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Customer Discussions > Toys forum

Amazon can take simple steps to protect buyers from GOUGERS:

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Showing 1-25 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 2, 2012 10:33:59 PM PST
G. Benitez says:
1 - BAN sellers who don't categorize their items correctly. Right now if you do a search for a popular toy (Example: "Cars 2 Lightning McQueen Radio Control") the search results will pop up with many different listings for the SAME toy. Some of them will be 3x or 4x the amazon price. These sellers are intentionally creating a separate listing for their item by omitting the UPC code when they create the listing, in the hopes that a clueless buyer (probably grandparents who aren't search-savvy) will find their jacked-up listing and buy it. And it works! The same toy should not have multiple listings. This levels the playing field for buyers AND sellers.

2 - BRIGHTLY IDENTIFY NON-AMAZON ITEMS - If an item is being sold by a 3rd party, with a return policy different than Amazons and no Amazon A-Z guarantee, the entire listing webpage should be colored differently, or there should be a bright banner on it that clearly states what the differences in return policies are. In other words buyers should know right away, with no mistake, that this 3rd party seller is NOT AMAZON, and EXACTLY how their return would be handled if the product is defective. (I don't include those items 'shipped by amazon', since those do have the Amazon guarantee as I understand it.)

3 - PUT A 'FLAG AS DECEPTIVE' button on the listings! I should be able to report to Amazon with a simple click of a button that a listing is deceptive or gouging.

These steps won't stop gouging, but it will reduce it considerably.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 7:50:31 AM PST
G. Benitez says:
I forgot to add one more:

4 - When Amazon is out of stock of something they should clearly and conspicuously list the last price they sold the item at, even if they are not expecting to get that item in any time soon. That way buyers are more clearly informed.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 9:13:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 9:22:23 AM PST
shiloh sales says:
1. I am a seller of toys, not all sellers can Product Detail Pages (PDP), sellers must search a database to see if there is a previous PDP for that product. the sellers that can create listings must enter a UPC number to create a PDP unless we were granted a UPC exemption from Amazon and it is not easy to get that exemption. Amazon has an internal department that looks for multiple listings for identical products and will merge the listing together if they are 100% sure they are the same product and will notify effective sellers there listing is being merged with another listing. I am also a manufacturer in the Audio/Video catagory, I can tell you that Amazon can sell most items cheaper than most 3rd party sellers because those sellers buy from a distributor and Amazon will usually buy direct from a manufacturer. I could not tell Amazon what I would sell them my items for, they told me what they would pay me for the items and I pay the shipping charges instead of them. I felt there was nothing wrong with Amazon's terms because of increased sales.

2. By third party do you mean an Amazon marketplace seller or from an linked outside seller website? My toys are sold through Amazon Marketplace, Amazons rules says that we must have a return policy as generous or better than Amazons policy.

3. Too many people would abuse the deceptive or gouging button, What should the rule be to consider a product gouging?

4. Not a good idea because Amazon pays less for most items than Marketplace sellers do.

Amazon is open to ideas from customers on how to make the customer buying experience better and they are also open to letting them know about deceptive or misleading ads. Sellers have a lot of criteria we have to meet, which includes, shipping on time, including tracking numbers, answering buyers email within 24 hours, customer refund rate, feedback rate and many other criterias. If our internal score gets to low, our listings are suspended.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 12:15:38 PM PST
K. Hodges says:
Why are you guys concerned about that. This is the internet. If you don't know what you are doing on here in terms of making a smart buy then head over to WALMART. Simple enough right?

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 1:14:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 1:35:59 PM PST
G. Benitez says:
Shiloh - Point 1: Obviously the Amazon system for stopping identical listings is broken. Do the Cars search I suggested, you'll see the same items listed multiple times. I would think that as a seller you would WANT there to be a way for every day buyers (and sellers like yourself) to easily report identical listings. These other sellers are breaking the rules (I don't know how they're getting around the UPC code entry requirement). All of the listings of the (for example) 'moving eyes lightning mcqueen' should be ONE listing, instead you have prices ranging from 25-65 dollars for the same item across a few listings. You and I should be able to report those duplicate listings with a simple button (my 3rd point). The identical listers are (by design or accident) gougers. Seller feedback doesn't work to stop these identical listings because you have to actually get gouged before you can report the listing.

