When buying appliances, think not only about the price

When you are making appliance purchases, consider more delivery and installation, as it can be a big trouble to return a new defective refrigerator back to the store. You will need help with delivery and installation.

Delivery and installation are the most difficult parts of many transactions. Delivery services regularly damage floors and doorways, and workers often cause water damage and even floods by fixing dishwashers and clothes washers in an improper way. Incorrect installation of gas appliances is frequent and nerve-wracking.

Usually many stores use overestimated prices to give the wrong impression about the actual price and thus their customers pay too much.

Luckily, we know the stores that serve their customers in a proper way, and by using our simple shopping tips you'll pay the lowest prices.

First of all choose the models you want to buy. There are some good sources that provide independent buying advice. Consumer Reports often checks appliances on a range of quality issues, as well as reliability, and gives advice on the benefits and implications of configurations, designs, features, and options. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star program provides lists of and energy-usage data for certified appliances. Smart salespeople can also be a great sources of buying advice.

You can find good stores in Checkbook's ratings visiting www.checkbook.org/inquirer/appliances.

You wish helpful buying advice, careful and immediate delivery, and a proper installation, but you don't want to pay an overestimated price for them. And you don't have to. Highly rated stores usually make prices lower than, their low-rated competitors.

Here are our tips about making excellent purchases:

Sale prices are not always the lowest ones. The sale prices usually aren't special prices at all. At some stores, these sales never end. It's worth your time to look for the lower price. For example, the highest price quoted by local retailers for an LG refrigerator (model LMXS30776S) was $3,800; the lowest price was $2,834, a tidy savings of $966.

For a Whirlpool electric range (model WFE540H0EB), prices ranged from $736 to $1,216, a difference of $480.

Making five or six phone calls or checking several website can save hundreds of dollars.

Call or email for price quotes. A bad-for-consumers policy of appliance manufacturers 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 get the best prices on the biggest 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 by email, and stores especially independent stores - often quote appliance prices less than MAP to close a deal.

Mention that you're contacting multiple stores for price quotes. At independent stores, our shoppers found that this often spurred discounts, waivers of delivery and installation fees, or both. Getting big chains to be flexible took significantly more effort, but when our shoppers waited on hold to speak with appliance-department sales managers, they sometimes secured better deals.

If you need delivery and installation services, settle upon prices for that work together with prices for the appliances. Remember that some companies don’t install dishwashers, and others don't connect appliances to gas lines. Some delivery crews don't do anything but move appliances into place and plug them in.

It will cost extra $100 or $150 to fit up clothes washers, gas stoves, or dishwashers. Take these expenses into consideration, when you choose the appliance.

Most shoppers deal with stores that provide complete installation services. And they are right as it's better to have a single vendor responsible for making sure the appliance arrives in good condition and is installed in proper way. If something goes wrong, that arrangement eliminates disputes over who is at fault.

If you know your installation will be unusual, hire a trusted plumber to do the work