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Blaming "Tariffs" for High Prices
Old 09-15-2019, 03:31 AM   #1
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Blaming "Tariffs" for High Prices

For the second time in five years, I am trying to get our master bath renovated. As anyone who's done this knows, there are lots of choices to be made in tiles and fixtures.

I'm also getting severe sticker shock. For example, a shower system (straight head, handheld head, stand for the heads, valve, fittings) that we got for less than $1,000 five years ago, is now priced at $2500! The store is supposedly a discount house and this is supposedly a wholesale price.

When I mentioned this to the "account manager," he said something about 25% tariffs on Chinese goods and components. I can't find anything to indicate that tariffs have ever been that high. Indeed, the tariffs that were going to be imposed as of Oct. 1, have been postponed.

Am I being scammed, do you think?
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:55 AM   #2
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Maybe. Seems like something in that price range shouldn’t be made in China. I’ve done a few bathrooms with Hansgrohe and Grohe, which are German products but of course even they probably have some production in China. I just did some searching and a bathroom probably would top $2,000 just looking at Home Depot prices. I’d guess with the last bath I did about four years ago that equipment cost about $1,500 so it does seem like pricing has gone up a bit.
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:43 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
For the second time in five years, I am trying to get our master bath renovated. As anyone who's done this knows, there are lots of choices to be made in tiles and fixtures.

I'm also getting severe sticker shock. For example, a shower system (straight head, handheld head, stand for the heads, valve, fittings) that we got for less than $1,000 five years ago, is now priced at $2500! The store is supposedly a discount house and this is supposedly a wholesale price.

When I mentioned this to the "account manager," he said something about 25% tariffs on Chinese goods and components. I can't find anything to indicate that tariffs have ever been that high. Indeed, the tariffs that were going to be imposed as of Oct. 1, have been postponed.

Am I being scammed, do you think?
A 25% tariff went into effect in July. Whether or not bathroom fixtures were affected, I do not know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_tariffs
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:00 AM   #4
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Seems to me the local "wholesale" suppliers charge whatever the market will bear, and those that don't shop around, just pay up.

I did a bathroom renovation last year. After we decided on the fixtures that we wanted, I kept my eye on ebay and sure enough several weeks later, while I was completing the rest of the work, I found the exact fixtures we wanted on ebay, made a "best offer" on an "open box" deal and paid about 1/3 of the price of the local "wholesale" plumbing supplier. For the sinks, I bought them online also from another online retailer, and they were about half the cost of the local supply house.

Same thing with the rental properties. I needed a kitchen faucet in the springtime. This particular tenant is in her mid 90's and wanted a particular one that is easy to operate. There were several offered on ebay, and I bought the least expensive one on a "buy it now" deal, again about 1/3 of the Home Depot price.

I always try to buy locally, but when the difference is that large, I go with best price and save big dollars on large jobs.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:22 AM   #5
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Some tariffs are already in effect (as linked above) and others are pending, so a lot of suppliers are just accounting for them now to prepare for the pending hike, especially on products that come via ship/freight overseas and take weeks to arrive.

And not just products of course, but the raw materials. Of course, that doesn't account for a >100% hike, but it's part of it.

When we got new kitchen appliances 10 years ago we did all 4 for less than $2k - maybe was even $1500 with rebates. Now I can't get an equivalent new stove in the same line alone for less than $1200k! Makes little sense to me given how inflation has stayed low...

Have a look on Build dot com though - and some serious googling, there are likely to be better options for the same item elsewhere.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:39 AM   #6
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When we got new kitchen appliances 10 years ago we did all 4 for less than $2k - maybe was even $1500 with rebates. Now I can't get an equivalent new stove in the same line alone for less than $1200k! Makes little sense to me given how inflation has stayed low...
Thatís not just inflation, itís also 10 years of economic growth, and you bought at the bottom. We got a new HVAC system that year, and the vendor, also a large service business, gave a great price and threw in 10 years of annual service. When I was shopping for a new system for DMís place I called them and the most they would offer was 2 years of service and much less discount.

An increase of $1k to $2.5k is probably not tariffs but is demand. The best time to do a remodel is in the midst of a recession, and the worst time is after a decade of economic expansion. Itís also much more difficult to get reputable, experienced contractors for smaller jobs.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:00 AM   #7
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OK, I will bite. Why are you renovating the master bath for the second time in five years?
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:12 AM   #8
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OK, I will bite. Why are you renovating the master bath for the second time in five years?
I think the key word in the OP's sentence is "TRYING" to renovate the MB for the 2nd time in 5 years.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:17 AM   #9
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Thatís not just inflation, itís also 10 years of economic growth, and you bought at the bottom. We got a new HVAC system that year, and the vendor, also a large service business, gave a great price and threw in 10 years of annual service. When I was shopping for a new system for DMís place I called them and the most they would offer was 2 years of service and much less discount.

