When you move you expect to buy things like a new trash can and sink drain. You might have to buy a washing machine and dryer (we did) if the sellers take theirs with them. You rarely need a new refrigerator in a new home but we quickly discovered our refrigerators were not working properly. Fortunately we'd recently purchased a refrigerator in New Hampshire and knew of all the refrigerator styles available, we wanted the French door style.
Lessons Learned About Buying a Refrigerator
When I went to pick out our replacement refrigerator in New Hampshire, there was a lot of pent up frustration. We'd just been through 5 or 6 service calls over several months, and were tired of living without a freezer.
So I made some of the most common mistakes you can make when buying a refrigerator:
- Didn't buy my refrigerator on sale – because we had a voucher from the warranty company covering about 90% of the refrigerator cost. This is a mistake based on recent research showing refrigerator prices fluctuate widely, and you should wait for one of the sales commonly held over holiday weekends like Memorial Day or July 4th. (View price graph in Researching Refrigerator Styles & More)
- Never checked quality ratings or repair history – as I had to purchase the new refrigerator at SEARs to use my voucher. I simply went to SEARs and picked among the French door refrigerator styles shown on the sales floor. This is a common mistake, to buy a refrigerator based on how it looks versus researching key factors the way you would check gas mileage and repair record when buying a car.
Buying a Refrigerator is More than Refrigerator Styles
So this article provides a summary of the steps taken to buy a refrigerator the right way, although I didn't always complete the steps in the recommended sequence. So here are the steps I took:
1. Googled “how to buy a refrigerator” and printed off the 5 best articles found on page 1 of the search results, to read in the car as while we drove to Sedona, AZ (Wednesday).
2. Stopped to see which refrigerator styles my husband and I both like. At Best Buy, we discovered a new refrigerator style, a 4-door refrigerator Samsung (RF32FMQDBSR, shown above) with the option of using one lower compartment as either a refrigerator or freezer (Sunday).
3. Called a local appliance store to check on their hours, and see if they carried our preferred brand/model. That's where I learned they don't sell Samsung because their infrastructure for repair parts and service isn't adequately developed yet (Sunday).
Through my handyman business, I know that when you're buying any appliance, the best people to talk to are the local companies that sell and service the appliances, because they know where the problems are across thousands of appliances.
4. Wrote up preliminary list of refrigerator requirements to research (Read: 5 Tips for Buying a Refrigerator (Monday).
5. Visited Spencer's Appliances in Mesa, AZ to see what refrigerator styles they offered, that were similar to the Samsung (Monday).
6. Completed review of “How to Buy a Refrigerator” articles, and published Researching Refrigerator Sizes, Styles and More (Tuesday). The reality is refrigerators run constantly (7×24) so they're more likely to have problems than any other applicance.
For quality reviews, here are the websites you can use:
– ConsumerReports.org, but you need to buy at least a one month subscription for this information.
– Refrigerators.Reviewed.com, offers ratings similar to Consumer Reports, and it's free.
– Better Business Bureau (BBB.org), for your state will provide a rating and summary of complaints filed against local companies.
– Yelp has many reviews (organized by store location) but honestly, the majority of the reviews are negative as that's how people vent and very few take time to leave compliments.
7. Talked to several appliance stores in NH. One doesn't carry Samsung for the same reasons, while the other does carry Samsung. They told me Samsung's repair infrastructure has improved over the last year, and should be pretty good in a few years. Also found that Costco doesn't carry Samsung refrigerators.
8. Talked to Spencer's TV & Appliances, to confirm they service the appliances they sell, as this says they're committed to the customer's experience and long-term relationship. They do, and the company structure to do this was interesting:
– Year 1 warranty is covered by the manufacturer, and you call Spencer's directly for service.
– 3 year extended warranty (costs $119) and while you can call Spencer's directly if that's your preference, here's how they deliver service. The family that owns Spencer's also owns these 2 companies, which provide their extended warranty and repair services.
– Goldwing Appliance Factory Service, which has a BBB rating of F (6 complaints, 2 closed in last 12 months) plus 2 negative reviews.
– Centurion Home Shield Service Contract, which also has a BB rating of F (6 complaints in last 3 years, 1 closed in last 12 months).
What bothers me the most is Spencer's is not taking customer complaints seriously enough. Owning a handyman business for 8 years (My Handyman of Southern NH has a BBB rating of A+) with more than 2,000 homeowners, I understand a small number of customers will never be satisfied but you need to respond to all of them.
9. Ordered my new refrigerator from Spencer's, plus the extended warranty. My experience tells me there will be problems with the ice maker (hopefully within the first 4 years), and this feature regardless of refrigerator styles, is important to me. While I don't like buying extra warranties, I do believe the refrigerator with it's newer features are more error prone, and warrant the extra insurance.
The one thing I wasn't happy with here, was the extra charge for delivery. It's only $30 and I understand it's to help defray the cost of the delivery company, but it doesn't feel right.
10. Scheduled delivery for a week out, so I can find a home for the downstairs refrigerator which still works with some gentle nudging.
11. Waiting to decide how to handle the “black side” that will be visible, as they do neglect to tell you that only the front of the refigerator is stainless. Why they don't paint the sides a matching gray versus black, is one of those things I attribute to “guys don't pay attention to the details”. Last time, when I moved the refrigerator, I actually extended the wall about 3 inches to hide the black side!
Hope you like our new checklist … and we'd love to hear your stories about what you love (or hate) about your new (old) refrigerator.