The Big Question

What Is Your Biggest Buyer’s Remorse?

by Grace Bonney


We’ve been asking a lot of BIG QUESTIONS lately, like what your dirtiest (literally) housekeeping secret is and what your childhood bedroom looked like. But today we’re tackling a more serious topic: buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse is defined as, “the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.” It’s not a feeling any of us want to have, but it’s one we’ve all felt at one time or another. Maybe you bought a new pillow you didn’t need or splurged on a piece of furniture that you later found for a lower price elsewhere? No matter the item, the feeling stays the same, and it’s one of the reasons we’re focusing on mindful purchases this year. Remorse aside, there’s always a lesson to be learned from decisions like these, so today we’re sharing OUR biggest buyer’s remorse moments and want to hear yours, too.

SHARE YOUR STORY BELOW: What is your biggest buyer’s remorse item and what did you learn from the experience?

Grace: Last month, Julia and I bought our first (used) car together. The experience was incredibly frustrating – we had to call the dealership’s corporate number and file a BBB complaint at the end of the day – but I felt such a need to just get what we wanted and get out of the store that I still regret not standing up for myself and walking out without making the purchase. I got so excited about finally having a little car of our own that I let that urgency and desire cloud my judgment, causing me to not have the patience and resolve that may have ended with us finding a better dealership that would have respected us, and our purchase, more. In the end I’ve learned – just like when I’m at the grocery store – to never shop hungry. Not only did the salespeople see us coming from a mile away, but I let my eagerness outweigh my desire to have a pleasant and professional transaction happen. Lesson learned, I’m never buying anything on my first visit unless I feel treated well.

Amy: I’m pretty careful with my home and clothing purchases. I do have the odd dress that I don’t wear but I really do try to spend money on experiences rather than things. I’m a big fan of yoga and a couple of years ago, I started reading about Ayurveda and got interested in the whole philosophy. So I did some googling and scheduled an appointment with an Ayurvedic doctor. The appointment was a little expensive but I felt like my health was worth it so even though I was on a strict budget at the time, I splurged on the appointment. I was a little underwhelmed by the advice and then for some reason, at the end of the appointment, after the doctor wrote out an eating plan, she brought out the supplements that I should take and I bought all of them! I have no idea what possessed me to spend eighty dollars on Indian herbal supplements after spending money on an appointment! Even as I was pulling out my card, I knew that I was going to regret it. I ended up feeling too nervous about the strange supplements to even break the seal (AND I waited too long to even take them back). The whole experience, of my healing appointment, turning into a sales pitch) turned me off of Ayurveda – which is a little bit of a bummer.

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  • I don’t buy much, I don’t enjoy shopping at all and I’m rather frugal with my money. I only have one incidence of buyer’s remorse. Many years ago, when I was still in high school, I had to pick my brother up after he got off work. I stopped by Burger King, because I thought he would be hungry and got him a sandwich. I was hungry as well, so I got one for myself too. After I got home, my mother questioned why I got a sandwich after we had already eaten dinner? I had no real answer and I know her reasoning stemmed from her struggles with weight, but it made my question my motives and my possible lack of self control. I still don’t eat at Burger King and will forever remember that damned sandwich.

  • Mine was a silver necklace from Tiffany I bought myself when I got my first big raise. It was cute, but definitely not worth the price I paid–if I had seen it in a store and not on the Tiffany website I wouldn’t have paid more than half of what I did. But I was suckered into the cachet of the brand. The worst was that it broke after only a couple of wears and Tiffany wanted $55 to fix and polish it.

    Also, I agree with Amanda, re: Amy and the rescue dog. Just because one rescue dog had special needs doesn’t mean they all do. Many breeders aren’t scrupulous and breed dogs that are sick or prone to illness because they don’t truly care about the dogs’ welfare. But even good breeders can’t overcome the many health problems that we have bred into purebreds at this point. And if you have your heart set on a purebred, there are countless rescues out there for every breed. Honestly, I think adoption is the only way to go if you are a true animal lover.

  • I know I’m late…but my toddler kept me crazy busy this week! Anyhoot, buyers remorse = our couches!! They were the first expensive furniture piece, and I absolutely regret them! They look nice, but are really uncomfortable and not very functional! Pre-baby they weren’t so bad because we both wanted more formal couches that wouldn’t make us super lazy(haha!). Bad idea! Now, I’ve hinted at my husband that we should sell them on Craigstlist and get new ones, but it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to bite the bullet. So for now, I am stuck with them :( I would love to see a post about family-friendly comfortable long lasting couches that don’t look like they belong in my grandma’s house! Also a reasonable price would be nice. (I’ve been eyeing the Lovesac couches–would love some feedback).

