40 Things You Should Never Buy Online

Sensitive purchases should always be made IRL.

40 Things You Should Never Buy Online
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Thanks to the steep discounts that e-commerce retailers offer, shoppers are frequently enticed into buying more online. Though the internet feels like it was made for nabbing great deals on high-priced items like laptops and jewelry, some sensitive purchases should just never be made online. After all, you don’t want to end up with fake diamonds or medications that make you sick. With that in mind, here are the items that you should always buy in a brick-and-mortar store. And for more amazing shopping advice, here are 50 Things No One Over 50 Should Waste Their Money On.

1
Cars

Man with Car Keys in Hand Summer Fair

A car is not exactly a small purchase. Before you buy one, you’ll definitely want to give it a test drive or, at the very least, see it for yourself in person. Even Carfax, a company that promotes the sale of used cars, notes on their website that you should “never buy a used car without first seeing it and going on a test drive.”

2
Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments in Corner Dorm Room

A musical instrument is also a serious investment, even if it’s not as expensive as a car. You don’t want to risk buying one online that doesn’t play like you want it to. Plus, each musical instrument is different, and novices especially will want to go to a brick-and-mortar music store to enlist the help of a knowledgable employee. And for more shopping tips, don’t miss these 23 Genius Tricks for Shopping Craigslist.

3
Cosmetics

beauty products

The online counterfeit makeup and perfume industry is on the rise in the United States. Unfortunately it’s all too common for an online shopper to be enticed by the lower prices of fake versions of name-brand makeup and unknowingly purchase a knockoff. But since you can’t be sure of what ingredients are going into counterfeit concealers or mascaras, your best bet is to buy makeup in a store where you know everything is 100 percent authentic.

Plus, in store you can test the products and make sure you actually like them! And if you’re looking to invest in some new makeup, then check out The 30 Best Beauty Products As Picked by Cosmetologists.

4
Children’s Shoes

children's shoes, kids' shoes

Since children’s feet grow at such an exponential rate, it’s better to go to a brick-and-mortar store for a proper professional fitting than to buy shoes online that might not fit. Kids are especially finicky when it comes to footwear, so you’ll save yourself time, effort, and money by just going to the store to let your child try on shoes.

5
Flowers

Flowers tulips

Though ordering flowers online is certainly convenient, you don’t know what the final product is going to look like until it arrives at its final destination. As one experiment from Consumer Reports clearly demonstrated, what you see online is not always what you get, and this is especially the case with floral arrangements.

6
Furniture

Leather couch

There are several benefits to buying a piece of furniture in store versus online. For starters, most stores will offer either significant discounts or free shipping when items are purchased in person. Online shipping for large pieces of furniture, on the other hand, often ends up costing an arm and a leg.

Not only that, but buying an item in store gives you the chance to touch it and test it out before you buy it, ensuring that you actually want the item you’re eyeing before you pull the trigger. And if you’re looking to redecorate, then check out 30 Home Design Tricks That Will Make Any Room Look So Much Bigger.

7
Mattresses

cheap mattress Never Buy

According to Consumer Reports, a mattress—which can cost as much as $4,000—can last for as long as 10 years if treated properly. Seeing as this pricey purchase is such a long-term investment, it’s important to actually test out different mattresses at a certified retailer before you settle on one, taking into consideration everything from comfort to cost.

8
Swimsuits

beach swimsuits

For people who hate shopping for a new swimsuit (which is the majority of the population), buying swimwear online is less painful than actually going to the store. However, a swimsuit is one of the things you should never buy online, since fit tends to fluctuate depending on style and brand and not every retailer will allow returns.

9
Suits

tailor secrets, worst dating phrases

“Even if you know your size, the variety between suits can be vast, and a little fit can make a big difference,” John Park, CEO of coupon site Goodshop, explained to GOBankingRates. “Of all the clothes men buy, this is hardest to do online. It’s always easier to get a better fit in person.”

10
Fine Jewelry

diamond real missing treasure

Discounts on fine jewelry might be lurking all over the internet, but you can’t trust the quality of a cheap pair of diamond earrings online. Fine jewelry is a big investment, so it’s better in the longterm to spend the extra money on a high-quality in-store purchase than to cut costs with a less expensive online retailer who’s offering a lesser product.

11
Bicycles

Bicycle, scandalous

Before buying a new bicycle, you always want to test it out and make sure that it’s “the right size and fit,” Katherine Karrick Gianini, a certified cycling and triathlon coach, explained to Kiplinger.

Besides, bicycles often require repairs, and these are much easier to get done—and under warranty, no less—when the bike was purchased at a local retailer.

