/ Shopping

Have you tried an Aldi or Lidl ‘special buy’ appliance?

Appliances

Pop into Aldi or Lidl for your weekly shop and you might spy a tempting ‘special buy’ piled up in a corner. Both stores have a tradition of selling cheap gadgets for a limited time. Some of these products have impressed us – but what have your experiences been at home?

From hedge trimmers to coffee machines, these products are usually a bargain price compared to bigger brands.

But, Lidl and Aldi products rarely make it into our full lab tests as they’re only available for such a short time, meaning that by the time we’ve tested them they’ve already gone – incidentally, if you’re on the hunt for a high-spec pressure washer then Aldi has one for £80 on sale from Monday!

As part of our home appliance research team, I’ve tried a number of these products out to share with you our first impressions on these products and give a steer on which ones are worth buying.

Special buys

I’ve tried out gadgets including a £15 Lidl cordless iron and an £80 Lidl espresso machine with automatic milk frother – and in some cases I’ve been pleasantly surprised by them.

Knowing the kind of branded equivalents these gadgets are up against, the features you get with some of these products are impressive. And I thought some did a good job too, especially considering the price.

Many of these products also come with a three year warranty, which again is pretty generous for a small appliance, especially when they’re compared to similarly-priced competitors.

It seems like a no-brainer to take a punt on these cheaper gadgets then, and plenty of you are doing just that. Our reviews of Aldi and Lidl products are some of the most viewed on which.co.uk, and these products tend to sell out rapidly in stores too.

Highs and lows

Some products we’ve tried have fallen far short of the mark though, making jobs harder than they need to be – or just not doing their core job very well.

Others aren’t actually that much cheaper than branded products we’ve lab-tested, so that special buy may not be so special after all.

Have you ever bought one of these special buy products? What have your experiences been?

Have you ever bought an Aldi or Lidl appliance?

Yes - I loved it (51%, 528 Votes)

Yes - it's OK (24%, 251 Votes)

No (21%, 214 Votes)

Yes - I hated it (4%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,030

Loading ... Loading ...
Comments

I have bought many specials from both Aldi and Lidl. These have ranged from top-line computers to power tolls and other tools. Recently we have bought a small free-standing induction hob and a grill like a George Forman.

Quality has always been good in my view and experience. The reasons why there offerings are good I think derives from the fact that both companies are German and in Germany Test.de*, the German consumer testing body, is very highly respected and what they say about products can be damning.

Also Germans are always very technical and despite some cheating in the auto industry and some duff designs generally quality and longevity are much appreciated. Think Miele, Bosch etc.

*Test. de can be viewed and as the equivalent of Which? I find their testing is much more to my liking. Running washing machines non-stop for 6 months I think its a great way to find out if they will last a decade.

You would imagine that a Consumers’ Association belonging to international organisations including BEUC would be able to reproduce test results from its sister organisations – like Test.de which is often praised for its approach and work. They would lose no subscribers – how many British are members of other associations? – and it would save Which? considerable money that they could spend on other worthy projects.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Aldi and Lidl have always been owned by totally different families, but Aldi is divided into Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud and the two areas are run by brothers.

HOE DO YOU GET THE GERMAN SATELLITE TV

“But, Lidl and Aldi products rarely make it into our full lab tests as they’re only available for such a short time, ..” Nonetheless, if something is offered at a particularly low price we should query the quality. It would be useful if Which? got an expert to dismantle a product to check its build and components. We might then have a better idea on whether to purchase future offerings, and the ethos behind the brands.

I have bought many tools from them and currently have two types of sander , a powered scraper and some hand tools. The quality is good. The only thing I have chucked was the battery driven drill when the batteries had no power on re-charge and it was unnecessary for me to have a third drill. Currently an AEG Battery, AEG mains, and a very old Wolf.

Battery power is great but the chances of finding the right batteries in 3 or 5 years time may be slim or the cost heavy. Of course this could apply to any battery driven device so the question should be how long do you intend to keep it, and the company to supply. An area that should be of interest to consumers.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I don’t know any brand of DIY-grade power tools where replacement batteries are available at a sensible price. The old Ni-Cd batteries tended to fail prematurely unless used fairly regularly. Lithium batteries are better, especially at holding their charge, but I don’t know how long they will last.

