What are my options for purchasing a Bluestar?

Ott2March 9, 2012

Currently, a 48" Bluestar range (or range top) is in my plans for a new build that will start in the next few weeks. I have been to a small showroom in my area to look at the range several times, including once when the regional rep was in town for a demo. I have also visited a much larger showroom in a neighboring state to look at the much larger variety of Bluestars on their showroom floor.

Although I like the Bluestar very much, I am not feeling much confidence in the local dealer. The folks are nice and helpful, but the first bid included numbers that I knew could not be right (~$2000 too low just on the range!). They were happy to change the bid when I asked about the pricing. They had "no idea" how those numbers ended up on the bid they sent me? After three bids, I still don't really have a complete set of information on the appliances I am interested in. Professionalism and follow-up seem weak. There has been at least some turnover in personnel since I started visiting a couple of months ago. They do not seem hungry for my business. When I met with the regional rep, he did not know his competition very well. He said some wrong things. OTOH, I don't think that the person I have been talking to at the local dealer is likely to be a manager. The business has been around for many years. I don't see anything really negative about them when I look for reviews. I think they do a lot of work in the metroplex area where I live, so they must be doing some things right? They have been apologetic with mistakes in information.

Follow-up or interest from a sales perspective from the dealer in the neighboring state has been non-existant. Maybe they think they can't sale to me anyway?

The online appliance sites that I have called said that my zipcode is a problem because I am out of their region.

There is one other Bluestar dealer several hours away, but still in my state. I've not yet called them.

If I know I like the product, and I think Bluestar will provide good customer service, how much should my lack of confidence in the middle-man-local-dealer concern me? Is my lack of confidence unwarranted? Is what I am describing somewhat normal in a smaller (showroom) appliance dealer? Most of the appliances in the showroom were high-end. Maybe they are more proficient working with builders rather than with individuals? Is there a good way to check out a dealer before I sink big $$$$ into the business?

Every appliance I will be purchasing is available elsewhere locally from distributors that seem very thorough and professional. Except for the Bluestar which is only available locally from the company I describe above...., which may be the best company ever, just a little less polished than it's bigger, local competitors.

Can you share any advice regarding my options for purchasing a Bluestar? What should I or should I not be concerned about?

Thank you!

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I believe that AJ Madison ships BS ranges nationwide. But given the cost, size, and weight of the appliance, you have to ask yourself all those awkward "what if" questions about shipping damage, installation, etc.

In your position, I would call BS, explain the situation as tactfully as possible, and work with them to get a detailed written spec and list price. Then take that detailed written spec. and list price to your local agent and negotiate a suitable discount on that list price, using the threat of purchasing elsewhere/online as an incentive.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Hi Ott,

Most local retailers don't provide much support and if you're pretty savvy with the range (i.e. you know what you're doing around it) you probably wouldn't need any support anyway.

Repairs are done through a local contracted gas appliance repair shop. You could call Bluestar and ask them who is around. The Bluestar is a very straightforward beast!

Beyond that, the factory has been extremely responsive.

Considering that everything is drop shipped from the factory all the retailer is really doing is submitting the order. I would make sure you get a copy of that order and validate it yourself via a phone call to Bluestar. If you've got that sorted out and a service shop near you I'd say you should be fine.

As you say, who knows, maybe the local retailer will perk up once you order. Maybe they get a lot of folks that kick the tires and buy elsewhere (i.e. online).


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I like Peter's suggestion.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:36PM
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If possible the local dealer would make delivery a lot easier. Most will bring appliances right into your kitchen and un-box them. You will be able to inspect for damage and if there is a problem the delivery guys work for the store. You will deal with the store not a trucking company. Also some will remove and take your old appliance. Most trucking companies do tailgate deliveries and the best they will do is a pallet jack into your garage or driveway. Unfortunately a lot of consumers go to appliance stores to shop and never buy so sometimes they don't give the attention the customer expects.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Thanks for your replies...

PeterH2: When I talked last with the local dealer, after she had repaired the bid that I knew was too good to be true, I mentioned that the person in their group who had created the original (wrong) bid had said that the price reflected a builder discount, and that she had put our three potential builders into her database so that we could get the builder discount. The (current) lady said that Bluestar has a fixed MSRP, and that a Bluestar range of a given model/attributes will cost the same everywhere because Bluestar would not allow discounts or negotiation. Does this sound right? Can I negotiate around this somehow?

