Craftsman is one of the most popular brands for all kinds of power and hand tools. They’ve been around since 1927 and have built quite a reputation over time. What’s the latest on Craftsman’s product quality and warranty conditions?
The quality of Craftsman products and their warranty conditions have come under scrutiny in recent years. The brand has moved from highly-rated to slightly above average. The warranty conditions have also changed as they have excluded several products from the lifetime warranty.
Are you considering buying Craftsman tools? The rest of the article will cover all you need to know about the brand’s quality and what to expect from craftsman’s warranties.
What Is Craftsman Brand?
Craftsman is a brand of power tools launched in 1927. The company was the tools subsidiary for Sears, the retail giant, and the products were only available at select Sears stores in the early years.
After the merger of Sears with Kmart in 2005, the products became available for purchase at various Kmart stores.
Later, Stanley Black & Decker acquired the craftsman brand in 2018 and has continued to produce power tools, general hardware, and other home improvement products.
Where Are Craftsman Tools Manufactured?
Most Craftsman tools are manufactured in China. The bulk of the brand’s manufacturing moved to China after Stanley Black & Decker bought out the brand.
Manufacturing in China ensures the company can deliver competitive pricing on most of its products. These primarily include industrial-grade tools.
However, the brand manufactures many other products in the U.S, especially gardening and lawn care products.
Are Craftsman Tools Any Good?
Craftsman tools are good for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts looking for reliable power and hand tools. The products are moderately durable, ergonomic, and typically easy to maintain. However, they are not good enough for commercial or heavy-duty use.
Craftsman power tools were synonymous with durability, quality, and a comprehensive warranty in the past.
Its products were always highly rated and praised by hobbyists, mechanics, and construction workers. It still isn’t uncommon to hear people boasting about using Craftsman tools handed down to them by their family or friends.
However, the brand’s stock has dipped in recent years. Many online comparison sites no longer have Craftsman tools close to the top of their lists of quality products. Nowadays, DeWalt has replaced Craftsman as the most reliable and popular brand.
Since moving the bulk of their production to China, the company has been accused of using lower-quality materials.
They’ve also been accused of misleading marketing on some of their products. These claims have tarnished the once spotless Craftsman brand name, and modern Craftsman tools just aren’t as prized or reliable as the older ones (source).
What Do Craftsman Customers Think About the Brand?
Many Craftsman customers are reasonably happy with the brand. However, some past Craftsman customers seem to agree that the quality of the products has declined in recent times. Many agree that the decline has accelerated since the transition into a Stanley Black & Decker-owned company.
Respected contributors in the DIY niche are vocal in their criticism of Craftsman’s new products.
At the same time, consumer reports have shown a falling level of satisfaction amongst Craftsman customers compared to a few decades ago (source).
Some users have mentioned that the products are subpar and likely to break down quicker than competitors.
Users on popular online forums have pointed out that replacement Craftsman tools often last only a few months compared to older models, which lasted decades.
Also, the products used to be a safe bet in the past due to the all-inclusive warranties on offer. Today, the company has reduced the number of products covered in their promises and increased the terms and conditions, making it harder to file a claim.
Common Craftsman Customer Service Complaints
Some Craftsman power tool customers have mentioned how difficult it is to reach the company to request a replacement when products bend, rust, or break within the warranty window (source).
Some of the more common complaints include the following:
- Long hold times
- Surprise product exclusion from the warranty list
A few users had to wait for days after going back and forth with customer service personnel before representatives finally told them that the company won’t replace their broken tool because it’s not covered under warranty.
However, even with these concerns, many DIY people are still fond of Craftsman products such as their drivers, drills, grinders, hand-saws, power tools, etc. Products in their outdoor category, such as snow blowers, lawnmowers, and chainsaws, also get some praise.
Are Craftsman Tools Guaranteed for Life?
Craftsman tools are not guaranteed for life. The brand offers a “90-day Satisfaction Guarantee” on a few electronic measuring tools, hand tools, and power tools.
Customers can get a replacement or a refund if they are not satisfied with the products covered by the guarantee.
Do Craftsman Tools Have a Lifetime Warranty?
Some Craftsman tools have a lifetime warranty. However, only selected products have a full lifetime warranty which replaces all products if they fail to perform for any reason.
Other products have a limited lifetime warranty which only replaces the product if it stops working due to a factory-related fault (source).
You may also need to present proof of purchase if you want to trigger the warranty on a product with a limited lifetime warranty. Below are some of the Craftsman products covered by both types of lifetime warranties.
