5 Things You Shouldn't Order on Amazon

By Ashley Marcin on 30 March 2015 11 comments

When I'm in the market to purchase, well, anything, I usually first check Amazon to find the best price. Over the years, however, I've noticed that I can't just use the site as a one-stop shop for everything on my list. Some things are simply cheaper elsewhere. (I've even started using the PriceJump tool from Savings.com to compare Amazon prices against those at other retailers.) Here are five items that usually aren't cheapest on Amazon. (See also: 10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store)

1. Groceries

Yes, you can order virtually anything on Amazon, including food. But examine those price tags first. I checked out a few staple items, like Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, which costs over $8 per container on the site. One commenter noted he could buy three jars of the same stuff at his local store for this price. I agree. Then my eyes bugged out of my head at the sight of a $7.99 box of Kix Cereal (12 ounces) that I recently purchased for under $3 in our breakfast aisle. Sure, it's convenient to get groceries delivered to your door step, but not at such a premium.

2. Personal Care Items

I was shocked when I went looking for my favorite container of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap only to find it costs several dollars more online than it does at my grocery store, even with free shipping. Some further investigation uncovered that the Neutrogena mascara I use costs $11 on Amazon compared to the $9 I spend at the corner drug store. And today as I write this article, there's a buy one, get one 50% off sale with my Rite-Aid Wellness Card. The same henna dye I use to color my hair is an insane $50 on Amazon, versus the $25.95 I pay on Lush.com. (One area where Amazon wins? Sun care! Most sunscreens I use — organic and conventional — are several dollars less on the site.)

3. Cleaning Products

I find much better prices on cleaning supplies at discount clubs and big box stores. For example, Pledge Furniture Polish costs over $5 (with $7.41 shipping) on Amazon, versus the $3.93 at our Walmart store. A four-count box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers costs nearly $10 on Amazon, compared to just $3.47 at Walmart. The list goes on. Plus, you can save a ton on cleaning products by making your own at home, which is what we've done for all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, dishwashing detergent, and more. (See also: How to Clean Everything With Just 3 All-Natural Cleaners)

4. Fitness Gear

I love my FitBit fitness tracker, but I snagged it at a low price with a coupon at Kohl's. On Amazon, this wristband is a competitive $88, but you can still save some cash by shopping elsewhere and taking advantage of sales or store incentives.

5. Clothing and More

When it comes to clothing, shoes, and other apparel, you'll need to go on a case-by-case basis and shop around. Online retailers, like 6pm.com, offer great deals on all the top designers and often have codes for extra savings. Using coupons and taking advantage of seasonal sales can yield better prices on everyday wear at your local store. Sometimes Amazon has some incredible deals, like 70% off this cute Kenneth Cole Skylar dress — just $30. Other times, not so much. This Calvin Klein baseball jacket is $168 on Amazon, and $130 on sale at Macy's.

This list isn't exhaustive by any means. We'd love to hear what items you've stopped buying on Amazon, or others that you won't buy anywhere else. Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Guest's picture

I check Amazon's coupons when I am in need of personal care items. Sometimes you can get a ridiculous deal by combining their coupons with Subscribe & Save... I've gotten mascara, moisturizer and body wash for less then $2!

Guest's picture

Honestly really poor advice. No one should buy things on amazon if they aren't going to do their homework and make sure the price is worthwhile. There are times when it's worthwhile for me to pay more than I would in a store if it saves me a trip to a store I wouldn't otherwise visit. However I would take issue with every category you've mentioned. If you find groceries on sale they can be absurdly cheap, there are often coupons as well, same for personal care and cleaning products. I've also gotten very reasonably priced [compared to buying elsewhere] clothing and fitness gear. More than once, many times over the past years, for every category listed.

Guest's picture

I don't buy regular grocery items on amazon, but I do get some specialty items for ridiculously cheap. (Or rather, for a good price because the stores are ridiculously overpriced.) Maple syrup is half the per-ounce cost as the grocery store, plus I get a larger container so I'm not buying it weekly. Gluten free pastas come in huge packs, but amazon has the brands and varieties I need for 1/3 cheaper per unit than the grocery store.

Amazon is not always cheaper, but the categories listed here are not always more expensive.

Guest's picture

I've found hard to find excellent quality imported olive oil for much less than lesser quality brands at l9cal retailers. The same applied to popular brand holistic pills and oil concentrates, which were a fraction of their cost at 'brick and mortar' retailers.

My advice to readers is to always practice/research comparable pricing, and beyond price and value, also consider your delivery fee and, if applicable in your state, consider sales taxes. An item that may seem to be a bargain may turn out to be anything but a bargain after one adds the cost of delivery and taxes to the price of the so-called bargain item.

Guest's picture

Sometimes it pays to buy slightly overpriced items at amazon for their no hassle customer service. if i didnt like the item, it didnt fit right, it wasn't as advertised, they take it back no questions asked and i just drop the item off at the ups store.

Guest's picture

I agree. I used to order from Ulta until I experienced a lost order. Ulta refused to refund or reship. Now, I spend a little more and order from Amazon. Any time my order from Amazon has been lost during shipping, Amazon reships or refunds. That extra security is worth a few extra dollars.

Guest's picture
Elaine Marinella

I see Amazons deals every day. You really need to know your prices before accepting some of these deals. I have done well with some things. I bought Bras as well as luggage. among other things. Some beauty items are better priced than Walmart. Deals change all the time though. it may be a good price one day but not all the time. I have Prime too, which I feel is good for free postage. I never pay postage. It's worth it to me over a year to pay for this. Postage is expensive.

Guest's picture

While on deployment some of the food and hygiene care items I could order on Amazon were a godsend. The extra few dollars here and there were generally worth it.

Guest's picture

The customer service on Amazon is second to none. Therefore, I tend to shop there more and more. I still check prices, because, like some have mentioned, they change often. BUT, if it's not much different I stick with Amazon. They do not tolerate their vendors putting the screws to the customer.

Guest's picture

They're customer service is second to none and I've found better bargains on designer shoes I couldn't locate elsewhere in my size many times for FAR LESS, so not so true... Plus, I buy my Life Pak Nano vitamins for less there, than direct from the vendor and they're still in date. OPI polish less than anywhere, premium coconut butter (hard to find), way cheap, so Im a huge fan of Amazon. They deliver FAST and FREE!

Guest's picture

Check PriceBlink for competitors' prices. They include shipping costs if applicable.