Appliances

Is Amazon really the best place to get a deal on a large appliance?

In short: No.

A woman sits in a chair holding her phone and credit card Credit: Getty Images / Delmaine Donson

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There are so many reasons to shop on a site like Amazon, especially when the deals often can’t be beat and shipping can take as little as a few hours. We know from experience that items like robot vacuum cleaners, air fryers, and any of the myriad Amazon-branded technology and smart home products (Echo, Kindle, Eero, Firestick) sell “like pancakes,” according to Reviewed’s executive editor of commerce, Kate Ellsworth. She means “hot cakes,” but the idea is there.

But, there are also reasons not to shop some items on Amazon, and these reasons vary depending on what kind of product you’re buying.

Reviewed’s veteran editor-in-chief Dave Kender offers some sage advice, “While it remains the go-to shopping site for many consumer products, Amazon is not recommended for large appliances.”

When it comes to large appliances for the home, including refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, and laundry units, Amazon should not be your first stop for a deal. Here’s why.

1. Amazon sells large appliances, but you need to read the fine print before you buy

appliance store
Credit: Getty Images / Maskot

At an appliance store, you'll see familiar appliance brands like GE, LG, Samsung, and Frigidaire.

Walk into a Home Depot and you'll see some familiar faces: Speed Queen, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Samsung, LG, and GE. You'll see these same brands on Amazon. But, sort by seller and these well-loved household companies disappear; instead you'll see unfamiliar ones like Certified Battery or Amber Worldwide. What this means is that these appliances are being sold by third parties.

Dave explains, “Amazon is rarely the actual seller, relying instead on a network of marketplace sellers with a less-than-stellar reputation.”

If you choose to purchase one or more of these appliances, read the fine print. You may encounter appliances that are refurbished and “like new,” which, as a consumer, you wouldn’t necessarily realize unless you scour the item’s product details.

Other things to look out for: Whether you buy depends on where you live. Some of the listed appliances can’t be shipped to your specific location.

2. You may not be able to return the appliance

Appliances shipped from Amazon.com can usually be returned within 30 days. In this case, you may see an Amazon return policy (“In most cases, items shipped from Amazon.com may be returned for a full refund”) and product support policy (In the event your product doesn’t work as expected, or you’d like someone to walk you through set-up, Amazon offers free product support over the phone on eligible purchases for up to 90 days.). Keep in mind that per Amazon’s Global Store Return Policy, items can take up to 32 business days to be received by Amazon and your funds returned to you. You will also need to foot the bill for return shipping, which, considering the size and heft of your appliance, may be quite a cost.

However, for third-party sellers, return policies can vary widely. In some cases we found, you would be charged a restocking fee up to 50% of the item's price. Or, you may not be able to return the appliance at all.

3. Does buying an appliance on Amazon affect its warranty?

“Appliance brands will not always honor warranties of appliances purchased through Amazon, because they can't actually trace the provenance,” says Dave.

This is a huge deal, especially for brands with excellent, long-term warranties, like Speed Queen for its washing machines or LG for its refrigerators. After all, you are spending a significant amount of money on an item you expect to last between five and 10 years.

For appliances being sold by Amazon.com, you can also typically add a protection plan from a third party insurer, like Allstate or Assurant. However, this is not the same as a manufacturer warranty, and it isn't the same as the return policy.

A manufacturer warranty covers things like malfunctioning parts and defects.

4. Pricing can swing wildly

Frigidaire
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

You can buy the Frigidaire Gallery FGIH3047VF induction range at both Amazon and appliance stores. Which is the smarter buy?

Frigidaire’s FGIH3047VF Gallery Series 30-inch stainless steel induction range with air fry—which we tested and love—has an MSRP of $2,249.

As of this writing, it’s being sold on Amazon by third-party seller Appliance Giant for $1,349. Seems like a good deal, right? Unless of course you need to return it, which would put you out a 50% restocking fee, not to mention the cost of shipping it back. If you do keep it, there’s the question of the warranty, which you have to contact the seller for, directly.

But the most interesting thing here is this Frigidaire’s price history on Amazon. According to Keepa, a price-tracking extension for Amazon products, the FGIH3047VF has swung in price over the last five months more than $1,900, from its highest tag of $2,999 (yes, this is $750 more than its MSRP) to its lowest of $1,099.

In other words: do your research. If you love this model, or one like it, you may just be better off buying it from an actual appliance store—it’s currently selling at Best Buy and Appliances Connection for $1,799—whether in person or online. And yes, you can still find an amazing deal without compromising your standards. Especially if you shop Memorial Day and/or 4th of July sale seasons when appliances are typically hugely discounted.

Dave sums it up nicely, “And, with the added complication of delivery and install for such large, cumbersome products (not to mention haul-away of your old appliance), we strongly recommend that you go with someone else.”

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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