Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Better Late Than Never?

So Frigidaire has a new stainless steel dishwasher with stainless on the inside. Consumers don't buy dishwashers over $500 without stainless on the inside, and Frigidaire learned this the hard way. For years, they concentrated on plastic tanks (ok to $399) with tons of features at $599. Invariably, they would rebate the product to $450 somewhere...

But that was then, Let's look at the "new" Frigidaire...

Not bad, decent features.....but how does it compare to the best seller?


Frigidaire has more features and is $40 cheaper, but Bosch will heat the water hotter and is quieter. Once again, I would lean to the Bosch piece, but Frigidaire will package this as part of the rebate program to enhance sales.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Extended Warranties

I find extended warranties interesting. Then again, I have a strange sense of humor. These slips of insurance really run the gamut of consumer emotion. From people who think it is expensive(which it can be) and a waste of dough to customers who are irate for not buying one and having to pay for service.

Here is the skinny: If a company does not have a service department, do not buy it ever. I don't care if they return a portion of your dough after the contract expiration. The contract is worth nothing, and the seller is banking on breakage and non redemption. We spend 10,000 per month in contract redemptions. The rough percentage is 20-25%, but when you need service...the average call is more expensive than the contract.

Skinny Part 2: Be very wary of third party contracts. Often times, a dealer will hand you a contract, which is backed by a warranty provider. I have a healthy respect for most of my competitors...But in this case, run the name through the Better Business Bureau. The results can be shocking.

Skinny part 3: Do not be oversold and do not overpay. You should pay $150-$250 for a basic appliance and $250-350 for a professional piece...Some of the rates can be outrageous. Look for ancillary benefits, refrigerators can have a food loss guarantee. (ours is $250)

And remember...it is your decision.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not My Rules

Every month I review our numbers in the store. Over the past 18 months, I have watched GE grow their business. At the same time, I have seen a dramatic drop in JennAir's business. I have tried to explain nicely to the JennAir representatives to no avail.

I had to show them (what I will show you)

For roughly $200 GE Cafe will offer a 17,000 BTU griddle burner as well as a second oven (instead of a warmer) below the main oven. The GE is also more aesthetically pleasing.

In other words: Improve your old design or continue to be outsold...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rebate Boy and The Maytag Company

Compiling appliance rebates is a nightmare. There are 6 different places, which can rebate the same model only with different dates. You always have the best deal in the unlikely event that they eclipse at precisely the same moment.

Now we have state of the art computers and some of the most brilliant appliance minds in the industry. When they fail, it comes down to one man. That man is Jay Upton, also known as Rebate Boy. I actually had him as a mentor (old people are assigned new people its serious business here), and the poor dope actually volunteered for this time consuming yet thankless task. (You can't teach everything.)

Let me show how Rebate Boy changes a $1799 dollar Maytag Epic laundry set into $1199 based on rebates, which expire July 5. All the writing is different rebates.

This is the set of Maytag/Whirlpool Epic Duets, which are the same pieces.

This is Jay "Rebate Boy" Upton.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Post 701 and Handles

Hard to believe the ole blog has surpassed the 700 landmark. Now social media is the rage because it helps the brand, google rank and corporate credibility. We started The Yale Blog in 2007 to advise people honestly on how to shop for appliances, plumbing and lighting. I never really considered social media back then. Just wanted to be a reliable source of information in an industry that seems to need it.

The Yale Bloggers:

Frigidaire has a new line of appliances. It is updated aesthetically with three different handles styles, which can be good until you try to package their different lines.

Lets look at this new range. It looks different, but it is $100 more expensive than the model it superceded. The older piece also had a second oven, which is not available on this unit. So for $100 more, you seem to be buying less.

Frigidaire has always occupied an interesting niche of affordable stainless steel. Perhaps they should have rethought this latest line. GE, their largest cooking competitor, will have a new line of economical stainless steel appliances in August.

File this post under bad timing...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

LED Yet Again

I have been searching through the internet looking at the total dollar savings between LED and incandescent lighting. One thought has been popping in my head: Incandescent bulbs need to go away. These circa 1802 inventions are only 10% effective and waste tons of energy.

So the question is how much would you save with LED over the lifetime of the bulb...A couple of assumptions first: Massachusetts energy costs (insanely high) are .22 cents per kilowatt hour. A LED bulb is $50, and a par halogen(halogen is incandescent) is $6.50. Lamp life is 1000 hours for halogen and 50,000 for LED. Further, your time in replacing the bulb is worth $15 and you will be paid for your time replacing the bulb.