12
Fresh Produce

Reusable Shopping Bags House Cleaning

Online grocery delivery services are enticing in their convenience and effortlessness, but when you order perishable food online, you run the risk of ending up with bruised fruit and wilted vegetables. If you care about the quality of your produce, then it’s worth the extra few minutes to head to the store to grab what you need.

13
Wedding Dresses

woman shopping for a wedding dress, wedding planner secrets

Your wedding dress is the most important dress you’ll ever wear, so you’ll want to make sure that it fits your frame perfectly before making a final purchase. These online wedding dress purchase fails speak for themselves.

14
Prescriptions

Pill bottle

Even though it might be tempting to save a few dollars by ordering your medications through an online service, you should never do so unless you have the approval of your doctor. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50 percent of medication purchases made online are counterfeit, and they often contain unsafe ingredients, like drywall and boric acid.

Besides, Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean at the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, noted that by going in person to get your prescriptions, you can work with trained pharmacists who “are there to discuss your medications face-to-face.”

15
Bras

bras in drawer

Purchasing bras online is a risk, seeing as each undergarment has a specific fit that can only been determined in person.

One study of more than 1.3 million customer reviews in the fashion eCommerce industry found that some of the most commonly used words in online reviews are “size,” “fit,” and “quality.” That means most people who do end up buying online are either pleasantly surprised or unsurprisingly disappointed by the fit and feel of their purchase.

16
Sunglasses

Man outside wearing sunglasses

Unless you’ve tried on the pair you’re buying, buying sunglasses online is a risk that isn’t worth taking. If your shades come in the mail and it turns out that you hate the way they look or feel, then you’re stuck returning them (if that’s even an option).

17
Weight Loss Supplements

weight loss pills supplement industry

According to a WHO study of 14 European countries, western Europeans spend more than $14 billion a year on counterfeit illegal drugs, with almost half of those being weight loss supplements. In short, stay away from the online supplements.

18
Engagement Rings

engagement ring

An engagement ring is one of the most meaningful purchases a person ever makes (and if you’re lucky, you’ll only ever have to buy one). Though it might be tempting to purchase the ring online in order to save time and money—both of which you’ll need for wedding planning—you’re likely to get scammed by an unverified online retailer. You should just do your shopping in a jewelry store.

19
Wedding Bands

exchanging rings at a wedding ceremony

The same rules apply to wedding band purchases. These are rings that you are going to wear every day for the rest of your lives. So it’s worth hopping in the car with your partner and driving to a jeweler to try on rings, pick out your favorite, and get them sized to fit just right.

20
Liquor

Alcohol in Plastic Bottles, 40s

Unless you’re buying alcohol in bulk, it’s hard to justify the cost of shipping for an online order. And it’s a good bet there’s a liquor store within a short distance from your home. Plus, most bottles of liquor are made out of glass, thus making them especially prone to damage during the shipping process.

21
Paints

Painting Fence Boosting Your Home's Curb Appeal

Color swatches don’t always appear online how they’ll look in person. When it comes to something you’re going to have to look at every day, you want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you picked out.

22
Rugs

stripes small space decorating tips

Rugs are often the most important decorative item in any room, making it especially important to ensure that the one you’re buying is the proper color, fabric, and quality. And while some online retailers do offer returns on rugs, the process is a hassle and may even come at a cost to you.

23
Used Electronics

Woman Using Fingerprint Scanner on Smartphone

Buying used electronics online is always a gamble—and all too commonly, it’s one that doesn’t pay off. Though sellers on marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay will advertise their electronics to be in working or even pristine condition, buyers will often find that their purchases are broken beyond repair or even counterfeit.

24
Cheap Designer Goods

briefcase, Valentine's Day Gifts for him

Usually if something luxury like a Louis Vuitton wallet or a Coach handbag is priced well below market value with no logical explanation, then it’s safe to assume that the item is counterfeit. This is often the case with online resale sites like eBay and Mercari, where no third party is verifying the validity of items being sold.

25
Pets

royal corgis puppy

Animals are like children—and since you would never buy a child online, then you should never buy a pet online, either. If and when you decide to adopt an animal, you should go to the shelter and meet your new furry family member before signing the paperwork and bringing them home.

26
Antiques

antique furniture things you should never buy online

If you’re in the market to purchase expensive and rare antiques, then the online marketplace is probably not where you want to be looking. Though the internet can serve as a good starting point for gauging the value of the item you’re looking to buy, you should ultimately head to a certified auction house or antique reseller to get an authentic antique.

