When it comes to online shopping, it’s like second nature for most of us to go to Amazon.com to buy the things we want, particularly Amazon Prime members who make their purchases using their voice-activated Alexa devices. For good reason, considering Amazon’s wide selection, good prices and reliable shipping policy.
But while Amazon provides indeed great opportunities and deals on many products, it does not always have the best deals on every one of them. If you want to know what you should never buy from the e-commerce juggernaut, here are our top 9 worst items to purchase on Amazon.
Name-Brand Clothing and Accessories
It’s a common practice for department stores, specialty stores and big-box retailers to offer in-store coupons or online discount codes for name-brand clothing and accessories. Sadly, you won’t find such offers on Amazon.
“You can easily spend at least 20% more buying name-brand clothing from Amazon compared to clothing-specific retailers such as Lands’ End, American Eagle or Macy’s,” says Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com, a site compiling in-store and online coupons and discount codes. “As long as it’s not a hot-ticket item that may sell out fast, you may want to wait until another retailer selling the same item has a sale (for example, an end-of-season clearance) or offers an online discount code”, James recommends.
Therefore, if you found a fashionable name-brand item on Amazon, do some research first and see what other retailers are selling it for. You might find a Cole Haan Bayleen Leather Tote on Amazon for $99.99, priced at Nordstrom Rack at $79.97
Electronics such as digital cameras, TVs or laptops can be purchased from Amazon or from a third-party seller on Amazon Marketplace but there’s a glitch: you cannot actually see or touch the items before purchasing them nor can you ask for information from a customer service representative.
The process becomes even more complicated when it comes to off-brand electronics that do not enjoy the reputation and reliability of name brands. This means you might end up buying a poor-quality product with a short lifespan.
More than that, on Amazon, third-party sellers offer subpar off-brand products or even name-brand knockoffs. “Even if there are a ton of five-star reviews, confirm they are substantive and don’t simply say the product is great without explanation,” says Saundra Latham from Cheapism.com.
Purchasing larger appliances such as refrigerators or washers can be tricky. Sure, you can find all sorts of useful reviews from customers but there is nothing better than being able to examine appliances up close in a real store. You have all the time in the world to peruse features, see all sorts of hook-ups and ask all kinds of questions to the sales representative.
Major retailers such as Best Buy and Sears Appliance Outlet are very popular among consumers on the hunt for large appliances. It’s simply easier to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need — the right size and specs — in-store,” Latham says. More than that, “you can haggle over the price, which physical retailers are willing to do face-to-face on large appliance purchases”, she adds.
If you really want to purchase such appliances through Amazon, stick with the Kenmore brand, which is directly sold by the e-commerce giant and for which there’s a two-day shipping period for Prime members. Just remember that returns are quite problematic and you’ll be responsible for scheduling the return and paying the shipping costs.
Costco Kirkland Products
You might not see any connection between Costco and Amazon, but the two giant retailers form quite a powerful pair based on a mutual interest: to make you buy. Therefore, you can find the warehouse club’s popular Kirkland Signature store-brand products also on Amazon.com.
You might feel inclined to skip Costco’s $60 annual membership fee and save some money by simply adding Kirkland products to your Amazon shopping cart. However, according to Cindy Livesey, founder of LivingRichWithCoupons.com., “the price mark-ups on all the Kirkland products sold on Amazon are substantial”.
For example, a 30-roll pack of Kirkland Signature 2-Ply Toilet Paper was $32.10 on Amazon, while the warehouse club sold the same package for $19.99. Bottom line: to find the best deals, it’s best to shop in-store at Costco.
High-End Beauty Products
If you’re looking for high-end cosmetic products, Amazon is probably not the best place to search. Not that their offer is not varied, it’s just that the site has a serious problem with counterfeiters in its third-party marketplace.
You wouldn’t want to pay for an Estee Lauder foundation and end up looking like you’ve painted your face with chalk, would you? Not to mention that the ingredients might be really harmful to your skin.
