Shopping for Online Bargains? Beware of Bed Bugs.

We’ve talked before about the dangers of buying second-hand merchandise. There’s always a chance the bargains you find may come with an unwanted surprise or two. In a word (well, in two words I guess) – bed bugs.

Whenever we touch on the subject, however, we tend to focus on neighborhood thrift stores. Physical shop fronts that offer bargain priced clothing and furniture. And, to be fair, that’s where most of the danger lurks.

But bargain hunters don’t only shop locally these days. Like so much of our commerce second-hand sales have moved online, And that can make avoiding unwanted bed bugs just a little bit trickier.

Popular Online Vendors and Platforms

There are quite a few online platforms that have made shopping for bargains as easy as pressing a ‘buy it now’ button. Some have been around for years and have built up quite a reputation among online shoppers looking for great deals.

The most popular of these include:

  • Ebay – Millions of buyers and sellers do business on Ebay every day. A large portion of those sales include used, second-hand or refurbished items.\

  • Etsy – One of the more recent addition to the online marketplace, Etsy connects buyers with independent sellers. Some of the merchandise sold on Etsy includes second-hand and vintage clothing as well as hand crafted furnishings and household goods.

  • Amazon – While we tend to think of Amazon as the seller the platform also acts as a gateway for secondary sellers. Many of these marketplace sellers offer second-hand goods running the gamut from books to bedspreads.

  • Facebook Marketplace – Perhaps the most popular of all social media platforms Facebook allows its users to advertise and sell products and service through their marketplace feature. The majority of these items are used or home-made, including clothing (vintage or handcrafted), furniture (handcrafted, vintage or restored) and other household items.

These are only a few of the online options open to savvy bargain hunters. While they do provide an easy way to save money buyers should always use caution. Most online platforms have buyer protection programs in place to protect shoppers from unscrupulous vendors. However, that only applies to the transaction itself. There’s no buyer protection plan to guard against unwanted bed bugs in a purchase. That’s why you need to take steps to protect yourself.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Shopping Online

The first step in avoiding bed bugs with your online purchases is to shop smart. Most online retail platforms feature customer feedback options. Check the seller’s past ratings to see if there’s anything to be concerned about. While you may not see any feedback specific to bed bugs you can still draw some basic conclusions. If customers have mentioned receiving dirty or subpar merchandise you know the seller isn’t too particular about storing their wares properly. That can be a red flag.

Next, you should consider reaching out to the seller. It’s not uncommon to ask a seller if their merchandise is coming from a smoke free or pet free environment. There’s no reason you can’t also ask if they’ve had any pest problems that could impact your purchase.

Finally, carefully consider what you’re purchasing. Some products are less likely to be carrying bed bugs than others. Electronics, glassware, and plastics are likely to be safe bets. But vintage clothing, household linens, and furniture can be more problematic.

Check Your Packages When they Arrive

Ultimately, due diligence is the key to preventing unwanted bed bugs anywhere. When you receive your packages in the mail there are some simple steps you can follow to minimize the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home.

  • Open your packages outside. This will reduce the chances of bed bugs getting into your home.

  • Carefully inspect your purchases. Once the package is opened look over the contents and check for any signs of bed bugs. If necessary wipe the item down to ensure it’s clean.

  • When buying vintage or second-hand clothing inspect the items and then launder them immediately.

  • Throw away the packaging immediately. Boxes and packing materials give bed bugs plenty of room to hide.

Shopping second-hand is a great way to save money, and online platforms make it easier than ever to find some great deals. But if you don’t want your deal to go sour take the necessary steps to avoid picking up any bed bugs with your online bargains.

Published by Scott Palatnik

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