Buying from big box vs. appliance store

kate38November 11, 2010

I've spent some time looking to see if there are any postings on this subject but couldn't find any. We've heard that appliances sold in big box stores are made with less expensive parts, i.e. plastic, where those same parts in appliances sold at appliance stores are made with better parts, perhaps metal where appropriate, thus the difference in price. Does anyone have the facts on this? And are the warranties different?

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Fori is not pleased

If the model number is the same, it's the same thing. Same warranty.

I know there is a rumor going around like that for plumbing but again, if it's the same SKU, it's the same item.

You MIGHT get a better installer from an appliance store though.

Keep in mind that if a manufacturer sells most of their stuff through a big box, they aren't going to ruin their reputation by putting their worst stuff there. And they aren't really any cheaper unless you catch a good sale.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 1:22PM
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Yes, Fori's right that if it has the same SKU it's the same item, but they really do make faucets that look the same but are different inside to meet a lower price point at the big box stores. I don't know about appliances, but they could do that too. In the old days, the difference between some Kenmore models and the same Westinghouse (who made it) model would be fewer settings and options=lower price, but otherwise the same quality. Considering the price cutting with plastic parts that don't last as long, etc., the appliance in the big box store (different SKU) could be inferior in quality, and could have features and warranties, and all that different. It's definitely worth careful shopping.

The same is true for fabrics. The big chain stores are known for carrying fabric that looks the same as what's in the fabric stores, but made with inferior goods. There's a different name or number on it, so you can tell it apart, but it looks the same to a casual eye.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 2:02PM
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Major appliance companies ruin their reputation selling junk everyday.

Yes look at the model numbers.

Many times they are different even though they look the same.

Some inferior parts to lower the price point. Sometimes they are the same.

Some companies only sell junk. They really can't lower the quality to sell to the big box stores at an even lower price.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Thanks so much. Plllog, I know what you mean about the difference in fabric, being a sewer. Very good analogy.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:41AM
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We've been looking over the past several months as we have time, but now we need to look seriously. We've narrowed down to particular brands but how will we know by model number which appliances have plastic or other inferior parts if in fact they really do? For example, how can we tell if Samsung ABC is better than Samsung XYZ if everything appears to be the same?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:30PM
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Generally the "official" products will appear on the companies website with the "official" model number. Usually, the "alternate" version will have a similar number but with an extra digit or number tacked on or some other variation. If the number is in any way different, it's a different model.

By the way, not all variants are cheaper. Sometimes a manufacturer will make a special model for a particular store that might have additional features.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:54PM
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Ah...very good to know. Thanks weissman.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 1:32PM
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I am old enough to recall about 30 years ago when Kenmore (Sears) top loaders came in flavors. The most common only had baked enamel tops and to get porcelain you had to pay extra. Some top model (Lady Kenmore if I recall) had the same porcelain top as the Whirlpool. But Kenmore offered plastic doodads like soap and bleach dispensers which were not available from Whirlpool. I got disgusted and bought the kids a Whirlpool for a wedding present.
However, lately I think Sears has been getting even better products than the manufacturer sells in his line. I have read that service and warranty is very good at Lowes. Seems to depend a bit on individual store managers as to how you get treated. There is one near my home that has never treated me as well as an older store in a nearby community.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:21PM
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.........and sometimes the units are identical EXCEPT for the serial # so stores can play sales games like loss leader , door buster , your lucky day, preferred cust. slaes without upsetting the distribution channel and the price matching gimmick.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 3:46PM
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Sigh. Too true about the games.

If you really know exactly what you're getting, you can do well playing the loss leaders, so long as you don't get bid up on something else. In the end of the day, however, I found the best thing about buying from a full service, single location appliance store was the post sale service. The reps were advocates for me when I had a problem with one unit, and in obtaining hard to find accessories for another, when there were construction issues with my hood, and when I needed a service call. You can't buy that. That comes from forming a relationship.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Very often the model numbers are slightly different--you might see (random example here) a KS3254 at your local store and online, but a KS3254HD at Home Depot, because Home Depot (and Lowe's, etc.) have manufacturers make ever-so-slightly-different versions of things specifically for that store. Part of the reason for that is that they can then say, "If you find the same thing elsewhere for less, we will match that price!"--but you will never find the same thing elsewhere, because the KS3254**HD** is only sold at Home Depot. (I am making up these numbers to show how this works.)

So it's certainly worth being cautious, because yes, there are things at big box stores that are made especially for them and are not identical to the "same" thing sold elsewhere.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:04PM
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