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Abt, Independents Top Major Survey

By ALAN WOLF -- TWICE, 7/21/2008

YONKERS, N.Y. — Abt Electronics was voted the best place to shop for major appliances, according to a survey by Consumers Union of 20,000 subscribers to its Consumer Reports magazine.

The non-profit consumer advocacy group said Abt copped top kudos for its wide product selection, although independent dealers as a whole tend to provide the best service and "shopping ease," which includes the ability to maneuver around displays and find sales help, the survey showed.

Indeed, "independent stores" overall placed second on the ranking, followed by regional independent P.C. Richard & Son, Lowe's, Sears, hhgregg, Best Buy and The Home Depot.

Lowe's generally outscored The Home Depot for product selection, shopping ease and speed of checkout, while Sears was the lone retailer to score below average on pricing.

The ratings were based on the experiences of 20,216 subscribers who reportedly made 35,521 majap purchases last year.

In a separate survey on product support, based on nearly 15,000 calls to retailers and manufacturers for repairs or service, independents again topped the ratings on phone wait times, knowledgeable and courteous support staff, in-home service and problem resolution.

Sears and its private-label Kenmore brand tied for second place, followed by Lowe's.

Frigidaire finished next to last (ahead of Whirlpool's Jenn-Air brand) due to the lowest rating for problem resolution, while Maytag, which came in just above Frigidaire, received the lowest rating for in-home service. Whirlpool said the problems carried over from before it acquired the company and have since been addressed.

©2008 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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