How to Save on Appliances
Buying a Refrigerator
When You Bought a Lemon
I'm shopping for a refrigerator and I know that manufacturers sell slightly damaged units for a good discount. The term I've come across for this is Scratch-N-Dent. I know someone who saved over $1000 on a large refrigerator because of a slight scratch on one side. Here's my problem... how do you find out where these scratch-n-dent appliances are sold? Do the manufacturers have outlet stores?
We always buy scratch and dent appliances from Sears outlet stores. The outlets carry the Sears brand name and also many of the other major appliance makers. Our most recent purchase was a Maytag dishwasher priced $150 off of the regular price due to a small ding on the front panel. Before that, we purchased a $600 GE smooth top stove for $400 with a slight scratch on stove top. A few years ago, we purchased a $1499 Amana side-by-side refrigerator for $830; it had a small ding on the side which didn't show. We have been 100% happy with these products. Here's a list of Sears Scratch and Dent stores to help.
I found most scratch and dent places in the outlet books at the library or purchased in book stores. There seems to be a book out for every area. Quite honestly, though, I have had fantastic luck with reconditioned appliances. I have bought all of my appliances--refrigerator, stove, washer/dryer, dishwasher, even a Jen Air stove top--at a local used appliance store (found in the yellow pages). They all have come with a one-year warranty, and service calls (I've had one so far in ten years) were only $25.00 plus parts.
In our area, Scratch and Dent Stores are called Outlet or Warehouse Stores. These can be a great source of savings. We just got a fridge originally priced at $949 for $569 with just minor scratches on the edge. (You need a magnifying glass to see them.) However, there are certain things to look for.
Some retail furniture and appliance stores have "clearance centers" at separate locations. Some are advertised, while others are not. You could call local furniture stores and inquire about "clearance centers" and "scratch and dent" merchandise.
Another good resource for next-to-new and some brand new "scratch and dent" items is furniture and appliance rental stores. I recently purchased a "scratch and dent" refrigerator at a local rental center for a great price. The refrigerator had two slightly dented-in dig marks which ran almost the full length of the right side.....the side which would go right next to my wall and be hidden from view. The size of the refrigerator is 18 cu. ft., and it is only 1 1/2 years old with the balance of a 5-year manufacturer's warranty remaining. I purchased it for a $200, tax and delivery included.
When you go to rental centers, you may have to directly ask if they have any "scratch and dent" items available for purchase. My refrigerator was not on the display floor and was not advertised. I also purchased a beautiful, well-constructed sofa and loveseat in very good condition from the same store for a total price of $250 for both pieces! They were updating their inventory.
My husband and I bought our first house last year, and the only included appliance was an electric oven. We bought our washer, dryer, and refrigerator all from the same Sears scratch and dent outlet. We had budgeted $500 for a refrigerator thinking that we would get a totally basic 18 cubic foot model. By stopping in often and letting the salespeople know what we were looking for, we were able to get a 24 cubic foot top freezer with icemaker that used less electricity per year than the smaller models we were considering. We got this Consumer Reports-recommended refrigerator at half the retail price by waiting for the monthly special. It has a small (3/4" long, 1/4" wide) scrape on the front that is usually covered by our son's artwork and a small dent (about 1"long) on the side. I called my parents from the store and they replaced their 17 year old refrigerator with the same model that we bought and have seen a considerable savings on their electric bill.
We bought our dryer in the same place and saved about 37% off retail. A year before, we had purchased our washer there with similar savings. We like the Sears scratch and dent outlet because:
We did check out other, smaller scratch and dent places in the area but they did not have the selection that the large Sears warehouse offered. If there are no listings in your phone book, call both major stores like Sears and larger appliance stores and ask if they have an outlet or what they do with their scratch and dent merchandise. We are extremely happy with both the bargains and the quality of our purchases and feel satisfied whenever we see the "absolute lowest price" advertisements in the paper.
Elizabeth S. in Pittsburgh, P
I have recently seen scratch and dent appliances at Lowes. I'm sure if you looked around any store that sells appliances, or even asked, that you would find what you're looking for.
Laurie K. of West Columbia, TX
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