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Consumer Reports finds that E-Tailers continue to dominate ratings of electronics stores

Posted Sunday, November 7, 2010

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BHPhotoVideo.com, Crutchfield.com, Amazon.com and Newegg.com top list; December annual Electronics Issue features holiday shopping advice for electronics

Yonkers, NY — Electronics items are now as likely to be bought online as in walk-in stores according to the latest Consumer Reports Annual Electronics Buying Survey. And, for the third year in a row, websites received many of the top scores in the Ratings of electronics retailers. High-scoring sites included BHPhotoVideo.com, Crutchfield.com, Amazon.com and Newegg.com. The full report is featured in Consumer Reports December Annual Electronics issue and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The top-scoring websites in Consumer Reports survey stood out mostly for their price and product selection. Amazon.com and Newegg.com were noted for how easy their websites were to use and the latter also received a top score on price, but charges a 15 percent restocking fee on all returned major purchases if the box is opened. BHPhotoVideo.com is worth considering for price, but it has one of the shortest return periods of any site in Consumer Reports Ratings. Though Crutchfield.com was only average for price, it received top marks for selection and offered a strong combination of customer service and buying ease.

Consumer Reports notes that this year independent and other walk-in stores may have an advantage over online stores for those who are buying relatively new and unfamiliar categories (tablets, smart phones and e-book readers) and technologies (3D images, touch screens). These items cry out to be seen and used before purchases, preferably with some expert guidance. Independent retailers out-scored most national and regional chain stores and had especially high marks for in-person service.

Among retailer chains Apple, Ultimate Electronics and HHGregg all received top marks for customer service but were undistinguished at best when it came to price.

Whether shoppers are buying online or in-store, here are some to tips to help consumers buy electronics items this holiday season:

Discounting may start early. Although seasonal price-cutting on gear may have already begun, the deepest price cuts may be still to come. Consumers who buy early should check the retailer’s return and price-matching policies in case the price drops further or if they see something better for less later.

Haggling works, even online. Hagglers may have a better chance of getting a break at an independent store or at a regional chain than they would at a national retailer. In Consumer Reports survey, of those customers who asked for a better price, more than half were successful overall. Average savings were $165 for TVs and $105 for computers. Though only 2 percent of respondents dickered online, those who did were just as successful overall as the in-store negotiators.

Warranty pitches continue. As a rule, Consumer Reports thinks extended warranties are poor buys. Two of every three in-store shoppers reported efforts by sales staff to sell them an extended warranty. Overall, about one in eight in-store shoppers actually bought a warranty. However, a computer plan that extends tech support and coverage for repairs beyond the standard factory warranty may be worth considering; 30 percent of respondents who bought a computer said they also bought the extended warranty.

The Annual Consumer Reports Electronics Issue is on newsstands November 2 and online at www.ConsumerReports.org. The issue features over 30 pages of buying advice and a list of the best places to buy electronics and Ratings and reviews of more than 400 of the hottest electronics products including TVs and 3D TVs; laptops, netbooks, desktops and tablet computers; e-book readers; printers; cameras; camcorders; headphones; Blu-ray players; and home theaters.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

 
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Consumer Reports finds that E-Tailers continue to dominate ratings of electronics stores
High-scoring electronic sales sites included BHPhotoVideo.com, Crutchfield.com, Amazon.com and Newegg.com.
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