15 Amazon Items That Aren’t as Good a Deal as They Seem

NEWS & TRENDING - SHOPPING & DEALS NEWS
Amazon’s product selection is impressive, but with some items, you’re simply better off buying elsewhere.
Updated May 1, 2024
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Man delivers Amazon Prime package

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In recent years, Amazon has made huge headway in the products it sells. The retail giant basically offers anything customers might have on their wish list. You can buy weekly groceries, a new TV, and a croquet set without so much as leaving your couch.

However, just because you can buy most things on Amazon does not mean you should. If you're looking for ways to reduce money stress, some of Amazon's "deals" can actually backfire on you.

Here is a list of 15 things you should not buy from Amazon — either because of the cost, the lack of quality, or both.

6 Genius Hacks Amazon Shoppers Must Know

Fresh produce

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe Amazon Fresh insulated grocery delivery bags on front porch

If you know people who use Amazon Fresh — or any of the other companies that offer delivery grocery service — you’ve likely heard complaints about the produce selection these shoppers receive.

Unless you can handle some wilting lettuce or a bruise on an apple, it’s probably best to do your own picking when it comes to fresh fruit and veggies.

Paper goods

Africa Studio/Adobe Rolls of paper towels on table indoors

Amazon occasionally offers good deals on goods like toilet paper or paper towels. Users can save a bit more by signing up for Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program.

However, big-box stores like Costco and BJ’s offer big discounts for buying products like these in bulk, so you might save more by buying there. In addition, putting your needed household purchases on autopilot at Amazon means you’ll be missing out on sales when they come around.

Pet food

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Outgoing lablador tasting delicious meal

It may be convenient, but Amazon does not offer the best bargains when it comes to buying pet food. A Consumers’ Checkbook analysis found that online pet shop Chewy beat Amazon’s prices by 18%.

Customers also might be better off heading to a bulk store like Costco or BJ’s. If you’re a Costco fan, make sure you take advantage of these genius shopping hacks.

Gift cards

dennizn/Adobe different gift cards

When you buy gift cards on Amazon (and most other places), you get what you pay for. So, a $50 Apple gift card is a $50 Apple gift card.

However, at other retailers, you can actually get gift cards worth more than the dollar amount that you paid for the card — such as a $500 Southwest Airlines gift card at Costco that only costs $450.

Pro tip: You can get bonus gift cards when you shop on Amazon using one of the best Amazon shopping credit cards.

Large appliances

Igor Kardasov/Adobe male customer choosing large fridges in domestic appliances section

Large appliances — like refrigerators or dishwashers — tend to get a lot of not-so-great reviews from customers on Amazon.

You may be able to get a good deal at Amazon, but there is a reason people stick to the staples like Home Depot or Best Buy for big-ticket items. By heading to the store, you can get a much better idea of what the product is like.

New makeup

Prostock-studio/Adobe woman trying different lipstick color online

Makeup is one of those items where it’s really best to be there when looking for new products. Amazon may offer convenience, but you can’t exactly test out a new foundation or lip color over the internet.

Amazon may be a good option if you’re simply stocking up on products you’ve already tried and that you know will work with your skin tone.

Birkenstock sandals

Elora/Adobe Birkenstocks on the beach

Birkenstocks — known for their casual and comfy sandals — pulled their products from Amazon a few years back, citing issues with Amazon’s business practices and the influx of fakes popping up on the market.

If you’re going to splurge on a pair of Birkenstocks, it’s best to do it on the company’s website.

Nike products

aperturesound/Adobe Red Nike shoes box

Nike doesn’t sell its products directly on Amazon either, meaning available products on Amazon are coming from third-party sellers.

The third-party market is largely unregulated, despite efforts by Amazon to ensure product quality. So, customers may not get exactly what they’re looking for.

Mattresses

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe partial view of woman sitting on mattress in furniture shop

Buying a mattress on Amazon may seem like a great idea, but this might not be as good a deal as appears on the surface.

For one thing, it’s usually a good idea to test out something you plan to sleep on every night before buying. For another, there are other online retailers that both let customers try out the mattress while also making returns simple

Off-brand chargers

ratmaner/Adobe Mobile phone with connected plug of charger

Purchasing off-brand phone chargers is one of those costly mistakes that often tempt customers. However, while the knock-off phone chargers may be cheaper upfront, they can lead to some expensive problems, like damaging your phone internally.

Clothing basics

Thaspol/Adobe Laptop showing Amazon logo and credit card shopping online

If you’re looking to cut back on Amazon spending, buying fewer clothing basics is one way to go about it. Other retailers — like Target or Macy’s — often have sales on basics like packs of socks and T-shirts, and customers can save even more if they have a store card.

Fine jewelry

Alliance/Adobe Young woman with shopping bags trying jewelry

It may work for a cheap necklace or pair of earrings, but Amazon is not the best place to splurge on expensive jewelry. For pricey pieces, it’s a good idea to look at jewelry in person to make sure it’s worth the money.

Also, Amazon’s return policy states that not all jewelry orders can be returned.

Cookware

fotofabrika/Adobe Frying pan on the gas stove in a kitchen

If you’re shopping for quality cookware, Amazon may not be the answer either. You can certainly get multi-piece cookware sets on Amazon and browse through reviews to find pots and pans that other customers approve of.

However, Amazon doesn’t always have the best bargains when it comes to cookware. Retailers with big brand names in their kitchen sections, like Macy’s, may give you more bang for your buck.

Expensive skincare products

All king of people/Adobe curly woman with small box of cream

Fake luxury skincare products have become a big problem on Amazon in recent years. The retail giant also doesn’t accept returns on all health and personal care orders.

Counterfeiters are targeting popular brands like Laneige and Urban Decay. So, if you’re a fan of splurging on skincare, it might be a good idea to stick to company websites or a trusted makeup shop like Sephora.

Designer labels

New Africa/Adobe Woman shopping online via smartphone indoors

Designer labels are another thing to avoid on Amazon due to online scammers. In many cases, parties selling luxury or designer goods on Amazon are not the designer. This is because these brands often want to maintain a level of exclusivity by not listing with the online retail giant.

If you’re planning to splurge on a luxury item, it’s a much safer bet to go to the brand’s own store or website.

Bottom line

Daria Nipot/Adobe  Amazon prime boxes and envelopes delivered to a front door

Amazon offers one of the best ways to boost your bank account by offering great selections and discounts. But despite the large selection of goods, it simply can’t offer the best of everything.

If you prefer shopping online, most of these items are easy enough to find by using other websites or services.. 

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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