6 strategies to save on electronics and appliances

November 18, 2015

Let's face it – buying electronics and appliances can seriously break the bank. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge and learn the "game" major retailers play when shopping for these items. These tips will help you get the most bang for your buck.

6 strategies to save on electronics and appliances

1. Stay on top of fluctuating prices

Major retailers often make a big deal out of their 30-day price guarantees, proclaiming that if the price for a product drops within 30 days of your purchase, the store will refund the difference in price. What these retailers don't mention is that they know that few shoppers watch the price after they've made their purchase.

Not long ago, watching a price meant returning to the store. But thanks to the Internet, you can beat the major retailers at their own game by watching the price online. If the price goes down because of a sale, you'll get some of your green back.

2. Ask salespeople if they work on commission

Salespeople are legally obligated to tell you the truth about this. If you're looking for an honest opinion about a computer – not just some spiel that will put quick dough in the salesman's pocket – do your research at a retailer whose employees do not work on commission.

But sometimes that spiel can mean a deal, since salespeople working on commission usually have the flexibility to slash prices. If they work on commission, ask for a discount – just be wary of the advice that they're giving you.

3. Sniff out spiffs

Retailers often offer their salespeople "spiffs," or special incentives, to sell products that are not selling quickly enough. While commissions might already make salespeople biased toward the more expensive products, spiffs encourage them to sell an unpopular or brand-new (read: no customer feedback) product. If you've done your homework online or by talking to others, you'll figure out in a hurry which ones are being pushed.

4. You may have more warranty than you think

Salespeople have been known to downplay a manufacturer's warranty if they think they can sell you their own warranty. You're much better off with a warranty that comes from the company, not the store.

Ask to see a copy of the manufacturer's warranty, and read over it carefully. You may find that it covers problems for quite a bit longer than the salesperson would have you believe. Refrigerator compressors, the most expensive replacement part on any fridge, often come with a manufacturer's warranty for up to five years.

5. Skip extended warranties

Salespeople are good at making two- to five-year warranties sound worth the extra money, but some of these plans can cost you hundreds of dollars! Here's what they don't tell you: proft margins on electronics are only about 10 percent.

Extended warranties are one way that retailers and manufacturers pick up the slack. The repair rate for the first three years of ownership for most electronics is less than 10 percent. That means 90 percent of the time, all the warranty money goes to the warranty provider.

One extended warranty that you might actually go for is one for a laptop computer – laptops have a three-year repair rate of 33 percent. Consider a one- to three-year extension of the standard one-year warranty. Buy the extended warranty from the computer manufacturer, however – this will give you tech support too.

6. Have your dealer do the installation

When something goes wrong with a new appliance – such as the new dishwasher doesn't work – the appliance dealer might say it's the installer's fault, while the installer might say it's the retailer's responsibility. You can prevent this kind of hassle by having your retailer also do the installation – most do offer this service. When the same business is both selling and installing your appliances, it's pretty much on the hook for any problems that crop up.

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