Five ways to cut the cost of electrical items
Once you've checked the product specifications, read the reviews and found the product that's right for you, it's time to focus on getting the best possible deal.
To do this, first check out the price comparison sites such as Kelkoo.co.uk and PriceRunner.co.uk. These take pricing details from thousands of retailers so you can quickly find the cheapest deal.
Cristina Rebollo, a spokeswoman for Kelkoo, says: "We have relationships with more than 3,000 retailers, all of whom send us their latest prices. The electrical section is particularly large, with four price updates every day."
But, even if your first venture on to one of these sites throws up a sizeable saving, it's still worth looking on other price comparison sites too. Although they all carry prices from thousands of retailers, none of them have all of them, so do shop around.
When comparing prices it's also important not to overlook delivery charges.
"Electrical goods such as washing machines and televisions are big items, which means they can be expensive to deliver," says Marc Thomas, country manager at PriceRunner.co.uk.
For example, Comet charges between £5.82 and £49.95 for delivery, depending on the size of the item. "We include the retailers' delivery costs in our product listings so you know the full price from the start," he adds.
Once you've tracked down the cheapest price, it's worth checking whether you could get it any lower. Special websites are available that list discount codes, for example myvouchercodes.co.uk, vouchercodes.com or discountvouchers.co.uk.
Additionally, Kelkoo.co.uk has its own discount vouchers section on its website. "We have thousands of vouchers from retailers on our site," says Rebollo. "If you're lucky you could get a further 10% or more off the price."
It also offers a cashback service, which can help to keep costs down. With this you register for cashback offers that could be up to 24% of the cost of the product. "The average is 7% and you'll receive this back as a cheque after you've bought the item," Rebollo adds.
Alternatively, you could use a cashback credit card to make your purchase; as long as you pay off the balance within the interest-free period, this payment method will leave you quids in.
Although it's terribly un-British, a spot of haggling can help knock the price down further. Asking for a reduction won't cost you a penny but, if you feel nervous about this, remember times are tough and retailers are keen to shift their goods, whatever the price.
"It is the year of the consumer so make the most of it," adds Thomas.
Your chances of securing a saving are also increased if you're buying more than one item, for example a washing machine and a fridge or a laptop and printer.
Cash or credit?
There are several ways to pay for your new purchase and many retailers will be keen to sign you up to a store card credit agreement. Although these spread the cost, they can be expensive so check the APR before you sign up to anything.
Credit cards are a cheaper option. Most have lower APRs but to really get value from them look to pay off the balance within the interest-free period. This will be up to 59 days on most cards but, if you'd like longer, a card with a 0% introductory rate could extend this significantly.
Of course, using cash to pay for items may seem like the most simple option, as there is no risk of you having to pay interest down the line.
However, bear in mind that using a credit card has an additional advantage as, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you buy something that costs more than £100 and it goes wrong, you can turn to the credit card company to get your money back.
Whether you're spending a couple of hundred pounds or several thousand, chances are you'll be offered an extended warranty alongside the product you're buying.
This is a form of insurance that protects you if your appliance breaks down after a year or so. For example, Comet automatically includes a two-year warranty on its Siemens washers, but will extend this by another year for a further £124.99 (£104.99 for the cheaper models).
However, bear in mind that extended warranties are rarely worth paying extra for. This is because you automatically receive better protection under the Sale of Goods Act, which states items be must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, and this can apply for up to six years after the purchase in England and Wales, or five years in Scotland.
If you do decide you'd prefer some extra protection, avoid buying the extended warranty on offer at the point of sale. Modern domestic appliances are reasonably reliable and the additional protection you receive under the Sale of Goods Act means you might be wasting your money.
Remember, if you do buy an extended warranty, you have 45 days to cancel it.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.
This is used to compare interest rates for borrowing. It is the total (or “gross”) interest you’ll pay over the life of a loan, including charges and fees. For credit cards where interest is charged at more frequent intervals, the APR includes a “compounding” effect (paying interest on interest). So for a credit card charging 2% interest a month (equating to 24% a year), the APR would actually be 26.82%.