10 Things You Should Never Buy Online

To be a responsible shopper, buying from a reputable pet dealer is essential. Not all online sources are what they claim to be, and that's especially true in the world of pets. GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimagesRF/Getty Images

Getting a pet can be a life-changing decision, and buying one can be easy to do online. If you've spent hours looking at pictures of adorable animals who need homes, it can be tempting to go ahead and grab one. It sounds a little crazy, but it is possible to have a dog or cat delivered to your home.

That's really not the best idea, though, as you need to be very careful about the seller. There are plenty of trustworthy rescue groups who will transport a needy pet to another state if they can't find a local adopter. We'd say in that kind of situation, go ahead and buy online. And there are many responsible breeders online, but unfortunately scammers and not-so-responsible breeders abound. It's imperative that you have a face-to-face meeting with the breeder and visit the facility to make sure you're not buying from a puppy mill or another disreputable place. If that's not allowed, stop the process right there (and report them to the Better Business Bureau). Online or not, never buy from an unethical animal dealer.

We can't imagine buying a pet without cuddling it first and hearing about its personality from a real, live person. (OK, we'll make an exception for fish.)

Author's Note

Although I've avoided most of the pitfalls in this list, I once made the ill-advised decision to buy custom bobbleheads of my children online. Red flags were everywhere, but I charged ahead. The 3-year-old somehow turned out looking like a middle-aged woman, and the then-bald baby had a full head of hair, but the manufacturer insisted on their accuracy. After months of exchanging angry emails, I'm proud to say that I got a refund without having to ship the faulty bobbleheads back to China. And then the 3-year-old broke them.

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  • The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Why You Should Never Buy a Puppy Online." (April 13, 2015) https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/puppy-mills/why-you-should-never-buy-puppy-online
  • D.K. "How Can You Buy Illegal Drugs Online?" The Economist, Aug. 25, 2013. (Aug. 2, 2015) http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/08/economist-explains-11
  • Edney, Anna. "Crackdown on Online Pharmacies Nets $41 Million in Drugs." Bloomberg. June 27, 2013. (April 17, 2013) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-06-27/crackdown-on-online-pharmacies-nets-41-million-in-drugs
  • Gaffney, Jacob. "5 secrets to winning online property auctions." Housing Wire. Jan. 17, 2014. (Aug. 2, 2015) http://www.housingwire.com/articles/28642-secrets-to-winning-online-property-auctions
  • Gallardo, Stephanie. "5 Things You Should Never Buy Online." MSN. March 25, 2015. (April 13, 2015) http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/digitallife/5-things-you-should-never-buy-online/ar-BBits9J
  • Power, Mike. "Life after Silk Road: how the darknet drug market is booming." The Guardian. May 30, 2014. (Aug. 2, 2015) http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/30/life-after-silk-road-how-the-darknet-drugs-market-is-booming
  • Saranow Schultz, Jennifer. "The Legality of Buying Knockoffs." The New York Times. Oct. 28, 2010. (April 17, 2015) http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/the-legality-of-buying-knockoffs/?_r=0
  • SSL.com. "How can I tell if a web page is secure?" (April 16, 2015) http://info.ssl.com/article.aspx?id=10068


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