Home items you should not buy online

In the middle of one quarantine period last year, I bought a sofa set online. The people in my household were spending all of their time at home and I wanted to make our space more conducive to “lounging around”. I found a basic black sofa set on Facebook Marketplace that was affordable and, well, looked comfortable. A few days after it was delivered, I realized a sofa is one of those things we should not buy online — or at least have second thoughts about buying off the internet.

One of the things that’s saving us during this pandemic is online shopping. We can get anything from food and medicine to plants and home furnishings through the numerous online marketplaces available. We can shop anytime, read reviews, enjoy convenient payment and delivery arrangements, and we can compare prices to get the best deal. What’s not to love?

But as my experience proved, there are a few things that are just not worth buying online, even if they’re cheap. Here are some examples.

Art and decorations. This includes fine art, photographic prints, decorative items like lamps, curtains and rugs, and so on. It’s always better to see or touch them first before shelling out cash especially if you are concerned about getting the item in a specific color to match your walls or the rest of the items in your home. You also need to feel the fabric, for example, or inspect if the item is well made or sturdy, or smell the actual fragrance of an aromatic candle that’s described so beautifully on the website.

Furniture and mattresses. The main thing about furniture and mattresses, as illustrated above, is that you need to test it for comfort. And like buying decorations, you absolutely need to check the durability and details of such a big-ticket item. If you buy directly from the store, you might even get to pay a smaller fee to have it delivered to your home, compared to an online store’s delivery charge. If you have a pick-up truck, you could even bring your purchase home yourself if it’s a small- or medium-sized item.

Musical instruments. You need to be meticulous especially if you are investing on a high-end musical instrument. You actually need to play it, hear it, and feel how it is to hold the item. Plus, you don’t want to risk damaging the instrument while it’s on its way to you.

Flowers and plants. There is absolutely no assurance that the online seller will deliver the freshest and best looking item to you. This is something that you need to pick yourself so you can get the best value for your money. Sometimes, the actual plant or bouquet does not look anything like what was advertised online.

Sound systems, speakers, and electronic products like a pair of expensive headphones. It’s important to test the item before paying for it, period. Even if the purchase comes with a return option it is usually a hassle — and would sometimes entail additional costs (return fees, shipping charges) — to have the item returned.