It’s hard to beat having things delivered straight to your door — even when you’re not stuck at home due to a pandemic.
Amazon has made it easy for anyone to order just about anything and have it delivered to their doorstep. But just because you can purchase something on Amazon, it doesn’t mean you should.
Following are some purchases that we don’t think you should ever make on Amazon — and our reasons why.
1. Kirkland-branded items
When you buy Kirkland-branded products on Amazon, you are buying from a third-party reseller, as Costco doesn’t sell its private-label products on Amazon. Costco says on its website that “Costco.com will not be liable for merchandise once it has been signed for and approved by the third party facility.”
Additionally, because Kirkland products on Amazon have gone through a third-party reseller, it’s possible that some of those products could be counterfeit or expired. A 2019 Quartz analysis also found that Kirkland products tend to be more expensive on Amazon.
If you have a Costco close to you, consider shopping there. Many items are also available to order on Costco.com and can be shipped to your home.
Even if you don’t have a membership, you still can shop at warehouses if you pay with a Costco gift card and shop online if you pay a surcharge, as we detail in “7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership.”
2. Add-on items you don’t need
Amazon offers what it calls “add-on items” — items that are low-priced but only available for purchase if your order totals $25.
While many of the add-on items are great deals, you will end up spending money to save money — which is never a good idea — if you buy an add-on item you don’t need.
Stick to buying add-on items that are already on your shopping list and avoid buying ones that simply looked good at the time.
3. Trader Joe’s products
Trader Joe’s items sold on Amazon can come with a high markup compared with buying in a store. They are sold by third-party sellers who may list damaged, expired or even counterfeit products.
A Trader Joe’s representative told Refinery 29 in 2019, “We do not authorize the reselling of our products and cannot stand behind the quality, safety or value of any Trader Joe’s product sold outside of our store.”
For more TJ’s shopping guidance, check out “15 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s.”
4. Paper towels
It’s easy to assume that household items such as paper towels are cheaper on Amazon. However, Money Talks News managing editor Karla Bowsher has a different take:
“Every single time I’ve compared per-square-foot prices, Costco’s Kirkland paper towels have been cheaper than even Amazon’s own brands of paper towels (Presto and Solimo). That was even the case on Prime Day.”
You might also find cheaper paper towels at stores like Walmart. So, compare prices before pulling out your credit card.
5. Ikea products
Since Ikea locations can be out of the way, it’s tempting to order their products online via Amazon. But Ikea no longer sells products online via Amazon, so everything you see on Amazon comes from third-party sellers.
Ikea offers many of its items online. You’ll pay at least $5 for shipping, but you’ll know that what you are getting is a new and genuine Ikea item.
6. Off-brand accessories for Apple devices
Accessories for Apple devices are not cheap, so it’s tempting to hop on Amazon and search for off-brand versions. But knock-off chargers, for example, can damage your iPhone’s motherboard — which isn’t easily or cheaply repaired.
“The Geniuses at the Apple won’t be able to help, either — they can’t make repairs to the motherboard. So if you don’t want to be stuck buying a new phone, you’ll have to go to an independent repair shop that offers microsoldering services. They’re the only ones who will be able to revive a mangled motherboard. Of course, it’s much easier to just avoid knock-off chargers in the first place.”
7. Almost anything else that is cheaper elsewhere
Don’t assume that Amazon has the best price on everything. At least comparison-shop at other online retailers before clicking the “buy” button.
Amazon’s prices also fluctuate, so something may be cheaper one day and more expensive the next. But free tools like CamelCamelCamel can tell you how the price for a certain item has fluctuated over time, which gives you a sense of whether Amazon’s current price is good.
To learn about other tools like CamelCamelCamel, check out “7 Free Tools for Saving More Money on Amazon.”
8. Fresh produce
If you order your food through Amazon Fresh — Amazon’s grocery delivery and pickup service — the quality of fresh produce can vary. You are relying on a shopper to select produce for you, so you may not get what you want.
When you go to a local store, on the other hand, you can pick out your own produce, ensuring you get the best size and quality for the price.
9. Anything with reviews you didn’t vet
You find what seems like a great product at an even better price and all the reviews are glowing. That’s an automatic buy, right? Not necessarily. Amazon has had issues with fake reviews in the past — as CNET reported in 2019, for example — so you might not want to take Amazon reviews at face value.
10. Designer items sold by third parties
While some designers sell their products through Amazon, many of the listings you will find are from third parties. So, it’s important to scrutinize each listing to ensure that the item you’re buying is sold by the company or an authorized reseller.
When buying through a third-party seller that is not an authorized reseller, there is no way to verify that what you’re getting is authentic.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.