Why Should I Buy Local?

kmg67May 5, 2014

We will be starting our renovation in the next few weeks and have been shopping around for a new cooktop, wall oven and dishwasher. We've decided on all Bosch appliances (500 series 36" cooktop, 500 series 30" single wall oven and 800 series dishwasher). I was really hoping to buy local but am finding that doing so will add $800 plus state sales tax to the cost of the appliances I've listed over what I can find online at places like Goedekers & AJ Madison. If the local places could at least match the online prices, I'd probably pay the sales tax in order to buy local but so far have not been having much luck in getting anyone to budge. They all give me the 'we service what we sell' line but I'm not sure I see the advantage. If there is a problem with anything, Bosch will be on the hook for servicing them under warranty. I live in Columbus, OH so there are plenty of companies that service Bosch. Am I missing anything here?

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One thing that you're missing is that legally you're still required to pay the sales tax. I'm not sure how Ohio works but in many other states you're supposed to declare these purchases on your state income tax form and then pay the sales tax (some states call it use tax).

You are correct that Bosch will provide the warranty service but you need to be very aware of shipping damage. Some people have run into issues with this, particularly if you don't notice the damage on arrival. In such a case it may be easier to deal with a local merchant.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:07AM
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I do understand what you're saying about possible shipping damage. I did include the additional $100 in my cost for the optional "white glove" service to have these placed into my home or garage and then unbox them and inspect for any damage.

You are correct about the sales tax here in Ohio. I would have to pay that come tax time. Its still a substantial difference though.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:36AM
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I've had good luck with getting local companies to meet the internet pricing. But if not, I'd buy on-line - but with one warning - you will have to inspect the appliance for dammage immediately, at time of delivery. Do not sign a delivery receipt without uncrating and inspecting the appliance.

Also, your warranty will start immediately upon purchase. If you hold the appliances for months - the effective warranty period will be shortened.

I've never heard of anybody paying the 'use' tax to the state. ( Except commercial purchases).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Adding to what weissman and geoffrey just said, I think the question is broader than just local versus online vendors. I think it is really about your tolerance for risk, and there will be no simple answer.

In the first instance, the basic question is: what is your personal comfort level with risks of shipping damage, getting a lemon, or needing warranty service in the first year? The likelihood of problems may be, say, 1 in 10. (Higher for fridges per the Consumer Reports annual membership surveys). For some people, that may seem like a small enough fraction of the customer base and an acceptable level of risk. Others, well, not so much. If you are one of the 10%, it is of no comfort that you had a statistically smaller risk. But --- or maybe BUT --- even though some locals are likely to be better than the online vendors, some are likely to be no better. There is no avoiding doing the grunt work of checking out your local vendors. (Don't live anywhere near Ohio, so can't help you with your Columbus vendors.)

To amplify weissman's point -- if you find a local vendor with a good reputation, then dealing with shipping damage and lemon appliances is likely to be far easier and faster and simpler than dealing long distance with an online vendor.

Second, who do you consider a local vendor? Are you thinking about the half-century old family appliance store or are you including the likes of Lowe's and Home Depot which have local buildings and warehouses? The likes of Lowe's are sometimes more willing to deal down closer to the online prices and they may have the volume that enables them to do so.

Third, when you buy from a mega-chain as well as from online vendors, and you need service or a warranty return during the warranty period, the fact that BSH may be responsible for securing a local servicer does not mean that service will not be slow or or poor. Typically, they pick the local contractor to do the service and that local contractor might be the lowest bidder rather than the best servicer. You may be subjected to policies about multiple repair visits. These are the kinds of problems with lemons and shipping damage that make a person want to just ship the d@*& thing back. There may be restocking fees. You might have to pay shipping. You might need to hire somebody to do the removal. So, read the fine print on the customer services pages and check out the online customer complaints to get a sense of what the problems have been with particular vendors. Find out if there are restocking fees if you get a lemon as opposed to just plain finding the particular product(s) are unsuitable for you. Find out if they insist on you having cooktops and etc. installed by licensed professionals (i.e., they void their obligations for DIY installations.) Check BBB reports.

Same thing for the locals. They may be local and say "we service what we sell," but some mean it and some do not; some deliver and some do not. If they deliver on "We service what we sell," that can be huge plus. Every manufacturer's production lines inevitably turn out some lemons. In every model of every manufacturer's products there will be some that die young. But, be aware that the the choice of warranty servicer might (or might not) be out of their hands, at least for the standard one-year warranty. Just because a local company is qualified to work on Bosch does not mean that the first year warranty servicing has not been contracted out. (I'm sorry I can't be more specific on Bosch but neither of the Bosch dishwashers I've owned have ever needed service until they outright died a decade and a half out of warranty).