As for what the rule should be for defining 'gouging' - I think something very simple can accommodate buyers and sellers. Amazon should prohibit the sale of toys that are less than a year old for more than, say, 5x Amazon's last sale price. Or if not prohibit, at least give some kind of penalty or redflag to the seller so that the buyer KNOWS he's being gouged, and by how much. My suggestions are reasonable because they just give the buyers (and Amazon) more information on the product their buying.

As for 3rd party sellers and the return policy: The A to Z guarantee and return policies are not the same for outside sellers. Not by a mile.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 1:40:04 PM PST
G. Benitez says:
My personal perspective is that parents that are upset about how much they have to pay for a popular toy have problems with society, not Amazon per se. But there are some things that can be done so that the really predatory sellers (like the ones who skirt the rules to make identical, higher-priced listings) get run off of Amazon marketplace. They give sellers and Amazon a bad name, and they make it more difficult for diligent buyers to find the right price on the items they want.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 2:20:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 2:27:10 PM PST
I'm a Prime member and do a lot of shopping here on Amazon. I appreciate the fact there are marketplace sellers when looking for used movies, books, or CDs. On new items though I usually try to only buy from Amazon themselves, with a few exceptions. If a marketplace seller has a new item that Amazon doesn't that is a current product, nine times out of ten you can find it elsewhere for less.

I think there are very good sellers here on Amazon that work very hard to provide a good product for a good price along with exemplary customer service. Those are usually (but not limited to) brick and mortar stores that also are on Amazon, or retailers that use Amazon as a sales channel in addition to their own e-commerce website. With that said, unfortunately there are those who are not concerned with that at all, and negative experiences with them tend to give a "black eye" to ALL sellers and Amazon alike.

Just like you, I have seen many instances where there are multiple listings for the same item, but each of them using different photos, sometimes vague descriptions, and other times blatantly false information. Ebay has a catalog system where a listing created uses the upc of the item and automatically fills in the pertinent information/description/ and photos. Amazon could also do something like that to lessen the confusion.

I have seen listings created by the seller that will have "list" price for the item set to well above what it really is, so you think that the high "discounted" price they are charging is a "good deal". To anyone who has researched the products knows its fabrication, but the hope is that the customer didn't do any research. Amazon could easily put a "report this listing" link on the pages just like ebay does, with a pre-defined set of criteria that you must choose to successfully submit.

The best thing I could advise a shopper to do is to look for products either sold by or fulfilled by first. That way you are guaranteed a shipping and return policy above and beyond having to fall back on the "A-Z Claim" process if something goes wrong.

Secondly, read the seller's feedback. See what others' experiences have been with them, and see how the seller reacted to customer problems if they responded to any feedback. Third, make sure you LEAVE feedback. It helps the seller accumulate a positive track record of customer service and most importantly helps other potential buyers by giving them more information. Another thing I personally look for is if the seller also has a web presence other than on Amazon. Definitely helps to show how serious they are at running a long-term business and maintaining a customer base. It also helps when you can see what they charge for the item on their own site.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 2:46:26 PM PST
First off, non-Amazon items ARE identified. If you're not able to see the (rather obvious) difference, then perhaps you should just pay more attention.

Second, what you propose with a "flag" button would send EVERY item to Amazon for review, as if someone doesn't like the item, then BAM, it's "deceptive". Such things as "buttons" (as shown in forums) is completely arbitrary, and thus ripe for abuse.

Finally, how do you term "gouging"? What might be "gouging" for one may be "just right" for another. Don't give this drivel about "retail price", because not every store prices items exactly the same, so that argument is completely out the window and unless you are 100% familiar with where each and every vendor purchased their items, you can only SPECULATE, so you don't actually know where an item was purchased, thus poking a nice, gaping hole in that boring, speculative theory (heading you off at the pass for those tired, irrelevant arguments).

Oh, wait a second...never create the rule and then everyone has to follow what YOU think, and no one else's opinion matters but yours...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 2:52:46 PM PST
Great, you have PERSONAL perspective. So what you are saying is that your personal perspective should be a blanket law because you say so? So someone appointed you in charge then?

Now, this is something that doesn't make sense to a lot of people, but you see, there's this thing called "freedom of choice", where people get to do as they wish.

