How to Buy Scratch-and-Dent Appliances

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The following post comes from Gary Foreman at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

I recently received this email…

I’m looking to replace some appliances in my kitchen. Mine are old and on their last legs. The trouble is that I really can’t afford new appliances, and I don’t want to put them on my credit card. I’ve heard that you can get great deals on “scratch-and-dent” appliances. But I don’t know where to look for them – or what to look for once I’ve found the appliance. Can you help me find scratch-and-dent appliance dealers near me?

Often, you can find great deals on brand-new appliances at scratch-and-dent sales. The trick is first finding a store that sells them, then finding an appliance with flaws that won’t affect your use. Here’s how to do that…

Finding scratch-and-dent appliance stores isn’t that difficult, although it will take a little digging. If you’re still using the Yellow Pages, you can look under “appliances.” You may find a “scratch-and-dent” subsection. Also check under “outlet stores” and “warehouse stores.”

Call the new-appliance outlets listed and ask if they sell scratch-and-dent items, or if they have a clearance center that does. If they do sell them, specify what you’re looking for. Within a minute or two, they’ll tell you if they have anything that matches.

You can also search online. Use the same terms but add the name of your town or the nearest big city. Again, make some calls to see what’s available.

Talk with the salespeople in the stores you visit. Inventory changes all the time. If you let them know what you’re looking for and leave your phone number, you might be surprised what they’ll find for you.

Expect to save 25 to 40 percent, depending on the damage. Many times, the problem will be a tiny dent in a side panel or a scratch in the paint.

Look over any prospective purchase carefully. Check to make sure that all knobs, racks, shelves, etc., are with the appliance. Often, parts are scavenged from a scratch-and-dent unit to put on a pristine-looking one that might be missing a piece and will fetch a higher price.

And remember, just because you found one problem doesn’t mean there aren’t others. The time to find the scratches and dents is while you’re in the store. Ideally, you’ll find something that will be hidden by a wall or cabinet in your kitchen.

Many times, these items are sold “as is.” Make sure the appliance works. Find out what, if any, warranty you get with it.

Don’t hesitate to bargain with the salesperson – especially if the item is last year’s model. The worst that can happen is that they refuse your offer.

Not all scratch-and-dent appliance stores offer delivery. Make sure that you know whether delivery is available, and whether you’ll be charged for it.

Don’t forget to consider other alternatives. Stores that rent or lease furniture and appliances often have used units available for sale. One advantage is that often these appliances still have the balance of their factory warranty available. Call ahead to ask what they have.

Also, many people report good experiences buying from used-appliance centers. Some even offer a six-month or one-year warranty on their appliances.

Naturally, you’ll have a better chance if you don’t need to buy the appliance today for delivery tomorrow. But even if you need it now, it can’t hurt to spend an hour or two looking for a scratch-and-dent appliance bargain. That little bit of effort could save you hundreds or allow you to buy the upgraded appliance you’ve always wanted.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner. Follow Gary on Twitter

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