9 Worst Things to Buy Online

Shopping online certainly has its advantages.

(Image credit: iStockphoto)

Shopping online certainly has its advantages. It’s easy to compare prices without spending time driving from store to store. You can read product reviews at your leisure. You can quickly search for coupon codes to get better deals on purchases. And, of course, your order can be delivered to your doorstep -- no parking lots or pushy salespeople to contend with.

Convenience is surely a major driver behind the growing popularity of online shopping. E-commerce sales in 2014 totaled about $305 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a 15.4% increase from 2013. Yet e-commerce accounted for just 6.5% of all retail sales last year. Consumers are still doing most of their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

Sometimes it’s smarter to make purchases in person rather than online. It can be easier to judge quality, for example, rather than relying solely on what you see on a screen. It’s also easier to ensure a good fit. And some items, especially large ones, can be expensive to ship. You’ll pay even more if the seller doesn’t cover return shipping for orders you decide not to keep. Finally, you can more effectively haggle over the price of certain types of merchandise when you’re negotiating face-to-face. Here are nine things in particular that you should probably not buy online for any or all of these reasons.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.