Mattresses are one of many items that should NEVER be purchased used!
In many cases, buying an item used is comparable to buying it new. Textbooks and video games are great examples of this as they tend to be a lot more affordable when already used, and yet remain in decent condition. But not every product is a good deal when purchased used. Some secondhand goods carry significant safety hazards, some wear down in quality after repeated use, and some are just plain gross. Here are a few to avoid, courtesy Matt Brownell of Yahoo! Finance:
• Mattresses: In New York City, a used mattress might as well be a smallpox blanket. Fear of bedbugs means that there’s virtually no secondhand mattress market to speak of, and you’re a lot more likely to see an old mattress in the back of a garbage truck than on Craigslist. While that means you can get one for super cheap, we still say it’s not worth the risk in urban areas where bedbugs are a concern. But even in the absence of the little critters, buying a used mattress is still a bad proposition.
• Couches and Upholstered Furniture: Of course, bedbugs can be found in all sorts of upholstered furniture, not just beds. That’s why we recommend buying only non-upholstered furniture because while you can wipe down a bookshelf or coffee table, cleaning an upholstered couch is a lot trickier. If there are bedbugs, dust or pet smells lurking within, you’re going to have a tough time removing them through conventional methods.
• Drop-Side Cribs: We previously recommended getting cribs and other baby furniture used for the simple reason that people will use it for just a couple of years before putting it in their attic to gather dust. That abundance of supply means that there are a lot of people looking to sell old furniture on the cheap. But there’s one very big exception to this rule: drop-side cribs, a special kind of crib that allows you to lower the side for easy access to your child. The cribs were linked to a number of infant deaths after babies became caught between the mattress and side, and in 2010, the government formally banned their manufacture and sale in the U.S. That means you won’t find them in stores, but there’s always a chance that someone will try to sell you one of the cribs without realizing they’ve been banned. Before you buy any used items, inspect them thoroughly and confirm that they’re not a model that has been recalled.
• Bike Helmets: Bicycle helmets, in some sense, are designed to break: They absorb the impact of a hard blow to the head, and in the process they’ll usually crack but leave the cranium intact. That’s why experts say you should always throw out your bike helmet after a crash. As such, you should play it safe by never buying a used bike helmet, because even if you don’t see any cracks, there could be unseen damage from an accident you don’t know about. The good news is that they’re cheap to buy new!
• Bathing Suits: The fact that bathing suits are worn without underwear should be enough to dissuade you from buying a used one. Even if you run it through the washing machine with hot water and germicidal detergent, there’s no washing away that “ick” factor.
• Tires: In the past we’ve recommended buying a used car, but tires are another matter. Consumer Reports notes that worn-down tires are a lot less safe in wet conditions, and unless you have enough car expertise to assess the wear and tear on a set of tires, it’s best just to buy them new. And if you’re buying a used car, make sure that the mechanic you bring in to inspect it also takes a hard look at the condition of the tires.
• Shoes: Much like bathing suits, shoes fall into both the “wear and tear” and “gross” categories. Indeed, multiple readers identified shoes as one of the things they would never buy used. Even if they don’t stink, you also have to deal with the fact that the soles are likely worn, they may be coming apart at the seams in ways you can’t see, and they have been “broken in” to adapt to someone else’s unique foot shape. Shoes aren’t cheap, but there’s no sense in paying for a pair of stinky shoes that are going to need to be repaired soon anyway.
• Laptops: First of all, they have moving parts: Laptops are opened and closed hundreds of times, and that constant use means a lot of unseen wear and tear over the years. Secondly, there’s a lot going on inside that can go wrong. And we’re not talking about viruses, which won’t be a concern after you wipe the hard drive and start fresh. Rather, we’re referring to the various electronic components that may be on the verge of failure. While you can open the hood to inspect a used car’s engine, it’s generally not advisable to open up a laptop (and you probably won’t know what you’re looking for anyway). Finally, consider the fact that people tend to tote their laptops everywhere they go, and that means they get jostled, bumped, spilled on, and dropped. Even if the laptop boots up when you test it out, it’s difficult to gauge what sort of abuse a computer has sustained in its travels.
We’re all looking to save a quick buck, but just make sure that you’re being smart in every purchase you make – used or not!
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