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Mon Dec 19 2011 18:11:04

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

By: Ina Steiner

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You've seen it before - parents desperate to get their hands on hot holiday toys willing to paying exorbitant prices for Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo, Furbies, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Zhu Zhus.

Shoppers on Amazon.com have been discussing third-party sellers who buy high-demand items in bulk and then mark up the items much higher than suggested retail price thanks to demand from shoppers. Parents called the practice "toy scalping."

One shopper said he (or she) spends thousands of dollars at Amazon every year and said it is "dishonest and shameful" to let third-party FBA sellers sell items for 2 - 3 times the retail price.

"Essentially they are paying Amazon retail for the item, selling it for more and passing on the rip off to the customer, enabled by Amazon," he wrote. "Why does Amazon let a third party seller buy the stock of a hot item and charge their customers more? It is turning in to Ebay."

Another poster agreed, though he didn't blame Amazon (too much). "The solution is simple yet impossible - people need to stop being greedy pigs and snatching up everything they can get their hooves on to resell at an inflated price."

Another poster described himself as a third-party seller on Amazon who buys out toy stock at Target and Walmart and then advertises the items for about 2-3 times the retail. He said it makes him feel patriotic and like a "special kind of Santa Claus," writing, "I make my $$$ and the parents look like heros on Christmas morning."

The top three discussions on the Amazon Toy Forum are in fact about this issue: "Sellers Wall of Shame!!!" and "Supply and Demand vs Price Gouging" and "Amazon - Third party sellers are killing the deals!" Some of the threads started several years ago and resurface this time of year. As the clock counts down to Christmas Day, parents are again feeling the pressure with only one week of holiday shopping left.

Consumers used to blame eBay sellers for buying limited-supply items by the boatload and then driving up prices on eBay, as this 2007 Guardian article on "flipping" describes - retailers have even banned eBay sellers from their stores for reselling their purchases. It looks like Amazon sellers now have the same reputation.

What do you think - are holiday toy-sellers playing Santa or Scrooge? And should Amazon.com discourage or prohibit this practice?




Comments (36) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: asd

Mon Dec 19 18:25:53 2011

Then don't buy it at scalped pricing. Or tell your brat he'll get elmo for his bday instead!

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Ridiculous

Mon Dec 19 19:34:43 2011

No one is forcing shoppers to buy at these prices. It's called the free market, and if there is no demand, then the "toy scalper" loses his money.

But people wait until the last minute to shop and then want the most popular item. Well, demand drives price in America. Too bad. Pay or don't pay, but don't force retailers into a fixed pricing scheme.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Y.D.D.D

Mon Dec 19 20:13:48 2011

Stop picking on 3rd party sellers buyers !

You don't like a scalped price then don't buy it ! But don't b*tch about it or ask Amazon to ban it, you online shoppers just expect us sellers to give you everything for free don't you ?

Nuff said

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Dec 19 20:36:18 2011

Holiday gift shoppers have been conditioned for years by the Big Boxes to expect pared to the bone pricing on everything and then whine when the "free market" doesn't favor their position.

Of course, many of these same people or their husbands don't mind shelling out 3 to 10 times the face value of sports events tickets.

This is an ugly time of the year to be an online seller.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: You'll Always Buy

Mon Dec 19 21:03:55 2011

I do my holiday shopping throughout the year...I see something (hopefully on sale) and buy it if I think someone I know will like it.  As I do this, throughout the year, I might over buy...When this happens, it's eBay and Amazon to resell.  When I price check against the going rates at the big box stores...especially when it's closer to Christmas, I notice that THEY'RE prices are higher from when I purchased the item.  Why isn't anyone complaining about that?  Why is it that a toy in March at Big Lots costs $3.99 and the same toy in December costs $9.99?  Will you boycott Big Lots as well?  Don't blame the resellers on Amazon because you don't have holiday shopping hindsight!

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Jen

Mon Dec 19 21:16:48 2011

Its the way of America - consumerism - the value of something is only what someone is willing to pay for it.  How much does it cost Pepsi and Coke to make a can of soda?  10 cents, do we pay that, no we pay more.  When a house is for sale the seller can list it for whatever they want to, if a buyer feels it is worth it to them they buy it.  So should we ban how much people pay for houses?  This article is stupid.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 20 00:50:41 2011

"The solution is simple yet impossible - people need to stop being greedy pigs and snatching up everything they can get their hooves on to resell at an inflated price."


nooo, the solution is to simply not pay that price and find something else to purchase as a gift.  if there weren't people willing to pay the price, the sellers wouldn't do it.

unfortunately we live in an age when it is far easier to complain instead of simply understanding the basics of supply and demand.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Moonwishes
Web Site

Tue Dec 20 00:53:15 2011

If parents think these 'must have' toys are that important to have, why aren't they shopping for them earlier? I grew up poor and my usual 'big' Christmas present was a new homemade nightgown. I just don't understand this kind of mindset for Christmas shopping and never will get it. People have completely lost all sense of what Christmas is really all about.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon

Tue Dec 20 01:26:09 2011

To cease this marketing strategy, all consumers have to do is not buy at the overly inflated prices.  The greedy Guts who grab all the merchandise will get stuck with it, lose their shirts a few times and things will get into a better balance.

BTW - parents, it's OK to say no and mean it.  I asked for a horse for 10 years running, every Christmas, and never got one.  It did no damage to my psyche, I had wonderful Christmases, and, at age 14 got a job, earned the money and bought and cared for my horse on my own.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Uncle Sam

Tue Dec 20 01:33:45 2011

It's called Capitalism.  The market supply and demand determine the prices not some govt entity.  At least that is how it used to work in the U.S. before the socialists took over

You don't like the prices buy something else.


Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Cowbell
Web Site

Tue Dec 20 02:10:43 2011

Jack White skipped the flippers and put his limited edition records on eBay himself. He figured if people were willing to pay high prices, his label should get the money. It made perfect sense to me. The fans, of course, pitched a fit.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Rich

Tue Dec 20 02:38:26 2011

I agree it's capitalism and if people have strength and don't buy a rip off price then the price will drop.  I'm wondering how a small group of sellers is able to buy up all the products before everyone else can?

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: Bob's Your Uncle

Tue Dec 20 06:46:05 2011

God bless capitalism!!!
Buy low & sell high! No one is holding a gun to their head to buy at the inflated price. Just consider it a stupid and/or lack of planning tax. Christmas comes around the same day every year so it shouldn't be a surprise.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: N.S. Sherlock

Tue Dec 20 07:03:48 2011

If they were *truly* ''Price Conscious Shoppers'', then they wouldn't buy the overpriced items in the first place... and the seller would be stuck with the merchandise.

The thing is... these sellers aren't selling to ''price conscious shoppers''. Instead, they are providing a product to last-minute shoppers who are willing to buy an overpriced popular item at any cost. For these shoppers, *having* the item is more important than the *price* paid. They are willing to pay a premium price because they didn't act sooner to obtain a popular item.

It's a trade-off that some people can afford, and that others cannot. And even if a buyer can't easily afford the inflated price, but they still choose to buy... they must always remember that they CHOSE to buy it. They could have walked away, but didn't.

The price-conscious-shoppers should keep in mind that these sellers are not marketing to them. If it's not a good deal, then they should ignore the overpriced items.

The should also remember that even if the ''scalper'' had been blocked from selling the item at a premium price... the item would have been sold out anyway. As last-minute shoppers, they STILL wouldn't have been able to obtain the item.

The net result is still the same... they don't have the item. Get over it!

I think what they're really annoyed at is the fact that someone ELSE is able to afford the item at the seller's asking price. (Or maybe they're just mad at THEMSELVES for not acting sooner.)

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: EatBologna

Tue Dec 20 07:32:30 2011

People are greedy. Corporate America caters to that greed. The greed blinds people to the true meaning of Christmas.

So, I say if people want to pepper spray each other and fight over the latest toy in the store or get ripped off paying 10 times what it's worth online. GOOD, let them eat bologna for Christmas dinner because they overpaid for their toy and eat it with burning eyes and knots on their heads,

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: OhForPetesSake

Tue Dec 20 08:34:38 2011

People that don't know how to click on the back button on a computer should have that computer taken away from them.

If you think the price is to high WHY ARE YOU BUYING IT.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: surviving_the

Tue Dec 20 08:40:25 2011

As a seller of mostly toys(old & new), there is nothing i like better than to see that mine is the only one available.

And that means i WILL offer it up for 3-4 times the original price.If no one wants to pay my price then they have the PERSONAL CHOICE not to make the purchase. If it sits unsold for an extended time, that means the MARKET dictates i lower the price( NOT Amazon,Ebay, or the Government)
People want to talk about greed then talk about the NEW seller fees that pop up every 2-3 months that CONTINUE to lower a sellers profit.

This article really hits a nerve & i could write an essay on this,but i dont have the time to sit here for a hour typing. I have to get busy listing ''scalping'' toys, so i can eat this week.
Before the current GOOSE STEPPING REGIME took power i could make a meager living with 500-700 items in my store. NOW i have to keep 4500-5000 items in inventory just to stay OUT of the food stamp line!

God help us all if we do not CHANGE the GUARD next November, because the powers that be will surely turn their attention to us smaller sellers once they get done regulating, taxing & grinding the big business into the dirt( They already have(with Amazon on board) want us to collect ALL states taxes)

But that is what all you whineasses want. Maybe they should pass a law that sellers have to sell items at the original manufacturers cost, after all the item isnt available in the retail stores & that would be the FAIR thing to do.

Yes that will be utopia, all of us being EQUAL(excluding all elites) in a SOCIALLY JUSTIFIED, FAIR America

The thing you people cant get through your mutated brains is that once all business is ground into dust is there will be no one left to pay for your food stamps, ''free'' phones, utility subsidies etc. And yes, FAIRLY PRICED TOYS




Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

by: JackieBlue

Tue Dec 20 08:46:00 2011

If you don't like it, don't buy it.  Duh.  The prices change to match any demand.  

I am amazed at the seller comments on here though.  Are the comments we are seeing here the same people that complain about eBay charging higher fees and setting seller standards?  How is this situation different?  

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue Dec 20 09:01:16 2011

JackieBlue asks cynically: ''How is this situation different?''

Oh, good grief! Cut it out! Reasonable and intelligent people can easily see how this is different. It's clear to me that people who ask such things are simply trying to play the role of provocateur... to taunt and ridicule... and are not to be taken seriously.

Many small sellers depend on the income they earn. For us, selling isn't a hobby or a luxury, it's a necessity.

Overpriced popular toys are not a necessity. People may want them, but they aren't needed to pay the rent or to pay for prescriptions.

Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping   Price Conscious Shoppers Say Amazon Should Ban Toy-Scalping

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Dec 20 09:07:40 2011

Supply and demand. It's part of Business 101. Good sellers always try to get the highest price they can for their products. Retail arbitrage (aka "flipping") is a standard way of doing business. It's no different from buying an item at a yard sale and then reselling on eBay or Amazon. You source your products at the lowest price possible, then sell at the best price the market will bear. If buyers don't like the price, they're free to buy elsewhere or not buy at all. When you start talking about controlling prices, you get into a lot more complex issues, like first sale doctrine. Manufactures have been trying for years to control pricing on their products on venues, with mixed results. It comes down to determining who has the right to set or limit the price of a product.

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