27
Taxidermy

Taxidermy deer Head on Wal

Believe it or not, many people will turn to the internet to sell illegal taxidermy—and if you don’t know the difference between what can and can’t be sold, then you might just find yourself purchasing contraband. For instance, “in every state in the union, it’s legal to go out and shoot a mallard, but it’s a felony to sell that mallard,” taxidermist Paul Rhymer explained to Men’s Journal.

28
Glasses

drugstore reading glasses Never Buy

Depending on how bad your eyesight is, your glasses are something that you’re going to have to wear every day—and because of that, you want to make sure that the frames you pick out actually flatter your face.

But if you buy your glasses online, you lose the ability to try different ones on, thereby giving yourself just one shot to find the perfect pair.

29
Emergency Contraception

adderall pills barista secrets

When it comes to anything that’s entering your body and influencing your natural homeostasis, you can never be too careful. And in the case of emergency contraception, it’s doubly important to go to a pharmacy to make your purchase, seeing as taking this medicine comes with many unpleasant side effects.

30
Vitamin Supplements


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regulate the $37 billion vitamin and supplement industry.

31
Sunscreen

woman applying sunscreen sunburn

Sketchy online retailers will do whatever it takes to get rid of their inventory, including changing the expiration date on a bottle of sunscreen. Unfortunately, what this means for the person who purchases said bottle is that they’ll likely end up with a sunburn, because “as sunscreen ages or is exposed to too much heat or moisture, its other ingredients dissipate… causing them to lose sun-blocking properties,” Sydney Ziverts, health and nutrition investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, explained to Health.

32
Protein Powder

protein shake higher energy

If stored in improper conditions, protein powder has the potential to grow bacteria, just like any other food. And what’s more, protein powders have counterfeit counterparts, which, while cheaper, don’t contain the same nutrients that the brand name ones do. Online, it’s hard to know what exactly you’re getting for your so-called healthy shakes.

33
Formula

bottle of baby formula

Because baby formula is often such a huge expense for new parents, many moms and dads will turn to the internet to find deep discounts on the powdered product.

However, unless you are purchasing from an online retailer that double-checks that all of its products are sealed and secure, it’s worth spending the extra money on formula in the store, just to know that your baby is consuming something safe. Plus, if the formula is delivered and left out in extreme temperatures for too long, the quality of the product can become compromised.

34
Shoes

blue dress blue shoes

Every brand and style of shoe fits differently. So when you buy a pair online without trying them on, you may find that your typical size is too small or too large.

If you don’t mind making several trips to the post office to return your online purchases, then feel free to buy your next pair of heels online. Otherwise, you can make one trip to the store and try on several sizes and styles until you have your Cinderella moment.

35
Jeans

hilarious words

The only thing harder to find than a pair of shoes that fit well is a pair of jeans that fit well. Some brands run small while others run big—and on top of that, each pair of jeans is going to fit differently. Because buying denim is already hard enough as it is, you should always make your purchases in person.

36
Frozen Foods

Froyo

You might be able to save some money by buying your frozen grocery items online. But if you forget when your food is supposed to be delivered, then you might just come home to a pile of melted, inedible products, which you’ll then have to spend even more money replacing.

37
Carbonated Drinks

bad puns

Carbonated drinks have been known to explode when exposed to excess direct sunlight, especially when temperatures are high. Instead of taking a chance with a delivery, just head to the grocery store and pick your favorite carbonated beverages up yourself to ensure that no can of soda or bottle of sparkling water is left out for too long.

38
Kitchen Appliances

wine on kitchen counter, rooms

According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, only 11 percent of consumers have ever bought a big ticket kitchen appliance, like a refrigerator, online. Though people prefer shopping for appliances in person versus online for several reasons, one of the biggest ones is that with a hands-on visit, you can get a better sense of a product’s functionality.

39
RVs

traveling and driving in an RV

Just like a car, an RV is a big automobile purchase that should only be made after seeing (and testing) the product in person. The internet is definitely a good resource for finding information about different types of RVs and the best places to find sellers. But you should never make a final purchase without first examining the product and making sure that it works.

40
Anything Illegal

Drugs, scandalous

Buying illicit items—whether in person or online—is always a bad idea. And yet, sites, like the now-shuttered Silk Road, pop up all the time that allow for such behavior. But what makes buying illegal goods online an especially bad idea is that these purchases can be traced back to you, which could potentially put you in trouble with the law. And if you think that you’re not breaking the law now, then you might want to read up on the 30 Illegal Things Practically Everyone Has Done.

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