A bargain isn’t a bargain if it’s a piece of crap. (Coming soon to a cross-stitch near you!)
Sometimes stuff is marked down and clearanced out simply because there is a shinier model in a new color coming out, and sometimes stuff is on sale because it sucks and no one wants it. This isn’t a big deal if you’re spending a buck, or buying something like, I dunno, toothpicks. It is a big deal when buying something which is both expensive and expensive—or impossible—to repair if it has a problem.
Do your homework. Shopping online? Read the reviews on the site. (My favorite object-lesson: There are some infamous high thread-count sheets often posted to deal boards because they’re offered so cheaply. The reviews are united in their assessment of said sheets as absolute garbage, possibly made of burlap and iron filings.) My favorite review site is CNET, because you can often get Editor review/picks in addition to the “Im BillyBob and I git this here kumputer and it dun work reel swell” type of user reviews.
For a primer before you shop (assuming you’re looking for a specific item like a mattress or a blender), check out Consumer Reports. For a couple of giggles and possibly some interesting information, there’s always Epinions.
Sometimes, expensive toys are frustrating or boring. Sometimes, certain technology is superfluous and other times it’s absolutely necessary. Make sure you know before you buy.
See? Second opinions go beyond turning to your girlfriend with a shirt and asking “Does this make me look like I have jaundice?”