Perplexing Cost Structures

My trusty old Craftsman 18V cordless drill/driver finally gave up the ghost over the weekend.  Or, more accurately, the charger and battery packs gave up the ghost.  I bought it about 3 and a half years ago (right after I bought the house).  Lately the batteries hadn’t been keeping a charge very well and I was expecting to have to replace them.  Then, at some point over the past month or so, the charger quit working without me noticing.  So when I picked it up yesterday to use it I discovered that neither battery had enough charge to even spin the motor.

A quick check of the Sears site showed that the charger could be replaced for about $12.00, but I was also going to need batteries.  They had a two-pack for about $70 or a single for $45, and given that I like having two batteries (it’s a royal PITA to have to wait for the thing to charge if you’re in the middle of something) I was looking at over $80 to replace the batteries and the charger.  At that point it seems worth it to just buy a whole new drill set.  Which I think is why they make these accessories so expensive.  Kind of like razor blades or toner cartridges.

Looking through the selection on the site, I came across one that got high review ratings that included two batteries for $113.  What perplexed me was that the same drill could be bought as part of a drill/flashlight combo for $99.99. 

Interestingly, that’s just about what I paid for my current combo kit (except 18.0V instead of 19.2V).  I’ve never used the flashlight, though (except to check that it worked).

As an aside, I took a look at some other models in the Sunday sales circulars and on some websites.  Just when did power tools become so gaudy?  I was reminded of this because of the contrast between the old, el-cheapo corded Black&Decker that I dragged out yesterday and the new, orange abominations that they sell.

At least this Craftsman is mostly black:

The worst offender, though, has to be this Hitachi that is on sale at Lowe’s:

I find it interesting that the Hitachi costs $50 more than the Craftsman, though.  In terms of specifications, the Craftsman is slightly ahead with 420 in-lbs torque to the Hitachi’s 400.  Otherwise they both come with two batteries, a charger, and a case.  And both are two-speed variable (Hitachi is 0-400/0-1200 and the Craftsman is 0-400/0-1400).  But the Craftsman has a distinct advantage in that it doesn’t have that horrid color scheme.


  1. Austin Mike says:

    Yes, the Hitachi color scheme is horrid and the Craftsman black is subdued. But which is easier to see and find at dusk in a partially completed building, or for that matter, under a work bench?  I have bright yellow flashlights on the theory that the only time I will need to look for them will be in the dark, maybe with a candle lighting my way.  So gaudy they are, but easy to find, also.

  2. Good point.  I tend to keep a flashlight on my person at all times (I know it’s a weird habit), so I didn’t think about that.

  3. Firehand says:

    While back one of the batteries on my cordless crapped out, and I discovered I could buy a 19.2v Kawasaki at Sam’s, with two batteries, charger, case and some assorted bits, for about the cost of a replacement battery.

    So the old unit is set at the gun bench for working on things needing slow speed, and the new K(and yeah, it’s that hideous shade of green) does the heavy driver/drill stuff.

  4. I’m tempted to go ahead and spend the $12.00 for the charger just to see how much life I can get out of the old drill and batteries.  If I could get another year or so out of it before the batteries completely crap out, it’d probably be worth it.  The only thing that bothers me is that the charger gets universally bad reviews on as having a habit of dying after a few months.