In the economy today, it’s important to be a savvy spender. No matter if you’re buying a new pair of shoes or a new car, you want to get the best deal and most bang for your buck, so more than likely you’ll shop around before committing.
Recently I did the most comparison shopping I’ve ever done in my life. My fiancé and I bought a house just a few weeks ago, and unfortunately it didn’t come furnished with appliances.
If you didn’t already know, appliances are SUPER expensive and we needed all of them. My first thought was to go to the big-box appliance stores and check out what they have and get a feel for the prices, so that’s what we did.
After the first store, we walked out almost in tears. $2000 for a refrigerator, $700 for a range, and almost $1500 for a washer and dryer combo! Where were we going to come up with $4200 in a matter of weeks? Even if we lowered our standards, and didn’t get the stainless steel appliances we wanted, we were still going to have to finance the purchase because we’re broke. So, now it’s not just a matter of who has the best prices, but also who has the best financing option. This is where the good, the bad, and the ugly come in!
My comparison shopping first started online. For the most part all the prices were in the same ball park. We finally decided on three retail stores to check out: Home Depot, Sears Outlet, and Best Buy. We ended up buying all of our appliances at one of those major retailers and got a great deal with awesome customer service. But I’ll get to that at the end of this post! I wasn’t so lucky in the beginning of this tedious process.
Let’s start with the bad and the ugly.
The Bad: Home Depot
The first store we checked out (and the store I had the highest hopes for) was Home Depot. They were running the 12 months no financing offer and had a 10% off appliance sale. This is the best offer we expected to find, so we were excited to check out their selection. We got to the store at about 8:30pm (the store closes at 10pm) so we had plenty of time to look around, check out the merchandise, and compare sales.
When we walked into the appliance department, a young girl yelled from the opposite side of the department to ask if we needed assistance. We yelled back that we were just browsing, so she nodded and went back to stocking the shelf she was standing by. I was happy she at least acknowledged our presence in her area, so I was still in good spirits.
We walked through the rows of washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ranges to check out the cool features of each one. I found a washer and dryer I liked, but it didn’t have a price anywhere on or around it, and upon further investigation, almost everything was missing prices.
Since we’re on a tight budget and price makes a big difference, we set out to find someone to help us. The girl who originally asked us if we needed help was nowhere to be found now, so we walked down a main aisle peeking in each adjacent aisle hoping to find someone to help us (with no luck).
Eventually, we made it to the front of the store and asked a cashier if someone could help us with appliances, and she said she’d get someone to meet us back there. We waited for about ten minutes, but nobody ever showed up.
We left the store fuming. They lost a $3,000 to $4,000 sale that night! I know it was close to closing time, but it’s no excuse to ignore your customers completely.
The Ugly: Sears Outlet
After my terrible comparison shopping experience with Home Depot, I didn’t want to waste more of my time, so I checked out the Sears Outlet store website. It was really easy to use and I found some really great deals. The banners on the website said: “30-70% Off New, Name-Brand Floor Model Appliances.”
What’s not to love about that, right? Just wait.
Strike #1: When we walked into the store, nobody acknowledged us or asked us if we needed help. We passed four employees while we were browsing, but not one person ever said a word to us.
Strike #2: The store was filthy. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but everything in the store looked shabby, including the merchandise. The appliances were covered in dust, and not just a little bit from a couple days or so — it was a thick layer. Not to mention, I also found a few dead bugs in a refrigerator. Then, my mom almost tripped over a can of Raid that was left lying on the floor. Would it have been too much to clean it up?
Strike #3: Every item had some sort of major damage. Now don’t get me wrong here, I completely understand that Sears Outlet is a discount store selling display models. But for the price of one damaged item in this outlet store, I could buy brand-spanking-new items without the dings and scratches at Home Depot or Best Buy.
I couldn’t believe some of the prices! It almost seemed like false advertising to me. I went in expecting deeply-discounted merchandise, and found most items were only 10-20% lower than the original price.
Once again, I left the store very confused and agitated due to a poor shopping experience. I felt defeated!
But wait, there’s good news! Just a week later, my faith was restored with Ed at Best Buy.
The Good: Best Buy
When I think of Best Buy, I think of quality electronics (we got a stellar deal on a really sweet TV last year), but I don’t immediately think of kitchen appliances. I know they sell them, but I’ve never had a reason to explore that area of the store before now. I’m glad I did!
We walked onto the sales floor and we were promptly greeted by Ed. He asked us if we needed any help finding an appliance, and we said that we were just browsing and comparison shopping. He said: “That’s great! Let me just tell you about our sales and financing options really quick, so you can keep them in mind while you’re looking around.”
He informed us of a package deal they had running until Saturday that could save us an extra $500. Also, we could get an extra 5% off and have no interest for 24 months if we used the Best Buy credit card.
Ca-ching! This was the deal we were looking for, and it was less expensive than all the other stores we visited — even before the extra 5% savings.
Needless to say, we told Ed we were ready to buy. He was happy and enthusiastic to help us. After we applied for the credit card, Ed set up the FREE delivery and gave us the run down on everything we would need to install the appliances properly. He also told us how to keep our new stainless steel looking beautiful and smudge free (hint: Pledge), which I thought was awesome!
By the way, they don’t sell Pledge at Best Buy, so Ed wasn’t making an add-on sale. He was simply being helpful.
I cannot tell you how important his great customer service was with this daunting task. Ed was knowledgeable, polite, and above all — helpful. Best Buy had the whole package, in my opinion. Home Depot and Sears Outlet could really use a lesson from them, and then maybe they would have happy customers (like me) spending thousands of dollars in their stores.
Have you ever had to purchase expensive products like appliances? How was your comparison shopping experience? Good? Bad? Or just plain, old ugly? How important is customer service to you? Would you pay more to get better service?
Let us know in the comments below!