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Discount don’ts: 60 things smart shoppers never buy used

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Everyone loves a super bargain, right? Only sometimes a cheap buy isn’t a screaming deal, after all.

Discount shoppers love the thrill of the hunt, seeking super deals on everything from apparel to household goods, tools, and even personal electronics. Particularly in trying economic climates, resale and thrift stores abound, along with garage and yard sales.

However, sometimes a bargain is not really a bargain at all. What sorts of items are best bought new – even if the cost may be considerably higher for the unused items?

Maybe delicate electronics, personal hygiene products, and safety protection items aren’t such a great deal, unless they are purchased brand-new. Simply put, the primary features of these sorts of products may no longer be present or effective.

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60 things shoppers should never buy used

Here’s a bargain hunter’s basic guide to 60 specific product items savvy shoppers never buy used (or, at least, without careful inspection and great care). These items are listed alphabetically, for quick and easy reference.

Some of these statements may sound silly or superfluous, but it’s amazing how many of these used items may actually be found for resale.

  1. Ammunition - For safety reasons, avoid buying used (or opened) boxed of BBs, bullets, gun cartridges and other ammunition.
  1. Athletic supporters – Steer clear of this one, for sure.
  1. Audio speakers – Hi-fi, stereo and personal audio device speakers can go bad easily, so buying these used is not advisable.
  1. Baby bath toys – Even the most waterproof baby bath toys can contain mold and soapy build-up.
  1. Baby bottles – Proper hygiene is best maintained by purchasing baby feeding bottles brand-new.
  1. Baby cribs – Child safety requirements change frequently, so buying a used baby crib can be a risky endeavor.
  1. Batteries – Buyers, beware of used batteries, which may not work at all and may corrode quickly.
  1. Bike helmets – A used bike safety helmet may not offer sufficient protection, if the inner shell is cracked. Also, current safety requirements may have changed, making a new helmet a better option. Used hats and headgear may pose a threat of head lice and other infections as well.
  1. Breast pumps – Who would want to touch this one?
  1. Camera lenses – It is difficult to find used camera lenses that don’t bear scratches.
  1. Carbon monoxide alarms – Optimum home safety dictates the use of new, properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms.
  1. Carpeting – Used carpeting may contain germs, mold, stains or even pests.
  1. CD players – Second-hand CD players are risky purchases, unless the sellers offer buyer protection plans.
  1. CDs and DVDs – Previously used CDs and DVDs may bear scratches, making them unusable. Instead of buying these used, why not borrow the desired titles from a local library for free?
  1. Cellular phones – Used cell phones are often no bargain, unless a reputable seller has refurbished them properly. Also, many cell phone service providers refuse to interface with phones purchased elsewhere.
  1. Child car safety seats – Infant car seats and toddler booster seats for vehicles must be replaced after accidents, so buying these used is a daunting proposition.
  1. Child sippy cups – Plastic cups are difficult to sterilized and better bought new.
  1. Computer keyboards – A used computer keyboard may sound like a steal, but an astounding amount of crumbs, dust, germs and other nasties may lurk inside such equipment.
  1. Computer software – Often, it is illegal to sell or purchase used computer software. Although some software may offer a certain number of pass-along uses within one household, resale is generally outlawed.
  1. Cosmetics – Sharing cosmetics is a personal hygiene no-no.
  1. Digital cameras – Anyone who has ever dropped a digital camera on the ground can explain why purchasing used digital camera equipment is unwise.
  1. DVD players – New DVD players have come down plenty in price. Affordable DVD players are readily available, including warranties and often service plans. Why buy used?
  1. Equestrian safety helmets – Like bicycle helmets, equestrian safety helmets should only be purchased new. Once crashed, such protective headgear may no longer be effective. In addition, used hats and headgear may pose a threat of head lice and other infections.
  1. Eyeglasses – Prescription or not, used eyeglasses are not a bargain. Why not suggest sellers donate their pre-worn specs to a vision charity?
  1. Face paints – Although clowns and face painters may use open tubs of face paints to adorn multiple folks at carnivals and special events, prudent painters clean their brushed and sponges frequently and toss remaining used products at the end of each occasion. Resealing used face paints can encourage the proliferation of nasty germs. Purchasing opened containers of face paints is unwise.
  1. Fireworks – Opened packages of fireworks should be properly and safely discarded, rather than stored or resold. Buyers, beware of unsealed packages of fireworks.