Stooxie: I am savvy enough to know that I'm not even in the same league as you, Rhome, Marcolo, Dodge, plllog, and many others on this forum. Who is it on this forum that cooks for 10 people every single day? You? I cannot fathom even the organizational skills that would require! However..., I am learning from these forum conversations thanks to all of you who are so generous with your knowledge! I will see what I can learn about the local contracted gas appliance repair people. You have given me ideas on how to minimize risk if I choose to go through the local dealer. Your tire theory is probably spot on. I have kicked a lot of tires within a 40 mile radius as I try to learn enough to make good decisions, but I will only buy each appliance once. I hope!

lannie59: Good points. The local dealer did say that they will store the range for free until I am ready for delivery and installation. I think it was the sloppy paperwork (bid off by thousands???) that worried me most because if that is sloppy (even to my advantage!), then what else is sloppy?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Ott -- I think your sense of apprehension sounds well-articulated and reasonable, too!

Have you had a chance to speak with the owner or manager of the local dealer? That might give you a better sense of the overall reliability of the place? But I do agree, best to just pick up the phone and out with all of it, tactfully, to BS. Even the question about price negotiations ... though I might leave that, come to think of it, for the local stores' manager. Say something like "it sounded so wonderful and whet my appetite - as an owner-contractor, is there any way to get back to that price realistically? (without hurting you, etc, etc, etc...).

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 1:00PM
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"The (current) lady said that Bluestar has a fixed MSRP, and that a Bluestar range of a given model/attributes will cost the same everywhere because Bluestar would not allow discounts or negotiation. Does this sound right? Can I negotiate around this somehow?"

I suggest that you call AJ Madison and ask what they can do on BS prices.

Count me among those who is equivocal about manufacturers who try to enforce a rigid price structure.

If you are buying multiple appliances, it's not unheard-of for the "fixed price" item on the order to be at MSRP while other items on the order are discounted amazingly low.

Here is a link that might be useful: BlueStar ranges at AJ MAdison

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 1:44PM
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I have often wondered about what retailers think of price fixing. Do they like it because they are then guaranteed to make a certain profit, and I would assme a decent profit. As well as a person is then going to likely buy from you rather thans joes discount appliances because of preferential location, or friendlier more knowledgable staff? Or do retailers dislike itr because it takes away a competitive tool from them?

I would bet that some quality retailers (like trevor) actually somewhat like price fixing as he is then not losing sales to retailers that are more or less "take the money and run" but offer a slightly "better" price.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 2:03PM
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@Aliris: I haven't met the owner or manager yet, but I plan to. I would love to keep my business local. I don't really want to get back to the price on my original bid. I knew it was too low once I started looking at prices elsewhere. But, I would definitely like do some smart negotiations where I can. I called the local place yesterday with a different question and rather accidentally learned that the lady who did my original bid is no longer working there....

@PeterH2: That's an interesting idea. I will be buying a lot of other appliances. I'll ask them for a bid to include however many of my other appliances that they carry. Besides seeing what kind of pricing they do, it will give me a chance to see how well they do/don't handle my request for information this time.

@tvguy: Price fixing is a little un-American in my book for commodities like this. I like the free market! I've visited with Trevor a couple of times, and know without a doubt that I would get great service and support from him. Part of me would like to buy the CC rangetop just for this reason! Plus, Trevor's got that cool accent, right? And, I learned so much from talking with him. But..., the other part of me really likes the Bluestar burners and how they come apart, and the general look of the rangetop that, to me, looks like it would fit right in with a contemporary kitchen in an open contemporary home. Plus, this is dumb, but I love the little Bluestar logo...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 5:44PM
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I love the little Blue Star logo too.

When I bought mine there was no dealer in the city I live in. I visited one in another city, then phoned around to three or four dealers and finally bought one at a dealer in another city and state. The prices at all three were very close.

