Archive for the ‘ Shopping for a blender ’ Category

Holiday Promotional Pricing on Vitamix (Awesome Pricing!)

I received an e-mail from Vitamix this afternoon that I thought would be worth sharing.  Vitamix has never been one to have sales or coupons, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they’ve got some very attractive prices on their Certified Reconditioned series.

In previous years, the biggest promotion I’ve ever seen Vitamix offer in November is a Black Friday $50 off their 5200 Healthy Lifestyle package, and these deals look much more attractive than anything I’ve seen on the reconditioned series in the past.  These days, people that people start looking for Black Friday specials in October, so I it makes sense that Vitamix is starting their promotional holiday pricing now.  I’m still surprised, since I think it’s a more attractive promotion than anything I’ve seen Vitamix offers in past years.

I’ve written about whether or not the 7500 is worth the extra money, but with the promotional price on the Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard (the Vitamix 5200 and its sister models), I’d probably recommend that as the most attractive model to someone who’s been on the fence.  (Maybe it’s the psychological impact of them crossing the $300 threshold) It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it priced, and significantly cheaper than when I purchased my first Vitamix, which also happened to be a Certified Reconditioned Standard.  I loved that blender, it’s still under warranty, and my parents are still using it very regularly today.

For those interested in the actual e-mail, here it is, in it’s entirety:

I received this e-mail from Vitamix in my inbox this afternoon, they have some very attractive prices on their reconditioned vitamix blenders right now

I received this e-mail from Vitamix in my inbox this afternoon

In my post explaining why I think Vitamixes are worth the price, I list several reasons.  All of those reasons apply to the refurbished models as well, which all come with a 5-year warranty.  Both new and refurbished models can be ordered directly from Vitamix.com, and the free shipping combined with the saving on the refurbished models make ordering a refurb directly from Vitamix.com the most reasonable way to pick up a Vitamix blender that I have found.

Update (11/27/2012):  As seen on this page, now through Cyber Monday, Vitamix is offering $50 off any container purchase.  That page also has confirmation that the promotional pricing mentioned here is only good through Saturday, November 30th.

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Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Series Update

I got an e-mail in my inbox with a link to information about Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Series, and it had some information I wasn’t familiar with, and I thought it’d be great information to share.

There are a lot more reconditioned options than I’d previously been aware of.  Here are the five options that currently exist, ordered from most-to-least expensive:

Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Programs

This option applies specifically to the Professional Series 750.  It is essentially the new 7500/Professional Series 300/Creations Elite with the addition of preset program options.

Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Blenders

This option refers to the Vitamix 7500, Professional Series 300 and Creations Elite models, which are essentially the same blender body in different colors with a different faceplate and name.  I purchased a 7500 when it first came out and I currently use a Pro 300.  In my post, What is the difference between a Vitamix 7500 and a Vitamix Professional Series 300?, there are photos of the two blenders side-by-side and the DVD and cookbooks they came with.  As I describe in this post, the refurbished next generation option is what I would lean towards if I were purchasing a Vitamix today.

Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard Program Blenders

This option applies is either the 6300 or Professional Series 500.  Similar to the Professional Series 750, the body is the 5200/Creations II/Professional Series blender body with the addition of preset program options.

Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard

This is what I bought way back before I started this blog.  It was my first Vitamix, and it cost more back then than it does today.  There are a large number of blender models this can refer to:  5200, CIA Professional Series, Creations II, Creations GC, Professional Series 200, Total Nutrition Center, or TurboBlend VS.  Mine was a Creations II, which continues to make smoothies, hummus and more on a regular basis at my parents house.

Certified Reconditioned Two Speed

This is the blender I know the least about.  The reconditioned two speeds can refer to either the TurboBlend Two Speed, or the CIA Creations.

The blender bodies themselves are equally functional to the other models in their classification.  The big difference, as seen in this post, is the extras, but each of the models listed above is very clear about the extras (cookbook, etc.) that they include, so you know exactly what you’re getting with the exception of the name on the face plate.

In my post explaining why I think Vitamixes are worth the price, I list several reasons.  All of those reasons apply to the refurbished models as well, which all come with a 5-year warranty.  Both new and refurbished models can be ordered directly from Vitamix with the free shipping, and the free shipping combined with the saving on the refurbished models make ordering a refurb directly from Vitamix.com the most reasonable way to pick up a Vitamix blender that I have found.

