Aside from frugality, buying used is good for the environment, too. Yard sales, Craigslist, flea markets, ebay, you name it…there is a treasure trove of castoffs out there for low prices and even for free.
However, there are some things you should never buy used, no matter how tempting. Usually there’s an ick factor, or safety to think about, although not always.
Here’s our top ten list of stuff you shouldn’t buy if someone else owned it first.
Bedbugs…need we say more? Oh yeah…also dust mites and fleas. Even if you don’t see any signs of these pests, they could be dormant inside the mattress. Seriously, better to sleep on your floor than to risk a used mattress.
Really? Yes. There’s that old joke about a boat being defined as hole in the water into which you throw money. Boats are more difficult to repair than say, cars. And boats are more likely to be in disrepair because people don’t use them every day.
Buy your pieces from a professional reseller
3. High-end used jewelry from private individuals or consignment shops
How do you know if that sapphire ring on eBay is the real thing or a ripoff? If you really want to buy fancy pre-owned jewelry, such as vintage or estate pieces, only go to a professional reseller that specializes in the field and can certify what you’re buying.
4. Baby car seats and cribs
Yes, these items are expensive and only used for a short time; it’s so tempting to borrow them from family members or friends, or pick some up at yard sales. Don’t.
Cribs pose a danger especially if their drop-side is not working properly. And some cribs have been recalled. Car seats are another baby item that is best bought new. The naked eye can’t tell if there are unseen cracks, weak spots or structural issues with a car seat. Even when buying new, you should check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure the model you’re getting hasn’t been recalled.
Regardless of whether you buy new or used, have an expert check to make sure the seat is installed correctly. The NHTSA has a list of free car seat inspection and fitting sites.
5. Digital cameras and video cameras
Used cameras may have battery issues, as many of them come with rechargeable batteries. If you end up having to buy a battery pack along with the camera, then you’d likely be better off taking that same money and buying a new camera, which will have a warranty.
One exception to this rule: you could get a good deal on a refurbished camera directly from the manufacturer.
6. Vacuum cleaners
Think about it – does anyone really sell a clean, perfectly working used vacuum cleaner? Usually people get rid of them because they don’t work so well. In some cases, people’s pets have chewed the cord, which is an electrical hazard. Or, some people sell off their cleaner if it’s been discontinued and they can’t find bags for it anymore. Plus there’s that ick factor, similar to the issue with mattresses.
7. Plasma and high-def TV’s
It costs a mint to replace the screen on one of these, so you’re better off buying new and getting a warranty.
Exception: if you’re getting such a ridiculously low price that you don’t care if your used TV goes on the fritz soon.
Remember, they’re more likely to be dropped, banged around and spilled on, because they’re out and about while a desktop computer is sitting safely at home. Plus, a used laptop could have viruses, spyware, or maybe problems with the hard drive that are not immediately apparent.
Or (shudder) imagine your laptop’s previous owner conducted illegal activities with it, and the digital footprints are traced back to you. Save on a new laptop with our Dell coupon or Apple Store coupon.
I don’t care how much they’ve been washed…used underwear is not on my shopping list. You can buy new underwear at the dollar store, so price shouldn’t be a problem here.
10. Motorcycle and bicycle helmets
These have similar issues as car seats. You may not know if the helmet has been in a crash, or if its safety has been compromised. Your head is worth protecting with a new helmet.
Photo credit via Flickr (sam_churchill, Lulu Vision, JD the Photog, Sherry’s Rose Cottage, o5com, rachel a. k., mpieracci, JVCAmerica, lloydi, Mr Tickle – Wachoo Wachoo Tribe Congressman, funkomavintage)