The same considerations apply with extended warranties, too.

You do not necessarily avoid this problem by buying local, but your chances are better.

Fourth, online vendors typically drop-ship to your curb and charge extra (sometimes a lot extra) to bring the appliances into your house. Local vendors often (but not always) will do more. Sometimes (not always), the local may not budge on the retail price for the item but may provide installation support for which others charge extra. Same thing with extended warranties, too. Extended warranties, delivery, and installation support might (or might not) be where you have room for negotiation with the locals and which might (or might not) narrow the price gap.

Fifth, some of the the locals might (or might not) give you a package discount for buying everything from them. If you have hired a contractor for your remodel/renovation project, the local store might (or might not) have a contractor discount that could be passed on to you.

Finally, if you can wait to the end of this month to purchase, there may be additional discounts and/or rebates for the Memorial Day Weekend shopathon. These may bring the local prices down closer to the online prices.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Mon, May 5, 14 at 14:44

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Appreciate the detailed response! There were two stores I shopped at and I guess they are what you might consider regional chains - Fine Lines which is hhgregg's stroe for higher end appliances and another one called Appliance Smart. As far as i know there are no family owned appliance stores around here anymore. Both of these places were pretty rigid in their pricing. You mentioned Lowes and I did not realize they sell Bosch. Their website pricing looks much higher then some of the other online sources I've been looking at but it might be a good idea to go to the store around the long weekend and see what they can do.

I did factor and additional $100 in my costs to have everything delivered into my house or garage.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:25PM
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>>>I've never heard of anybody paying the 'use' tax to the state.

That may be - but it still is legally required - and these days, more states are going after it - they often get shipping records from Fedex, UPS, etc., to track people down. I've encountered one or two people who were "caught" by the state. Also, online stores such as Amazon that have a brick and mortar presence (e.g. a warehouse) in a given state, are being required to collect sales tax on purchases.

I'm not saying you can't get away without paying the tax, but there is some risk involved.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:13PM
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It is luck of the draw with holiday pricing, but sometimes your luck is pretty good. Personally, I'm pessimistic to the point of paranoia about the possibility of things going wrong with online vendors. That friends have purchased large appliances and even cars from online vendors --- well, it does not assuage my paranoia. I'm just sure that I'll be the one who gets hit by the lightning bolt of bad luck. It gets tempting to take the risk with appliances when the price difference is $500 or $800 or more. I'm a whole lot more willing to take a risk when the vendor is like Costco.com with the ironclad, no questions, full refund satisfaction guarantee. Not many vendors do that, so be sure to read the fine print on the customer service pages. Do that for locals as well as the big chains and online vendors.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:39PM
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I live in a small town in Ontario, so can't advise on your American tax issues. We bought our appliances from a "local" company, not a big box store or internet. We received a good package discount, we supported our community economy and we will get qualified installers to deliver and install the appliances. If there is a problem we will have service within a day or two from a local service man. We will not have to wait for a week or more for the representative of the company to send out a repairman who lives 100 km away. I like to buy local if at all possible. Cabinets, flooring, counters and appliances all were bought from companies within a 50 km radius.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:13PM
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As renov8r says and a local hardware sign reiterated
Buy local or good bye local.
99% of my kitchen came from local or small stores (I bought my faucet in a store in Pennsylvania when visiting DM- not a chain but I did have it shipped as they were so nice to get one from the rep to show me)
My appliances came from a small family run appliance store in a town we bicycle to every Saturday(and the cabinets, etc also came from another family run business in the same town)
I feel I supported the local economy- could I saved a few dollars- absolutely - but I feel great walking down the local streets and saying hi to the local businesses.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:50PM
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Deleted by author in acknowledgement of "...no local vender..." notice.

This post was edited by Gwarstong on Tue, May 6, 14 at 12:50

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:30AM
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Cheesh...to all the folks recommending I buy local from a non chain did you ever read where I mentioned that there are no family run appliance stores left around here??

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:57AM
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here in nyc people generally buy from us independents rather than the big box/chain sotres or the big internet guys
because of attentive service

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:26AM
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I don't remember it I read it here or somewhere else but there is a great quote that says

"You should always buy from a place where you can drive up and throw the appliance through the front window if you're not satisfied"

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:35PM
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>>> Cheesh...to all the folks recommending I buy local from a non chain did you ever read where I mentioned that there are no family run appliance stores left around here?? Seems to be the case. Although it struck me as odd --- Columbus has a population about the same as the entire population of my whole state, and we have a bunch of local, independent appliance dealers. But, I did a quick search and, by golly, I found exactly one independent appliance dealer in all of Columbus, a place called Jack's Appliances. They are a Bosch dealer but maybe they are some kind of chain as well? Or maybe they specialize in high end customers? Who knows?