$30 Off on the Vitamix 5200 Super Package at Costco.com

Costco is currently running a $30 off promotion on their Vitamix 5200 Super Package, which is a good deal for the right person:

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Personally, having owned and used the Vitamix 5200 and 7500 extensively, I prefer the 7500.  Whether you think the 7500 is worth the additional expense or not is up to personal preference.  I wrote a post about that topic that goes into more detail, but my personal opinion is that it is.

That said, if someone were more interested in the 5200 model, and they wanted the dry grains container, this could be a great deal.  Currently, Vitamix sells the very similar Vitamix 5200 Super – Healthy Lifestyle, the bundle they offered $50 of on Black Friday 2012, and I thought that was a good deal for someone who wanted the 5200 and dry grains container.

The value question to me would come down to three things:

First, do I want the 7500 or the 5200?  Again, having owned both, I do prefer the 7500.

Second, do I want the dry grains container?  Maybe I’m totally missing out, but I don’t blend enough dry grains to justify a dry blade container, but I absolutely recognize there are people who would use it regularly.

Third, do I want the new model, or am I happy to go with the 5-year warranty instead of a 7-year warranty and buy the refurbished 5200 or refurbished 7500 instead.  I’ve written about why I think a Vitamix is absolutely worth the price, and my fantastic experiences with Vitamix’s customer service team is both the biggest section of that post, and one of the most compelling reasons to buy a Vitamix, but even five years is an extremely long warranty, and as someone who watches his pennies, I tend to lean towards the refurbished models as the most bang for one’s buck.  (If you are ordering from Vitamix directly, they do include free shipping.)

Obviously this bundle isn’t a great match for me, but if you’d choose 5200, dry grains container and new as your answers to the three questions above, Costco’s got a great deal through the 18th of August!

Why would I spend so much money on a Vitamix Blender?

I definitely understand how crazy it sounds to some people to spend three figures on a blender. I deliberated myself for a few weeks before I finally decided to buy my first Vitamix blender, and I started this blender blog in part to make sure I kept using the blender.

Two years later, I have no regrets, and would encourage people who are on the fence to buy a Vitamix. In this post, I’ll try to articulate the reasons I think a Vitamix blender is worth the price, focusing on some key points and sharing my personal experiences.

 

Extremely High Performance Blender

Almost everyone would agree that Vitamix makes phenomenal blenders. Impartial reviews universally praise the Vitamix. One such example is a blender showdown by Popular Mechanics, where the Vitamix 5200 had the smoothest results of the five manufacturers that were tested, and Vitamix shares the top spot in the most recent Consumer Reports blender rankings.

Yes, there are other high performance blenders available, but it’s good to be aware of difference between an average blender you might find at a big box store and a high quality, high powered blender. Peanut butter and hummus made with fresh sesame seeds instead of tahini paste are examples of things that you just can’t make in your average blender.

But even if you’re not interested in making something that demanding, the texture difference between an inexpensive blender and a high powered blender is profound. Something as simple as a frozen banana and milk or ice cubes and fresh fruit is amazing with the right texture. I love Hawaiian shave ice, or as it’s called in Japan, かき氷 (kakigori), but I have virtually no interest in snow cones, and the only difference is texture. Whether it’s frozen treats, soups, dips or sauces, if the texture is better, the end results tastes better.

 

Extremely Good Customer Service

I have killed my fair share of less expensive blenders. The ice cubes and frozen bananas I mentioned above that blend in my Vitamix have both been culprits in the early demise of cheaper blenders. Most, if not all, of those blenders probably had a one-year warranty, and broke inside the first year. I didn’t have any of them replaced with their warranty because I have jumped through similar hoops with other household products (most recently an electric blanket) and it usually ends up being more hassle than it’s worth, even if you did keep the receipt.

I will admit, I have a very low tolerance for automated call centers that ask me to enter model numbers with my touch tone phone and/or it require navigating multiple menus and a lengthy hold time before speaking with a representative reading from a script.

