Things You Should Never Buy Online

Shopping online is fast and convenient. With the click of a mouse, you can order everything from clothing to food. However, there are some items you should just buy at a brick-and-mortar store. Certain purchases could be a risky buy if you put them in your virtual cart and have them shipped to you, sight unseen. Sometimes, a picture on a website isn’t enough information to go on, even if there are reviews.

Here are some things you should never buy online.

1. Swimwear

Balconette bikini - flattering swimsuits under $50

Stock model photos probably won’t give you a great idea of what a swimsuit will look like on you. |

A trip to the beach isn’t complete without swim attire. However, your beach gear should fit properly. Poorly fitting swimwear just isn’t attractive. So do yourself a favor and head on over to the store so you can try on your beach outfit. Just make sure to keep your undergarments on when you’re trying on a swimsuit. This could help decrease your chances of coming into contact with bacteria.

2. A house

House Dallas

Would you make the most expensive purchase of your life based on just a few pictures online? | Trulia

You can buy just about anything online — even a house. However, a big part of the homebuying process is coming to the property so you can visually inspect it. You’ll want to make sure the home is in good condition and that you feel comfortable there. This is one purchase you don’t want to regret later. If you’re thinking of purchasing a home through an online auction, use caution. Many auction websites sell homes “as is.” And you also might not be able to see the inside of the home or even have it inspected before you make your purchase. Since you’ll be investing so much money in your home, it’s important to actually see it in person beforehand.

3. Children’s shoes

TOMS shoes

Children’s shoe sizes can vary from brand to brand. | Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Amazon

If you’re a parent or you take care of children, you know how fast they grow. This is why it’s best to purchase children’s shoes directly from a store. Their little feet should be measured so you can get a proper fit. In addition, shoe sizes can be different depending on the brand. Just because a child’s shoes fit perfectly in one brand doesn’t mean they’ll be a perfect fit in another brand.   

4. A bicycle

woman standing on the side of the road with her bike

You don’t want to buy a bike without testing it and finding a reputable place to make repairs. | Source: iStock

A bicycle purchase is best made in person. You’ll want to test drive your bicycle before claiming it as your own. A quality bike isn’t cheap, so make sure the purchase meets your needs when it comes to size and fit. You will also have to take into consideration warranty work and repairs, say the experts at If you run into trouble, your local bicycle shop can try to help you resolve the issue. However, when you purchase your bike online, you must take on the additional tasks of calling or emailing about the problem and then shipping the bicycle or part back to the seller.   

5. Clothing from a brand you’ve never worn

Woman in a denim shirt, striped t-shirt

Is it worth sending clothes back and forth until you find the right size? |

It’s not uncommon to be a different size depending on the brand. You could take a chance and rely on the size chart (if there is one), but why go through the hassle of receiving the wrong size and having to make a return? Save yourself the headache and head on over to the store for clothing from a brand you’re not familiar with. Colors also tend to look different online, so if you’re particular about color, that’s another reason it pays to make your purchase in a physical store.

6. Cosmetics

Beautiful 40s woman applying makeup

If you buy makeup online, try it, and don’t like it, you’re out of luck. |

If it’s your first time purchasing a certain cosmetic, you might be taking a risk when you purchase it online. This is because most online retailers won’t allow you to return cosmetics that have been opened. If you go to a store such as CVS or Sephora, however, you will be able to return a cosmetic that didn’t work out for you. CVS even has a 100% money back guarantee on beauty products. Customers have 60 days from the purchase to make a return.

7. Mattresses

stack of mattresses

Why on earth would you buy a mattress without testing it?  | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet

Unless you have already tried out your mattress of choice at the store, you might not want to go for the convenience of an online purchase. You’ll be sleeping on your mattress for a couple of years, so this isn’t a purchase to take lightly. Test the mattress in a store to make sure it’s what you want. If you don’t you’ll have a lot of restless nights ahead of you.

8. Small items

Soap dispensers, Cotton swabs and other toiletries

Do you really want to wait a few days before small (yet important) items arrive in the mail? |

Instead of heading online to restock small household items, you’re better off going to your local drug store. Unless you’re getting free shipping, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy inexpensive items like hair accessories or a pack of facial tissue online. Why pay $2 for an item only to pay an additional $5 for shipping?  When deciding whether to make an online purchase, always consider shipping costs.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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