Last assumption is the bulb will be on 8 hours a day every day. Bad assumption? How many lights have been left on in your house as you are reading this?

The answer is below...

A couple of good resources are www.ledwaves.com and www.energystar.gov

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How To Buy Appliances..Part 7

This is really not all that difficult...Its easy if you know what you want. Much harder when you have no idea. How about a novel idea? Lets stay under your budget, pick desirable items and as an added bonus, not lose your mind.

1. Establish a budget. You will stick to it.

2. What pieces do you really want. Is it a SubZero, stainless steel appliances, slide in range?

3. Rebates. I hate to say it, but $500 in rebates would sway my loyalties between similar items.

So lets say you have no idea:

4. Start at the range. There are more tough choices than any other product.

5. Refrigerator next, once again the most difficult dimensionally.

6. Dishwasher and over the range microwave should match the other two pieces.

If you stay within the same brand, there are numerous budget saving rebates. I am not partial to side by sides, but this Bosch package has a whopping $1350 in rebates...I can learn to love it for that type of money.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why You Don't Buy Green

I think Green is important. We only have one Earth, but people are not buying Green products as once expected. Recession is a reason. People just do not have extra money.

The payback also needs to be clarified. In the example below, we have two undercounter lights. There is $100 dollars between LED and standard halogen.

The LED is cooler, has a 20 year lamp life, versus 7 months for incandescent, and is 90% more efficient. You probably still see $100.

Now look again:

You see a 4 year payback and a benefit to the environment...not including trips for burnt out bulbs, the heat which turns on you HVAC system and several other microbenefits....

Monday, June 15, 2009

The End Of The Handshake Agreement

An unique agreement was forged in the 1920s. The founders of Whirlpool and the managers of Sears forged an almost 100 year alliance. Whirlpool would supply the washers and dryers marketed under the Kenmore name. As legend has it, this deal was first struck with a handshake (it was years before the class action lawsuit.)

This just ended...Now the winner of the contract was LG. Sears marketing(I suspect) will revolve around technology and steam. The machines will start looking like this:

Instead of this.

Now I have my opinions of LG, but for consumers like yourself, it should be interesting. Whirlpool has to keep the factories running without Sears' help. This can only mean one action in the very near future: Big time price drop.

I am a Bosch guy for now, because they are just dumping their product (previous post), but Whirlpool can really regain share by being similarly aggressive.

Friday, June 12, 2009

16 Minute Seminar

I walk into work today to discover I am to represent Yale in a 10-20 minute sales seminar in about 90 minutes. Other than that I am a perfectionist, it really is a great opportunity to speak to architects, designers and homeowners.

If I cannot show them anything compelling, than I have a big problem...

But what to choose? EnergyStar? LED?, Color rendering fluorescent? Induction? Installation? It's also good practice since we have a weekend dedicated to it at Innovation '09 on June 20 and 21.

You can't be too technical with any crowd. You are toast when they start looking at their PDAs.

Following is my presentation sans my explanations and the Q and A.

My thanks to Design Magazine and Van Millwork for including us in their seminar series.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Most Interesting Post

It isn't all champagne and caviar being the CEO. Sometimes the best intentions dont quite work...So now you are now me(minus the issues)...What would you do? Before you read the complaint a couple of points

1. Unit is out of warranty. There is very little recourse from the manufacturer

2. We dont push warranties. Our sales percentages are less than 8%.

3. Average length of life is just that. For every 20 year old product, there is a few that do not

Winning solution receives a $25 gift card...Here goes

Dear Mr. Sheinkopf,

I purchased a stackable washer and dryer, a stove and a refrigerator on September 14, 2005 and like all of the people who commented on your blog I was very happy with the sales and delivery process. The hinge on the stove broke and was replaced while under warranty and is already not working properly again, but my main complaint is with the refrigerator. It is only three and a half years old and the "mother board" is broken according to your service man. I had to pay $99.00 to find that out and your customer service department wanted to send the serviceman back for another $280.00 or more.