  1. Flat-screen TVs and computer monitors – These high-technology items are easily marred, so used purchases are not recommended.
  1. Guns – Previously used hunting or recreational firearms may be dangerous, unless inspected properly. In addition, firearms bought from unlicensed dealers may lead to criminal convictions.
  1. Hats – Used hats and headgear may pose a threat of head lice and other infections.
  1. Hearing aids – Audio assistance devices, such as hearing aids, are best purchased under the assistance of medical professionals.
  1. iPods and mp3 players – Used personal audio devices are risky purchases. They simply may not work.
  1. Keys – Except for crafting purposes, used keys are useless.
  1. Laptop computers – Previously operated laptop computers may contain all sorts of ills – from hardware problems to viruses, malware and other nasties.
  1. Light bulbs – Used light bulbs (even holiday lights) are not prudent purchases. Better to buy these items new and keep store receipts, in case they don’t work.
  1. Lighters – Butane or other lighters may be bought new, at minimal cost. Used fancy collectible lighters may be intriguing purchases, but not for actual use.
  1. Mattresses – It is easy to imagine the many reasons why a used mattress is not a hygienic purchase.
  1. Medications (prescription or over-the-counter) – Used or opened medications are ill advised.
  1. Microphones – Used microphones are difficult to evaluate and make risky purchases, except from reputable electronics dealers offering product guarantees.
  1. Motorcycle helmets – Safety regulations change regularly for motorcycle helmets, so prudent bikers choose new, updated versions. Also, used hats and headgear may pose a threat of head lice and other infections.
  1. Perfumes – Body splashes, colognes, perfumes and other personal scent products can expire in time, making used purchases poor choices.
  1. Pet beds – Who wants to invite potential pests (such as fleas and ticks) into the home by buying a used pet bed?
  1. Pet collars – Pet collars tend to be quite affordable new, so pet owners do well to spring for these clean and unused choices.
  1. Pet food dishes – A caring pet owner will likely prefer a fresh, clean dish for a dear pet, rather than a used bowl that may contain germs.
  1. Pillows – Used pillows are virtually impossible to clean thoroughly. Why risk it?
  1. Puzzles – A used jigsaw puzzle contains no guarantee that all of its pieces are present. True puzzle fans only select puzzles in sealed, intact boxes.
  1. Recalled items – It is illegal to sell recalled products, unless the required product updates or improvements have been made. Buyers need to do some research before making offers on such items.
  1. Scuba equipment – Underwater breathing equipment (and scuba diving suits) may lose their effectiveness after significant use, so buyers of used scuba gear may not realize true bargains or personal safety.
  1. Shoes – Many folks do purchase used shoes and boots, despite the risk of poor fit or foot germs.
  1. Sleeping bags – Unless sleeping bags can be thoroughly cleaned, these are best bought new.
  1. Smoke alarms – A previously used smoke alarm may carry no guarantee of proper function. Is the deep discount worth risking home and family?
  1. Socks – Brand-new socks are fairly inexpensive, making used socks a mediocre bargain at best.
  1. Swimwear – Customers shopping for brand-new swimwear are required to wear undergarments to try swimsuits on. Thinking along such lines, who really wants to wear a used swimsuit?
  1. Tires – Used tires (for bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trailers or trucks) can be a risky prospect.
  1. Toothbrushes – Except for household or craft purchases, a used toothbrush is a germ feast waiting to happen.
  1. Undergarments – Just like swimsuits, used underwear is a sure no-no.
  1. Upholstered furniture – What sorts of germs and pests (even microscopic intruders) might lurk in used furniture? If it can’t be sponged, disinfected or professionally cleaned, it’s no bargain.
  1. Vacuum cleaners – A used vacuum cleaner may sound like a deal. The appliance may even operate properly. However, unless hoses, filters and collection units can be changed, this purchase may bring unwanted ingredients or inhabitants into the buyer’s home.
  1. Video games – Except from licensed video game resellers, used video games are no bargain. In fact, many video game producers do not allow reselling of their products.
  1. Video recorders – A used video recorder may not work properly, and it usually carries no product warranty.
  1. Wigs – Discount hunters may pull their hair out, quite literally, after purchasing used wigs for personal appearance or costuming. Is bargain beauty worth the risk of head lice?

What cardinal rules apply to bargain boosters seeking used items?

Although many items may be purchased in used condition, offering super value, several others are best bought new. Essentially, hygiene and safety are the primary concerns, as frugal shoppers dig through used items for possible purchase. Product performance, expiration dates, and potential warranties are also important issues.

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