An increase of $1k to $2.5k is probably not tariffs but is demand. The best time to do a remodel is in the midst of a recession, and the worst time is after a decade of economic expansion. Itís also much more difficult to get reputable, experienced contractors for smaller jobs.
This makes sense. And I think the home-remodel trend is at HGTV-peak right now, way moreso than the mid-aughts.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:02 AM   #10
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An increase of $1k to $2.5k is probably not tariffs but is demand. The best time to do a remodel is in the midst of a recession, and the worst time is after a decade of economic expansion. It’s also much more difficult to get reputable, experienced contractors for smaller jobs.
It’s interesting to me when consumers complain about contractors and other services who increase prices in response to demand (economic good times), tariffs or whatever...

...BUT never feel bad when the same businesses are quoting low prices (coming out of a recession) with razor thin margins or even losses and laying people off.

Why don’t customers volunteer to pay normal prices when demand falls off [/rhetorical Q]?

Hypocrisy?

Businesses should make hay when the sun shines as customers could care less when businesses face economic downturns. They should charge what the market will bear in good times and bad (no choice then).
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:09 AM   #11
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The increase from $1000 to $2500 was on the price of a fixture, not the contractor's labor due to a busy schedule.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
For the second time in five years, I am trying to get our master bath renovated. As anyone who's done this knows, there are lots of choices to be made in tiles and fixtures.

I'm also getting severe sticker shock. For example, a shower system (straight head, handheld head, stand for the heads, valve, fittings) that we got for less than $1,000 five years ago, is now priced at $2500! The store is supposedly a discount house and this is supposedly a wholesale price.

When I mentioned this to the "account manager," he said something about 25% tariffs on Chinese goods and components. I can't find anything to indicate that tariffs have ever been that high. Indeed, the tariffs that were going to be imposed as of Oct. 1, have been postponed.

Am I being scammed, do you think?
Economy is humming along, and a contractor can propose any price at all. We're shopping for a roof, and it is obvious there are small, medium, and large roofing companies. What each needs in overhead and profit makes a difference.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:51 AM   #13
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We have found the same thing on bathroom fixtures. We lumped it because we are hoping they will last for many years.
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:16 AM   #14
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I paid $800 for our roof shingles when we built our house back in 2003. In 2013 I had a leak I couldn't track down so I replaced all the shingles again, same quantity, same brand, same style, except they cost over $4000 this time! The vendor claimed it was due to high oil prices at the time. I haven't needed any shingles since then, but I'm willing to bet the prices didn't come down again when oil prices came down. That seems to be the trend, prices go up for some excuse, then just stay at that level until the next excuse comes along.

As to bathroom fixtures, you folks must have some real champagne tastes. Toilets are about $150 or less, shower faucets are less than $150, tub faucets are under $300, and bath faucets are generally under $100. Maybe $700 total for a full bathroom, using middle of the range fixtures. I could certainly find cheaper options too. You all must be buying gold plated thrones or something.

When we built our house back in 2003 I bought many of our fixtures online as the box stores didn't have the styles we wanted and the local "show room" plumbing stores charged way too much.
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:21 AM   #15
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I would guess it's more supply and demand than tariffs. Hard to figure how a 25% tax would generate a 100% increase.
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:30 AM   #16
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Standard business practice. Deceit. Never let the customer know the real price/cost. Gouge. There's always a reason it costs too much. Tariffs. Ha. he heard on the radio. "Sounds good. Why don't we use that? These tariffs are great for profits!"
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:06 AM   #17
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Econ 101.....

Price is a function of Supply and Demand.

Note that Cost is not mentioned above.

If the cost of making the shower head doubles, and people won't pay it, then the price can't go up much at all. Sure, they can ask for a higher price but the only price that counts is the one the consumer will pay.

Or, the cost of that shower head could go down 50%, but if the demand for that make and model remains high, the price will not change. We can ask for a lower price, but if the manufacturer can sell them all for a higher price I'm sure they will.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:09 AM   #18
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I paid $800 for our roof shingles when we built our house back in 2003. In 2013 I had a leak I couldn't track down so I replaced all the shingles again, same quantity, same brand, same style, except they cost over $4000 this time! The vendor claimed it was due to high oil prices at the time. I haven't needed any shingles since then, but I'm willing to bet the prices didn't come down again when oil prices came down. That seems to be the trend, prices go up for some excuse, then just stay at that level until the next excuse comes along.
There were some poorly made asphalt shingles on the market circa 2000 that resulted in numerous class actions (and leaky roofs). Presumably the $4K shingles you bought are of better quality than the $800 shingles that began leaking after 10 years. Whether the quality justified the $3200 increase is open to question; we switched to metal roofing when our heavy-duty T-Lock asphalt shingles gave up after 15 years.

There has been a big move to metal roofs in our area, a trend that's probably a direct result of the premature failure of asphalt shingles.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:31 AM   #19
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It gets overlooked, but this self-owning tariff war/self-declared "national emergency" is global. There are tariffs of 25% on European goods [like bathroom fixtures] too. Your supplier is not lying... https://qz.com/1312466/eu-tariffs-al...higher-duties/
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:48 AM   #20
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I've always noticed prices going up faster than government inflation figures over a period of many years. The tariffs are amplifying that effect. I've had some vendors through work specifically announce price increases as high as 25% on products due to tariffs.

I've never remodeled my bathroom in 17+ years in my house, just made repairs when needed. I'm more of a minimalist when it comes to home improvements, being a single guy who doesn't even spend much time at home.
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