Here’s Why Amazon Doesn’t Sell These 14 Things
Amazon has everything, right? Well, nearly everything. These 14 items can't be purchased from the retail giant.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Not everything is for sale
Thankfully, you cannot expect to purchase the family pet on Amazon. Pets, livestock, and marine mammals are strictly prohibited from being sold on the site and with good reason—primarily being that none of these should be kept in a warehouse awaiting an order. You can buy things like insects used to feed pet geckos, worms used for fishing bait, and pet food, but in general, animals and animal products are banned from the site.
If you’re prepared to adopt an animal, one option is to search local shelters for pets in your area. Rescuing an animal from a local shelter will do a world of good for both your family and its newest member. There’s so much to sift through on Amazon, but these are the items you should always buy from the site.
Most of us wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to strike it rich, but you’re still going to have to wait in line if you want to score a lottery ticket. On Amazon’s list of prohibited items are lottery tickets (and coin-operated slot machines, in the event you want to start up a hometown Vegas-style operation). Rules and regulations about selling lotto tickets vary by state and merchants must apply to become a retailer of lottery tickets. For example, the California Lottery asks that potential sellers have more than 200 customers daily, be able to accommodate official Lottery equipment, and be in a retail setting like a grocery or gas station, among other stipulations. Still, if you did happen to win the jackpot elsewhere, you could afford the most expensive item on Amazon.
In Amazon’s guidelines, the site states, “Amazon prohibits the listing or sale of firearm ammunition and ammunition components for assault weapons, black powder guns, handguns, muzzleloaders, pistols, shotguns, and rifles.” However, they do permit BB, air, pellet, and Airsoft ammunition. The reason Amazon stays out of the lethal gun business is that state and local laws vary around the country, and it would be tough for the site to comply. On the flip side, you’ll want to check out these hidden gems sold on Amazon you’re sure to love.
Merchandise with the Washington Football Team’s old name
Even before the team made the long-overdue decision to change its name, Amazon pulled the plug on the team’s merchandise. On July 3, 2020, the football team announced that it would review its name and logo, which have faced widespread criticism for evoking racist anti-Indigenous stereotypes and history. Later that month Amazon announced that it would remove all merchandise affiliated with the team, and the team was temporarily rebranded as the Washington Football Team. Although they will be sticking with that filler name for the 2021 season, the Washington Team apparently has more than 30 potential names on the list for the 2022 season and beyond. Amazon doesn’t just sell cleaning products; they clean their own house, too.
You can find a variety of accessories for a smoking habit, like ashtrays, pipes, and cigarette paper, on Amazon, but don’t expect to find any actual tobacco products. E-cigarettes, regardless of whether or not they contain nicotine, are also a no-no on the site. It would simply be tedious for the company to verify the age of buyers ordering tobacco products online. In 2015, JAMA Pediatrics released a report revealing the ease with which minors could buy e-cigarettes online (76.5 percent of purchase attempts were successful). By taking themselves out of the equation, Amazon can make sure they aren’t violating any federal, state, or local laws. If you do see tobacco for sale on Amazon, it’s probably an Amazon scam.
Facial recognition software
In June 2020, in response to the outpouring of protest against racial injustice and systemic racism, Amazon announced that it would stop selling “Rekognition,” its facial recognition technology, to law enforcement. Many activists had been pointing out that facial recognition was disproportionately used to target Black people and other people of color; in fact, 70 civil rights activists sent a letter to Jeff Bezos expressing those very concerns in 2018. Research has even shown that the tech itself contained biases and led to misrepresentation and racial profiling. Amazon was the largest provider of facial recognition technology to law enforcement. In May 2021, Amazon announced that they were extending the ban on law enforcement use of their software indefinitely. If you’re concerned about privacy, you should know about Amazon Sidewalk.
No matter whether you’re looking for contact lenses that are purely cosmetic or those that are corrective, you can’t buy them on Amazon. They’re on the prohibited list because “they do not meet the checklist requirements”—though which requirements those are isn’t clear. You’ll have to mosey on over to a pharmacy to pick up a new pair. Or just stick to reading glasses, which you can get on Amazon. Find out what “Amazon’s choice” really means.
Now here’s where it gets a little tricky: There are some pre-approved sellers who can hawk vino on Amazon, but they have to comply with federal, state, and local laws. For instance, not all states allow the shipping of wine—Kentucky, for example. Amazon Prime Now customers can still get one- or two-hour delivery on wine if a store that serves their area sells it. Verifying that a customer is 21 or older is tricky, so the site wants to limit the practice to sellers who have been pre-approved. While you’re waiting for your wine delivery, browse these hilarious Amazon reviews.
Sorry, partner, you can’t stock up on fuel through Amazon. This falls under their “hazardous and dangerous items” umbrella. Shipping gasoline is a truly bad idea. According to the United States Postal Service site, gasoline isn’t mailable under any circumstances. However, they will ship things like camp-stove fuel in limited quantities (Amazon also sells it). Try to stay away from dangerous goods and buy something with a lifetime warranty instead.
If you know about the online car seller Carvana, you would probably just assume that you could pick up a new set of wheels on Amazon as well. Not so. They prohibit the sale of motor vehicles that require registration—basically any vehicle you can drive on the road.
This is a no-brainer considering how many states ban the sale of consumer fireworks altogether, particularly those states at high risk of wildfires. Additionally, Amazon won’t sell you the milder types like sparklers or party snappers. Your best bet? To use some good old-fashioned air-compressed party poppers for any celebrations.
After the Charleston Church Massacre that killed nine black parishioners in 2015, Amazon joined other retailers in banning Confederate flag merchandise from being sold on their sites and in their stores. While Amazon didn’t comment on the ban, flag makers Valley Forge stopped producing the Confederate flag and shared their hope for the future with NBC News: “We hope that this decision will show our support for those affected by the recent events in Charleston and, in some small way, help to foster racial unity and tolerance in our country.”
Currently, you can’t purchase real estate on Amazon, but according to The Real Deal, there are rumblings that the e-commerce giant might buy up real estate site Redfin as a way to enter the marketplace. “Really both companies would be better together than they would be apart,” said housing and consumer finance analyst Jack Micenko with Susquehanna Financial Group in a 2019 report. But with so many regulations on buying and selling property that vary from city to city and state to state, it may not be in Amazon’s best interest to head into realtor territory. You may not be able to get real estate, but you can get plenty of very, very bizarre things on Amazon.
Criminals will have to look someplace else for crime-committing gadgetry. Amazon prohibits the sale of lock-picking devices, card skimmers, code grabbers, digital decoders, and more. The site doesn’t like the liability implications—and what retailer would want to be associated with hawking items that benefit thieves?
- Amazon Seller Central: “Animals and Animal-Related Products”
- CALottery.com: “Become a Retailer”
- JAMA Pediatrics: “Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet”
- USPS: “Shipping Restrictions”
- NBC News: “Target, Amazon Pull Confederate Goods”
- TheRealDeal.com: “Could Amazon Break Into Real Estate”
- USDA.gov: “Infant Formula Feeding”
- Washington Post: “Amazon expands ban”
- CBS Sports: “Washington NFL team might change its name”