How to Be a Smarter Shopper?
Try before you buy
Online shopping has steadily increased over the years. Forty-three percent of small appliances are now purchased online, up from 25 percent three years ago. Buying major appliances online has also increased, to 14 percent from 11 percent in that same time frame.
But even shoppers who buy online like to go a store to touch and see the appliance they’re considering. More than one in three major appliance shoppers in our survey who ended up buying online went to a walk-in store first to check out the products.
Haggle to save
Too many shoppers leave money on the table when they forgo haggling, because it often works. Thirty percent of major-appliance shoppers haggled for a better price on their purchase, and 72 percent of them were successful, saving a median of $98. Only 5 percent of small-appliance shoppers haggle, but when they do their success rate is just as good as major-appliance hagglers, and they save a median of $40.
Simply asking for a lower price is still the most commonly used haggling technique among successful negotiators. Checking out prices found at other retailers and referring to them was also found to be helpful.
Few online major-appliance shoppers attempt to haggle—either by phone or by using the chat window—but when they do, they’re almost as successful and the amount they save is virtually the same as for those shoppers buying from a walk-in store.
Beware the warranty hard sell
One out of every five major-appliance buyers signs up for an extended warranty or service contract. P.C. Richard & Son is the pushiest retailer when it comes to selling such agreements, a dubious distinction that it’s held for several years. But when you’re standing at the checkout counter, it’s difficult to read the small print in an extended warranty or service plan, and Consumer Reports says there are lots of reasons not to buy one.
For starters, some credit cards automatically extend the manufacturer’s warranty free of charge. And manufacturers sometimes cover out-of-warranty products if they break in an unreasonably short time or other consumers are experiencing similar problems. So do your homework before heading out to the store. Your best bet is to buy a brand that does well in CR’s reliability ratings, which can be found on the ratings page of most product categories we test.