Need to know
- Over 5000 CHOICE supporters answered our survey on the best and worst electronics retailers in Australia
- Appliances Online has the best online shopping experience, two surveys in a row
- Winning Appliances has the best instore shopping experience, with Retravision, Betta and Bing Lee not far behind
When you're in the market for a new washing machine or TV, do you like the ease that comes with buying online from the comfort of your own home? Or do you prefer the experience of shopping instore and sizing up the products first-hand before you commit?
With the rising cost of living, good value for money is a major selling point. But which stores have the widest range of products? And which ones can you count on for good customer service?
We asked more than 5000 CHOICE supporters about their experiences buying appliances in the past 12 months, and whether they were satisfied with the stores they visited. For physical stores, we asked participants to rate the range of products and brands, value for money, customer service, delivery and after-sales service.
For online stores, we asked much the same, but added ease of using the website, payment options, and the returns process. We included results for stores that had over 50 responses.
Best instore overall satisfaction: Winning Appliances
Winning Appliances took out our coveted top spot, with many people praising its after-sales service, range of products and brands available, and delivery service. Winnings' customer service was the stand-out, with many saying the sales people were knowledgable and helpful.
Retravision, Betta and Bing Lee scored almost as well as Winnings.
Retravision's after-sales service and value for money were high, while Bing Lee's after-sales service didn't rate quite as well as Winnings, Retravision and Betta.
Worst instore overall satisfaction: Kmart
Budget department store Kmart consistently rated lower than other stores in almost all categories except value for money. Kmart had low scores for range of products and brands, and many of our survey respondents said it was difficult to find customer service instore.
Pressure to buy extended warranties
We received more than a few comments around extended warranties and how salespeople push them, particularly Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi. We've researched terms and conditions on extended warranties and in many circumstances found they were useless, so take a look at the T&Cs before you commit to anything.
Our free consumer rights guides are helpful resources for learning more about extended warranties, along with what to do when you have problems with a product or service.
If you feel you've been unduly pressured into accepting an extended warranty, you can lodge a complaint with the ACCC.
Despite some pandemic-fuelled growth in the past two years, online shopping is yet to eclipse shopping instore as our mode of choice, with over 60% of us still making the trek to physical shops to buy our new appliances and electronic goods.
But for those who do prefer the online shopping experience, our survey uncovered some strong feelings about which stores deserve your business.
Best online shop for overall satisfaction: Appliances Online
Appliances Online topped every online category in our survey. We've had plenty of good feedback for Appliances Online anecdotally in recent years, and for a relatively young company (it was founded in 2005) to have gained so much ground over the past decade is an impressive thing. Though it no doubt helps that its parent company, Winning Group, has been an appliances fixture in Australia for over a century.
Worst online shop for overall satisfaction: Dick Smith and Kogan
At the other end of the spectrum, Dick Smith scored 26 points lower than Appliances Online. The brand name Dick Smith was sold to Kogan some time ago, and the halo effect that marketers like to talk about from brand loyalty still means people are going to Dick Smith, but they're getting disappointing results.
Extended warranty sold in online stores
One of the things we were disappointed to see is how many extended warranties are being sold online using pre-selected check boxes – a deceptive web design, sometimes also called a dark pattern. The ACCC has picked up on this sort of behaviour, flagging the problem as an area where new rules are needed to protect consumers.
When even the airlines succumbed to pressure to stop pre-selecting checkboxes, you have to wonder what some online stores like Appliances Online and The Good Guys are thinking. While it's not against the law, at CHOICE we think it's dodgy practice for any industry to use these sorts of deceptive practices to try to impose additional expenses on consumers.
We think it's dodgy practice for any industry to use deceptive practices to try to impose additional expenses on consumers
It's particularly galling when the extra expense is for an extended warranty, a type of product that often just sells you rights that you already have for free under the Australian Consumer Law. Given Appliances Online comes off so well in our survey, we'd expect more from them. At least their sister site, Winning Appliances, doesn't automatically add it on at the point of purchase – but they still sneakily add a page trying to persuade you to buy an unneeded warranty, as do The Good Guys.
The only stores online that don't push unnecessary and poor-value extended warranties are Amazon, David Jones and Myer. Other online retailers offer them but don't default to having the option ticked.
A special mention to JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman, who pester you about the extended warranty on every page towards your purchase, but don't go so far as to tick the box by default.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.