I would pick a dealer who has had good reviews for customer satisfaction generally. The Blue Star price should not vary too much from dealer to dealer. When my range arrived the box was damaged and the range had a small mark on one side -- it would never have shown once installed. But nonetheless the dealer said he would do whatever to make it right and what that meant was I got all new skins, new door and kick plate. Great customer support, right? Helps maybe-e that I bought not only the range but also a Miele speed oven and dishwasher from him.

Go with a dealer who has your back if there is a problem.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 6:44PM
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This price-fixing thing is nothing short of bizarre. Even were the rules actually being followed hither and yon, I can't for the life of me understand them. It's been explained to me so many times, and it all seems antithetical, not to mention anti-American, quite frankly ... don't get it. I don't get who wins, who loses, why; why anyone would want to enter into all of this... Those whom it would seem to me are winning profess, loudly, that they are in fact not, it's actually the other guy... then that guy says no, it's him -- there's so much finger-pointing and smoke forming. Just bizarre.

Regardless of the rules, several of these retailers will move on price. There seems to be a certain amount "allowed" for "negotiation". Or something. Efforts to learn the rules, because, say, you wish to play by them, will be not-easy, in part because they are all being violated here and there, and also because everyone, from the manufacturer on down, quotes them differently.

Good luck with this. In the end you have to shave yourself in the morning -- that is, you live with your own ethical choices, no one else does. (check this out: do your children/grandchildren have enough money devoted to their schools to teach them well? That's what it comes down to in the end for me. But I digress...)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 6:55PM
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"Trevor's got that cool accent, right?"

On behalf of all my fellow Brits on these forums, I would just like to say that a Yorkshire accent ... is not ... cool. :)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 7:08PM
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It's unlikely you will get much of a discount on UMRP (It should be illegal) but as we have the best politicians money can buy, it isn't.----butttt like Peter said,
most dealers will really deal on the non UMRP stuff.

I know when we bought our appliances, the Miele DW was price fixed, but they knocked a ton, ($500) off the Electrolux wine fridge, and I got the 48" built in Jenn-air Fridge for $4588 and Antss says that was going for around 6 grand at the time---so even thou I hate UMRP, in the long run I made out ok.

The problem is more appliance companies are going with UMRP so not so sure there will be "WorkArounds" UMRP in the not too distant future.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 7:56PM
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I wonder if I am one of the few people here to actually work for a vendor (Oracle, formerly Sun). Gary and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum on this, and that's fine, I just want this point to point out that there IS a spectrum.

$10,000 ranges are NOT a commodity like pork bellies, oil and copper. Any vendor is welcome to charge whatever they like as long as they DO NOT collude with their competitors to meet the legal definition of price fixing.

I have explained my thoughts on why a vendor would want to control prices many times on GW, a search should find them. The one sentence version is that when every retailer is willing to drop their price down to just a point or two above the floor/cost then it DOES put downward price pressure back on the manufacturer. It is not unfair or unreasonable for them to want to control that. Sun was 80% channel driven and it helped drive a $14B company into the ground.

Weber does it with their grills, plenty of vendors do it.

If you want to choose your appliance based on who will give you the biggest discount you're more than likely just starting from the higher MSRP.

Just my thoughts. It's a free country and a free market. Still waiting for the OAS (Occupy the Appliance Store) movement so the 50% of Americans who pay no federal taxes can have their fair share of $10,000 ranges, too! :-)


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 8:22AM
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I am also pricing a BS range (36 inch with grill in a custom color). I went to a "meet the rep" at a local store. When I mentioned I got a better price at another store to the rep he became quite upset. He said the store was not a certified dealer and if I bought from them my warranty would be voided. This is a quote directly from the BS website:

What if I buy from an unauthorized dealer?
BlueStar does not support any warranty or service work for products purchased from unauthorized dealers.

So when "price shopping" as you and I are, beware of dealers who are not certified. I assume this is why prices will be similar everywhere if only buying a BS range. I haven't tried it yet, but I am thinking perhaps the "custom color" might be a little negotiable.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Stooxie - note my use of the word "equivocal" above - I agree there are very definitely two sides to this. Many years ago, my company was a Sun reseller. I still bitterly remember spending many hours working with a prospect to come up with the prefect configuration and supplying a detailed quote ... only to have them shop it back to a reseller who was apparently not competent to do the work of figuring out the configuration, but on a different discount tier to me, so able to shave the price for them.