Craftsman Products Covered by Full Lifetime Warranty
Some of the products under Craftsman’s full lifetime warranty include:
- Individual open stock tools
- Oil filter wrench
- Mechanics tool sets
- Wire spark plug gauge
- 32-blade feeler gauge
- Gasket scraper
- Magnetic bowl set
- Magnetic pickup tool
- Pry bar set
- Digital tire gauge
- Battery terminal brush
- Battery terminal spreader
- Wrenches & wrench sets
- Hammers & demolition tools
- Finishing tools
- Ratchet & sockets
- Hex key
- Nut drivers
- Knives & multi-tools
Craftsman Products Covered by Limited Lifetime Warranty
Some of the products under Craftsman’s limited lifetime warranty include:
- Heavy-duty hose reels
- Heavy-duty hose ends
- Wheeled tool boxes
- Tape Measures
- Levels & squares
- Miter boxes
- Torpedo digital levels
- Standard digital levels
- Stud finders
- Laser distance measuring tools
What Other Types of Warranty Do Craftsman Have?
Craftsman has other types of warranties than the lifetime and limited lifetime, including multi-year warranties spanning 2-3 years on some heavy-duty products, such as lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners. Some products also have one-year guarantees.
However, most warranties feature an exhaustive exclusion list, making filing a warranty claim on some of these products more difficult.
Can You Exchange Rusted Craftsman Tools?
You can exchange rusted Craftsman tools if the rust has stopped the device from working. The company won’t exchange the product if its rust is cosmetic.
However, even with the company’s position on only replacing rusted tools only when the rust has stopped the device from working, the terms and conditions surrounding their warranties can still prevent a customer from claiming a replacement (source).
For example, if you present a fully rusted tool, the company reps can decide to pull the negligence card, stating that you never cared for the device correctly or that you must have dumped it outside.
When it becomes your word against theirs, you will begin to understand why many people are frustrated with the brand’s warranty policy on different platforms online.
Who Warranties Craftsman Tools Now?
Stanley Black & Decker warranties Craftsman tools now. If your tools break, you can call Craftsman customer service about a replacement. Alternatively, you can take the product back to where you bought them.
Most retail outlets that carry Craftsman products can honor qualifying warranty claims– especially if the products are still in stock.
What Voids a Craftsman Warranty?
A craftsman warranty is void if you can’t provide proof of purchase on limited lifetime warranty products. Customers also can’t claim a warranty on limited lifetime warranty products used for commercial purposes.
The warranty on such products is also void if the damage on the product is related to expendable parts known to wear out from standard usage.
The company also won’t honor ANY warranty (including total lifetime warranty products) if the following apply:
- You have altered the tool from the factory design.
- The product was damaged by disasters (floods, fires, hurricanes, etc.).
- You have used the product in ways other than originally intended.
- You broke the product due to user neglect.
There’s a high chance of a voided warranty on most Craftsman tools not covered by the comprehensive lifetime warranty. The company’s terms and conditions give them enough wiggle room to squirm away from warranty claims on everything else unless you can strongly prove a factory defect.
Can You Exchange Craftsman Tools at Ace Hardware?
You can exchange Craftsman tools at Ace Hardware if they have the item(s) in stock. However, the product must qualify for the warranty claim and meet all the conditions.
Products under a limited warranty period must still be within their warranty window. You may also need to provide proof of purchase for limited warranty and limited lifetime warranty products.
What Happens When a Retailer Can’t Exchange Craftsman Tools?
When a retailer can’t exchange Craftsman tools under warranty, they may offer an alternative product from another brand or give you an expected delivery date for your replacement product.
The approach the retailer will adopt comes down to the arrangement they’ve got in place with Craftsman or Stanley Black & Decker.
You should always check for specific retailer replacement or warranty information when you purchase a Craftsman item to ensure you can get a replacement if you’re unhappy with any of the things you buy.
Should You Buy Craftsman Tools?
You should buy Craftsman tools if you want affordable midrange solutions for your DIY projects. Many Craftsman products are good enough for occasional use and can last reasonably long in such conditions.
You can justify some of the discontentment against Craftsman tools. However, some of the complaints feel like a lot of context is missing.
For example, when a user complains about a Craftsman tool breaking down quicker than the previous version they received from their friend or relative, who knows how the handed-down tool was used? Could the friend or relative have taken advantage of warranties and ended up handing down a replacement product?
Also, most people quickly assume that moving your production to China automatically means an inferior product, but there’s a long list of high-quality products made in China.
Companies moving to China often do so to take advantage of cheaper labor. The best ones don’t always scrimp on the quality of the final product.
However, if you have a commercial workshop and you’re in the market for heavy-duty power tools that can take some abuse, then you should probably look elsewhere.
The cost of most Craftsman tools (especially the hand tools) shows they weren’t made for commercial use. If you try to use them in industrial applications, you risk voiding your warranty.
You should also be wary of the Craftsman warranty terms and conditions. It’s no longer what it used to be in decades past. There are too many loopholes for the company to exploit, so you should probably think twice before you decide to pay top dollar for their costlier outdoor equipment.
Is Craftsman a quality brand you can trust? Yes, but only if you want DIY tools. The company has changed over time, and the quality of its tools and warranties have changed, too.
They have a good mix of happy and unhappy customers like all other major brands in the niche– even though it feels like the disgruntled voices are winning in recent times. Still, if you’re looking to buy some cheap hand tools, the brand should be one of the options on your list. Just don’t expect too much from their warranty promises!