How to Get the Best Deal on Appliances
Last updated in November 2015
You want sound buying advice, careful and prompt delivery, and a trouble-free installation—but you don’t want to pay a steep price for them. Fortunately, you don’t have to. We find that highly rated stores often quote prices as low as, or even lower than, their low-rated competitors.
To compare prices, our researchers—without revealing their affiliation with Checkbook—called the retailers listed on our Ratings Tables for price quotes for 26 appliance models. We used these prices to calculate the price comparison scores reported on the table below. These scores show how each retailer’s prices compare to the average price for all surveyed companies. The scores are adjusted so that the average price comparison score is $100. Prices for a retailer with a score of $105, then, were five percent higher than the average; prices for a retailer with a score of $95 were five percent lower than the average.
|How Local Stores Compare for Appliance Prices1||Price comparison score ($100=average)|
|Graeves Auto & Appliance||$95|
|M & M Appliance||$95|
|Glebe Radio & Appliances||$99|
|Appliance Distributors Unlimited||$101|
|Bray & Scarff||$102|
|Fisher's Maytag Home Appliance||$111|
|Appliance Builder Wholesalers||$112|
|1 See text for description of our price comparison score and research methods. For each company, the price comparison score is intended to suggest the price a customer might expect to pay for appliances that would cost $100 at the "average" company. The score is based on prices quoted to CHECKBOOK telephone shoppers who shopped for 26 appliances, including delivery, haul-away of old appliances, installation, and any needed installation kits.|
Note that we included stores’ quoted fees to deliver and install each appliance we shopped, to haul away an old appliance, and for any needed parts or installation kits. If a store told our shoppers it does not provide installation services for the type of appliance we shopped, we added our estimate of the average price charged by reasonably priced local plumbers to do the work.
The table below lists the lowest and highest prices quoted by local stores (including national chains) for each appliance model (again, including costs for delivery, haul-away, and installation) and the prices of several large chains. We also list the lowest price we could find at online-only stores.
|Low, Average, and High Prices Quoted by Stores for Appliances1||Lowest price at local stores (including chains)||Average price at local stores (including chains)||Highest price at local stores (including chains)||Lowest price found online||Prices quoted by chains|
|Best Buy||Bray & Scarff||Costco||hhgregg||Home Depot||Lowe's||Sears|
|LG LMXS30776S refrigerator in stainless steel||$3,180||$3,496||$3,695||$2,749||$3,629||$3,695||$3,624||$3,607||$3,625|
|LG LRG3085ST gas range in stainless steel||$1,330||$1,501||$1,685||$1,274||$1,522||$1,330||$1,509||$1,566||$1,582|
|LG LDF7774ST dishwasher in stainless steel||$914||$976||$1,105||$904||$980||$967||$953||$1,105|
|Maytag MFT2776DEM refrigerator in stainless steel||$2,280||$2,473||$2,726||$2,031||$2,494||$2,300||$2,474||$2,437||$2,726|
|Maytag MGR8850DS gas range in stainless steel||$1,050||$1,240||$1,406||$1,124||$1,324||$1,050||$1,208||$1,406||$1,322|
|Maytag MDB8969SDM dishwasher in stainless steel||$772||$868||$999||$854||$999||$916||$890||$772||$808||$823|
|Frigidaire FGHB2866PF refrigerator in stainless steel||$1,850||$2,038||$2,330||$1,624||$1,929||$1,995||$1,943||$1,915|
|Frigidaire FGGF3054MF gas range in stainless steel||$1,015||$1,115||$1,260||$874||$1,048||$1,121|
|Frigidaire FGID2474QF dishwasher in stainless steel||$745||$803||$895||$712||$780||$890||$777||$808||$815|
|GE GFWR2705HMC clothes washer in metallic carbon||$969||$1,112||$1,401||$1,024||$1,110||$1,069||$1,110||$1,095||$1,111|
|GE GFDR275EHMC clothes dryer in metallic carbon||$998||$1,119||$1,377||$924||$1,137||$1,084||$1,140||$1,121||$1,149|
|Whirlpool Duet WFW81HEDW clothes washer in white||$836||$946||$1,173||$973||$840||$969||$999||$840||$836||$841|
|Whirlpool Duet WFW81HEDW clothes dryer in white||$851||$945||$1,173||$853||$867||$894||$1,029||$870||$851||$879|
|Samsung WA48H7400AW clothes washer in white||$685||$800||$1,063||$784||$750||$820||$750||$751|
|Samsung DV48H7400EW clothes dryer in white||$685||$803||$1,063||$674||$777||$850||$780||$761||$789|
|Maytag Maxima MHW7100DW clothes washer in white||$974||$1,118||$1,358||$1,014||$1,059||$1,090||$1,020||$1,016||$1,021|
|Maytag Maxima MED7100DW clothes dryer in white||$1,009||$1,116||$1,358||$914||$1,074||$1,120||$1,059||$1,031||$1,059|
|GE GSS25GGHBB refrigerator in black||$1,091||$1,208||$1,347||$1,098||$1,110||$1,104||$1,091||$1,105|
