Consumer Alert: Snow Chain Price Gouging

Category: News. Written by Grant 

It’s come to our attention in the last few days that there have been a number of incidents around Seattle involving auto parts stores gouging customers on the sale of snow chains. In Redmond, one local shop was charging $89.99 for a standard set of generic snow chains. Is your store ripping you off?

To know if you’re paying a reasonable price for your chains, you have to take into account the brand and also the quality of chain you are buying. Most consumer chains are like this pair of snow chains from BikeBatt that are listed on Amazon for $39.95. These closely resemble the type of chains you can find at Les Schwab or Firestone. You should never be paying more than $60 for these type of chains and are probably being overcharged if you are.

A common manufacturer of snow chains is Thule, a reputable and high quality brand. Thule has an entry level snow chain listed at $71.95. Made of manganese nickel steel alloy, these are far more durable and apt to last the battering that chains take on the road. Thules carry a premium – especially if not buying online – and are one of the few brands that you can expect to pay a premium price for.

It’s common for stores to be completely sold out of generic snow chains and entry level Thules, leaving only the expensive $100 – $200 Thule chains. In these situations, it’s simply an issue of inventory rather than price gouging. That said, unless you are doing some serious winter driving or drive a particularly heavy SUV, you will have no need for any chains over $100.

Another mid-entry brand is Security, which lists a consumer level snow cable for $67.14. These are one of the modern types of fast installing cable chains and also perform just as well as Thule. So, for well performing snow chains and cables, expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $90, and less for the generic brands.

Do you live in Seattle and think you got ripped off on your snow chains? Leave a comment and let us know!

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5 Responses to “Consumer Alert: Snow Chain Price Gouging”

  1. DAvid Tobey on December 24th, 2008 5:50 pm

    I recently was directed to Les Schwab for a generic set of snow chains by my step Father, he had bought a set of chains for his 2007 Infiniti G30 4 door Sedan.

    He paid $25.

    I called in advance and then drove to a LS, the fellow at the counter had said that they were out fo chains, but that their S. Auburn store had just gotten them in, they were $81 including tax.

    Had I known they were going to cost me that much I would have bought the Thule THULE CS 10’s for not much more?

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  3. Shatrex on November 30th, 2015 7:32 pm

    Grip 4 4 #2533Hello Brian,I own a 2007 FJ Cruiser with a 3 lift. I just recent pucahrsed this month new Nitto Terra Gapplers LT295/70R17, overall diameter 33.19 , width 12.13 on XD series wheels. I haven’t put the new tires and wheels on the FJ yet. I’ve been waiting for a good accumulation of snow and finally there is a good base of snow in our Cascade mountains (WA. State). A couple of areas I plan on driving to (Seattle suburbs) probably will require chains to access. Rolling over the Search by Tire Size heading, I’m looking at #2533 to fit my tire and wheel combination.Before I place an order on your website, could you confirm this is the right one.Thanks,Wes Wong

  4. Anshu on December 8th, 2015 8:39 pm

    Wes,Yes, that looks like the chain you need. Since you apparently have oirzsveed tires for the FJ Cruiser, just double check that you have adequate clearance on the inner side for chains. My understanding is that the FJ Cruiser is a little tight there under normal circumstances; nevertheless, enough room for the Grip 4 4 as many people have used them in the past. So with the larger tires, just be careful to double check that when you get the chains.Best wishes.

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