As you read this, I'm out shopping for my new kitchen appliances! Remember that old, ugly, semi-dead, off-white refrigerator? Well, it's scheduled to be on its way out tomorrow. Thanks to a little federal stimulus program along with six hours of hard work, I've earned myself rebates towards a new refrigerator and dishwasher.
If you know me at all, you won't be surprised that I'm not waltzing into the nearest Sears or Home Depot to grab the first appliance that catches my eye! Since reserving the rebates, I've spent the past two weeks researching stores to find the best possible deals. I knew I needed to get my facts together quickly because there is only a small window in which I can use my rebates (April 16-25). By going into all of the major stores in my area (Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, Fry's, Best Buy) and speaking face-to-face with the employees, I've received a ton of useful and honest information. Let's look at what I've learned along the way!
There are five major questions that you need to ask when buying an appliance:
1. Is it what I want/ an upgrade for my space? Well, duh. Make a list of requirements for your appliance and stick to them no matter what special deals and rebates you are offered. [My refrigerator list includes: freezer bottom, drawer without wires, ice maker included in freezer, stainless or stainless look, no black on exterior, final price under $1,000. My dishwasher list includes: stainless or stainless look, integrated controls preferred, handle preferred, options for storage of larger items, under $500.]
How much? Watch out for those tricky extras!
2. Installation? Refrigerators are usually free, but dishwashers, ovens, and over-the-range microwaves all usually have extra fees. I came across a range of prices for dishwasher installation during my research: $99 Lowe's/ $80 Fry's/ $120 Best Buy/ $130-180 Sears/ $99 Home Depot.
3. Delivery? Another range of prices: $0 Lowe's (with promotion)/ $60 Fry's/ $30 Best Buy/ $0 (with $65 rebate) Sears/ $0 Home Depot. Most places charge one delivery fee per home, but make sure to ask when you're buying more than one item.
4. Parts? There will usually be small add-ons for water valves or installation kits. These extra part kits can range between $12-30 and the stores are required to sell them to you so that the installation is up to code. The Lowe's employee told me that I could use the one I have (if up to code) and return the one I'm required to buy.
5. What is the total and how much would it be at another store*? I was excited to hear that Sears was having 30% off of Energy Star appliances during the rebate period... but not so excited when I started looking closely at the prices!
Dishwasher X at Sears: $800 with 30% off= $560 + $150 install +$10 parts= $720
Dishwasher X at Lowe's: $580 with 10% off= $522 + $99 install +$11 parts= $632
Lowe's might have the smaller sale, but started with a lower price on the product and lower additional fees. I think you can see which store I quickly crossed off of my list!
*Don't forget to pit those stores against each other when they offer to do a price match!
PS Make sure that you're working with a well-informed sales associate when you do ask these questions; I definitely got mixed messages from a few people.