5 things you should know before an appliance is delivered to your home

What is up with that delivery time window?

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Congratulations—You just bought a new major appliance!

Now you have to figure out how to get it home and get it going.

If you're like most people who buy a refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, or washing machine, you don't necessarily have access to a truck and strong friends with free time. That means you’re going to need to have it delivered. Your retailer will generally be able to arrange delivery.

Delivery truck empty
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Hauling away packing materials takes extra time and space, so it usually costs extra, too.

But, before you hand over your debit card to purchase that shining hunk of metal, find out—what does delivery actually entail? And does it mean the same thing to you as it does to the store? Asking the right questions will help you set your expectations way before the truck pulls up at your house.

We asked appliance retailers for you, to find out what they include in delivery. Tweet It

At Reviewed, we've had hundreds of appliances dropped off at our labs in a busy part of Cambridge, MA, so we know a thing or two about delivery. But we wanted to get even more details and differences, so we connected with a smaller retailer and a national chain.

Our experts were James Tieso, Sr. of Poirier Sales, an independent appliance dealer with stores in suburban Boston, and Larry Costello from Sears. We wanted to find out from the experts what they include with appliance delivery, what delivery-related costs to expect, and when your new machine will arrive.

1. Is delivery free?

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According to Tieso, there is no such thing as free delivery. "It’s worked in someplace or you are not in business very long," he said. Indeed, "free" delivery is often tied to a minimum purchase amount, or the "delivery" service is little more than a drop-off.

Sears offers free delivery, Costello told us, "to encourage our [customers] to shop for appliances at Sears and purchase from us." Indeed, we've often had appliances delivered to our labs from major retailers like Sears, Home Depot, and Lowe's, and we've never paid for it.

Other nationwide retailers offer several tiers of delivery—including standard and "white glove." Standard delivery often involves little more than an individual driver dropping off a product that's still in the box, often at an entrance of a home.

As additional services require the hands and strength of a second person, you'll have to pay for a higher tier to get your new fridge brought into your kitchen and leveled, and sometimes even for the packaging to be hauled away. Unpacking an appliance takes extra time, and the discarded packing materials take up space in the back of the truck—so expect to pay a little more.

2. Is installation included with delivery?

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When you purchase from Tieso's store, certain installations are included with delivery. For electric ranges, they'll attach a new cord, plug in the appliance, and level it. Washers get the hoses hooked up, dryers get the cord attached, and all machines are leveled and tested.

If you're getting a refrigerator delivered, "We unhook and reconnect normal fridge water lines for a fee. The drivers do not change the copper tubing," Tieso said. "A dishwasher or gas range needs to be installed by a licensed plumber whom we can suggest."

Costello didn't specify details, but Sears' delivery teams have unpacked and leveled appliances for us. The same goes for other "big box" stores—although some online-only retailers have dropped off a box and driven away.

You can also pay extra to have your old appliance hauled away—usually between $10 and $20. Just make sure it's empty and unplugged.

3. When will your appliance arrive? Why do they offer a delivery window instead of a delivery time?

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Tieso answered, "Poirier does provide a two hour [delivery] window the day prior. We can also call the client one hour before on delivery day so they are not trapped in the house all day. We try our best to accommodate, but we do not guarantee times, as we need to route the deliveries in the best way possible for the drivers to make them all in a reasonable amount of time."

Sears also offers appliance delivery windows. Costello informed us that during the point of sale, the customer is able to select a day and a 2-hour window for delivery. He explained that some appliance deliveries can take up to 2-3 hours to deliver and install, based on factors at the customer’s house, including accessibility (stairs vs. ground floor delivery), or the installation options the customer chooses, like hook-ups and hauling away of old appliances.

For more customized delivery windows, customers can pay an additional fee and then select early morning, morning, afternoon, evening or weekend delivery. The same is true for other major retailers.

4. Where will your appliance come from?

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Most appliances come from a central distribution center.

Appliances ordered from the Tieso's stores are distributed out of their warehouse. "We try our best to accommodate everyone at a fast and efficient manner. Most appliances can be delivered within a day or two," Tieso said. Sears may deliver appliances from a store or a warehouse, according to Costello. Nearly all retailers keep a few key models in stock for next-day delivery.

Many smaller stores use an in-house delivery service, while most larger retailers will contract out their deliveries. Don't be surprised if you see a Home Depot or AJ Madison delivery in a rented Ryder truck.

5. Is it a special order?

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Not every appliance is chosen from the retailer's floor. At Poirier, Tieso said that special orders can take sometimes 7-15 days, depending on the part of the country they are coming from. According to Costello, "Special order appliances come directly from the manufacturer to our local delivery operation, whereas in-stock appliances come from a Sears distribution center or store."

Your salesperson may have no control over the arrival time of a special order, and we've sometimes waited weeks for particularly unusual appliances. Keep that in mind if you absolutely need that new oven before a holiday dinner.

So, get ready for your delivery, and don't be shy about asking questions. Having a new appliance delivered to your home is a good reason to celebrate. Toss a bottle of champagne into that brand new fridge!

Read more about shopping for major home appliances:

8 things you should know before you buy a major appliance online
12 things you need to know before your next appliance delivery
5 ways to make sure you are getting a good deal on a major purchase

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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