If you have a Prime membership, it’s pretty easy to default to buying everything you need on Amazon. Need a book? A pair of headphones? A T-shirt? Is it time to restock on the shampoo you’re down to the final ounce of? Most of those things are easy to find on Amazon. And for the most part, you can expect to find pretty good deals on many of the household essentials and day-to-day items that you find yourself searching for on Amazon. But there are at least a few things that you shouldn’t buy on Amazon, like clothing, pet food, and school supplies, because you’re unlikely to actually find good deals on those items. Does the same logic hold true for tech purchases, too?
It turns out that there are a few gadgets and categories of electronics that you’re better off shopping for somewhere other than Amazon. If you’ve read any of our shopping guides before, you’ve probably caught on to our tendency to recommend that you do copious amounts of research before committing to any expensive electronics purchase. That’s no less important if you’re shopping on Amazon. In fact, it may be even more important to research what you’re getting on Amazon, since there are plenty of tech products that probably aren’t as good of a deal as Amazon would have you believe.
If you’re looking to save money (and avoid buying gadgets that won’t work as advertised), you should steer clear of a few tech products on everybody’s favorite online shopping platform. Read on to check out the electronics and accessories that we’d recommend skipping on your next Amazon shopping spree.
1. Apple chargers and cables
Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that more than 90% of Apple chargers and cables labeled as “genuine” on Amazon are actually fake. It’s not just products sold by third-party sellers that are fake — even those sold by Amazon directly are counterfeit items labeled as the real thing. The manufacturers behind these fake chargers and cables are not only deceiving consumers, but are providing accessories that may not have passed necessary safety tests. Apple offers a support page to help consumers tell the difference between authentic cables and counterfeit ones. But in the future, it’s probably better to avoid shopping for Apple cables and chargers on Amazon.
Batteries are a pretty important part of many gadgets, but you typically shouldn’t buy them on Amazon. If you’re buying standard-size batteries, like AA or AAA, they’ll be cheaper at your local Costco or Sam’s Club than on Amazon. That’s probably reason enough not to buy batteries on Amazon. But if you need another reason, How-To Geek reports that cheap third-party batteries for smartphones or laptops aren’t worth the savings. Poorly manufactured batteries can catch fire or explode, which would not only damage the device in question, but could hurt you and your family or even damage your house or your car. Third-party batteries and counterfeit batteries purchased on Amazon are likely produced as cheaply as possible. So you should skip the aftermarket battery and choose an official model when it comes time to replace the battery in your phone or laptop.
3. Counterfeit gadgets
Few people take to Amazon to purposefully buy a counterfeit product, but as How-To Geek reports, counterfeit products are all too prevalent on the platform. Even products that are “fulfilled by Amazon” come from third-party sellers, which means that Amazon hasn’t vetted the product. CNBC’s Ari Levy reports that Amazon’s “counterfeiting issue has exploded” at a time when more than 40% of Amazon’s unit sales come through its third-party marketplace. “Much of the expansion has occurred since Amazon started opening the floodgates to Chinese manufacturers,” Levy reports. Counterfeit chargers and batteries aren’t the only things you need to worry about. Counterfeit phones and computers exist too, and How-To Geek recommends avoiding Amazon listings that are sold by third-party sellers. Check reviews for red flags and claims of counterfeit products, and keep an eye out for positive reviews that seem fake.
4. Big-ticket items
MarketWatch reports that when it comes to expensive, big-ticket items, Amazon isn’t always your best bet. That includes some things that we wouldn’t typically consider tech products, like power tools and small kitchen appliances. This is also a good reminder that if you’re shopping for an expensive item like a computer or a TV, it pays to shop around and make sure that you’re getting the best deal. As Catey Hill reports for the publication, Savings.com data has shown that 58% of the time, you can get a better price on electronics at other places that aren’t Amazon. That may be because electronics retailers offer deals on certain expensive items to attract customers and to give you a reason to buy from them instead of from Amazon.
5. Extremely inexpensive devices
It would stand to reason that while big-ticket items may not be the best thing to purchase on Amazon, an inexpensive gadget is probably fine. But even (or especially) if you have a strict budget, it’s still a good idea to be careful about what you’re buying on Amazon. Looking for a cheap gadget without doing your research is a sure way to be disappointed. Whether you’re looking at smartphones under $50, MP3 players under $20, or earbuds under $5, you may find a great deal. But if you don’t read up on reviews and buying guides, you’re more likely to find a device that doesn’t function as well as its product description indicates. Do yourself a favor and do some research before you snap up a super-cheap gadget on Amazon.
6. Photography equipment
Sure, Amazon occasionally offers a great deal on a good lens or camera body. But if you’re really looking for the best deals on photography equipment, Amazon isn’t the platform to shop. MarketWatch reports that that’s because specialty photography retailers offer deals and promotions to stay competitive. You may not need to rule Amazon out completely in this category, since Amazon changes its prices much more frequently than the typical photography retailer. But on the other side of the coin, make sure that you look beyond Amazon when you’re comparing prices for the next piece of gear you need for your photography kit.