It would be better for the environment if manufacturers would agree on standard sizes and voltages so we could have a few sizes of rechargeable batteries that would fit different brands of power tools, cameras, etc. At present, functional equipment is scrapped when the rechargeable batteries fail. Thank goodness we have a few sizes (e.g. AA) of rechargeable batteries that can be used in a variety of small electrical goods.

That is why I still keep my mains-powered tools. Although I also use cordless drills, sanders , etc, there are sometimes long periods in between uses and I suspect the batteries will fail well before the tools have done much work. So long as spares remain available for a sensible period, even at a price, that will be helpful.

The matter of non-standard batteries and eventual need for replacement is one that consumers need to address via some action. Some of us no doubt remember all the bespoke chargers that came with mobile phones. AFAIR it was the Chinese Govt who effectively enforced standard chargers and connectors.

In our Western consumer society we have allowed a wide variety which is basically ensuring a certain obsolencence. Great for manufacturers and a poor result for consumers and, via the consequent trashing, bad for the planet.

p.s. I find I actually have another Wolf drill – a diddy one with a chuck requiring a key. I also have a Lidl SDS breaker which apart from me allowing it to bind to a blade has performed very adequately in the 5hours usage over a decade. One of those tools which for some tasks is really necessary.

It’s great that the same charger can be used for phones and many other small electrical goods but zero out of ten for whoever came up with a connector that is not reversible.

I have a cheap Wickes SDS breaker/drill that has only been used once in the past 15 or 20 years. It saved me the cost of employing someone to repair a wall. We did not have a local Aldi or Lidl when I bought it.

Phone batteries, portable tools, car batteries, all are non standardised in one way or another – size, connection for example. A case where consumers’ associations world wide could get together and lobby for standardisation. Common mechanical and electrical connection would be my starting point, keyed for different voltages and current outputs. Is it workable? It will take years, but if you never start…… The International Standards Organisation would be that starting point. However, unless these consumer groups have direct representation on such bodies their voice will not be heard. I am still trying to find out what involvement Which? has with BSI.

I recently had to junk a perfectly good Worx cordless drill, simply because the NiCads were done and replacement Li-ions were prohibitively expensive. It set me to thinking.

Across all power tools voltages are within a fairly similar range: 12 – 18v. There are also around 30 manufacturers of battery cells world wide, with increasing numbers from China. Overall, therefore, that’s not a lot of manufacturers and a comparatively small voltage range. So it might be possible for an enterprising company to manufacture re-stock battery systems – i.e. replacement batteries in their raw state with an adaptor to fit most power tools on the market. I’d imagine the same could be done for cameras. I have around six digital still cameras and three video cameras – each of which takes a different shaped battery. But the cells inside each are not very different: merely the connector. But I’m certain that the reason we have such a plethora of batteries is simply that device manufacturers want us to remain dependent on their own brand battery and have to buy more and more of them.

The only appliance I have bought from Lidl was a small shredder, which failed after little use. Rather than take it back I decided to try and remove the jammed paper, but found out that it was damaged. I had not overloaded it and it was obvious that the build quality was poor.

I use the Lidl car park when visiting my bank. I particularly recommend their velcro-backed sanding discs which are on much cheaper than well known brands and nearly as good. Some of the other hardware items are good value for money and the quality is satisfactory. I have not used their power tools but they look a bit flimsy.

I bought some bypass pruners/loppers in Aldi some years ago. They were quite good to start with but soon the jaws spread at the centre bolt and I couldn’t tighten it so they were useless. Nevertheless, at the price I paid they were quite good value and might have lasted longer if I had stuck to cutting twigs.

I had forgotten about my Lidl loppers. 🙁 I could see that they were not heavily built but judged them good enough for shrubs and roses and I used them successfully for a few years. They were cheap and adequate for the intended purpose.

When I moved home I inherited some trees and the aluminium anvil on the loppers soon failed. I bought a pair of old stock Wilkinson Sword loppers that were heavily discounted and they have done a lot of work in the past year.

Tony Small says:
17 April 2017

I have purchased a Kettle and Radio from Lidl.
The kettle failed within weeks and the radio kept loosing its memory.
Both went back with no problem for a refund.
So no more electrical goods from Lidl or Aldi.

I BROUGHT A ALDI LAWNMOWER LAST YEAR AND THE WHEELS KEEP FALLING OFF. APART FROM THAT ITS A GOOD MOWER. BUT WHO WANTS TO KEEP STOPPING TO PUT THE WHEELS ON ALL THE TIME. IT WAS ALSO HARD TO MAKE THE GRASS BASKET, THAT COLLECTS THE GRASS WHEN MOWING.