Oh, and to poke holes in your other theories, there is no such creature as "gouging", as a seller only can "sell" an item if someone actually BUYS it. If it's not purchased, then no one can "gouge" a single thing. It doesn't matter what the price is, was, or will be three weeks from now. Obviously, assuming an item is purchased, clearly they valued the item more than they did whatever money they spent on it.

It is very difficult for some folks to understand that concept, because it is so incredibly complex.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 3:05:15 PM PST
case in point, the gentleman (I use that loosely) posting above attacking the OP is exactly the type of seller that a shopper on Amazon would do well to try and avoid. Take a look at their feedback and the complaints therein. Also note the way the seller responded to those customers. A 67% feedback rating for the last 365 days is exactly the type of seller that makes all the hard-working, *customer-centric*, and honest sellers on Amazon look bad. No wonder he is lashing out at anyone who suggests Amazon take some additional steps to clean up their marketplace..

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 3:10:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 3:11:31 PM PST
Completely avoiding the actual substance of the post again, Robert?

Freedom of choice, Robert. You don't have to do business with us. We do just fine without you.

Funny, though, how you seem to NOT be an advocate of freedom of choice, insisting on your own personal perspective being the rule, regardless of anyone else.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 3:33:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 3:43:51 PM PST
the OP's postings were about possible steps that Amazon could take to help protect their customers from marketplace sellers that make a habit of being deceptive and provide poor customer experiences. He talked about possible deceptive advertising, poor and inconsistent return policies, and the negative perception the actions of a few sellers reflecting on Amazon's marketplace as a whole. With that in mind, It seems that this thread had your company's name written all over it and is quite appropriate you are here attacking and insulting him and now me as well.

and just so I don't have to read your nonsensical word-twisting and insults, you'll be resting comfortably under the blanket of "You are ignoring this customer" from now on. Try and work harder to please your customers because it doesn't look too good for you right now. Thirty-three percent of the feedback you've received in the last year is from customers that believe you've cheated them by misrepresenting your products or otherwise just not giving them what they pay for. I know, I know, that doesn't matter because customers are "crooks and thieves" as you've stated before and it's always "their fault". SFP, this thread is about "you".

I urge everyone to use feedback as a critical tool in deciding whether or not to patronize a seller's digital storefront. Sellers like this individual are exactly the reason you have to be studious in your research before making a purchase.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 3:41:40 PM PST
K. Hodges says:
For amazon to try and put a stop to price gouging would be foolish. It happens everywhere and what law is there against it online? That's silly. They have an item you want when the regular prices items are exhausted you'll pay more for it if you really want it. Either it be a toy, or any other hot item for that matter. Are you guys sellers on amazon as well? My price is my price and CAN deviate from the sellers suggested retail price if I like. Amazon has no real issue with this at the current time and it's going to stay that way.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 3:49:34 PM PST
You are absolutely correct, Robert. Feedback is a tool. Not the ultimate one, but one of many.

As always, Robert, you ignore the actual post and the logic therein to launch an attack ad. Typical of you. If you can't attack the actual post, you attack the poster. If you think we have "cheated" someone, then you should read closer. We have found in the time you've posted that you can't attack the logic, because it would interfere with the limited perspective you show. So, you resort to going and making an interpretation based on what you want to find.

With regard to feedback, it would be great if feedback were left for every transaction. However, that simply does not happen. People don't want to be bothered. People are used to the mentality of, "I have it now, so I don't need to do anything else". It's kind of the reason why no one fills "suggestion boxes" at stores anymore. No one wants to be bothered.

If the sole defence is "you're twisting my words" when your own words are being copied just as you wrote them, then you must not have much going for you in your post.

Onwards...the whole point of the initial post is for one person and his personal perspective to be applied across the board. That's not for any one person to decide. While we agree that consolidating IDENTICAL listings would be great, there's no actual proof that the listing is identical. It could be a different UPC, it could be a slight difference regionally. If it were actually identical, then great...consolidate the listing.

It has been stated many times before, this "gouging" is fictional. If you don't buy it, how can one be "gouged"? In your imagination?

Flag buttons are only useful if there is no potential for abuse. As demonstrated here, ANYTIME there is a "flag" button, there is always someone waiting to abuse it.