  • I bought my first and last brand-new car (a Buick Rendezvous) in 2005. Love it so much to this very day! But…… They wanted an extra 200.00 to activate the fuse in the cigarette lighter in the front dash. Apparently you have to take off the console or some stupid drama. I don’t smoke and didn’t think I’d need to charge my phone there, so I said to skip it. What an idiotic mistake. I should have said, no fuse, no sale, and do NOT even think of charging me extra for your stupid engineering. They would have done it to save the sale, I’m positive. Burns me to this day.

  • My new glasses. They’re not even made yet nad I regret the order! I’ve bought a new pair of glasses instead of getting my favourite ones repaired. And I really can’t afford it now… Because of this stupid purchase I have to rethink my keenly awaited trip to Berlin. I hate myself for this.

  • Our house. It has a great garden which is what made us so eager to buy it, but we’ve had a lot of problems with it; I didn’t notice the lack of natural light or doors (it’s three rooms in a row, over two floors, in a Brussels townhouse), and I think we could have found something better if we’d waited longer. Otherwise, in terms of buyer’s remorse (I’m better than I used to be, but still), shoes – because I am European size 41/42, and too often something that seems fine in the store, ends up cutting my heels to shreds the first time I walk to the tram stop. Also clothes. I have bought too many clothes that I think fit the image of the office worker I am, but then I have this dissonant feeling when I look in the mirror and do not see ‘me’, so I end up giving them to my sister/mother/Oxfam. Also: in terms of buyers’ remorse for what I didn’t buy? I regret not going all out for a big wedding dress and a wedding photographer. I wore a white linen suit, which I thought would be more practical and less flashy, but I don’t like how I look in a single one of the wedding pictures and I’ve missed the opportunity to have a big blow-out frock and fun pictures to frame. That was five years ago and I’m blissfully happily married, but I sometimes get a pang of envy when I look at other people’s wedding shots. Thanks for writing about this, it’s been v. therapeutic!

  • I’ve wasted money on a lot of dumb things, but my biggest buyers remorse was getting suckered into a multi-level marketing sales gig for jewelry. I knew my gut was hurting as I entered my credit card to pay for $1,300 worth of “samples”, which by the way, still didn’t give me enough to host a “trunk show”, but I felt bad telling my friend I had changed my mind after showing so much enthusiasm. Plus, I was in an awful job I hated, and she was making great money and I thought this was my ticket out. Turns out, I was too embarrassed to tell people about my “new career” and I had one pitiful show that about 6 people came to, made $97, (actually -$45 after all the snacks and wine I bought) and then sold all the junk on eBay, still losing money. I still get sick thinking about it!!

  • My fitness pole. Booked a 10 class beginners pass for my local pole studio and fell in love with the idea of being a toned muscular pole goddess after watching the teacher show us amazing tricks. Rushed into buying the pole online and didn’t slow down to read the measurement instructions properly to ensure we got the right sized parts for our ceiling height. Pole arrived and didn’t fit, so we ordered another piece. That part arrived and it still wasn’t right, so had to get yet another part. On the bright side I now have a full kit that can suit whatever ceiling height the next house we move to has, but it set me back about $1100 AUD. The pole that I “needed” so badly has had maybe 10 workouts over the last 2 years.

  • Here are some things I regret buying: 85% of all the shoes I’ve ever owned, a pressure cooker, and a rug for my office.

    First, the shoes! Womens’ shoes never seem to fit my feet, which are wide at the ball of the foot and narrow at the heel, SO, most shoes are uncomfortable for me EXCEPT for tall boots (somehow, the top of the boot around my calf keeps the rest of the shoe from slipping off my ankle). Other than my boots and my wedding shoes (some gloriously impractical steel blue heels), I regret all of my shoe purchases because they never, ever fit. This includes running shoes – I’ve bought ’em too small or too big and nothing ever works for my stupid feet.

    Second, the pressure cooker, which I registered for as a wedding present (so, technically, I didn’t buy it). I have never, ever used it. I’m too afraid to operate it, yet I feel too guilty to donate it since it was a present and since I don’t know for sure that I won’t some day muster up the courage to try it.

    Third, the rug for my office. It sheds like crazy, and it’s probably too small for the space. I will never buy a rug that is less than 7 feet in any direction – just not practical if you don’t want to keep stepping on the rug to floor transition area every 5 minutes.

  • To the person who is afraid to leave constructive feedback on Etsy, I TOTALLY understand. At this point, I am afraid to leave any feedback on Etsy that isn’t 100% stellar. I would love an objective post on the Etsy rules of engagement. Recently, I purchased something and the seller was a complete jerk – in the scary kind of way that makes you want to lock your doors and regret thoroughly that they have your home address. And, there was nothing that I could do about it. I contacted Etsy but all they said was for me to stop talking to the seller, which I did, but then he kept messaging me with hateful comments. The kicker is that I didn’t leave negative feedback because I was afraid of him, and because I didn’t want retalatory feedback from him.