Did they replace it when you took it back? Or did you get a refund?

The difference between the two is palpable when it comes to non-food items, especially tools etc.
Aldi seems to increasingly be sourcing low-cost/lower quality products from China, which In my experience are often not good value. I tend to avoid these items in Aldi now. Lidl appears to still source most of these products from suppliers in the likes of Germany, Austria and such, Generally their functionality and robustness is better, Consider the use and purpose of the purchase; I’d suggest if you were into DIY to get fewer, better quality tools. If you are only a very occasional user bear in mind garden kit rusts and corrodes so cheaper designs are often only good for a season and the don’t work. My advice, check the label and see where it is made – then decide how much you’ll use it. Let that then guide your choices – anyone for “disposable single use garden equipment?!”. Perhaps that is the way to look at it – if you get all the value from a single use it still makes economic, if not ecological sense.

Tend to agree Ian. We have bought quite a lot of the cheap garden tools from Lidl to stock a community garden project. The pruning saw blades go blunt fairly quickly, the logging saw blades are very thin and bendy and don’t last long either – but then they are very cheap and if they’re used only occasionally maybe it’s not a problem. Saw blades do seem to be one area where paying a bit more pays dividends in sharpness and longevity. I didn’t like the feel of the loppers, bit heavy and cumbersome, so while we have a couple for the project I haven’t bought them for use at home. I did buy the Lidl lawn scarifier/aerator for home use and that has been OK for the previous 2 seasons. I don’t know how good it is compared to a branded version, but at around £30 it does the job for us. The only real problem with it is the collecting bag is very small and fills up after only a few yards of lawn.

I don’t shop in Aldi as we don’t have a local store but do get a few things from Lidl.

I bought a battery charger with rechargeable batteries that didn’t work for long.

I needed a small table for my printer and Lidl just happened to have a light coloured wood one for £6.99 I think it was. An excellent purchase, it is sturdy and well built, the edges are all finished well and it is still going strong after several years.

I had a similar need for a small table to put my printer on. I found one I had made earlier – in third form woodwork to be exact [1961], complete with loose mortise joints and a damaged plywood top. It had been in the garden shed for years with stuff stacked on it but I refettled it, painted it, and it is now doing sterling service next to my desk with a new undershelf for storing replacement cartridges. Probably cost me more than £6.99 though. The stuff in the shed is now perched on top of some apple crates.

Linda says:
22 April 2017

I purchased a halogen oven and a multi 7 in one cooker {similar to an Instant Pot] over 3 years ago.
I use both of these gadgets most days and they are both brilliant.
Saving me both time and cost in energy used.

Linda says:
22 April 2017

OOPS forgot to say that both of these items were purchased from ALDI, absolutely brilliant!!

I bought a very fancy car battery charger from Lidl a few months ago and it is very good for battery charging. However, it also has a jump start facility which didn’t work when my battery went flat so I called out my breakdown service. They jump started my car instantly.

As the jump start instructions were very confusing, I emailed Lidl to ask for clarification of the instructions in case I was using it incorrectly. To my surprise, a few days later, a second battery charger was shipped to me from Germany (complete with moulded on continental mains plug that I had to cut off). But still no clarification of how to use it.

I have since tried to jump start my wife’s car but neither of the two chargers worked. I tried every possible way of using the chargers for jump starting but no luck.

Lidl now say they have lost all my details on this so I have just had to send them all the info all over again and I am waiting to hear from them.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Thank you Duncan. What you say makes sense but there is nothing in my instructions about an internal battery nor is there an indicator on the charger for this. Although, if it does have an internal battery, it could explain why it’s so surprisingly heavy.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan is referring to a power pack with an internal battery and heavy cables. Traditionally these contained a lead acid battery that must be kept fully charged to prevent deterioration, but smaller and lighter models with rechargeable lithium batteries are becoming more common.

The alternative is a starter/charger (without an internal battery), which has one or more charge settings plus a higher current ‘start’ setting for brief use. The type sold for DIY use does not provide enough power to start the engine, so the battery must be charged for a short period before attempting to start the engine. Mine does not have warning lights, though there is a meter to show the charge rate. I suspect that this is the type that David has and the reason it is heavy is that it contains a large transformer.

I think you may be right, wavechange. Looking through the ventilation slots there is a large iron armature that could be a transformer although, when it’s on, it sounds like an electric motor running. Either way, it still doesn’t work! And I’ve tried every possible way I could think of to use it (and that’s two chargers on two different cars).

