Everyone knows the adage that a car loses 20% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. The same goes for almost any product you buy from a store.
So, thrifty shoppers often turn to yard sales, secondhand stores, eBay and Craigslist looking for great deals on lightly used items. At BLINQ, we strongly encourage that kind of savvy shopping.
However, there are some things you definitely don’t want to buy used from “some random guy on the Web” (known from here on out as SRGotW), where you have no assurance of the item’s history. Why? Because the hidden safety hazards far outweigh the potential for savings.
1. Used Mattresses
Used mattresses can have uneven wear and be soiled in ways you can’t easily see (ewww), but the biggest reason you don’t want to pick a mattress up from Craigslist, a yard sale or (worse) from a curb on trash day: bed bugs!
Bed bugs are insidious little creatures that are very difficult to get rid of. In addition to the cost of professional extermination services — which easily run over $1000, and sometimes into 5 figures — you may end up needing to replace quite a lot of other items in your home if you end up with a bed bug infestation. What you “save” on a free or cheap used mattress could end up costing you many times over.
2. Well-Worn Shoes
With shoes, minor cosmetic issues like scuff marks aren’t an issue; but after long wear, shoes start to wear in and conform to the user’s feet. Whether you’re looking at running shoes, hiking boots, high heels or any other footwear, shoes broken in by SRGoTW can have significant negative impact on your alignment and posture. You don’t want to risk injury to save a couple of bucks.
You absolutely don’t need to only buy brand new, top-of-the-line designer brands, but buying quality footwear that fits your feet is a must!
There’s a saying in the frugal community: “Invest in quality on anything you put between you and the ground.”
3. Used Tires
Good tires can be pricey, especially if you need to replace all four at once. But Consumer Reports warns you’d be taking a big risk by going down the used tired route:
Don’t buy used tires: you don’t know where they have been or how they’ve been used. The tire could have been driven overloaded, underinflated, or to excessively high speed. Any one or a combination of these factors could lead to internal damage not visible from the outside. In short, the used tire could be unsafe.
Your safety is always a good investment. Better to scrimp and save elsewhere in your budget in order to purchase new tires when the time is right.
4. Bike Helmets
Many people know that bike helmets should be thrown away after they’re in a crash, even if they don’t appear damaged. But did you know that simple exposure to the elements, like the sun and pollution, can also damage a bike helmet in ways you can’t easily see? Furthermore, the Snell Foundation says: “Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal “wear and tear” all contribute to helmet degradation. Therefore, the Snell Foundation promotes the rule of thumb that bike helmets should be replaced every five years.
Bike helmets provide important protection to your noggin. It’s probably not worth the risk picking up a used bicycle helmet that may be damaged or no longer 100% functional due to age or wear and tear.
5. Unsealed Make-up or Applicators
Some people are willing to suffer for beauty, but no one should suffer pink eye from old makeup. Makeup, especially liquid or moist products, are breeding grounds for bacteria, but even dry, powder-based cosmetics can expire or go bad. Since the FDA does not require expiration dates for cosmetics products, it’s hard to tell how old that expensive organic, tea-minerals infused concealer or aloe-based eyeshadow sampler set really is.
Bustle shares 5 tips for when to throw makeup away. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t remember when you bought it, throw it away. That goes double for anything you put near your eyes.
6. Used Pots and Pans
Quality cookware can be very pricey, and anyone who’s ever bought cookware at the Dollar Store knows that ultra-cheap cookware is basically disposable. So buying second-hand high-quality pots and pans can be a great solution. Before you do that, hold on.
Nonstick cookware made with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) — more commonly known by the tradename Teflon — is very popular. But PTFE can wear down over time. Beyond making your non-stick pans a little sticker, it’s also toxic!
Even tiny scratches in nonstick cookware can release toxins into your food or harbor nasty bacteria that are hard to clean. And cooking on high heats for which the products weren’t designed also damages the integrity of the coating.
Since this kind of damage is difficult to see yourself, and you have no way to know how many years of abuse that cookware has been taking, it’s best to avoid PTFE-coated pots and pans when shopping second-hand. Click here to learn what kind of cookware is best for you.
7. Medication of Dubious Origins
Does this really need an explanation?
Counterfeit medications are a big problem for law enforcement. According to the CDC, estimates put counterfeit drugs at 1% in the developed world (including the United States), but as much as 10%–30% of medicines sold in developing countries are fake. (Source: CDC.gov)
Don’t buy fake meds from SRGotW … or that Nigerian prince who keeps emailing you about a great deal on medical supplements (ahem).
8. Software DVDs
The tech website MakeUseOf.com tried to answer the question “Is it legal to buy second-hand software?” and the conclusion the author came to was basically, “not sure.”
Even aside from the issue of legality (though we by no means advocate ignoring issues of law), there are other reasons to avoid buying software from SRGotW.
From a safety perspective, SRGotW could be selling you counterfeit software that won’t work or (worse) is booby trapped with malware. Less maliciously, you may be buying software with an installation key that is no longer valid because it’s already been installed or registered on as many computers as the software maker allows. In either case, you’re stuck and have no recourse against SRGotW.
BLINQ partners with known retailers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and does not sell pirated software. And if you happen to realize your purchase isn’t compatible with your systems or are otherwise unhappy with your order, you can trust BLINQ’s return policy and get your money back.
Have you ever made a Craig’s List purchase you regretted? Tell us your story!