One of the reasons I purchased my Vitamix is because of the experience I had when I first called them to ask a few questions about their blender while I was on the fence. I almost immediately spoke with a real person who was very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions and concerns. I felt like, if I ever did have an issue with my blender, they would actually take care of me.

Sure enough, they did. I’ve actually had two issues with my blender, and both times, I was shocked with how good Vitamix’s service was.

My first issue, which is detailed in this post, was likely something I was partially responsible for, as I was throwing peanut butter, mochi, squash and a lot of other tough ingredients in the blender to see what it could handle. When a piece of the blender finally broke, I called Vitamix. I spoke with a representative who explained the piece that broke was designed to break under high stress to protect the rest of the blender.  She sent me out a prepaid shipping label to send everything back to VitaMix at no charge.

Less than two weeks later, I had my repaired blender back, along with a brand new blender jar, and it hadn’t cost me a dime, only a few minutes on the phone.

I was very impressed, but my second experience with Vitamix support was even better. I liked my Vitamix so much that I bought a Vitamix 7500, planning to give my 5200 to my parents for Christmas. I stuck the wrong tamper into the 7500 blender running on high and, well, there’s a picture over in this old post that’s worth a thousand words.

I called Vitamix with a mea culpa, explaining that I had done something very dumb, damaging both the blade assembly and my tamper, expecting to pay to fix one or both damaged items. Not only did Vitamix support say they would replace both under warranty, but when I explained that I was heading to Florida soon for Christmas, and that I was bringing the 5200, without blinking, the woman I was speaking with asked for my parents’ address, saying they’d try to get the tamper to my parents’ house before Christmas, and would send the blade assembly for the new blender to my house so it’d be waiting when I got back home.

In January of this year, when I was able to get a Pro 300 for free from work, they let me return my 7500 without any trouble, paying for the return shipping.  I cannot think of another company with customer service that can hold a candle to those three experiences.

 

Extremely Long Warranty

Vitamix’s standard warranty is seven years. Those customer service stories I shared above? They’re even more amazing when you consider that you are covered for seven years when you buy a new Vitamix blender. Even when you buy a reconditioned blender from Vitamix, it comes with a 5-year warranty, standard.

 

Extremely Long History

One of things that surprised me about my Vitamix is that is made in the USA. I just checked, and it is the only kitchen appliance in my house that is made in the USA, and even states proudly on the label that it is “made with a minimum of 70% U.S.A. content.” (I have a high quality Zojirushi rice cooker that is made in Japan, but outside of my rice cooker and Vitamix, every other appliance in my kitchen is, you guessed it, made in China.)

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Vitamix was founded in America three generations ago back when high quality kitchen appliances were built in America and built to last. They’re actually still making high quality kitchen appliances in America that are built to last.

Their current president is the great-grandson of the founder, and no blender manufacturer has been around as long, or been as focused on blenders, as Vitamix. That seven year warranty I mentioned above provides that much more piece of mind when you realize that seven years is less than a tenth of the company’s history.

 

Extremely Good Controls

Maybe this doesn’t deserve it’s own subheading, and what I’m about to go into is certainly personal preference, but I want to mention the controls. I’ve had more than one person ask me about the analog dial and switches compared to other blenders with presets and buttons.

My parents replaced there older electric stove top with a new one with an LCD that offers, L, 2-9 and H for each burner. They like it, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who prefer that, but I very much prefer having my natural gas stove, and the analog controls that go with it. That’s how I feel about the controls on my Vitamix. I don’t want to press a button with the assumption that 60 seconds is the right amount of time for the texture I’m looking for, I’d rather have control over the strength and duration.

The pulse option of the 7500 is a nice feature I occasionally use, but even if I went back to using a 5200, I’d prefer those controls over something just buttons and presets. (This is coming from a computer nerd.)  My view point is obviously not universal, as Vitamix offers more than one version of the 7500/Pro 300 that does have presets.

 

Should everyone go out and buy a blender this expensive and this nice? Absolutely not. I’m one of those people that falls into the category of regular blender user and I think it’s a wonderful kitchen appliance for people who will use it regularly.