This comment was removed at the request of the user

David – The hum is caused by a mains transformer with a laminated iron core – simple and reliable. If you have waited a few minutes before attempting to start the car, it seems like it is faulty. You can prove the point by seeing if the battery charger will light a spare car bulb. Hopefully Lidl will give you a refund.

Duncan – My power pack has a 12V 40Ah battery which I have used to jump start a 4 litre diesel engine. I think the small lithium ones that you refer to must work by partially recharging the vehicle battery, in the same way that a starter/charger does. Apart from being lighter and smaller than power packs based on lead-acid batteries, the lithium battery will not be damaged if not recharged promptly.

I’ve mainly bought Lidl ‘specials’ because they have a branch near where my partner lives (currently there is no ‘discounter’ within 10 miles of where I live, but an Aldi is due to open in August less than 200m from my house..) The few things I have bought from Aldi (mainly tools and bike wear) have all been excellent. Nearly everything from Lidl has been very good – and to their credit they will fully refund anything you’re not happy with within 28 days of purchase without quibbling. They usually offer guarantees against premature failures and have only had one such ocurrence – but it was cheaper to fix it myself than go through the hassle of sending it to their UK depot.

Val King says:
22 April 2017

I bought electric toothbrushes from them a few years ago – brushes outlasted the heads although I bought spares at the time. Tried to get more heads – even contacted Germany – impossible! Haven’t bought anything since and until they improve their after sales service I won’t!

Over the years we have bought many such appliances from Aldi and Lidl.
Quality is very variable.
Some have been excellent, some just good enough, some I wish I hadn’t, and some I took back in discust.
For example, I will be taking back for refund a ‘Water Pik’ or ‘Tooth Irrigator’. Due to poor quality of design or manufacture, the door to the water compartment will not stay shut, so you tend to drench yourself when using it. No good! When they work they are a great bit of kit; so I will be spending 3 times as much on a proper make, like Phillips.

My tips:
1. don’t buy the gadget unless you Actually NEED it! There is a big element of compulsive buying here – especially as you Know the product will vanish from sale in a couple of weeks.
2. If you do Really need this gadget – go elsewhere! You will often find the same thing, cheaper, better made, more reliable, available every week, and easier to return – from say Wilko (my favourite shop)!

Overall: buying “Special Purchases” from Aldi and Lidl can save money, can be exciting, but I suggest instead going to a proper shop where the item is a “Normal Purchase”.
Also you may have a lot less clutter in your house!

David Jones says:
22 April 2017

The Lidl deep fat fryer is the same (apart from the colour and minor cosmetic differences) as the Bosch one we previously owned. This was bought as a replacement for that and it works well. It is just what we wanted.

We Have bought many Special ‘Once it’s gone it’s gone’ items from Aldi and have been very, very pleased with them. On the very odd occaission we’ve had a problem (twice I think) we’ve taken it back and it has been changed without any fuss. One item we bought – a Power Washer – for cleaning patios and griveway, is fantastic; much more powerful than any Karcher we looked at and price wise, we could have bought two and had change against Karcher’s most powerful!! Long live Aldi, great supermarket.

Aldi “digital” microwave.
Had this about four years and it’s still going strong.
Easy to use, easy to clean and looks good with it’s stainless steel finish.
A real bargain compared to the short-lived branded make that we had before.

Aldi “digital” microwave.
Had this about five years and it is still going strong.
Easy to program, easy to clean and looks good with its stainless steel finish.
A real bargain compared to the short-lived branded one we had before

My husband bought me a weather station/clock from Lidl, that refuses to stay on UK time. It is alway on German time. Apart from that it’s fine! 😂

I had the same problem with a Wall Clock purchased for our church belfry for which Lidl received many complaints and comments but if one is clever, carefully remove the works or glass and physically move the hour hand one hour to English time, problem solved.

I like your simple and practical solution, David.

I have purchased many Appliances, Power Tools from both Lidl and Aldi with great success, have given me great service and I thoroughly recommend them. I am almost convinced that most are manufactured in
Germany and by major well known companies, most come with a 3 year warranty. If one is unlucky to get a faulty item both stores will replace it immediately or give a refund without question. What could be better?
Why are they so cheap?. Aldi and Lidl are most probably the 2 largest chain store groups in the World so therefore have fantastic buying power.