Monday, June 9, 2008

Five Tips for Buying a New Refrigerator

Buying a refrigerator is a big investment and one that you don't want to waste your money on. If you are in the market for a new refrigerator what questions should you ask and how should you decide which refrigerator suits you best?

Here are five questions you should review before purchasing your refrigerator:


With the cost of energy these days you would do well to look for the new energy efficient models that are available on the market. The energy usage can be as low as 25% of what older models cost to run.

Many countries have a seal of approval for the most efficient models. If you are buying new you may be able to ask for more detailed information about the energy consumption and costs at the store. Be aware that you may even be entitled to a rebate from your utility company when you purchase an energy efficient model.


Depending on where you live you will find that a standard fridge is either under the counter height or full height with a freezer included. Most American style refrigerators include the freezer as either a side-by-side configuration or on top or below the main fridge.

If you do not need regular access to the freezer section you may prefer the lower drawer style, although it has not yet become popular and is usually more expensive. Side-by-side configurations often have extra features such as in-door water dispensers, areas that chill prepared foods or allow for defrosting as well as needing less space for door clearance.

Determine your needs, including amount of storage needed, configuration, ease of cleaning as well as the space you have for the fridge. Take into account the doorways you will need to move the fridge through and the depth of counters and height of overhead cupboards or you just might not get your fridge to fit easily in.


Use consumer reports or your friends advice. Fortunately most popular models rate good to excellent in dependability and use. Your refrigerator should easily last 10 years or more.


If you are renting, on a tight budget or just looking for a second fridge for the garage you may only need to spend $100-$300 dollars for a secondhand fridge. Expect to pay more for secondhand appliances at stores as opposed to private sellers.

Brand new appliances can run from $500 for a basic model up to nearly $4500 for a SubZero fridge. Expect to pay about $1200-$1800 for a good model with extra features. Note that some styles and options will up the cost a great deal.


When buying new check out the warranty before you buy. When arranging delivery find out if installation is included, especially if you need hook up for a water dispenser.

When buying secondhand make sure you see the fridge plugged in and in working condition before taking it home. Check the cooling coils are not overly covered in dirt and hair which could cause excess wear on the engine. Most importantly check door seals close tight and that there are no cracks or holes in the interior since these are difficult to fix and will increase the cost of running the appliance.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't Get Ripped Off by Your Appliance Repairman

Picture this. You get home from work and just want to settle into your daily routine. Suddenly, you realize that the refrigerator isn't cold, or the microwave isn't heating, or the washer won't empty. Now what?!? Do you open the phone book and hope to get a well-trained, honest repairman? Or do you just pray that you don't get ripped off?

Try using these six tips to get the service you need without getting taken to the cleaners.

1. Write down the make and model of your appliance and a brief description of the problem (a single paragraph will do) before you pick up the phone. This information will not only help the repairman diagnose the problem; it also makes you look like a smart consumer. Remember, knowledge is power.

2. Try to find a factory authorized repair center first. This is a must if your appliance is still under warranty. Factory authorized means that the manufacturer stands behind the repair and will usually mediate in any disputes. With stiff competition in the appliance market, the last thing the manufacturer wants is an unsatisfied customer who purchases a different brand.

3. Ask people you know for referrals. Okay, this one is pretty basic. But, with all of the appliances we use every day, someone you know has needed to have one of them fixed. Benefit from their experience, good or bad.

4. Check the yellow pages for repairmen who take credit cards. Credit cards offer an extra layer of protection for you. If you are not satisfied with the fix and the repairman refuses to address your concerns, you can contact your credit card company and request a charge back to the merchant. This will involve more paperwork on your part, but can give you a better position when negotiating a dispute. Be aware, though, that using this tactic too often can leave you in bad standing with your credit card company. Check their policies on charge backs first.

5. While you have the yellow pages open, compare the ads. Yellow page ads are not cheap. Only the most successful or competitive companies can afford the big display ads. While this doesn't indicate the level of service you get, it does show which companies invest in advertising and which expect to still be in business in a year or two.

6. When you do start making calls, ask the same questions of each company. A good start would be:

How long have you been in business?
Do you use factory parts?
Are you insured for any damages the appliance may cause after the repair?
Do you offer a written guarantee on parts and labor?
Do you have any corporate references?
Have your repairmen received any factory training?
Has your company ever been taken to small claims court to settle a dispute?

Using these six tips will help you to weed out the dishonest, incompetent, or just plain bad appliance servicemen. They will also help identify the good servicemen that you can count on for a long time to come.