When my family moved from Japan to America after the March 11th earthquake, we had to get rid of all our electrical appliances that wouldn’t work with American voltage, which included the blender my wife had gotten me as a gift years earlier.  She bought me a nice blender because I told her about my history of killing cheap ones making frozen drinks.  The one blender she had bought me in Japan survived more frozen drinks than all the blenders I had gone through in high school and college.

The satisfaction I derived from using a quality blender in Japan, contrasted with the frustrations of dealing with blenders jamming, breaking and leaving chunks pushed me to finally spending the money to buy a nice blender in the states. I was worried that I’d regret the decision, to the point that I started this blog to maximize the chances I wouldn’t, which is ironic, because years later, the reason the blog has seen the 50+ posts that it has is because it’s one of my favorite purchases.

My uncle has an impressive collection of high quality tools. His motto on quality products is: “You can cheap out on a tool, and regret the decision every time the tool breaks or isn’t up to a task. Or, you can spend the extra money on a quality tool, where you might feel some regret when you first pay for it, but every time you go to use that tool after that, you’ll be glad you have it.”

I think that sums it up pretty well.

 

If you are wondering whether the 7500 or 5200 is right for you, I recommend this post: Is the Vitamix 7500 worth the extra money?
Buying a Vitamix on a budget?  I talk about the refurbished option in this post:  How to get a Vita-Mix 7500 (for a great price!)
If you do decide to buy a Vitamix, I recommend buying direct from Vitamix.com.

New Refurbished blender option available at Vitamix.com

I don’t know exactly how new this is, but I hadn’t noticed it before today.

Someone asked about the difference between a Creations Elite and the Vitamix 7500 on this post, and to answer them, I went over to Vitamix.com to find the page that says:   “Certified Reconditioned Next Generation blenders may reflect one of the following labels: 7500, Professional Series 300, or Creations Elite.”

While I was there, I noticed an option I hadn’t seen before:

Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs

Basically, like the Certified Reconditioned Next Generation blender, which can be one of the three, basically identical, models mentioned above, the “Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs blenders may reflect one of the following labels: 6300 or Professional Series 500.” (That’s a direct quote from that link)

Now, at $329 for the older 5200/Creations II model, $379 for the programmable versions and $399 for the 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite, if someone were to ask me what my recommendation would be, I’d have a very easy answer.

$399 is the best price for the 7500 I’ve seen anywhere, and I absolutely love mine.

My mom loves my old Creations II/5200 that I gave her, and if I didn’t have either, and couldn’t swing the $399 but I could swing the $329, I would definitely be satisfied with the older 5200.  For me, I just don’t want the programmable functionality enough to be interested in the 6300 or 500.  I’m sure there’s a group they’re appealing to, after all, the Blendtecs tend to be all about programmed buttons, but I honestly just prefer the analog control and the appeal of being hands on with my blender when I’m using it.

Anyway, all of the above prices are refurbished models over at the Vitamix website, but with the 5-year warranty and the ridiculous service (those are two separate links) Vitamix has, it’s what this penny pincher finds the most compelling bargain on a Vitamix.  (I can say as many nice things about Vitamix as I can unkind things about United, their 5-year warranty is amazing.)  I do recommend, based on their excellent service, purchasing directly from Vitamix.com.

How to get a Vita-Mix 7500 (for a great price!)

Admittedly that title is a play on my 2011 post:  How to get a Vita-Mix 5200 (for a great price!)

I’ve been asked, and written posts about, whether I’d recommend the refurbished 5200 Vitamix for $329 or the newer 7500 for $529.  The short answer to that question is that I did purchase a 7500, despite owning a 5200 (which I gave to my parents), but I recognized that not everyone could afford the extra cost of the 7500.

The extra cost of a 7500/Professional 300 model blender has now shrunk considerably.  The refurbished 5200 is still at Vitamix.com, but a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite is also available for $399!  I’ve written entire posts about why I love Vitamix, but the short answer is:  Customer Service.  Because of what a good job they do, and the fact that a 5-year warranty that comes with the “Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Blenders”, I would have zero hesitation in recommending that as the Vitamix to buy if you’re in the market for a Vitamix and you can swing the extra $70 over the refurbished 5200.

