7 tips for buying used appliances to avoid scams - The Washington Post

If you’re shopping for a refrigerator, dishwasher or other big appliance, finding a used product could be the best way to snag a deal.

Used appliances, says Jim Nanni, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports, “are often sold at a significant discount, and some are in pretty good or great condition.” Bronze Alloy

7 tips for buying used appliances to avoid scams - The Washington Post

Another reason to consider going used: Prices for new major household appliances rose 3.4 percent from December 2022 to December 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ producer price index. A new refrigerator alone can run anywhere from $500 to upward of $5,000, according to Consumer Reports.

A used version typically costs a fraction of that. Still, shoppers should proceed with caution, says Robert Pearson, owner of AAA Appliances in Chantilly, Va. “An appliance can look fantastic, but looks can be deceiving,” he says. “A great-looking used appliance can be a total lemon.”

Follow this advice to avoid getting stuck with one of those.

“Reputation is everything in this business,” Pearson says. When scouting options at used appliance stores, reading customer reviews is a must. But you can go a step further by checking whether the company has any complaints filed against it with the Better Business Bureau, Nanni says.

One sign of a reliable retailer: “If a store sells a customer a bad used appliance, the store should make it right and either refund the customer, repair the appliance by installing a new part or provide the customer with a different used appliance that fits their needs,” Pearson says. Whether a company follows this policy is “often something you can see in an owner’s response to a customer’s review online.”

Shopping around on a site such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Craigslist can expand your options, but buying a used appliance from an individual carries some inherent risk. One basic but smart way to minimize your exposure: Try before you buy.

“You don’t want to buy an appliance that’s already been unplugged,” Pearson says. “A lot of sellers on Facebook Marketplace are selling used appliances that have already been uninstalled. You want to be able to test it to make sure it works before you purchase it.”

Also, find out whether the appliance has an active warranty or a protection plan; if it does, make sure the warranty stays valid after a transfer of ownership. You can do this by checking the policy from the manufacturer or original retailer. For example, a Lowe’s Protection Plus plan remains intact when a customer sells an appliance to another consumer; so does a Geek Squad Protection Plan from Best Buy.

Factoring in how much longer the appliance is expected to last is key. “If the appliance is eight years old and the life expectancy is 10 years, you may not be getting a fair deal,” says Jill Notini, a vice president and industry spokesperson at the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, a trade group.

Here are the average life expectancies for several home appliances according to the group’s latest data:

Some used appliance stores sell refurbished products that have been repaired. If you’re considering buying one of these, ask what kind of parts were used. Were they new or used? Were they original equipment by the manufacturer (OEM) or generic? (The former is typically better.)

When sizing up a repaired appliance from an individual, “ask the seller to provide a receipt showing proof of the repairs,” says Nicole Papantoniou, director of the Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

A used appliance may appear to be in good condition at first glance, but give it a closer inspection by checking for damage or rust around knobs, switches and cords, Nanni says. And do a sniff test when checking out a washing machine — a musty odor could be a sign of mold, Papantoniou warns.

Get the model number to see whether the product has been recalled before you buy it. If there was a recall, consider the nature of the problem and whether there’s an easy fix — was it a major safety issue or a minor patch? You can often find this information using the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall search tool or by contacting the manufacturer directly.

Also, investigate whether the particular model that you’re eyeing has been discontinued. “If a product has been discontinued, it might be harder to repair in the future if there’s a shortage of parts,” Papantoniou says.

You might be able to get an even better deal by negotiating with the individual seller or the salesperson. If a used appliance store won’t budge on price, ask if they’ll at least throw in free delivery, installation and haul-away of your old appliance, Nanni says.

Daniel Bortz is a writer in Gaithersburg, Md., specializing in home improvement, real estate and personal finance.

The Home You Own is here to help you make sense of the home you live in.

DIYs you can actually do yourself: Don’t be intimidated by those home projects. Consider which renovations add the most value to your home (including the kitchen and bathroom), what you can actually get done in a weekend, and everything in between.

Your home + climate change: Whether you’re trying to prepare your home for an electric vehicle or want to start composting, we’re here to help you live more sustainably.

Plants and pets: Your furry friends and greenery add more life to your spaces. For your green thumb, find tips for saving money on houseplants and how to keep your plants alive longer. Pets can make a house a home, but stopping your cats from scratching the furniture isn’t always easy.

Keeping your home clean and organized: We breakdown the essential cleaning supplies you need, and point out the 11 germy spots that are often overlooked. Plus, hear hacks from professional organizers on maximizing counter space,

Maintaining your home: Necessary home maintenance can save your thousands in the long run. From gutter cleaning and preparing your fireplace for winter, to what to do if your basement floods.

7 tips for buying used appliances to avoid scams - The Washington Post

Electret Masterbatch Contact us: Looking to buy your first home? Do you have questions about home improvement or homeownership? We’re here to help with your next home project.