Should You Buy John Deere Mowers at Box Stores?
Written by Todd Fratzel.
This has been a popular article for quite some time. I wanted to update it and respond to some of the comments that have been left about my take on things. More specifically I want to comment about some of the confusion in the comments. It is true that some of the Box Stores sell some of the same exact models that you can find at the John Deere dealers.
At a recent John Deere Media Event I also learned that every John Deere Mower that is sold at a box store is inspected on-site by a John Deere dealer. A local dealer visits the store, inspects the mower, places a sticker on it so you know where the local dealer is located.
What’s also true is the Box Stores only carry entry level, low price point machines so they can compete with the other lower priced brands.
Regardless of how you feel on the topic the main point of the article is this, you get what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.
Buying John Deere Mowers
You see the ads every Sunday from your local “Big Box Stores”, you know the ones, the orange place and the blue place. They advertise a brand new John Deere mower at a price point comparable to brands with far less reputation.
Like you I was amazed that they could sell the thing for such a great price. The John Deere 42″ X300 shown in the adjacent photo retails for $3,099.99. The John Deere BG20444 (sometimes also sold as the LA105) shown in the photo below retails for $1,499.00. The BG20444 is a model sold exclusively at Home Depot.
Apples To Apples?
Both of these are John Deere 42″ mowers. The one from HD is a model manufactured exclusively for HD. Here’s where the problem starts. The big box stores have made deals with manufactures to supply exclusive products at attractive price points. I know there are many people who will argue this fact and say there is no difference. However, go to the John Deere site and search for Model BG20444, you will not find it. You will find the LA105 which is a similar tractor but the BG20444 was manufactured specifically for HD.
Whether you agree or disagree with this argument is really no big deal. What is a big deal is paying attention to specifications and truly understanding what you’re about to buy. The reality is that high end brands (like John Deere and many others) have jumped on the big box store wagon and started manufacturing lower price point products so they don’t miss out on sales. The old saying holds true, you get what you paid for.
I bring this up because I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some John Deere dealers that are frustrated with the results of this practice. They end up seeing the customers when something breaks or doesn’t work correctly anymore. The number of John Deere mowers now sold in this Country is huge because of the lower price points. However, the lower price (lower quality ?) mowers are far more prone to break down and suffer from wear and tear. The cheaper models show up in their repair shops repeatedly for worn out and broken parts. When they explain to the customer that there is a huge difference between a lower priced model purchased at the big box store and a upgraded model they might find at a dealer the customer has a hard time understanding.
The big box stores and manufacturers (yes I blame them both!) play some interesting games with the specifications to trick the average Joe. For instance, the two models I’ve compared here do not have the same size engine. In fact, the cheaper model has a larger motor, 19.5 HP, while the X300 only has a 17 HP engine. So an unsuspecting customer might stop right there and think the larger motor and cheaper price must mean he’s getting a better deal. The reality is the bigger motor isn’t as nice as the smaller motor and the rest of the machine is no where as good quality (plastic parts, thinner metal frames, etc).
When I purchased my X300 the dealer was pretty blunt with me. He said listen, if you want to buy half the machine then we’ll sell you one of those or go back down the hill to the orange building and get one. But make sure you save the other $1,400 because you’ll need it repairing the cheaper model. I’m no dummy and I know that you get what you pay for so it wasn’t a hard decision for me.
The bottom line is this, if you see something that seems too good to be true, IT IS! Please understand how these franchises are operating in this country and do your research before you make a major purchase and find yourself unsatisfied later. Secondly, don’t blame the repair man for the expensive frequent repairs if you choose the cheaper model. I’d like to say that I believe the blame goes to John Deere and the big box stores for reducing their quality to make a sale. However, I understand that the market place is a tough place to survive.
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