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Best places to buy appliances

23,000 readers rate the best stores for price, selection, and more

Consumer Reports magazine: July 2013
Photo: Courtney Keating

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More shoppers are clicking the “buy” button for appliances: Roughly twice as many subscribers bought coffeemakers, food processors, and even some large appliances online as in 2007, according to our latest Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Survey.

Low prices and strong service helped put one retailer (which sells mostly online and via TV and phone) up there with the leading online retailer among the top stores for small appliances. Twenty percent of small-appliance buyers made their purchase online, our survey shows. But walk-in stores dominate even more for the big stuff. Only 7 percent bought major appliances online, up from 3 percent in 2007.

Even if you don’t buy online, you can browse your way to a deal. More than a third of major-appliance shoppers who successfully haggled for a better price had trolled the Web for bargaining power.

Superb selection is among the pluses that landed one Chicago-based electronics retailer and its 80,000-square-foot showroom on our large-appliance winners’ list. It’s the only store in that category that matched independent local retailers for service—an area where mom-and-pop stores still win for small appliances. Indeed, service heavily influenced how satisfied subscribers were with major-appliance stores overall.

Here are more ways you can succeed in your shopping:

Go online to prepare. More than 90 percent of our readers who researched online said doing so was helpful.

Feel free to haggle. People in our survey had something to show for it: a 74 percent success rate for a major appliance and 66 percent for small appliances.

Don’t get lured into extra coverage. One retailer that which received mediocre selection and service scores was among the pushiest when it came to extended warranties.

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