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    Issue 18 July - August 2000 I S S N   0119-7088

Buying a Major Appliance

By Gary Foreman (

"Do we have enough information to make a decision?" John asked Mary. They we're just sitting down at the kitchen table to discuss the new stove that they needed to buy. Mary brought out some notes and copies of product reviews. "I think that we're probably pretty close" she replied.

They had done quite a bit of preparation to get to this point. When the stove gave out the temptation was to head out and buy a new one pronto. But they realized that wasn't the best long term decision.

They did go to the store. Not to buy, but to see what features and models were available. On the way home the Smiths stopped at the local library and read product reviews from consumer magazines.

After discussing what features that they really needed to have and which ones would be nice, they compared which models had the best combination of features at their price range. Since they needed a new stove fairly quickly (after all, there's only so much you can cook in a microwave or crockpot!) they used the library to check ads for the last month on the models that they thought that they might buy. Mary even made a list with the store, model number, price and date.

John looked at Mary's list and commented that a specific model looked like it might be the one that they should buy. Mary put down her coffee. "I thought so, too. But then I called a couple of repair shops and asked what they thought of that company's stoves. Two of the three I called said that they had more than a few repair calls on that brand.

"I think that we should consider this model." she said as she pointed to one entry on her list. "The consumer magazines rated it well. I asked around and found that both Joan and Susie have similar models. They both really seemed happy with them."

John seemed convinced. "Guess we should start shopping then. How's this for a gameplan?" He began to outline a systematic approach to their purchase.

First they would go to the major stores that carried the stove. They didn't plan to buy, only to narrow the field. In each store they talked with a salesperson. They asked for the salesman's opinion of the model they expected to buy and other similar models. John took an interest in checking energy efficiency labels and what utilities hookups would be necessary. They also asked about the store's return policy and any extended warrantees that might be available.

Mary and John quizzed the salesperson about delivery and installation costs. Mary made sure to ask about any upcoming sales. She probed to see if there was room to negotiate on price. She was surprised at how honest some answers were. They also took the salesperson's card for future reference.

Two shopping trips later....John and Mary are talking earnestly with the saleslady at a local appliance store. "OK, so if we buy tonight you'll throw in free delivery. We're talking about a new unit, in the box, right?" John and Mary are careful to make sure that there's no misunderstanding.

After reaching an agreement, the saleslady brings up the topic of an extended warranty. Fortunately, the Smiths have had a chance to review a copy of that contract that they picked up on an earlier visit. They were able to make an informed, rather than a snap decision.

When the new stove arrived they would make sure that the right model was delivered. They would fill out and mail in the warranty card. After reading the owners manual they would file it with the receipt. They also made a habit of playing with all the features to make sure that they worked properly.

After completing the paperwork at the store, John and Mary drive home comfortable that they have made a prudent decision for their family. It had taken a couple of days to make the purchase, but in their hearts they knew that they had done the best job possible of buying just the stove that would serve the Smiths well for years to come.

Gary is the Editor of The Dollar Stretcher website You'll find the web's largest collection of free time and money saving articles. Learn how to live better on the money you already make!

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