Find the lowest appliance prices the old fashioned way

When shopping for appliances, you can compare all the online ads and circulars you want — but a locally based consumers group advises there’s a better way to increase the odds you’ll end up paying the lowest price possible.

“You actually have to do it the old fashioned way and call or email stores and ask them, ‘What’s your best price for these appliances or this unit that I’m considering?’” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org.

What you might not know about how the appliance business works is that manufacturers control what prices appliance stores are allowed to advertise for items.

“But those stores … can sell them for less than those minimum amounts that the manufacturers have forced upon them,” Brasler notes.

The trick to getting a salesperson to offer you a lower than advertised price, Brasler said, is to give them a reason to give you a deal.

“Tell them: ‘I’m shopping around; I’m going to buy from the place that offers me the lowest price,'” he advised, noting that salespeople at independent stores have more flexibility to offer deals than workers at chains.

Should you pay more for an extended warranty?

“Extended warranties are really bad deals for most consumers,” Brasler said.

Many credit cards will double the manufacturer’s warranty on appliances purchased with their cards — for free. Costco and other stores also offer free extended warranties, which Brasler said tells you that extended warranties being sold by retailers don’t have much value.

Through a special arrangement with Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP.com readers can see Checkbook ratings of local appliance stores for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It provides information to help consumers make smarter choices.

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