A company like BS needs B&M retailers to display and explain their products. If they do not have that network, they are unlikely to survive. If the majority of customers take advantage of the retail stores to learn about products, but then buy from online warehouses, the retail stores will no longer carry BS products, and BS's business will shrink.

All that said, since I learned about BS and CC products here on GW and elsewhere online, I don't have much compunction buying them as cheaply as I can, wherever that might be. On the other hand, I would much prefer to buy CC products from Trevor, not AJ Madison, even if Trevor's price were a little higher. This is for two reasons:

1. Trevor has provided a lot of very useful information here on GW and his web site.

2. Trevor will provide better back-up service.

BS does not seem to have any equivalent to Trevor (they really need to kiss and make up with him), so you can bet I would hold my local retailers' feet to the fire on BS pricing, and buy online if they didn't want to play. In a previous life, I did a lot of buying for a a couple of businesses I owned; I know how to play that game way better than a typical consumer.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 11:50AM
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"beware of dealers who are not certified"

I seriously doubt that there is a "gray market" channel for BS residential products, so I doubt there are "unauthorized resellers" out there. It is possible that there are exclusive territory limitations that would bar another authorized reseller from selling to you, but IMO BS would have no chance refusing warranty if you innocently bought from one, and would be fools to even try.

Long story short, this sounds like typical salesman's BS (and that's not short for BlueStar). When someone pulls that one on me, I simply tell them that if they want to make the sale they need to concentrate on making me happy, not badmouthing other vendors. Specifically, I would respond "I'll be sure to call BlueStar and ask them whether the other vendor is authorized before doing business with them. Now let's stick to talking about what you can do for me to make this deal work."

They key in buying is to make the sales guy believe you can and will walk away if they don't satisfy you, but that you can and will close the deal if they find a way to make you happy. Without the former, they will screw you, without the latter, they will give you the bum's rush. The easiest way to do this is for it to be true: have an alternative supplier - or even product, but negotiate with the guy in front of you in good faith to close the deal.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:06PM
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For the record I sit on the fence on this issue, however the following can not be argued

>Any vendor is welcome to charge whatever they like as long as they DO NOT collude with their competitors to meet the legal definition of price fixing.

The key there is collude. Think opec. I highly doubt there is any "pillow talk" between bs and capital (just using that example because bs is the original subject and capital is their main competitor).

I don't think umrp is all doom and gloom, it has good and bad aspects to it.

That is all I am going to say on this subject as I know it can get almost as bad as the bs/cc war, I don't have a *strong* opinion either way and besides my battle clothes are worn out :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:07PM
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I agree with your summation, how interesting that our histories are related! Yes, the situation you describe happened time and time again and when those fly-by-night resellers got the business it was we at Sun who ended up with all the post sales support costs because the reseller was incompetent. The good ones (sounds like you) spent all the presales time and then lost the business.

Only thing I disagree with is that Bluestar needs Trevor, only because if Bluestar is doing the right thing they shouldn't need any single reseller. GW is a microcosm. If Capital has sold 1000 Culinarians (I think I read that somewhere) I would be jaw-on-the-floor shocked if any more than 50 resulted from people reading GW. Same for Bluestar. We think this is our world but I'd say the majority of people still just go with brick and mortar (another point of yours I agree with).

I have some additional thoughts that I can share with you via email since you'll understand the business relationships.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:25PM
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I think Capital has sold just over 2,000 Culinarians since introduction.

I would be shocked if less than half of the people who bought one did not read about it on GW,or from a GW member posting on another forum like Chowhound or Cheftalk, or from a personal recommendation from a GW member.

I think there are a lot of people who google for appliance reviews,lurk here,narrow down choices,and buy without posting or becoming members.

Just like a small group of nerds in 1970 got together and started Comic-Con.It had/has a grossly disproportionate influence on sales of Fantasy/Super-Hero/Sci-Fi movies.

