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Where to Buy Electronics? Online, According To Consumer Reports’ Latest Electronics Store Ratings

Consumers Continue to Give Higher Ratngs to Online Stores for Electronics Shopping: Top Websites include Crutchfield.com, BHPhotoVideo.com, Newegg.com and Amazon.com

Consumer ReportsYonkers, NY — Online shopping scored higher in almost every respect than did shopping at walk-in stores in Consumer Reports’ Annual Electronics Buying Survey. Respondents made 34 percent of electronics purchases online, which is more than double the percentage from just five years ago.

“Our survey shows that consumers are getting more and more comfortable making electronics purchases online — even big-ticket items like TVs,” said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor at Consumer Reports. “But there are also many shoppers who prefer to see items up close before buying. Some walk-in stores are among the best electronics retailers in our Ratings.”

The full report is featured in the Consumer Reports December Annual Electronics issue and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The top websites in Consumer Reports’ Annual Electronics Buying Survey received high scores across the board, including on price, selection, customer service and product quality. Consumers who want or need personal buying advice, but who want to buy online, might like Crutchfield.com, where shoppers have access to specialized advisers via phone or online chats to assist them with their orders. And Amazon.com offers a vast amount of user reviews for electronic products, neatly organized and ranked by their helpfulness as judged by fellow shoppers. BHPhotoVideo.com received the top score for product selection, while Newegg.com garnered the highest score for price.

Consumer Reports December 2011For shoppers who want in-person assistance with their electronics purchase, an independent store is likely the best bet. In Consumer Reports’ walk-in store Ratings, only the Apple Store matched independent stores in customer service and product quality. While independent stores only received an average score for prices, survey respondents indicated that they were more successful at negotiating lower prices at independent stores than at some large national retailers.

Warehouse stores like Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Sam’s Club were among the top walk-in stores for price, but all received lower scores for selection and customer service, and therefore aren’t the best option for electronics shoppers who need help with their purchases or are looking for a specific brand or model. And the annual membership fees charged by warehouse chains may negate any price savings unless consumers shop there for other items regularly.

How to Pay Less

Electronics shoppers should follow these tips to save money this holiday season:

  • Don’t just accept the asking price, haggle.
  • Offer to pay cash in exchange for a discount.
  • Say no to extended warranties.
  • Consider refurbished models (if they have a valid warranty and are from an established seller).

The Annual Consumer Reports Electronics Issue will be on newsstands November 1 and online at www.ConsumerReports.org. The issue features 30 pages of buying advice 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-theater systems. 

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.   Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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