To make sure you’re getting an original product, the best option is to purchase high-end cosmetics directly from the manufacturer’s website or through an authorized retailer. If you don’t know if a certain retailer is authorized to sell a specific product, contact the manufacturer’s customer service department.
Some people like to plan ahead when it comes to their holiday shopping and stock up on essentials such as gift-wrapping paper well before the Christmas chaos is unleashed. If you’re one of them, you probably want to buy everything you need during the off-peak time of the year. While Amazon does provide a variety of options, its prices on gift wrap aren’t exactly the cheapest ones.
For you to have an idea, here’s a little comparison between Amazon prices on wrapping paper and the ones found in a dollar store. On Amazon, three rolls of wrapping paper cost $5.31. However, to avoid paying a $5.99 shipping fee you need to buy at least $25 worth of the stuff from the site. At Dollar Tree, the same type of wrapping paper rolls cost $1 each.
If there’s no dollar store close by, be on the lookout for holiday clearance sales at retailers such as Michaels, Walmart and Target. You should be able to squirrel away on gift-wrapping paper and other similar items in larger quantities at extremely discounted prices, according to Livesey.
Home Improvement Goods
No wonder home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot are among the most popular among customers. “Their vast inventory, knowledgeable staff and bargain prices are the main draw”, according to James from Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
If you want to score better deals than on Amazon, these retailers offer great discounts for hand and power tools, as well as hardware including nails and screws. For example, Kobalt 20-piece Standard and Metric Combination Ratchet Wrench Set totals $83.99 on Amazon while at Lowe’s you can find it for only $59.98.
The competition is strong, but these big-box retailers are successfully holding up against Amazon due to their suppliers. “They’re able to get their costs down and pass the savings on to their customers,” James says.
Come fall and you have to restock your children’s supply of pencils, pens, paper and notebooks all over again. When you’re on a budget, Amazon seems like the best option to make your purchases, more so if you’re a Prime member who benefits from expedited shipping.
Unfortunately, it’s the same story as with wrapping paper. Not even the all-mighty Amazon can top dollar store prices on school supplies. You can buy everything from composition notebooks to index cards to glue sticks for a fraction of what it costs on Amazon.
For instance, a four-pack of composition notebooks (100 sheets each) costs $8.79 on Amazon. On the other hand, at the Dollar General, four composition notebooks (100 sheets each) can be bought for $4.
There’s nothing you cannot find at IKEA, from their notorious blue plastic shopping bags to kitchenware and DIY furniture. But just like Costco, if you want to order and purchase such products and have them shipped to your home from Amazon, you should know there’s an extra shipping fee that needs to be paid.
To have a better understanding of how much more you’ll need to pay, IKEA sells a Fullandad whisk for 99 cents while Amazon charges $8.95 for the very same item. It’s not that we’re cheapskates or anything but $8 dollars extra is not something to be taken lightly! You’ll pay $89.99 for IKEA’s Kallax shelf unit in-store, while on Amazon it costs $174.95. That’s nearly double the manufacturer’s price! The comparison could go on for days but I’m sure you got the picture.
Apart from lower prices, another benefit of shopping directly with IKEA is becoming a member of their Family Club program. You’ll have access to exclusive discounts, rewards and treats at their cafe when you shop in-store.
Before winter comes, stocking up on ice melt to cover your home’s driveway and sidewalks is practically mandatory. If you want to score a great deal, you must do your homework and some comparison-shop first instead of jumping and buying the first product you see on Amazon.
Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae.com recommends purchasing ice melt from a big-box retailer. “I had no idea how much ice melt typically costs,” she says. A pet-safe ice melt with good ratings from customers on Amazon was somewhere around $30. “I was shocked by the price, but didn’t know any better so I made my purchase,” she adds. Shortly after, she found a similar item at Target for $12. “Once I received [the Amazon order] and realized my error, I tried to return it but had to either pay for return shipping or trek over to Kohl’s [which accepts Amazon returns] to make my free return,” she says.
What you need to remember from Bodge’s story is that if you buy a product from Amazon and want to return it, you will become responsible for covering the cost of trackable return shipping by mail.