetime warranty! Many people don’t know this, but Harbor Freight has a very competitive lifetime warranty on hand tools. From the website: “Lifetime Warranty on Hand Tools! We guarantee our Hand Tools to be free from defects in material and workmanship for the life of the product. Limitations apply.

You can bring the tool back to any of the 1,000 Harbor Freight stores for an immediate replacement. This can be a pretty great resource. Here are 25 other companies with super useful warranties.