In contrast, my state's largest city, about 60 miles from here, has 10% of the population of Columbus but it has four family run appliance dealers. There is a small, 50 year-old regional 4 city chain from whom I've bought most of my appliances. It was family and employee-owned until last year when it was purchased by an investor from the West Coast. So, I have everything local that everybody was talking about above. Which Columbus does not, apparently.

Heck, the hardware store in my little town of 2500 is an appliance dealer (although it handles a weird mix of brands like Crosley cheapos for landlords and some high-end stuff like Blue Star ranges for the rich folks with mountain cabins larger than the hardware store.)

Of course, our "big" city also has a Best Buy, a Lowe's, a Home Depot, and a Sears, as well.

Personally, I don't think of buying from the likes of Lowe's as particularly local. Maybe you could say, relatively more local. Online vendors like, say, Goedekers or ABT etc., don't have any jobs jobs the local economy and don't have appliances out where you can lay hands on them.

I'd check out Lowe's. Some of them may have some of the Bosch units on display and/or in stock. (It varies by store). The Lowe's in my area stocks and displays Bosch DWs and cooktops. Although, it only once have I seen them with an induction cooktop -- a 300 series that somebody bought off the floor shortly after it went on display.

I bought my new Kitchenaid fridge from the "local" Lowe's a couple of years ago. It was partly because their local policy on taking back defective appliances was reasonable. (This varies, however.) The local Lowe's also had a decent reputation for service and apparently had some kind of deal with the manufacturer where they would provide first year warranty service. As opposed to making me use A&E, the Sears-Whirlpool joint venture that had a pretty dismal reputation in my area at the time and which was otherwise required for Whirlpool brands' warranty services. Basically, I was assured that I could have service through the highly experienced and very competent company in the next town up the road if I needed it. Plus, I could actually lay hands on the fridge in the store before I took it home. I chose to haul it home myself so I didn't have to worry about unknown shipping or delivery damage. Finally, I got it on a holiday weekend discount sale price that was only about $70 or $80 more than the free-shipping price from the internet giants. (Oh, and my state does not have a sales tax, so that was not a consideration for me.)

Do some checking around, though. Like every mega-chain, Lowe's policies and practices vary and change and sometimes differ between stores. Find out what they have in stock. If what you are getting is a special order, then, it seems to me that there won't be any difference between them and far-away internet vendors unless there is local support and take-back policies.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:07PM
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I dealt with the same thing...

- For cabinets we found an awesome custom shop.
- For hardwood nobody would sell to us because we're not a builder except for chain places (LL and the two national big box chains). Instead we bought from a lumber mill at the regional level.
- For appliances there were three places listed that sell the makes we were interested in. One of them deals only in designing and building entire kitchen renovations. The other two don't actually carry anything in stock from the manufacturer that we could go see and didn't bother even listing any on their website. We went with AJ Madison instead.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:29PM
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I'm two hours south of you in Cincinnati. The Appliance Loft is local and only a 2 hour drive. It might be worth the drive just to eyeball what you're thinking about buying. I bought my range, vent hood, and dishwasher there and the prices were very competitive. They also have a ton of stuff on the floor, an overwhelming number of choices IMO.

I found local by searching for a dealer of a less well known stove which I wanted to see in person.

(No connection to them, I swear.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Appreciate all the advice folks! I will admit that I'd never heard of Jack's Appliances but after looking at their website I will be visiting them this weekend. Will let you know how things go!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:08PM
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Taxes are probably never "forgotten" by the state with the right to collect same on your out of state purchases. The middle path is likely to just be aware the demand for tax payment could show up some day and have a few rainy day bucks tucked away to quickly cover it and drop off their radar.
Someday a combined fed/state vat will show up and make collection more economically feasible for this tax situation and many others.
This will also help American appliance makers become more competitive by letting them build stuff made in USA on a more level playing field instead of just grabbing a shortsighted windfall. If they choose to do so.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:30AM
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I figure that once I've visited my local appliance store a few times, and had the owner give me advice, I really need to support them. It is painful to pay extra, but in the long view, the taxes go to support local services like fire fighters and police, so maybe we all will feel better if we consider it an investment.
FWIW, I am in the middle of this issue right now, too. Hoping to buy the new benchmark oven, speed oven, cooktop, and down-draft vent.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:43AM
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JWVideo - I paid a visit to Jack's yesterday and they managed to come little closer in price. They are $500 more than the online places I've looked at. Closer but still not sure if I want to pay it. I did try to bargain a little bit but they did not want to budge. Said I was getting the 'builders" rate. I may be able to push a little harder to get a few hundred more off but will have to see. Nice folks but they did not have the actual appliances in the showroom so I could not see them and they will have to order them. Seems like if any servicing issues come up I'd still have to contact Bosch directly just like I would if purchasing online. Decisions, decisions!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:24PM
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Thanks for reporting back. Keep us posted on how things work out.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:06AM
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i too wanted to buy local rather than HD however after doing some research, one local place got such horrible reviews on delivery damage that i didn't even go in person. i visited another local place and the salesperson was clueless about appliances and seemed shady in general. i have used HD to deliver 3 appliance with no damage to my home or the appliance so i decided not to risk it and stick with the place i have had great luck. i found the hd and lowes prices to be competitive with aj madison.
i wish you luck with your purchase and hope it goes well! appliance shopping is slightly stressful:)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:01PM
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i found the hd and lowes prices to be competitive with aj madison.

