How to navigate appliance ‘sales’ and get the best deal

WASHINGTON — Prices for major appliances can be deceiving when advertising is affected by manufacturers’ rules and stores always seem to be having a “sale.”

A nine-month investigation by Washington Consumers’ Checkbook found it can be difficult to determine the real prices for washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators.

“At Sears, for example, those appliances were on sale all the time, or almost all the time,” says Checkbook Executive Editor Kevin Brasler. “At Home Depot and Lowe’s, they were on sale 40 to 50 percent of the time.”

Advertised prices aren’t always the lowest prices a store will offer because of sale ad rules set by manufacturers. Brasler recommends calling or emailing a store directly with inquiries.

“Say, ‘Look, I’m shopping around; this is the appliance I want. I want it delivered and installed — whatever — what’s your lowest price?’”

Brasler says the extra effort will pay off.

“You’ll see significant savings from even those bogus sale prices you see at the big chains.”

When getting price quotes, be sure to ask specifically about whether there are additional charges for delivery, removal, installation or installation kits.

More Checkbook recommendations:

  • Skip extended warranties.
  • Pay by credit card in case you need to dispute a problem.
  • Realize highly-rated stores are just as likely to quote low prices.
  • Plan to hire a good plumber for complicated or unusual installations.
  • Don’t assume you’ll find cheaper prices online or at big chain retailers.

Also, get everything in writing, such as the appliance brand and model number, the salesperson’s contact information, delivery and installation charges and expected delivery date.

Checkbook is opening its rankings of area appliance stores to readers for a limited time.

Washington Consumers' Checkbook advice for appliance shopping

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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