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Abt Electronics And Independents Top Consumer Reports' List Of Top Major Appliance Retailers

YONKERS, N.Y., June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Shoppers in the market for new appliances typically want reasonable prices, a good selection, trained help, and a smooth shopping experience. But two recent surveys from the Consumer Reports National Research Center show that no one retailer could deliver all those things.

Consumer Reports did find some cause for hope: Abt Electronics, in the Chicago area, and independent local stores garnered high praise from shoppers who bought major appliances. For small appliances, independent retailers and Costco rated highly among shoppers. But as in past years, topped the list when it came to small-appliances retailers.

Consumer Reports' latest rankings of major and small appliance retailers are based on more than 21,000 respondents to its Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey. Consumer Reports also commissioned a separate, nationally representative Home Gripes survey that asked more than 1,400 homeowners about their experiences shopping at home stores.

"Retailers are one area where no one store or Web site aced every aspect of shopper satisfaction," said Bob Markovich, Home and Yard Editor at Consumer Reports. "Wherever consumers shop, they need to know not only which appliances did best in our tests but which retailer delivers the specific shopping strengths they're looking for."

The Results: Some Retailers Shine Where Others Disappoint

From the surveys, Consumer Reports was able to identify what was most important to most people when shopping and where they were most likely to find it, including:

Low prices are a major mover.

Most respondents to the Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey said they decided on a store because they were looking for low prices. Almost 10 percent of small-appliance shoppers and a third of those shopping for major appliances tried to negotiate for a lower price. The good news: About seven in 10 succeeded to the tune of $50 off their small appliance and $100 off a major one. But the Home Gripes survey highlighted an annoying gotcha: Excessive delivery or installation costs.

Bottom line.

Only Abt Electronics scored better than average on price for major appliances. For small appliances, and Costco got readers' highest marks for price for the second year in a row.

Service makes a big difference.

Besides price, the expertise and manner of a store's sales staff were key reasons for choosing a major appliance retailer, according to the Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey. But a chief complaint in the Home Gripes survey was simply finding a useful salesperson. Salespeople who were arrogant or even nasty were especially bothersome for women.

Bottom line.

Independent retailers, Abt Electronics, and Pacific Sales in California received top marks for having knowledgeable salespeople and for service for major appliances, while Best Buy scored below average for its staff. For small appliances, independent retailers scored best for staff expertise and service. But only Lowe's stood out among major small-appliance retailers for its knowledgeable staff, while Sears scored above average for service.

Selection and quality count.

Around a quarter of major- and small-appliance shoppers chose retailers based on their reputation for high-quality products. Poor selection was a complaint for less than 5 percent of respondents to Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey. But almost a quarter of small-appliance shoppers at Sam's Club complained that the store had too few brands or models available for selection. And for major appliances, no store scored better than average for shopping ease.

Bottom line.

Abt Electronics and Pacific Sales led the pack for selection and product quality for major appliances, while Home Depot scored average for quality and below average for selection. For small appliances, and independents stood out for quality and selection. Independent retailers received top marks for shopping ease, followed by Sears, Lowe's, and Best Buy, which all scored above average.

Completing the sale posed challenges.

Stores that push extended warranties were among the top annoyances in the Home Gripes survey. In Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey, respondents who bought a major appliance were much likelier than those buying small appliances to be hit with an extended-warranty offer. The pushiest retailers were P.C. Richard & Sons, Sears, Best Buy, and hhgregg, as found last year. Long waits at the register were another compliant in the Home Gripes survey; Sam's Club, Home Depot, and Walmart scored lowest for checkout ease for small appliances.

Bottom line.

For small appliances,'s storage of shipping addresses and payment preferences might have contributed to its high score for checkout ease in Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey. Independent retailers also received top marks, followed by Costco. For major appliances, no retailer scored worse than average. But Abt Electronics and independents fared best. Almost 80 percent of respondents to the Consumer Reports' Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey used a retailer's home delivery for major appliance purchases, and more than 60 percent had the retailer install their product. Ten percent complained that they had to wait longer than expected.

The full report, which features the full ratings on where to shop, classic kitchen upgrades, and product ratings on refrigerators, dishwashers, flooring, and more, appears in the August issue of Consumer Reports and online.

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