7 Purchases Where Buying Generic Will Cost You

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By Laurel Randolph

It's a tough call deciding when to buy a well-known name brand item over it's cheaper, generic counterpart. Very often, generic and store-brand merchandise is just as good and considerably cheaper. However, there are a number of instances where consumer tests have shown that buying generic just won't do. When purchasing these seven items, spending a little more for a name brand is worth every penny.

1. Electronics

When it comes to high priced electronics, don't mess around. If you're in the market for a big-screen TV, now is the time to go with a tried-and-true brand rather than a cheap knock-off. As the screen grows, so do discrepancies between cheap models and their pricier counterparts. The difference in picture quality and durability becomes especially noticeable at the 50-inch plus range, and according to consumer testing, you need a TV at least that big if you plan on watching sports or hosting movie nights. Sony often tops the list of best TVs, with other familiar brands like Panasonic, LG, and Samsung also making quality sets.

Unless you're a computer whiz and know how to make your own computer, you should also stick with trusted brands when buying a new PC. At the very least, this will guarantee good customer service should anything go wrong (be sure to check the warranty plan) and give you a minimum of specs that will give you a smooth-running computer out of the box. Do some research before you buy any brand to make sure you get the right model for your needs.

2. Diapers

When purchasing an item you will literally use thousands of over the course of your child's early years, it is tempting to grab the cheapest thing and move on. According to extensive tests though, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by using a trusted brand. Pampers consistently topped the list with the best absorbency and durability. Rather than risk leaks and diaper rash, why not cover your babe in the best? Consumer Reports suggests buying the biggest package possible to get the best deal.

3. Condiments

These days, you can buy pretty much any food item at the grocery store for cheaper by choosing the store brand. Often these off-brand versions are just as good, but there are a few exceptions. One example is condiments - the name-brand options consistently outperform the generic versions in taste tests. Americans have a love affair with Heinz ketchup, and frequently pick it out of blind tastings as their favorite. It has the perfect balance of tang and sweetness that french fries just can't do without. Hellman's mayonnaise is frequently at the top of everyone's mayo list, beating out generics and other brand names.

4. Batteries

When it comes to regular household alkaline batteries like AA, comparing the power and price of generic versus name brand ends up being equal. However, because name brands last much longer, they are a better choice for much-used items like your Wii remote. When replacing batteries for electronics like laptops and smartphones, buying a trusted brand is not only a better choice, it's a safer choice. Aftermarket batteries have been linked to fires, and while there isn't definitive evidence to prove that these cheap batteries are the cause, they are at least known to deliver less-than-optimal performance. Generics are not required to meet the same standards that are expected of brand-name models, and may get too hot, fail to hold a charge well or wear down quickly. Play it safe and opt for a trusted brand, especially when buying lithium ion batteries.

5. Trash Bags

No one likes taking the trash out, but how about when the bag busts on the way to the bin? Or the handles snap, sending your bundle of gross careening down the stairs? No one wants to deal with leaky garbage, so why skimp and risk it? Glad and Hefty topped Consumer Reports' list of toughest trash bags, after putting several brands through some rigorous testing. Glad easily held 50 pounds of garbage without breaking, while the Sam's Club brand only withstood 35 pounds. Even if you're not planning to regularly shove 50 pounds worth of trash into your can, it's worth the peace of mind to spend a few cents more per bag for durability.

6. Paint

With so many paint choices out there, it's hard not to pick the cheapest option and go with it. But skimping on paint can mean uneven coverage, poor adherence and a crappy finish. These problems can lead to multiple coats, which requires more paint and ends up turning your savings into a wash. It can also mean your paint job doesn't last as long, leading you to paint all over again much sooner than if you went with a trusted brand. Consumer Reports' consistently chooses Behr paints as their favorites, along with Benjamin Moore, Valspar, and Clark + Kensington.

7. Perfume

Wouldn't it be nice to smell expensive without paying top dollar? The high price of name-brand perfume is enough to force many people into purchasing counterfeit versions for themselves or as gifts. The packaging and even the initial scent of these knock-offs can be convincing, but the ingredients and lack of lasting quality shows their true scent. Many counterfeit perfumes are made with nasty chemicals, and because you are spraying them on your skin, could even be dangerous. While cheap generic perfumes may not contain the same gross ingredients as counterfeit varieties, they don't contain the complexity and long-lasting properties of high-quality scents, requiring you to use more perfume. In the end, it's worth the cost to buy a name brand perfume that will last.

What generic products do you always avoid?

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