While it is understood that not everyone is always going to have a positive experience every time they step outside their door, digital or not, to say, "this is my experience, and this is my problem, so I'm going to set a blanket policy everyone has to follow" is ridiculous. To turn the situation around, what if someone else had their personal preferences blanketed? If you don't like someone else's music, now you are forced to listen to it and nothing else, because that's the other person's blanket rule. If they are interested in another relationship, you have to abide by their rules on relations, because they made a rule you have to follow. What if their religion isn't yours? Too bad, it is now, because of their rule that HAS to be applied to everyone simply because they had a bad experience with your religion before, so now their blanket policy is that only their religion can be followed. Do those kinds of rules interfere with a right to choose? Of course. So does closing off an open marketplace and turning into a closed one because you want your own preferences to be made policy.

If two people are shopping and one person thinks the price of an item is great, but the other person doesn't think so, is it up to you to tell the other person, "NO, you cannot do this! I cannot let you do this!", or do you just say, "they want to spend money on something, that's up to them". Amazing how the internet gets people to think of things they would never do in person...

If you truly do want to have your policy obeyed 100% of the time, then you should go and create your own world, virtually, where you can set rules.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 4:49:04 PM PST
shiloh sales says:
Don't forget, there are people that want the item no matter what the price is and don't mind paying the high price. Do you want to keep them from buying that item when you think it is to high priced when they are okay paying that price? I like to see listings with high prices because there have been listings that I have gone out and found a source for the same product and listed it at MSRP, well under the existing selling price. I've chatted with other sellers that have done the same thing. I think instead of complaining about the price of toys, alot of complainers out here should go complain about the price of gasoline, groceries or the subsidies the goverment gives to big oil companies that are already making record profits. Toys are not important enough to have this many postings about high prices. We all need to get over it !!!!

I do agree that identical listings should be combined, the Amazon system is not broken, those multiple listings were created before Amazon tightened up the policies on multiple listings. Anybody is welcome to submit the Amazon Stock Identification Number (ASIN number) of the products you think are multiple listings and Amazon will investigate it. I've received more than one email from Amazon saying that one of my listings is being merged with another listing and I don't mind it at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 4:59:55 PM PST
That's the whole idea, Shiloh...let's say you're in the market for a record album (say a 78 RPM) and an 8-track. You find one for one dollar somewhere...that's a great deal for you, right? However, for the person who has neither a record player nor an 8-track player would think ten cents is way too much, because it holds no value for them. Should you be stopped from paying a dollar that you're more than willing to part with because of what someone else thinks?

What if you were walking a long way in the hot sun and you find a soda/water/Gatorade machine selling bottles for $3. "Hey, I'm really parched! I need this now! I just can't wait until I get home!" Does the person with the frozen water bottle just walking out say, "I just cannot let you do this!" Is it not your money to spend how you please?

What about in the hot summer when people sell water bottles right from a cooler for $1? Some people waiting for a bus might be more than willing to do such...who determines value? Shouldn't that be an individual decision?

If someone was walking behind you all day, every day for the rest of your life constantly telling you what to do, you'd likely get tired of that real quick, and say, "Look, it's my life...I can do what I want!", but yet, those very same people want to have their will imposed on another, and don't see how that is a bad thing.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 6:24:45 PM PST
K. Hodges says:
I so agree. To complain about something you helped drive the price upward on is just silly. You are the very reason the items are triple what they would normally be. In December you all shopped till you dropped on stuff that your kids don't even care about. It's now March 2012 and that thing is probably somewhere broken. Not saying don't buy it for them just get it earlier if you don't want to be gouged!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 6:54:44 PM PST
Mr. Hodges,

How could anyone be "gouged" if they willingly parted with their money to buy something? No one was held at gunpoint saying, "BUY THIS NOW!! I MEAN IT, I'LL SHOOT!!" Everyone willingly decided that they wanted whatever it was that they were shopping for more than the money it cost to buy.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 6:57:49 PM PST
K. Hodges says:
I completely agree with you. To tout you've been gouged is rediculous and just silly. If you need it and I have it you pay my price or find another place to get it. People act as if they are face to face with the seller. Water or fuel are in other categories. Those are life and death situations. Toys don't change lives.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 6:59:55 PM PST
K. Hodges says:
As well how can someone deceive you on amazon? You punch in your card and pay the amount you see. Don't want it keep your account away from that item.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 7:45:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 7:47:47 PM PST
G. Benitez says:
Really, the suggestions I posted are about making the Amazon experience better for buyers, which is something that everyone (buyers and sellers) has a strong interest in. One of the main ways to do this is through transparency, which most of the suggestions speak to.

