One third of Americans admit to regifting bad online buys

4 min readAug 24, 2021


Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Fakespot, the study found 51% of Americans trust bad online reviews over good reviews (Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash)

When expectations are at odds with reality, it can be costly! New research suggests the average American wastes over $70,000 in their lifetime on disappointing online purchases.

In a recent survey, 2,000 U.S. respondents said they typically spend an average of $899 a year on disappointing online purchases, with clothing (60%), tech (27%) and toys/kid products (25%) topping the list.

Specific disappointments often include the quality (64%), size (46%) and color (31%) of the purchase upon its arrival.

One respondent bought a leather jacket that turned out to be plastic and another received steaks that tasted like shoes.

And humans aren’t the only ones to face disappointment. One respondent recalled, “I ordered a Cat Cave bed for $60. It had rave reviews and sounded like something my cat would enjoy sleeping in. She slept in it one afternoon and was done with it. When she moved around in it it collapsed, so it was not as advertised.”

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Fakespot, the study also examined the impact of product reviews on buying decisions.

Of those polled, 51% are more likely to trust bad reviews than good reviews when shopping online.

Respondents also cited 20 reviews as the minimum threshold needed for them to be deemed trustworthy.

Sixty-five percent said they usually trust online reviews when making a purchase decision.

The average respondent writes a review themselves after making an online purchase about four times a month, with 54% feeling it’s their duty to do so.

And 67% said they trust product reviews with images or photos more than ones with just text.

That said, 55% think people who post reviews or pictures of products they buy deserve some type of reward.

“Our study found that although people tend to trust online reviews — especially those that may be a red flag and unreliable — they don’t always read them,” said Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot’s CEO. “Consumers may be uncertain of the legitimacy of the reviews and may want to find out for themselves, or they may have just fallen for a deal that’s too good to be true.”

More than half of respondents (56%) said they return their disappointing buys, while 30% throw them out and 29% opt to give them away as gifts.

Meanwhile, three in five assume that an online purchase they’ve returned will be resold — and only two in five knew that product returns increase carbon emissions.

Even though the average respondent is likely to make 314 returns in their lifetime, a mere 28% of those polled knew that returned products will sometimes end up in landfills.

“Product returns aren’t immediately associated with environmental impact,” Khalifah added. “Increased awareness of what sellers, products and reviews are legitimate can lead to more conscious consumer decisions. That means more online buys that meet people’s expectations and a cleaner Earth as well.”


● “I ordered a leather jacket and when it arrived, it was a plastic jacket.”

● “Steaks that tasted like shoes.”

● “Supplements to help me lose weight, but I gained weight instead.”

● “Wrong name on personalized jersey for [my] son.”

● “An alarm clock — it had only one brightness button and you could not lower the brightness. It was so bright you couldn’t use it.”

● “A fan that did not blow enough air”

● “It was a Nike Air Force 1 shoe, turns out it [was] fake.”

● “Recliner chair — very uncomfortable.”

● “I bought a book that I needed for community college and when it arrived, it was only the cardboard shipping container and nothing else. That was disappointing.”

$899 a year on disappointing purchases x 78.54 years (average life expectancy in U.S. in 2018)
= $70,607.46 in a lifetime

4 returns a year x 78.54 years = 314.16 returns in a lifetime

>>>> Download the video and copy of this research story <<<<
NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.




SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.