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Buying home appliances isn’t the most exciting type of shopping that most of us will ever do. And to top it off it can also be expensive and stressful – particularly if your washing machine’s on the blink and you’ve got a week’s worth of laundry to get done pronto.
This means that choosing where to shop, as well as what to buy, is an important decision: not only will it make the buying experience more enjoyable, but it will also give you peace of mind if things go wrong further down the line.
Which? has surveyed thousands of people who’ve recently bought home appliances, from microwaves to tumble dryers, on all aspects of their experience.* We’ve got star ratings for value, customer service, product quality, delivery and returns for all the major retailers, including Amazon, AO.com and John Lewis & Partners.
The best home appliance shops and websites
John Lewis & Partners has been revealed as the best place to buy home appliances for 2020 – and it doesn’t come as much surprise. The well-loved department store has a history of strong performances in our surveys, with shoppers raving about its aftersales service, product guarantees and warranties, and website layout.
In joint-second place were AO.com and Euronics. While AO.com is online-only, Euronics has a very different business model, with a network of independent electrical retailers across the country. Both are home appliance specialists, showing that a focus on a single product category can pay off in terms of customer satisfaction.
John Lewis & Partners
John Lewis & Partners may have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this year – closing stores, scrapping its staff bonus and planning to drop its famous ‘never knowingly undersold’ motto to name but a few.
But shoppers still rate it highly. In our survey, we asked people about their experiences of shopping both in store and online, and with John Lewis & Partners there was very little difference between the two.
Its customers were particularly positive about the way the retailer communicated coronavirus-related changes to its services and the queuing time (or lack thereof). They also rated its flexible returns policy highly.
One customer who had bought a vacuum cleaner from John Lewis & Partners said: ‘I have confidence in the retailer, and with the extra complications of COVID-19, I felt its reputation and previous experience was a major plus.’
You can shop online at johnlewis.com.
AO.com came joint-second in our survey, with its prices being the main reason shoppers chose it. Speed of delivery was also a big factor, which is often crucial when replacing a broken appliance.
Shoppers also love its product range and availability. In fact, only online giant Amazon was able to match its score on these measures – and no one beat it.
Some 36% of the AO shoppers in our survey had never shopped with the retailer prior to the pandemic and they were impressed with how AO.com communicated coronavirus-related changes to its usual shopping processes.
You can shop online at AO.com.
Customer service sets Euronics apart from its rivals – perhaps unsurprisingly given its setup as a network of 600 independent, and often family-run, electrical shops.
While our survey looked at both online and in store experiences, most people we asked had made their latest Euronics purchase in a local high street store.
We also found that Euronics customers are loyal: many told us their reason for shopping there was because it was their regular choice for household appliances. One shopper said, ‘I feel valued as a customer. I’ve bought several appliances from them and it always take care of me.’
You can find a store near you at euronics.co.uk.
Worst home appliance shops and websites
When it comes to the stores to avoid when shopping for a new appliance, the main learning from our survey was that DIY chains should not be your first port of call. So if you’re buying a new kitchen, don’t automatically buy your dishwasher from the place that’s supplying your cabinets.
The lowest scorer of all the retailers in our survey was Wickes, with customers unimpressed by its product range or availability.
One unhappy customer said: ‘I’ve had a problem with an item since it was fitted, but have had no help from customer service since my first complaint.’
Homebase and B&Q fared only slightly better.
Returning home appliances
Home appliances are often used every day and there’s a lot that could go wrong, so what happens after you’ve parted with your cash is just as important as the buying experience.
Overall, 64% of household appliances shoppers who tried to make a return were happy with the process.
John Lewis & Partners was the only retailer in this category to get the maximum five stars for aftersales service and returns. Meanwhile, if you’re after a good warranty or guarantee, head to John Lewis & Partners, Euronics or Dyson.co.uk – customers all gave these the full five stars.
- Find out more: warranties vs guarantees
Shopping for home appliances during COVID-19
The way we shop is changing. Some 49% of UK adults shop more online than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to our exclusive nationwide poll** carried out before non-essential shops were forced to close for a second time this year in England and Wales.
The number of UK adults who shop on their local high street more than once a month fell from 51% before the pandemic to 38%. And 29% say that the guidelines about face coverings have made them less likely to shop in store. Unsurprisingly, 54% of shoppers say they enjoy shopping less now than before.
This means people are often trying out new retailers or buying online for the first time – 28% of those using a retailer for the first time said it was because of circumstances relating to COVID-19.
Fortunately, many were happy with their experiences. Our household appliance survey found that 93% of shoppers at John Lewis & Partners, 94% at AO.com and 91% at Euronics were positive about the way they communicated any coronavirus-related changes to the normal shopping process. Even at bottom-placed Wickes this was 83%.
And while 61% of people shopped online for their home appliances with delivery to their homes, 84% of those who went into stores felt safe.
*Our retailers survey of 12,419 adults was conducted online in August 2020 and included members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public.
**Our online poll of 2,010 members of the public (data weighted to be representative of the UK adult population) was carried out in September 2020.