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What it means is that you "don't get something for (almost) nothing." and shouldn't expect to. Harbor Freight fills a niche for low end tools for the hobbist and handiman. Yes, the fine print seems unfair, but on balance, I can get tools and consumables at very reasonable prices there.
I've also bought these clamps, and yes, some of them failed. When I decided I was in this hobby for keeps, I started to up grade to clamps costing 5 times as much. Better quality, performance and ... no failures.
I donno, my grandma right now would be saying something about "sow's ears and silk purses". It goes for tools, it goes for stores too. I'm sympathic to your complaint, but it's the way the world is, especially today.
What Freight is really good for is consumables (sand paper, tape, small drill bits) and what I call "try it one time" tools, like my first fostner bit set that I got before I know what they were or were good for. At $ 9.99 I could try them out. If I liked them and found a use for them, I could upgrade to a premium set. But I never would have risked $ 98 on a similar set.
BTW, that $ 9.99 set of fostner bits is still going strong 3 years and 250 CBGs later....
Randy S. Bretz said:
I never bought from harbor freight, I was always taught to buy a good solid tool that will last. It might cost a bit more but in the end it`s better then having the cheap ones break or not work. Sometimes Rockler has good sales on, I just got a letter in the mail from them...free shipping for a month. I buy alot of the pre-cut exotic`s from them.
I have gotten a TON of things at harbor freight and have been very happy with most of them. Like people have said, you get to try tools for a low cost. Some tools, you need so rarely, I just can't justify a name brand cost for them.
I got the screw clamps from them and they have not failed yet. I did not even think about getting the squeeze clamps, just because when I looked at them, I could see that they would be in the trash in a week.
I also do not buy any "Orange" tools. Take a look around H.F., if any power tools have a plain orange plastic housing, they are made by the cheapest standards out there and it WILL fail. I put more faith in the "Blue/Gray" or the "Maroon/Gray" power tools. Case in point, I got an orange sander and it literally shook itself apart, got a blue sander (paid a bit more) and has lasted about 8 years so far. (despite being dropped numerous times).
I agree with Sam, they fill a Niche. Most of my big shop tools that I rely on and use constantly and need to be accurate are name brand, higher cost, better made tools. I would NEVER buy a table saw from H.F. but a set of drill bits for wood, why not..
just my 2 cents.