Bluestar RNB is more established,doing demonstrations,and being featured and discussed in kitchen magazines.Having Marcus Samuelsson as a pitchman does not hurt either. Even the RNB on the CBS sit-com 2 Broke Girls generated interest on the net/facebook.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Hmmm. I hope it's not my job as OP to resolve all of this! :-)
Actually, in my original post, I wasn't concerned so much about price. I HAD a price on a bid that was TOO good, so I took it back to the dealer and accepted another (higher) bid. The first erroneous bid was followed by two more incomplete bids before I ended up with one that "added up", figuratively speaking. The bid process, and the not-so-thorough follow-up had me questioning whether or not it was wise to proceed with this local dealer even though my preference is almost always to do "local". Of course I want a good, fair price, but I really, really want this process to go as smoothly as possible. You have all helped me have a better understanding of my local dealer's perspective, and have also made some great suggestions for how I can manage my concerns (and my dealer) and proceed. Thank you!

@Sayde: I'm glad you like the little logo with me. Maybe when I get to know my local dealer (manager this time!), I will find him/her to be like yours!

@Peter: You remind me of how I once (foolishly!) told a friend from Wales how much I liked his English accent! For me... I think United Kingdom accents and beer (ale?) are many and varied..., but they are all GOOD!

@avidchef: I have a certified dealer in my metroplex, one four hours north, and one six hours south. I have been to lots of other appliance showrooms near me as I evaluate other products, but none have a Bluestar on their floor. I don't know where the uncertified dealers would be hiding, but I don't want to go that route anyway. Regarding the Bluestar custom paint: I went to a "meet the rep" event, and I did get a certificate for free custom paint when I asked. The rep did not mention it, but was responsive when I asked.

@Stooxie: I guess I haven't worn my economics hat in a while... You're right, this range is not a commodity.
I haven't been a real vendor. But, years ago, in my other life before my now teenagers were born, I was a sw systems engineer on a new development for a large unix platform project. The project required a strong database. We looked at several vendors, but the two top contenders for us were Oracle and Informix. There was little cost differential between the two. In the end, what tipped the scales (heavily) was the difference in attitude between the two vendors and the warm-fuzzy we collectively felt regarding the level of competence and customer service we thought we would get from each vendor. Informix was an easy choice! We shared a long and lucrative (for both of us) relationship. The warm-fuzzy mattered.
What I was trying to figure out here was:
1) how do you decide if you have a warm-fuzzy regarding an appliance dealer,
2) does the warm-fuzzy regarding the dealer even matter if you are very confident in the actual product and the customer service of the manufacturer (as I think I am with Bluestar), and
3) if the warm-fuzzy DOES matter regarding the dealer, do I have it?
I'm on the learning curve in the appliance world, but y'all have educated me some on 1 & 2, and given me tools to figure out 3. I don't expect to ever mess with a mega-databse again, but I totally expect to spend the next 20+ years getting to know my handsome 48" Bluestar range with its cool little logo!

Thanks, everyone, for your help!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Peter H - I just want to clarify a point. It was the DISTRIBUTOR who told me the appliance store was not a certified dealer ship, not the salesman. He (the distributor) was upset because the store was buying through back channels and undercutting prices. My take on this was that this particular store was not buying through him - the correct distributor.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 7:16PM
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I am really glad to read this. The string on the Capital Culinarian's inability to simmer scared me. I have a pretty good dealer in Boise, and am seriously considering purchasing a BlueStar. How is the oven?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Hikerguy: what do you want to know about the oven? I have a 48" bs with the large and small ovens. They heat evenly, easy to clean, largest capacity for their respective sizes, basic operation with no electronics. I have no complaints with mine after almost 4 yrs of use.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:52AM
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Hikerguy, I've had a 36" 6 burner BS range for about 18 months.
The oven temperature is deadly accurate and, since it holds heat so well, steady.
As "tyguy" says, there are no electronics so there is very little to really go wrong.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 9:02AM
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hikerguy - don't let the 'simmer noise' scare you off. CC will simmer, BS will simmer, both ovens work well. Perhaps BS will simmer better due to the smaller burners that are offered, but maybe it's the definition of simmer that's more in flux than the actual performance of either unit. In all likelihood either will make you happy. Most likely if CC had been here for 10 years & the BS was the new unit then it would all be the BS simmer issue. Let's put it this way - bought a 36" CC last year & the new house next year will get a 48" CC. Stooxie or tvguy would be getting a 48" BS for that same reason - they are happy with their current range.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:34PM
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