I lost about $300.00 in food and I don't believe the life of a refrigerator should be three and a half years old. Apparently the craftsmanship is worthless and that is the reason you all push extended warranties. You advertise that you stand behind the products you sell but you don't mention the additional fees. I spoke with GE and they at least will send me the part for a fee but I would like my $99.00 refunded, I don't know why the refrigerator I purchased would have a mother board nor was I told that it did or that there were other options. A few months after this purchase my 20 year old extra refrigerator died and I purchased an inexpensive one from Sears which still runs perfectly and much colder than the GE ever did.

My purchases may be small in your eyes but replacing appliances is an investment for us
and we expect they will last at least 10 to 15 years. I will wait to for your response.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Handle This...

So Whirlpool is Maytag, GE Cafe is GE Profile (in some cases), Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau can also be similar. Here is the one uniform feature difference...

The Handle

Quick suggestion to save you money: Forget the brand, buy the least expensive yet similar model. Unless of course you did not like the style of the handle.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Have a look at this color rendering fluorescent bulb...Notice anything different?

Dimmable Fluorescent Bulb

This fluorescent actually is dimmable. How? It has an electronic rather than magnetic ballast.

I still like fluorescent bulbs for many reasons. Although it does have trace levels of mercury, there is a greater presence of mercury in your cavities. Better fluorescent lights are also way more efficient than incandescent and have similar rendering.

As I wrote last week, LED may be the bulb of the future, but fluorescent should be considered right now.

Innovation 09 And Fluorescent Bulbs

Last year, we had an event called Innovation 08, which focused around new products. This year is a little different. We are focusing around better yet money saving technology. With the economic hardship, consumers need a ROI for their money. This year, we will show you.

Perhaps, one of the cooler activities at Yale are the private cooking demonstrations. Ours are a little different. You learn how to cook rather than watching a demonstration. This year, we will have 6 chefs including Jose Duarte of Taranta, Nelson Kognac of Kouzina, Steve Shipley of Johnson and Wales, Jay Murray of Grill 23, Dorchesters finest, Chris Coombs of dbar, as well as our own Kurt Van Kahle.

Innovation 09 is June 20 and 21.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Support Vince

We are a proud sponsor of The Vince Wilfork Foundation and their efforts to eradicate diabetes. His Father suffered from this affliction for years, so he is very involved in the charity. We actually had Vince barbecuing at the store today.

If you want to help Vince, consider buying a $2 raffle ticket. The winner receives a BBQ with Vince and his family for you and 5 friends, 2 tickets to every Patriots home game and a Weber BBQ from us.

You can purchase raffle tickets here

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Kelly Rippa is Wrong?

I will be in New York tomorrow talking with Electrolux about their advertising campaign (like my opinion should count). They spent 250 million dollars advertising their brand featuring Kelly Rippa in one year.

That's right $250,000,000...

At the end of the day, did they receive a return on a huge investment? Then I was thinking what if I was the CMO...What would I do? Leveraging strength in my opinion is the way to market anything, whether its Yale or Electrolux:

My campaign would feature the following:

The Biggest

Their laundry is the largest at 4.7 cubic feet. They also have a 18 minute wash and dry cycle, so they are the fastest. They also have the shallowest vented dimension, so they fit in more closets...

The Fastest

Induction is faster and better than even professional gas ranges. I would show a comparison on Youtube with boiling water (I think we do)...Costs $350 for a good camera with video, so I am way under budget....The Electrolux induction is also the least expensive unit...Multiple themes could be generated here.


Their control panels allows consumers to cook anything at any cycle...allowing for multiple themes here.


So far, I have spent $350. I would probably spread out a few more dollars on the internet content spends as well as blogger alliances and maybe some paid Google searches...and spend the rest on manufacturing a french door refrigerator, which has dominated this segment. They have it out now, but Electrolux has lost package driven consumers for almost 3 years.

How did I do?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wicked Smaht

(Titled is spelled for Mass phonetics). Bosch is quietly dumping their most popular laundry by offering $400 in rebates to $1349...an almost 25% discount from last year.

Now the question is, why? This is really quiet, large and efficient product. Well, they are planning a new release of products in August, which will have the capability of being stacked. As you know from reading this blog, second floor installations are becoming increasingly popular. The current products cannot be stacked.

In my opinion, this is smart, because 25% is not the 50% manufacturers typically write off when they decide to move the product 2 years from now when its languishing in a warehouse somewhere....

BTW, the $200 pedestals are free as well....By donating these units to consumers, they wont be languishing either...They dont fit the new units.