Is now the right time to buy new appliances? Sears offers buyer-protection program

Consumer Reports News: July 06, 2009 02:32 PM

Using lowest-price guarantees and haggling are just some of the money-saving tactics almost 25,000 Consumer Reports subscribers used during their most recent experiences buying small and major appliances, according to our new report on buying appliances.

Read the full story from the August 2009 issue, which includes ratings of 16 national and regional appliance retailers based on price, selection, service, product quality, staff knowledge and shopping and checkout ease (ratings available to subscribers).

Sears is rolling out its brand-new Sears Buyer Protection Program, its own take on similar efforts from programs from carmakers to lure customers. Effective today, if you use your Citibank-issued Sears card to buy major appliances that cost more than $399, Sears will cover the purchase if you lose your job. The program, which runs through August 1, 2009, will cover the cost of delivery, installation, and service agreements, if you bought those with the appliance(s), says Sears.

According to Sears, if you lose your full-time job 60 days after you buy your qualifying appliance(s) and up to a year from that date, the company will credit a twelfth of the total purchase price to your Sears account each month until you have a new job or the appliance is paid off. (You have to fill out the requisite paperwork, of course.) If you remain unemployed a year after you bought the merchandise, you'll receive a credit to your Sears account for any money remaining on the purchase, claims the retailer. As with any similar offer, you'll need to read all the details about the program.

Constantly changing terms and escalating rates can make using a credit or charge card a risky proposition. Paying cash will help you avoid some of those problems, and, as our survey respondents noted, could get you a discount at independent stores since they won't have to pay credit-card fees.

Our readers they said they prefer in-store to online shopping. Our experts also suggest that you:
• Use a service like to find the lowest price on an item.
• Check the appliance manufacturer's site for rebates and other incentives.
• Look for federal, state, and utility incentives for energy-efficient appliances.
• Decide whether it makes sense to have the item shipped to your home or to pick it up at a retailer's location nearest you.—Gian Trotta | | Twitter | Forums | Facebook

Essential information: Before you buy, find out whether it makes sense to repair your dishwasher, range, refrigerator, vacuum, or washer. If you need a new machine, use our newly updated Kitchen-Planning Guide to save thousands on your next kitchen project. And check out the latest deals on appliances at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy.

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