To paraphrase/plagiarize my own 2011 post:  If anyone is interested in getting a Vita-Mix 7500 for the best possible price, assuming that Vitamix is still offering it, I highly recommend the refurbished 7500.  Also, just based on my experiences dealing with Vitamix directly, I do recommend purchasing directly from Vitamix.com.

This time around, I didn’t wait long enough to pick up the refurbished option, but if I didn’t have a Vitamix already, the refurbished deal is what I’d be getting.

What is the difference between a Vitamix 7500 and a Vitamix Professional Series 300?

I am now the owner of a new Vitamix Professional Series 300!  My company has a rewards program that allowed me to get a Vitamix Professional Series 300, and it was far more interesting to me than any of my other options.  Now, I had just recently purchased a Vitamix 7500, but I called Vitamix and confirmed that they would allow me to return my Vitamix 7500, which means I could get essentially the same blender I bought in October, without spending money on it!

Vitamix 7500 (left) and Professional Series 300 (right)

My Vitamix 7500 (on the left) and Professional Series 300 (on the right)

Now, before talk about the similarities of the 7500 and Professional Series 300 in any detail, I want to say again how impressed with Vitamix I am.  They have seriously impressed me in the past, and returning my Vitamix 7500 was another example of service where I could not have been more impressed.

In addition to allowing me to keep the cutting boards and spatula they sent as gifts with the Vitamix 7500, they even sent me a return label, which means I paid nothing, not even shipping when buying or returning the 7500.  (I used coupon code 06-006651 when I bought the blender, which gave me free shipping.)  And my return experience is not nearly as impressive as my earlier experience that I linked to above, but it’s yet another case where I could not have asked for better service at any point in dealing with Vitamix.  (More specifically, it was Brenda Kilbane at Vitamix who made buying this and returning this a breeze.  Here’s her information, if anyone is interested in speaking to her:  1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and use the 06-006651 coupon code for free shipping.)

Now, on to talking about the similarities of the Vitamix 7500 and the Professional Series 300. They are, for all practical purposes, the same blender base, container, tamper and lid.  The faceplate itself comes in different colors, and the name written on the faceplate is different, but that really is it as far as I can tell.

The only meaningful differences between the two are what you get with the blender, and even that’s very similar:

The cookbook, getting started guide and owner's manual for the Professional Series 300 and Vitamix 7500

The cookbook, getting started guide and owner’s manual for the Professional Series 300 (left) and Vitamix 7500 (right).

Honestly, I never opened the cookbook for the 7500 because I already had the 5200’s excellent Whole Food Recipes cookbook, and I didn’t want to open the shrink wrap once I knew I was returning it.  That said, a simple visual comparison shows that the Professional Series is a larger book:

The cookbooks you get with various Vitamix blenders

The “create” book that comes with the Professional Series 300 book on the left, the “simply fresh” book that comes with the Vitamix 7500 on the right, with the Whole Food Recipes book the Vitamix 5200 comes with behind them.

Yes, the Professional Series 300’s cookbook is larger (354 pages), and it is a nice hardcover book, complete with both a jacket, and nice silver embossed text under the hardcover jacket, but I don’t know that I would recommend spending the extra money on the 300 unless someone really wanted the nicer cookbook.*

As for the existence of two extremely similar blenders sets under two different names?  That doesn’t seem to be anything new for Vitamix.  The precursor to the Professional Series 300 was a Professional Series 200, which looks identical to the Vitamix 5200, and when I first bought my first Vitamix blender (which I later gave to my parents), it was then sold as a reconditioned 5200, but was actually had the “Creations II” name on the blender body faceplate.  (Today that reconditioned option is still available, but it’s now called the Certified Reconditioned , and I still think it’s the best bang for your buck if you’re looking at getting a Vitamix blender, especially if you’re only looking at the 5200 anyway.)

I hope that’s helpful for anyone who, like me, was wondering what the differences were. My 7500 is in a UPS truck on it’s way back to Vitamix, and aside from the difference in faceplate color, I don’t anticipate noticing any differences with my new Vitamix Professional Series 300.

*The price difference is based on the difference in price at Vitamix.com, with the assumption that you’d be ordering from Vitamix.com directly. Vitamix.com is the most affordable way to order a new 7500 that I’ve found, and includes free shipping.

Update (3/23/2013): In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available. I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

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