|GE JB650DFBB electric range in black||$575||$730||$860||$574||$658||$764||$740||$575||$651||$674|
|GE ADT521PGFBS dishwasher in black||$499||$592||$715||$667||$620||$583||$613||$715|
|Whirlpool WRS576FIDB refrigerator in black||$1,271||$1,375||$1,498||$1,225||$1,290||$1,415||$1,284||$1,271||$1,285|
|Whirlpool WFE540H0EB electric range in black||$831||$917||$1,032||$804||$838||$944||$920||$846||$831||$854|
|Whirlpool WDF760SADB dishwasher in black||$620||$715||$819||$702||$710||$819||$620||$800||$673||$703||$755|
|Frigidaire FGHS2631PE refrigerator in black||$1,104||$1,221||$1,469||$1,054||$1,110||$1,104||$1,211||$1,105|
|Frigidaire FFEF3018LB electric range in black||$503||$646||$790||$663||$503||$576||$621||$566|
|Frigidaire FGID2466QB dishwasher in black||$450||$615||$719||$469||$620||$583||$663||$664|
|1 Some prices rounded to the nearest whole dollar. Refrigerator prices include icemakers. All prices include delivery, haul-away of old appliance, installation, and required parts for installation. If a store told our shoppers it does not provide installation services for the type of appliance we shopped, we added our estimate of the average price charged by reasonably priced local plumbers to do the work. See article text for additional details on how our shoppers collected these prices.|
Here is a rundown of what we found:
Don’t assume sale prices are low prices.
The sale prices you’ll find at many local stores and on most websites probably aren’t special prices at all. Unfortunately, at most stores these sales never end.
A 10-month-long investigation by Checkbook’s mystery shoppers found that many stores use deceptive practices, especially when selling appliances. We found that the sale prices at many well-known stores—even heavily discounted sale prices—are more often than not the usual prices. Sadly, even if the sign says “Save 60%,” it’s probably meaningless and probably not a good deal.
Although general price competition for appliances is less pronounced than for many other products, it’s still worth your time to shop around.
The price comparison scores among local stores range from $93 to $112, which indicate far less variation among stores’ average prices than for other types of local service providers we cover.
But, when looking at price differences for individual models, considerable savings are possible. For example, the highest price quoted by local retailers for an LG refrigerator (model LMXS30776S) was $3,695; the lowest price was $3,180—a tidy savings of $515. For a Samsung clothes washer (model WA48H7400AW), prices ranged from $685 to $1,063, a difference of $378.
Because it is easy to obtain price quotes from salespeople at appliance stores and company websites, consumers willing to make four or five phone calls could save several hundred dollars. And if you are replacing all the appliances in your kitchen, it’s well worth the time to shop around.
You don’t have to pay more for superior service.
Begin shopping with stores that receive high scores from area consumers. For each appliance model we priced, we received at least one low price quote from a top-rated store. In fact, stores that rate high on service were as likely to quote low prices as stores that rate low for service.
Don’t assume online-only retailers are less expensive than local stores.
The table above reports the lowest prices we could find at online-only stores for the appliance models we shopped (plus delivery fees and estimated installation costs).
Although we often found low prices online, you can’t count on the Internet to deliver the best appliance deals. Our shoppers often found better deals—sometimes much better deals—at local retailers.
Even if you don’t want to buy online, make sure you’re paying a low price by comparing the prices at local stores to prices from online sellers—but don’t bother checking prices at Amazon. Our shoppers attempted to use Amazon to shop for appliances but gave up in frustration after sifting through page after page of separate listings for the same appliance models. Among online-only stores we shopped, we found that AppliancesConnection.com most often offered low prices.
If you’re considering an online appliance purchase, see our article “Should You Buy Appliances Online?” for additional advice.
Big chains don’t necessarily offer the lowest prices.
Among local stores and chains, Costco’s price comparison score ($93) is the lowest—but just barely. Several other retailers—Best Buy ($95), Graeves Auto & Appliance ($95), Home Depot ($95), M & M Appliance ($95), and Sterling Appliance ($96)—achieved price comparison scores of $96 or lower. Lowe’s ($97) and Sears’ ($99) prices were also slightly lower than average. Bray & Scarff ($102), hhgregg ($104), and BJ’s ($107) all quoted higher-than-average prices.
Call or email stores to get price quotes.
