Dishwasher Shopping Online is Not Easy

After shopping for a dishwasher online earlier this week, I’m thoroughly convinced that nobody is really taking this market seriously.

The two biggest problems I found were a lack of consistent specs, and no highlighting or differentiating or key features and benefits.

I ended up getting into this market after the motherboard fried in my current dishwasher (LOL, try saying that to someone 100 years ago) and it isn’t worth replacing.

I’ve decided that I’m willing to spend pretty much any amount on a dishwasher that I can justify since over the life of the product, it isn’t really that big of a difference.

So, I set out to research what’s available on the market. Home Depot is my first stop, where I drill down to standard size models in white. Then I’m stuck. There’s no good way to figure out the difference between a $300 and an $1100 model.

I then bounced around to other retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, and Sears. Shopping.com provides a link to an article that actually helps explain some of the features available at different price points.

Over time, I get a feel for features:

– A heat booster seems to be a good idea since it will wash the dishes with hotter water without jacking up my home’s water heater.

– The quieter the better.

– A time delayed start sounds nice.

– EnergyStar compliant seems like a must.

– A built in garbage disposal that can grind up food I’m too lazy to pre-rinse off sounds like a time saver.

– A soap tub that lets you dump an entire bottle into the thing so the machine can handle things from there? Sounds cool.

– Stainless steel tub? Hmmm, does that matter?

I eventually figure out that dishwashers seem to hover in $200 incremental price points starting at $300 and working up to $1100. So, you think there might be an easy way to figure out which features are added with each price jump You’d be wrong.

Like I said above, I’m willing to spend any amount that I can justify, so I was simply looking for a site that would help me understand what I’m getting for every $200 additional I spend.

Where do the retail sites fail?

1. They provide product comparisons, but only of the most rudimentary specs.

2. They don’t tell you which specs are actually worth paying attention to.

3. They don’t standardize the specs into human friendly terms. For example, I don’t really care what GE’s trademarked term is for their soap dispenser system.

4. They don’t humanize specs. Should I care than one unit creates 57 decibels of noise while another creates 55? Would I even notice? Can I talk over that? Watch a movie?

5. They don’t debunk (or simply hide) specs that don’t matter.

6. They don’t explain what’s involved in installing a dishwasher. Is this something I should attempt to do myself (probably not). If not, how do I get it installed and what will it cost?

Overall, I don’t think any of the sites I looked through were designed with the consumer in mind. A consumer, in my case (and most) who rarely shops for appliances, so needs to be educated on what actually matters when making a purchase. Specs alone – even when consistently provided – don’t help tell the story of why higher price points are justified.

Cocktail napkin this stuff.

I imagine there are plenty of qualified dishwasher salespeople working for each of the companies mentioned above. Have them break down why one would spend more for a dishwasher at each of the key price points on a single cocktail napkin. Translate that into the web and they’ll have a winner.

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