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Buying a used appliance? One mom has a caution

'Almost new' AC and furnace needed $2,000 in repairs
There's a reason so many appliances are currently on backorder
Posted at 10:55 AM, Nov 06, 2020

If you need a new refrigerator, washing machine or other appliance, you could face a long wait these days.

That's why stores selling inexpensive used appliances could be a great option.

But one single mom has a cautionary tale.

Stephanie Holley found a home for her and her children in Cincinnati's Sedamsville neighborhood.

With little money left, she began looking for used appliances.

"I actually posted an ad in the Freecycle network and got a free stove," she said.

Her hunt for appliances went well until she bought a used HVAC system for heat and air from a nonprofit building supply store, the ReUse Center in South Fairmount.

It was just $700, Holley said, and was listed as an almost-new unit that had been donated to the store.

"So we went back the next day and bought it," she said.

But her installer noticed pieces missing, and pointed out to her that wires had been cut.

She contacted a heating and cooling company, which said it had even more issues, and quoted her more than $2,000 to repair the wiring, replace a bad circuit board, and more.

But when Holley contacted the store, she learned she was over the 30-day return 4 days.

What to buy – and not buy – used

Used appliances can be a great option if money is tight or you can't find something due to the appliance shortage.

But if you are buying used, it's key to get some guarantee that the item is going to work.

The consumer guide Angie's List saysused kitchen appliances like refrigerators and microwaves are fine.

But it suggests you do not buy used:

  • Water heaters
  • Air conditioners
  • Furnaces

These items often require expensive repairs, as Stephanie Holley learned.

"It was supposed to be in working order," she said. "No, that was not the case."

The store is going to give Stephanie $400 of her $700 back, but it can't do more than that because she is past the 30-day return period.

Bottom line: Before you bring a used appliance home, ask how many days you have to return it if it doesn't work.

And make sure you test it long before the return period is up, so you don't waste your money.


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