5 things i learned while shopping for kitchen appliances

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sometimes, when my mother wants to demonstrate that things are really taking off, or really going well, she’ll utter a rather funny phrase: “now, we’re cookin’ with grease!” it rarely applies to any instance where a person is actually cooking with grease, or doing anything kitchen-related.

but for today’s purposes, it actually DOES! because guess who pulled the trigger and bought her kitchen appliances this past weekend? that’s right, this girl. after spending the past 2 months reading review after review, soliciting feedback from family, friends, coworkers and even random strangers on instagram, i finally settled on my choices, and took the plunge.

back when i thought this process would move merrily along, i figured i’d purchase my appliances over memorial day weekend, the rationale being that summer holidays were bound to produce big sales. but memorial day came and went, and i still hadn’t closed, so i wasn’t about to go march my ass into PC richards and plunk down a couple thousand dollars on an oven.

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instead, i spent the next month researching appliances. i posted on facebook, asking my “real adult” friends to tell me about what they’d owned, what they’d loved, and what they wouldn’t buy again. i read the reviews on homedepot.com like a FIEND. i had daymares of buying the wrong fridge and having it quit working within the first few months. i agonized over whether to splurge on the more expensive oven.

here’s what i learned:

  1. read the reviews, but don’t put all your stock in them. for every 5 positive reviews of any given appliance, there will be one negative one. happy people are less likely to share that their happiness online. but angry people? disappointed people? LET ‘ER RIP. at the end of the day, you have to read the reviews, but go with your gut. my general rule of thumb was to look for appliances that had a high 80% and above approval/recommendation rating. you know, 4 stars land. anything less indicated an issue, but a 5 starred item with a few negative reviews? those people probably got a lemon.
  2. someone else’s favorite appliance might not be your favorite appliance. initially, i had my heart set on a matching kitchen aid series of fridge/oven. i’d seen them on a design blog i read, design manifest. i figured if kitchen aid appliances were good enough for naomi,  a one woman design powerhouse who does a LOT of kitchen projects, they were good enough for me. but i did a bit of digging, and it turned out that the kitchen aid reviews weren’t great. naomi bought hers because they were beautiful, but guess what? she’s not a huge cook. so while pretty is great, pretty doesn’t bake good cookies. functional does.
  3. the “big names” aren’t what they used to be. i spent a good two weeks going back and forth between this samsung oven and this GE one. i’ve had GE appliances in my rental apartment for the past 7 years, and they have yet to let me down. GE = reliable, right? so said the man i spoke to at a western mass appliance store, who (with no shame, mind you) also told me that the only people buying samsung appliances were idiot millenials who “liked the fancy name.” and yet, the GE oven had consistently worse reviews than the samsung model, was rated lower by consumer reports, and straight up wasn’t as cute. so i decided to go with the samsung, which i truly loved, and guess what? when i got to home depot to order it, my girl minerva let me in on a little secret: since they moved all their manufacturing to china, GE isn’t what it used to be. and samsung? surprisingly good. SCORE ONE FOR ME!
  4. sometimes, stuff breaks. but that doesn’t mean you need to pay $250 for an extended warranty. look, there is no way, and i mean, actually no way to guarantee that the appliances you buy will not break. sure, you can read 900 reviews. sure, you can check up on how easy it is to find a repairman in your area. sure, you can spring for the extended warranty. but you cannot control whether your appliance will or won’t break. all you can do is be prepared when it does. a little bit of sleuthing revealed that despite extended warranty plans seeming like god’s gift to appliance buyers, they’re generally not worth it. here’s why: first, just because things can break doesn’t mean they WILL. more than likely, your appliance will run just fine. second, those seemingly magical extended warranty plans? they’re not actually run by the nice folks at home depot. they’re outsourced to places that, unlike my friend minerva, don’t give two shits about you and the fact that you took a day off for your maintenance appointment. third, almost all appliances come with at LEAST a year of parts and labor warranty. and most appliances, according to my home depot associate, break within 18 months, if they’re going to break at all. so you probably don’t need to drop an extra $200-300 on that 5 year warranty. if something’s going to go wrong, it’ll probably go wrong pretty early on. but that being said, 18 months is longer than a year, which brings me to my next point.
  5. your credit card = an extra year on your warranty. in my extended warranty research, i came across an AMAZING PIECE OF INFORMATION that legitimately made my day (#adulting). get this: many credit cards (including mine, chase sapphire, hi chase i love you!) will add an extra year onto the manufacturer’s warranty of your appliance (and not just appliances! many items!) if you pay for the purchase in full with your card. 1 year manufacturer’s warranty = 12 months coverage + 1 additional year of manufacturer’s warranty covered by chase = 24 months coverage. BINGO! there’s your 18 months, and then some! CAN I GET AN AMEN? that is something AMAZING SHIT RIGHT THERE. all told, 3 year warranties on my three appliances (fridge, oven, dishwasher) were going to come out to just around $500. i hadn’t budgeted for that $500, and i didn’t really want to spend it. but my future guilt – the guilt i’d experience if something DID go wrong and i hadn’t bought the warranty – gave me serious anxiety. this benefit from chase gives me an extra year of carefree cookin’, and if something DOES go wrong by year 3? well, that’s why i have a savings account.

so, what did i buy? that, my friends, is a story for tomorrow. but WAIT TIL YOU SEE MY OVEN! SHE SO PURTY!

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