  • My car…we’re in a commuting situation so I thought, ok, a brand new one will be the best thing for us. I will put ALL the miles on it from the beginning, I’ll know where it’s been, and that will be so comforting. With dealer incentives and 0% interest I’ll only pay about $1,000 more in actual payments than we would on payments for a similar car with 25,000 miles on it. (Still true.) I’ve had it for a couple months now and already: 7500 miles. I just want to cry every time I drive it…which is OFTEN…and for HOURS. I cannot stop calculating what I will owe on the car when it rolls over to 100,000 miles. In the last 2 months I’ve had at least 2 crying jags when I could not stop thinking about the issue. Wish I would’ve just fixed my old beater and kept rolling.

    Also a few years ago I bought an enormous sectional couch. Still love to look at it, but it’s way too big and I found manufacturing tags after it was delivered that suggest it was made under terrible standards in another country and is probably the most poorly built item I’ve ever spent $3000 bucks on. I don’t know it didn’t occur to me to ask about manufacturing origins.

  • My worst experience was signing with a contractor out of fear and anxiety after a fire. The cleanup crew and adjuster recommended someone (who, as it turned out, had a stake in both businesses), and despite red flags (giving me a weird look when I said I wanted my kitchen cabinets to be solid wood and painted as they were before, because he wanted to sell me crappy prefab ones) hired him and his awful crew anyway. Four months of renovation torture ensued–and we had JUST renovated our house a year before. The moral of the story is this: when it’s something important that you will be living with for years, if not the rest of your life, SLOW DOWN. There is no emergency. Once the house was boarded up, everyone was safe, no one died, and we had an alternate place to stay, I should have told myself to STOP, take a deep breath, and stop panicking. I should have done my due diligence and interviewed several contractors and heard what they had to say (the contractors who had done the first renovation had gone out of business and couldn’t do the fire remediation). Our beautiful 1930’s Brooklyn house deserved the right contractors, instead of the ham-handed, unskilled, awful workers we basically lived with for four months. It’s completely worth getting a little sanity and distance from the event instead of feeling frantic and pressured. If, god forbid, anything like this ever happens again, I’m going to institute a 48-hour cooling-off period before signing anything.

  • I’m reading all these and feel so much better from my buyers remorse! I wanted a new car because I had too many issues with the 2011 Honda accord SE (special edition) I had. Plus an upgrade – i’m a techie fan. So I researched and knew what my car was worth and was so firm and stern when I dealt with two dealers in teh process. I went to a third dealer that was out of town and I guess I was tired and ready just to be done with the process. I probably had more of I didn’t negotiate a better deal on trade-in and stick to my guns on lowered paymetn. Oh I”ll be okay but just ticked that I let myself talk me into this 2014 honda accord EX-L. I love the car but I think I could have done better in negotiations. The other factor is my father lives with me and I’m dependent on his part to help with household expenses. If he moves out or passes away then I will have to get rid of the car but hopefully I will have it paid off before that ever happens. I’m still trying to get over my remorse. Still angry with myself. Does it ever go away! My dad ttells me I had the same remorse over the 2011 car but he’s happy and proud of me for getting a new car that is just GORGEOUS. Go figure.

  • Oh my goodness! Thank you for this post!!

    I am swamped with buyers remorse over my new car. I didn’t want to buy as it was only the second dealership we’d been to and kept trying to leave, but allowed myself to be pressured into buying a suv that is too big and I don’t feel safe driving….so, now we’re stuck exchanging it with zero leverage to make a good deal and I can’t even find a car I like. I’m just sick over it, I lost sleep and have been a weepy mess (I’m also five months pregnant). I know it’s such a first world problem, as I just don’t like the low mileage vehicle I bought and can afford…but I know I will never set foot in a dealership without a third party to stop me from buying anything on the first visit!

    Thank you for this post! I feel so much better!!

  • I am still dealing with my remorse. I bought a new SUV after being upside down on the loan and only in my old car for a year. I got ripped off on the first car. Yet I still went back to the same dealership figuring I’d get the best tade in offer. I actually got a great deal on this second one. It’s a complete upgrade from what I had. But I just wish I had been able to think about my desision overnight, instead of jumping into it that day. I even said I wanted to sleep on it. I almost left the dealership. I only pay $100 more a month but I keep worrying about if it’s too much. Even though my friend who works with me, pays more for her simular but older different brand of SUV. I know I can afford it but I keep having these panic attacks. The night after I bought the SUV I cried and cried. The next day I cried and finally got some sleep but I felt sick. I’m finally feeling mostly better but every once in a wile I still get that crappy feeling I had the first day.

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