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Appliance stores

Appliance store buying guide

Last updated: May 2014

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Getting started

Home Depot, Lowe's, and Sears may sell the most large appliances in the U.S.--and Walmart the most small ones--but they aren't necessarily customer favorites. Our latest survey of more than 22,000 readers shows that Amazon.com and local independent retailers meet or beat the big boys on selection and leave them in the dust when it comes to good old-fashioned service.

In our survey, subscribers told us about their overall satisfaction based on experiences buying almost 30,000 large and small appliances. A Chicago-area store and several regional chains got good marks from our readers who shopped at a variety of places including warehouse, big box, and department stores with varying results.

Price gets you in the door

Low prices and sales were the top reasons people went to a specific retailer. Many respondents visited price-comparison websites before shopping.

Shopping tip:Most shoppers who checked prices before buying online or at a store got a better deal overall. Taking advantage of online coupons and e-mail offers also helped.

Selection and service vary

A fair number of major-appliance shoppers went to a retailer because the store stocked a particular brand or model. But far fewer chose a seller specifically for its selection, and a small number of major-appliance shoppers complained of seeing few brands or models when they shopped at a walk-in retailer.

Shopping tip:One in three shoppers who bought a major appliance online checked it out at a walk-in store first--and then saved roughly $75, on average. But don't rule out walk-in stores when it comes to buying: All of the major stores in our survey offer "meet or beat" price policies. Stores may also sweeten the deal in other ways (including free shipping and installation).

In judging service, our readers evaluated direct contact with store personnel, in the store or over the phone, Almost all respondents shopping for a major appliance at a walk-in store interacted with sales staff, though only about half of those shopping for a small appliance did so.

Shopping tip:Shoppers who haggled typically saved $100 on major appliances and $50 on small ones. Here's a winning tactic from one of our Facebook followers: See whether you can buy a floor model or one that's slightly blemished for less. And try to get any fees for shipping, installation, and haul-away waived.

Extended warranties

Getting hit with a pitch to buy an extended warranty at checkout has been a top annoyance in past surveys, and the majority of subscribers who bought a major appliance said their retailer at least suggested they buy one. About a quarter of major-appliance buyers did.

We don't recommend extended warranties.

Shopping tip:Eighty-five percent of our large-appliance shoppers were encouraged to buy a warranty; P.C. Richard & Son, a New York area regional chain, proved to be the pushiest. But our research shows that repairs during the extended warranty period often cost roughly the same as the warranty. A better bet: Check out Consumer Reports' brand-repair Ratings, which appear in the buying guides.

   

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Appliance stores Ratings

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