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Don't Get Iced! Consumer Reports Offers Tips On Buying Refrigerators

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RALEIGH, N.C. — We have to have a refrigerator, but people certainly do not like the cost, especially with some models priced at $1,000 or more. Consumer Reports has some advice for finding a reliable brand.

Getting a broken refrigerator fixed can be a hassle. Consumer Reports says according to a readers' survey, Maytag's side-by-side refrigerators are the least reliable of any leading brand.

"Almost a third of our readers who bought a Maytag side-by-side between 1995 and 2000 said they needed a repair or had a serious problem," said tester Tobie Stanger.

All refrigerators covered in the survey come with popular features, including an icemaker and an ice and water dispenser. The survey shows two other brands of side-by-side refrigerators have problems besides Maytag.

"The Maytags required repairs 31 percent of the time, the Frigidaires 25 percent and the Amanas 19 percent. These figures represent experience with the brand as a whole," Stanger said. "Your experience with an individual model may vary."

Consumer Reports says you can improve your chances of getting a reliable side-by-side refrigerator by choosing one made by Whirlpool, KitchenAid, General Electric or Kenmore, sold by Sears.

"We can't guarantee that you won't have a problem because new models are coming out all the time, but we have found that a brand's repair history is a very good indicator of reliability," Stanger said.

Another thing to keep in mind is refrigerators that carry the Energy Star rating will help you save money on electricity. The star means the refrigerator uses at least 10 percent less energy than what is allowed by the government.

© Copyright 2001 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All rights reserved.