A bad-for-consumers policy of appliance manufacturers (and manufacturers of many other big-ticket items) is the use of “minimum advertised prices,” or MAP. Designed to boost profits for both manufacturers and large retailers by squelching price competition, these policies require retailers to advertise product prices at or above preset minimums. Because of MAP, you won’t obtain the best prices on most major brands of appliances from sales circulars and websites.
But MAP policies don’t apply to prices quoted to customers in person, over the phone, or via email, and stores—particularly independent stores—often quote appliance prices less than MAP to close a deal.
When calling or emailing stores, mention that you’re contacting multiple stores for price quotes. The best strategy is to initiate a competitive bidding process.
The only way to get the lowest possible price is to make salespeople offer their best prices upfront—which they do only if they know you will buy elsewhere for a better price. At independent stores, our shoppers found that informing sales staff that they were getting price quotes from multiple stores often spurred discounts, waivers of delivery and installation fees, or both. Getting big chains to be flexible took considerably more effort, but when our shoppers waited and waited and waited on hold to speak with appliance-department sales managers, they sometimes secured better deals.
Our view is that the best approach is to solicit competitive bids. To do this, call four or five retailers (start with those highly rated for quality) and ask to speak to someone with authority to provide discounted pricing. Tell that person the makes and model numbers of the appliances you want, explain that you are calling multiple companies to solicit bids, make it clear that you will ask each store only once for its best price—and will buy from the store that offers the best deal.
Don’t be shy about using this method. Be polite, businesslike, and let stores know that you get competitive bids whenever you make major purchases. Most appliance salespeople are accustomed to providing discounted pricing when asked.
As we stress below, if you need delivery and installation services, nail down prices for that work along with prices for the appliances.
If the store with the lowest price isn’t the one you prefer, because of convenience or service quality, call the store you prefer and ask it to match the low price.
When comparing prices, take into account fees for delivery, haul-away, and installation.
Some stores include fees for delivery, hauling away old appliances, and installation in the price of the appliance; some charge a flat fee for delivery and installation; and some charge separate fees for each service. Some retailers charge considerably steep fees for these services, quickly turning a seemingly good deal into a not-so-good one. For example, some stores quoted our shoppers prices of $250 or more to install dishwashers and $200 or more to install gas ranges.
To avoid add-on-fee surprises, ask for separate prices for each of the services you need—then you’ll know whether it could cost less to have an independent pro do the work instead. And if you don’t need delivery or installation mention it, so the store can adjust its prices accordingly.
Determine what the store will and won’t do when installing appliances.
Some appliance stores have employees (or, more commonly, subcontractors) who can perform any type of appliance installation; but some companies won’t install dishwashers, and others won’t connect appliances to gas lines. Some delivery personnel won’t do anything but move appliances into place and plug them in.
If you buy from a store that doesn’t provide full installation services, and you aren’t comfortable with doing it yourself or with the help of a friend, you’ll have to hire a plumber or appliance repair service. Most reasonably priced plumbers charge around $100 to $150 to hook up clothes washers, gas stoves, or dishwashers. When comparing appliance prices, take these expenses into account.
Many consumers prefer to deal with stores that offer complete installation services, and with good reason. Our view is that it’s better to have a single vendor responsible for making sure the appliance arrives in good condition and is properly installed. If something goes wrong, this arrangement eliminates disputes between store and plumber over who is at fault.
If you know your installation will be difficult or unusual, hire a trusted plumber to do the work.
Some installations are complicated. To replace dishwashers, countertops may have to be removed. If you’re replacing an electric appliance with a gas model, or vice-versa, gas lines must be run or removed. If you are replacing very old appliances, you may need to install new pipe and connections. Most plumbers can handle all these jobs. And if you’re adding an electric clothes dryer to a new space or to an old room that isn’t wired adequately, an electrician will be able to install a new circuit and connect the appliance to it.
Ask about installation kits.
Extra parts must be purchased to install many appliances. When shopping for the appliance, ask stores about prices for any additional parts needed to install the unit (often called “installation kits”). Note that our shoppers often found it difficult to obtain accurate price information for installation kits from major chain stores, especially when shopping online.
If a contractor is handling your appliance purchases, make sure you are getting a good deal.
When pricing remodeling jobs, general contractors usually work out an appliance budget (often called an allowance) with their customers, and then use that allowance to select models to purchase and install. We have no problem with an arrangement like this, but check prices yourself to make sure you can’t do significantly better. If you do find opportunities for big savings, ask the contractor to buy from the low-priced retailer—and adjust your contract price accordingly. You may, in fact, discover that you are indeed able to find substantially lower prices on many appliances, in part because, when calculating budgets and bids for customers, some remodelers mark up the prices they pay their retail and wholesale sources, often by a lot.