Consumer Advocate: Are purchases from liquidation sites worth the money?

(WJAR)

In the age of online shopping, returns are the name of the game.

But, as you might imagine, reselling all that old, opened merchandise presents some challenges.

Enter liquidation sites.

These companies buy unwanted goods, bundle them up, and sell them for dirt cheap.

But are you getting a bargain -- and perhaps checking a few items off your Christmas list -- or are you just buying a giant box of junk?

NBC 10’s Emily Volz decided to find out.

“So this site right here, this is called liquidation.com, and you can see there's everything from oral health to toy helicopters, health and beauty,” says Volz, browsing through several listings.

She continues browsing.

“There's this other site BULQ, which is very similar. It's got a ton of products they come in a pallet that you can purchase, but there's no bidding.”

She finds a cheap box of general merchandise from BULQ. There are a few items pictured in the listing, but for the most part, there’s little indication what’s inside.

“We've got this General Merchandise pallet. It retails for $577,” she says. “It has 57 items in it, and with shipping it's going to be $86.”

A week later, the mystery box is in the NBC 10 studio.

A panel of NBC 10 critics are standing by to determine if the box is worth $86.

The box was ordered in early November and there are quite a few Halloween returns packed inside, including a rainbow wig, two masks, and three fleece blankets covered in jack-o-lanterns.

But there are a few useful items too: Two surge protectors, a pair of wiper blades and a can opener.

“Is there anything in here, or more than one thing that could be a Christmas gift or a holiday gift?” Volz asks the panel.

“I think so. I think you can probably give these to nieces or nephews,” says NBC 10 producer Meghan Kayata, referencing some toys that were in the box.

“Not a lot,” adds NBC 10 producer Lori Solinger.

“Do you think was worth the $88?” asks Volz.

“I think it depends on who was to get the box,” says NBC 10 producer Caitlin Grimaldi.

“Who's going to use this?” scoffs Solinger.

“I think the merchandise here probably costs more than $88,” adds Kayata.

So, while not a rip off, Halloween dog skeletons and rainbow children’s wigs probably don't make the best Christmas gifts -- unless you're planning a White Elephant.

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