Should you buy electrical appliances online or instore?

In a recent survey, CHOICE members gave online retailers an overall satisfaction score of 80. However, what are your thoughts?

We look at the pros and cons of both online and bricks and mortar stores:


Personally I shop in store, because when something goes wrong even the best online service can be frustrating.

This actually comes from buying a computer part online (shout out to PC Case Gear, excellent shop and service). After 2 months my computer stopped booting and I narrowed it down to the part I’d bought. Their customer service were excellent, but at the end of the day it still took well over a week to get it resolved because I had to mail it back before I could get a refund. At the time I needed that money before I could afford a new part. So I had no computer for more than a week.

For that reason I prefer somewhere I can take an appliance to if I have issues.


I always look at product ranges in store, as photographs of an appliance online doesn’t really give me a true impression of the product, its quality, how it works, it size and functionality etc. It allows one to play with the item before making a final decision.

I generally buy appliance in a brisk and mortar store but use online appliance stores and that of competitor retailers, for a price comparison. I also use the online price (inc. delivery) to negotiate a better price with a retail store. Generally they will match the online store delivered price for a take home item or for larger bulky items which need to be delivered.

We have also found that most bricks and mortar stores also have price matching policies/conditions such as "model, make and year of manufacture must be the same’, ‘it must be in stock and available for delivery from the online store’ and ‘price comparison with another bricks and mortar store must be in the same region’ (namely, not comparing a product in Cairns with a product in Sydney).


I bought an Elextrolux cooktop and Bosch range hood from and the cooktop box arrived in tatters. I took a photo; the TNT driver and I had a look and did not see any obvious problem inside. I sent an email with the photo and indicated since it looked OK no reason to send it back, but if when it was getting installed and we found a problem I would get back to them. They were very agreeable. Fast forward 6 weeks and the cooktop was bad. I contacted them by email after hours on a Sunday and on Monday they had another unit shipped as well as sent a return label for the original. I received both units overnight in Melbourne from Sydney.

There is a lot of good press about appliancesonline, but powerland deserves a look. They have some pretty stringent looking T&C but check productreview for them - just awesome. Not many businesses get that level of good feedback and no bad ones. IME of the one purchase they are a seriously class act.

Bought an Oliveri sink from appliancesonline and it was also an excellent experience.

FWIW we did not see any of the products prior to ordering; the cooktop and range hood were from the Choice review and manufacturer websites, and the sink was found from a google search. All the purchases were price sensitive.

Concurrently bought a NEFF dishwasher and Electrolux wall oven from the local Goodguys; their prices were very sharp on sale and both had the feature sets required as well as a decent Choice review of the oven. The NEFF dishwasher was not reviewed by Choice but seemed a clone of our Siemens and again priced right.

summary, very good experiences with bricks and mortar as well as online.