When it's time to buy a dishwasher and fridge for your new kitchen, think out of the box--out of the big-box store, that is. You'll probably be more satisfied buying large appliances at an independent mom-and-pop retailer.
And if you're in the market for a small appliance such as a vacuum cleaner, consider skipping stores entirely and clicking on Amazon.com, the single best source for small appliances.
Those are the main findings from the new Appliance Store Shopper Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, in which 13,000 readers shared their experiences involving 25,000 purchases at leading retailers and independent stores.
The research also shows that readers sometimes wilted under sales pressure and probably could have saved hundreds of dollars by using shopping strategies that few said they employed. The savviest appliance shoppers do the following:
Look online. Only 26 percent of survey respondents visited retailer or manufacturer Web sites. Even when you plan to buy the product in a store, not online, those Web sites have become an indispensable source of promotions, rebates, closeout specials, and other limited-time offers that could turn a so-so deal into a better one. We found cash-back awards of $100 to $600 on kitchen and laundry appliances (P.C. Richard & Son, General Electric, LG, Maytag); offers of free laundry detergent for one to three years (H.H. Gregg, Frigidaire); free next-day delivery (Lowe's); 0 percent financing (Sears); free accessories (KitchenAid); and free removal and disposal of your old appliance (Lowe's).
Do sufficient homework. Ten percent of those who bought a major appliance spent considerably more than they budgeted, mostly because they underestimated prices or had to trade up to get the features they wanted.
Stand up to pushy salespeople. Although most respondents shopped with a specific brand or model in mind, salespeople persuaded around 20 percent of them to buy something different, sometimes costly accessories and a more expensive model. Large-appliance buyers spent between 10 and 15 percent more than expected …