13 Amazon Purchases to Avoid at All Costs

NEWS & TRENDING - SHOPPING & DEALS NEWS
You might regret buying stuff in these categories from the world’s biggest online retailer.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
big warehouse package with Amazon logo

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It’s tempting to use Amazon to buy everything you need, especially if you’re a Prime member, and save money in other ways. And after two years of pandemic living, it just seems natural to have everything delivered.

But there are certain categories of products you shouldn’t buy on Amazon, for all kinds of different reasons. Let’s look at the items you should avoid buying at Amazon, even with free shipping.

Groceries

William/Adobe Amazon Fresh store in Ealing Broadway

It’s so easy to order everything from Amazon as a way to reduce your financial stress, but groceries at Amazon tend to be a mistake because it’s often priced higher than your local grocery stores, especially low-price leaders like Aldi and Costco.

You might think you come out better because of the free shipping, but since it’s not realistic to order everything you need, you’ll have to visit or order from other stores anyway.

Handmade items

freepeoplea/Adobe denim bag handmade sewing accessories

Handmade artists who sell on their own behalf sell through other platforms specifically targeted for handmade items. Anything handmade that you buy through Amazon is likely not being sold by the actual craftsperson. Instead, it may be made by low-paid, exploited labor.

Items with low ratings

meeboonstudio/Adobe Hand choosing 1-star rating review in the survey

There’s always the temptation to think that something could be great for you even if it hasn’t been good for other people, but be realistic. If it walks like a one-star item and quacks like a one-star item, it’s going to be a one-star item for you, too.

The Amazon algorithm will show you similar items with better ratings for you to buy instead.

Items with no ratings

fizkes/Adobe Upset confused African woman holding cellphone having problem with phone

What should you make of items with no ratings? There’s always the chance that something could just be new and it could be wonderful, but no one’s had the chance to review it yet.

If you’re comfortable taking that chance, then go for it. But most people order from Amazon because they don’t have time to mess around returning things that don’t work, so it might not be worth the hassle.

Defaulting to autoship

Kits Pix/Adobe Amazon box shipped to residential house internet order delivery

It is so tempting to get that lower price by choosing the “Subscribe and Save” tab. But if you don’t manage your subscriptions actively, you can end up buying way more of something than you really need because it gets sent too often.

Subscriptions are sometimes mentioned as one of the Amazon shopping hacks you should know, but knowing when not to subscribe may be a bigger hack because it saves you money on things you don’t really need.

Hot items

JuanCi Studio/Adobe hand of a user with a home automation device

If you’re trying to buy one of the hot items, like toys, technology, or games, you are likely to pay more for these at Amazon. The reason is that Amazon has the ability to adjust pricing rapidly according to demand, so the more people buy or even search for an item, the more likely it is that they’ll raise the price.

Items with prices that are too good to be true

RightFramePhotoVideo/Adobe Amazon app on iPhone

It’s a thought universally acknowledged that if the price seems impossibly low, you will not receive what you think you’re buying.

It may be useful to know that Amazon doesn’t completely vet sellers and the products they list because they have so many external sellers — which means there is no guarantee that a seller or the items they sell are legitimate.

Items that violate copyrights

dimbar76/Adobe Counterfeit sports men's shoes

Artists, designers, inventors, writers, and musicians put a lot of work into creating original products. Buying counterfeit items or items that violate their copyrights steals directly from them by preventing them from earning money on their labor and skills.

Buying items that violate copyrights may seem like a victimless crime, but there are real people behind every item who may lose out on income.

Beauty products

blackday/Adobe Makeup products

There are simply too many fake beauty products on Amazon that don’t contain the ingredients they claim to contain for you to take the chance to order them.

At best, these products will waste your money and your time with inactive ingredients. At worst, they could be unregulated, harmful, and even toxic. Order beauty products directly from the manufacturer or an authorized official reseller.


Items from brand-new sellers

PixieMe/Adobe amazon seller application

Brand-new sellers could have every intention in the world of selling you a quality item at a great price, but if they haven’t been selling for long, they don’t have all their processes and their supply chain down yet, and they may not be pricing correctly to be able to make money selling on Amazon.

Brand-new sellers are more likely to cause delayed orders, canceled orders because of supply and logistical problems, and general confusion. If you can, wait a few weeks until the seller has more experience and reviews.

Perishables

Grandbrothers/Adobe three recycled paper grocery bags with Amazon Prime and Whole Foods supermarket logos

The good thing about Amazon free shipping and two-day shipping is that it’s so fast. The bad thing about Amazon free shipping is that it runs on a strategy of overcommitting and over-promising.

It’s cheaper for a company to delay shipments and have to rush the few that customers complain about than it is to make sure every shipment actually gets there in time. 

This means that while you have a good chance of an on-time delivery of your food, live plants, and anything that has to be kept cold, it’s not unusual to have your shipment delayed a few days.

Knockoffs

Andrii/Adobe girl takes out glasses from a bag

Amazon can be a tempting place to look for duplicates or knockoffs of your favorite brands. The problem with those knockoffs is that they’re often made in sweatshops or in inhumane conditions. 

Your purchase just furthers the abuse of the workers and promotes human rights violations. The price isn’t worth it if you’re harming other people just to get a certain look.

Books

Mariakray/Adobe Amazon Books store in New York City

This is an odd one to be on this list because Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the world, but you may want to avoid it for certain books.

Authors often run promotions for signed books, extra content, merchandise, or alternative endings for people who buy their books through local bookstores or Bookshop.org. So, if you buy that book through Amazon you’re missing out on free extras.

Bottom line

Negro Elkha/Adobe package with wings

Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, so it makes sense to buy certain types of products from the site. But you’ll end up saving money and time by resisting things that don’t make sense to buy from Amazon. Instead, consider buying those items locally or from official sellers.

And to be smart when you do buy from Amazon, use the best cashback credit cards, wait for sales, and by all means compare prices with other sites.

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Author Details

Elizabeth Rollins Elizabeth Rollins has degrees in literature and business, and she's combined these loves into a career in writing about personal finance. Her special areas of interest are debt, value, budgeting, education, and retirement.

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