There's a reason so many appliances are currently on backorder

There's a reason so many appliances are currently on backorder
Posted at 7:47 AM, Oct 27, 2020

Anyone looking to buy an appliance may need to wait a while — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some appliances are currently backordered for several weeks, even up to a few months.

Tobie Stanger, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, says that anyone currently in the market for home appliances should be flexible.

"If you really need a refrigerator, they're out there, but you may not get what you want. So you'll have to be flexible," Stanger said.

Consumer Reports has been around since 1936 and works to create a "fair" marketplace for all consumers. Stanger is an appliance expert and says some of the backlogs have to do with the pandemic and global factory shutdowns in the earlier part of the year.

Add that to increased use of home appliances and increased demand, and you've got a problem.

"The companies are trying to ramp it up. They still, in sone cases, cannot find parts," Stanger said. "I have been told by one of our retailers that there are a couple of manufacturers that are not taking new orders until the end of September. So, they're trying, but it's a real grind."

The Repair Association supports the aftermarket of "technology products" — anything with a computer chip. Gay Gordon-Byrne, the association's executive director, says the U.S. is overly reliant on China for all electronics.

"Everything from toys to tractors, refrigerators, cell phones, industrial controls — it is a massive problem if you can't fix that equipment," she said.

Gordon-Byrne says that since things are backordered, there's a huge demand for repairs — which creates more problems.

"About 90% of the stuff on the market today can't be fixed — it either can't be fixed because it's made not to be fixed, or you can't fix it without the (original equipment manufacturer) because they want to make sure they're the only people that can fix it," Gordon-Byrne said.

That means consumers are forced to buy new appliances — or, in this case, wait out the backlog.

Gordon-Byrne suggests supporting independent, small appliance businesses and repair shops.

Consumer Reports has similar advice.

"We recommend that, in addition to looking at the big box store, that you look at your local independent appliance dealer. They maybe have a reputation for not having as good a price, but we talked to many consumers who were able to get the independent to match the price," Stanger said.

Matt Zieminski, a board member at The Repair Association, says not to ignore the refurbished option.

"There is actually a thriving refurbish effort right now where a repair shop will go around and pick up those units, take the effort to pick them up, clean them make them as good as new again and then resell them," Zieminski said.

It may not be convenient, but the pandemic is forcing everyone to get creative and perhaps be patient to get what was once taken for granted.