Shiloh - I'm not surprised at all that you don't mind when Amazon consolidates one of your listings, you seem like a responsible seller. I think most sellers won't mind when their mistake is discovered and their toy listing is consolidated. Submitting the ASIN to Amazon is not simple though. It should be as simple as 2 clicks. I've heard the argument that the 'flag' button will be abused or ineffective, but I don't think that's true. I think having a simple 'flag' button will pretty much eliminate identical listings very quickly. But the only way to find out if it will work is to try it. As another post stated, Ebay already has a 'flag' button, and it is fairly effective. Amazon is servicing its customers by maintaining clean search results and a well-organized catalog. Why not make it easy for browsers identify identical listings?

This is about making Amazon better. The issue isn't about one person's right to buy something at an enormous markup, it's about making the buying experience better for the buyer. If Amazon wanted to they could put in a 'no-gouge' rule and limit the price sold on new toys to no more than 4x or 5x the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). I doubt they'll do it though. I do think that in the interest of transparency they should let buyers know what the MSRP on an item is. Right now if I go to buy diapers and Amazon is out of stock, but a Marketplace seller sells the item at a higher price, Amazon will have an annotation in the listing that tells me they sell the item at X price, but they're not in stock at the moment. They should do the same thing for every toy, whether or not they're going to get that item in stock in the future or not. As a diligent buyer I want information on a product like the MSRP, that way I can make an informed decision on whether I want to pay a jacked up price with a marketplace seller, or wait a month or two for the price to go down, or just not buy the item.

As I said, I kinda agree that if you don't want to pay too much for a toy then don't buy the toy. However this is the Amazon website, and I'm used to thinking of Amazon as being a pleasant place to buy stuff. In other words, if Amazon wants to protect their brand they should put in some simple steps to clear off the identical listings, and increase transparency for buyers so they know right away what the difference in price is between the Marketplace and Amazon. The 'flag' button, and more info on MSRP (or Amazon's pricing), will go a long way towards those goals.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 8:18:16 PM PST
Exactly! It's like someone complaining, "Oh, I didn't mean to buy! I "accidentally" clicked on it!" "accidentally" put it in your shopping cart, then "accidentally" went to the shopping cart, "accidentally" reviewed your credit card information, "accidentally" reviewed your shipping address, and "accidentally" clicked on the button to buy...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 8:34:18 PM PST
But again, Mr. Benitez, what "rules" would there be on "gouging"? It's not Amazon's place to tell someone else what to do with their merchandise. What you might say is "gouging" could be someone else's idea of a fair price. Someone may find something to be an "enormous" mark-up, but again, who is to say that everyone does?

As far as the MSRP issue goes, it's a variable thing, because the "suggested" retail isn't a law, no one HAS to follow it. Sometimes, places offer lower, sometimes higher. It also can vary regionally, just like store prices. So what happens if the SUGGESTED retail in say, Texas is different than the one in say, Ohio? Then what? That's notwithstanding the fact that it is indeed only a "suggestion". Hopefully, no one truly feels that they "deserve" an item only at the "suggested" retail.

As stated elsewhere, ebay is the world's largest garage sale. They can have all the buttons they like, but so few people use them for anything. Let's say that these buttons ARE used. Don't you think that ebay can be abused, as well? Who is to say that it isn't abused on ebay? Not to mention that ebay and Amazon are two completely different animals in terms of the market they cater to and their business model. To compare the two for ANYTHING (as is frequently done) is a total apples and oranges comparison for those reasons.

A "report abuse" button is always going to be a magnet for abuse. Again, let's say you find a music CD from your favourite artist, but it's $20 and you only feel it is worth $5. Well, damn it, no one will get your $20 and you'll show that evil seller how mad you are that you can't get the CD for the price you demand! You'll report him for "gouging" you! Of course, once again, this is notwithstanding the fact that if you haven't bought anything, you cannot possibly be "gouged" and if you did buy it, then you must have thought that whatever price you paid was worth it. Buyer's remorse does not constitute a "gouge". Do you see where the potential for mass abuse is?

