I have a love-hate relationship with online shopping. I love the fact that it's possible to find almost anything online, and often at a much better price than I'd be likely to pay for it in a store. And I love the ease of being able to search and compare products and prices. in the space of a few minutes from the comfort of my own home, rather than dashing from store to store. (Case in point: we recently decided we could use some wet-erase markers to use with our homemade RPG battle mat, since the dry-erase markers tend to get smudged during use (or if a cat decides to sit on the map). We looked at every store we could think of and found only one set at Staples for $12, which we weren't sure was worth it. Then I went online and found a set on eBay for $6, shipping included.)
What I hate about it is how often that one perfect thing I found online after a fruitless search in the stores turns out, when it finally arrives, to be not so perfect. Then I have to go to the trouble (and sometimes expense) of shipping it back, and the search starts up all over again. This seems most likely to happen with shoes, as I was recently reminded when I ordered the same pair in three different sizes from Zappos, figuring at least one of them was bound to fit, and ended up having to return all three because the arch support his my foot in the wrong place. At least the return shipping was free.
So I've pretty much come to the conclusion that shoes are one product I simply shouldn't try to buy online (unless it's a brand and style I've bought before that I know for sure will fit). And it occurred to me that probably there were several other products that fit into the same category—products that, for one reason or another, it simply isn't worth shopping for online, no matter how good the prices look.
In my latest Money Crashers article, I've done my best to identify those products. I went through a bunch of lists compiled by experts of products you shouldn't buy online and came up with a set of eight that there was widespread agreement on. Shoes, interestingly, do not make the list (the experts were split on those), but there are several others that you might expect (e.g., mattresses) and some that are a bit more surprising (e.g., makeup).
Find out what they are here: 8 Things You Should Never Buy Online. And keep an eye out for my companion piece, which should be published soon, on the eight items you should always buy online.