FWIW, the best price I got was the one I bought from - Pacific Sales (which is owned by Best Buy). Brick and mortar store, which I consider semi-local (yes, the company is not "local" per se, but the real estate is, and the employees are, and the sales taxes they generate are). The price all-in was as good or better than Goedecker's (which had the best prices I could find on-line).

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:55PM
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I have also heard that the local dealers will often match or get close to the online sellers. I have not purchased yet but have heard good things about Pacific Sales (in San Francisco anyway). Did not know they were owned by Best Buy.

sjhockeyfan, sorry about the Sharks! My Rangers did win game 7 last night :-) I was looking for a Sharks-Rangers final!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 5:09PM
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Thx bobelicious - I watched part of the Rangers win - it was awesome!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:10PM
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Thought I would give a quick update as to how my online purchase went now that everything has been installed and up and running for a few weeks. I initially placed the full order at Goedekers for three Bosch appliances - 500 Series 37" induction cooktop, 500 Series 30" convection wall oven and an 800 Series dishwasher that takes a custom pattern, The cooktop and oven are the newer Bosch designs. I paid the extra $100 for the white glove service so that the appliances would be placed in my garage. The savings from buying online were substantially better than purchasing local even leaving state sales tax out of the argument. At the time I placed the order, the folks at Goedekers told me it would be 2-3 weeks before everything would arrive. That would be perfect timing as that would put the arrival date right around the time they would be required for install. A day or two after I placed the order, the cooktop and dishwasher shipped to the local depot here in Columbus. Now they were just waiting for the oven and then they would deliver them to my house. I waited another week and noticed that the oven had still not shipped so I called Goedekers to find out why. It turns out Bosch was having production issues and was behind in filling orders for the new model ovens. I also confirmed this with Bosch who were reasonably confident that production would be back up and running in time to meet my timeline. Another week passed and still no shipment so called Bosch again. They told me things were looking like they would be delayed again. At this point I decided to look elsewhere. Goedekers kindly removed the oven from the order and granted a full refund. At the time, no one could get the new Bosch wall ovens so was thinking of getting a GE instead. I stumbled across a place online called buy-appliances.com which is the electronic store front for Frederickon's Tire & Appliances located in Sheffeild Alabama. They didn't have the latest Bosch wall oven either but they did have an the prior model in an un-opened box at a few hundred less than what the new model would have cost. Even after the $100 I had to pay for shipping it was till a decent savings over the new model. Those folks were great to deal with. I think I placed the order Thursday morning and it arrived Monday.

So everything eventually arrived in the nick of time. It was installed a couple weeks ago and so far everything is working great! Kitchen still needs backsplash, some shelving, dishwasher panel, lighting and a few other odds and ends installed which should be completed over the next couple of weeks. The one unfortunate thing about the purchase, and this would have happened regardless of the purchase being online or local is that Bosch had a 10% rebate program going on if you bought at least 3 of their appliances. My original order would have qualified for this and been worth around $400. The catch is that they had to be all on one purchase invoice and from the same retailer. The only rebate I ended up qualifying was $50 for the dishwasher. I should also mention that the day after I placed my order for the prior year wall oven at buy-appliances.com, Goedekers called me back to say Bosch was now shipping the ovens and I could have had it on time! So a bit of a disappointment there but I was on a timeline and had to change the order with the information I had at the time. Regardless, we are very happy with the performance of these appliances. Neither one of us had ever cooked on induction and bought this solely on information we read on this site. The wall oven is excellent as well and like the idea that it is the prior model so hopefully any problems have been worked out although from what I gather reading reviews, these ovens seem to be quite reliable.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Lovely kitchen. Thanks for updating the thread. Good point about the rebate qualifications.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:57PM
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