Again, if you cannot tell the difference between Amazon and third party sellers, you really need to take a closer look, because it is VERY obvious. There could not possibly be clearer markings. Every single listing has the seller's name beside it. To conclude that there is not transparency is ridiculous. To conclude that it's hard to tell the difference in prices between ANY two listings is similarly ridiculous, especially when speaking of being a "diligent buyer".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 10:56:16 PM PST
Twishy says:
All third party orders on fall under A-to-Z guarantee claim. If they sell on Amazon, they have to have a return policy and your purchase is covered by the A-to-Z. There are no exceptions.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 3:07:30 AM PST
DisplacedMic says:
"Amazon should prohibit the sale of toys that are less than a year old for more than, say, 5x Amazon's last sale price. Or if not prohibit, at least give some kind of penalty or redflag to the seller so that the buyer KNOWS he's being gouged, and by how much. "

I was with you until you said this.
Well - i saw the thread title and I rolled my eyes at the obvious misuse of the term "price gouging" but when i read your original post I didn't think any of your ideas were bad if not perhaps a bit heavy-handed.

I see no reason why Amazon couldn't "clean up" their search categories, better identify items that are third-party or more clearly list a retail/amazon price.
This is all about customer service and Amazon has always been great about making the entire buying process simple, fast and painless.

I do think Shiloh Sales made some excellent points about the logistics of some of your ideas, but ideologically there was nothing wrong with what you were suggesting. I do agree that a "price gouging" button is pretty silly. There is already a flag for abuse tag but a "complaining about price" button would be ridiculous. Don't want it? Don't buy it.

However, to fix prices at 5x, or any amount, above Amazon's last sale price is a horrible idea. For one thing it's a violation of free market principles of the buyer/sellers right to free trade. For another, when you set an arbitrary limit like that you tend to see a pattern of sellers going directly for that limit immediately.

It's better to let the market decide price. There is no way anyone can be price-gouged on a luxury item like a toy. A sale ONLY happens if both parties would rather have what the other party has to offer. If you would rather have my $1 than your glass of lemonade and vice versa, a trade happens.
Calling the practice of charging "too much" for a luxury item like a toy is completely disingenuous.

The way Amazon works now is if a third-party item is being displayed then the amazon items are no longer available. If the market value was above the price then this is not surprising. If the item is rare or hard to find then this is not surprising. If the item is miss categorized intentionally to stand out then i see no problem with Amazon adjusting the listing, but the previous two scenarios will always result in a higher price.

People value things differently - including their time. If someone doesn't take the time to google the item or price it elsewhere then there is an element of buyer beware... My sister is one of those crazy coupon shoppers - she routinely gets stuff for free or for pennies and saves hundreds of dollars on her grocery bills. it's unbelievable to witness. it's also unbelievable how much effort and time she puts into it. Does that mean the other shoppers are getting "ripped off" or cheated because they are lest "savy" than my sister? Of course not. It means that maybe they value their time more, or don't want to be limited to the on-sale items or any one of a thousand opportunity cost decisions we make every second of every day.

Cost isn't just about money and there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every decision you make comes at the expense of another option and it's not always just about money. Remember that currency is just a standardized unit of trade. If I eat an apple instead of an orange then i do so at the cost of that orange.

If an "unsavy shopper" buys something online without doing their due diligence and shopping around then they have saved time and effort at the cost of a bit more money. Likewise someone who googles the item, checks the forums, drives to 8 different shops, looks on craigslist, ebay and amazon and finally finds the item at 40% off MSRP is doing so at the expense of their time and effort.

Who are you to tell people what to value more? If anything you could argue that time is the most valuable thing we have.

As it were, i've never had any trouble whatsoever differentiating between what is an Amazon item and what isn't.

One big clue is right there below the price:
"In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available. "

A third party will appear as:
Usually ships within X days.
Ships from and sold by Third Party Seller

Of course, i'm a prime member so i usually click that filter on for my preliminary searches. If i don't find what i'm looking for i'll move on to third-party sellers. Obviously nobody wants to pay more than what they have to for any given item, but fixing prices is a terrible idea. For one thing, what if the market value was above "5x Amazon's last sale price?"
then guess what - it's sold out and i don't even have the option to purchase one even if i happened to value it at 6x?

let the market decide. there are plenty of idiotically priced items for sale by third party sellers on Amazon. And guess what - they don't sell.

However if someone pays X for Y then by definition Y is worth precisely X.
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Discussion in:  Toys forum
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Initial post:  Mar 2, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 7, 2012

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