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Dear Parents and Sellers, I am disappointed in all of you


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Initial post: Feb 9, 2012 8:37:32 PM PST
Dear Parents and Sellers, I am disappointed in all of you

First off, I'm a 20 year old college student. I was shopping around on Amazon for some nerdy board games (you know the kind that take up the entire room and take 3 days to play, not exactly "toy" stuff). Anyway, so while looking for a good deal, I noticed the link to the toy forum at the bottom of the page. I saw a lot of exclamation marks and all caps so I decided to check out what all the fuss was about.

I almost cried. The threads in this forum nearly drove me, a 20 year old man, to tears. Everything here is just so... wrong. So I sat for a while and tried to think of something to say to make things a bit better. So here comes the incoherent rant. Parents get there lecture first, but don't worry, sellers/merchants/Amazon get their turn too.
Before I start the aforementioned rant, I would like to share the memory of my favorite toy. It was back in the mid 90`s when George Lucas was redoing the Star Wars Trilogy. Darth Vader 3 3/4 inches action figure. I had a lot of fun with it, playing with my brother (who got Luke Skywalker, I always liked the villains, he liked the heroes, worked out nice).

Thinking back, it wasn't a birthday or Christmas gift, I bought it. I got 1 dollar a week allowance in exchange for the usual household chores. Back in the 90's action figures cost $4, so roughly every month if my brother and I did our chores and behaved we'd go to the toy-store and buy our little action figures rush home to "introduce them" to the other action figures. We still both have those action figures, posed all around the room we both used to share when we were kids.

I recently checked the price of that Darth Vader action figure on Amazon. The exact same one I bought, with the "red light saber" box I found roughly 30 different vendors selling it for new and unopened for about $5-$8. Accounting for inflation, it should sell for about $5.50 in 2012 dollars. There were a couple vendors selling it for cheaper then it cost when it was still in production. Apparently Darth Vader is one of the most expensive ones too. I saw some from the same line going for as low as $3.

Toy companies are still making new Darth Vader 3 3/4 inch action figures as well. Because of some complicated brand/IP related things (there is now a different Star Wars toy line made specifically for kids, $2 MSRP per action figure) the 3 3/4 figures are targeted towards adults, ergo more detailed, ergo more expensive at about $10 each.

RANT BEGINS HERE

Dear Parents,

Point #1: Unlike many other products, the amount of money a toy costs is not always directly related to how much fun your child will have with it.

A minivan with an MSRP of $30,000 will almost certainly be superior to one with an MSRP of $20,000. This same logic does not apply to toys. Plastic is cheap, a significant portion of the MSRP for toys is paying for fancy clam-shell packaging, advertising and license fees. There are some expensive poorly made toys out there. That being said, there are also cheap well made toys. As mentioned before, my favorite toy was $4 (or $5.50 bought today or about $10 for the currently manufactured equivalent). I did not have "$4 of fun" with it. That toy and the fun I had with it was worth more than money to me. Right now, I'm over $10,000 in debt (college loans) and I still wouldn't sell that action figure no matter how much I was offered.

Point #2: HAVING toys IS NOT fun. PLAYING with toys IS fun.

That toy, that I wouldn't give up for the entire world, is just a little piece of plastic. By its self, it just... sits there... What makes it so special was playing with it. My Mother and Father worked long hours, so they didn't have much free time, but they still occasionally found some time to play Star Wars with my brother and I. Most of the time it was just me and my brother, sitting on the floor, action figures in hand, humming the opening theme to Star Wars. It was fun. When I think about it now, my parents could have handed me a couple of Popsicle-Sticks taped together and than colored black with a magic marker, said to me "Look, its Darth Vader!" and I would of had just as much fun.

Point #3: Your child does not need to have "THAT-ONE-TOY". Your child only thinks they need "THAT-ONE-TOY", because the TV said so.

When I was growing up, our TV had 4 channels. Only 1 one of them had children's content, and that was the Public Broadcasting Network. I'm not sure how well known PBS is in the 21st century, so for those who may have never heard of it, it broadcasts fun/educational content for children (for example Sesame Street) with no commercials. Growing up without viewing cable TV cartoons didn't negatively affect my life at all. These days you can even have the best of both worlds, cable TV cartoons can be watched on Netflix/Hulu/Youtube for less than the cost of Cable, and they don't come with commercials.

Point #4: Learn to say (and HOW to say) "No".

I know that as parents, you all want to be able to give your children whatever their hearts desire. I realize that it hurts you to have to say "no", but its something you have to do. You can say "no" without ruining Christmas, or killing Santa. "That toys very expensive and Santa needs to buy gifts for all the children in the whole world", "I don't think they make those at the North Pole,"... you can see where I'm going with this. An even better approach would be to ask your child WHY they want that toy. If its because "its popular" or "everybody else has one" explain to them why this is the wrong way to look at things. If (for example) they reply that they "want a Barbie with a pretty dress". Barbies have been made since 1959, somewhere there is an unopened Barbie complete with even prettier dress for a fraction of the cost. Unless your child makes a habit of checking the tiny print on the back of the box that says "made in 2001" they'll think its hot off the shelves. They'll probably be the only one of their friends to have that particular doll too.

Point #5: Spend time with your child.

I said earlier that I almost cried when I first read some of the threads on the forum. About halfway through typing point #2 I did start crying. Not the sad kind of crying, the I-am-so-grateful-for-all-these-happy-memories crying. I'm a fiercely independent college student and I sort of miss being able to spend time sitting on the floor with my parents and brother. Please spend time with your kids. Trust me, even if they can't tell you yet, it will mean the world to them.

---

Dear, Vendors/Resellers

I want you to think back to when you were a child. What did you want to be when you "grew up"? Firefighter? Musician? Astronaut? Superman? Chances are, things didn't exactly go according to plan, and thats okay.

Now I want you imagine that your childhood self is standing right in front of you. They look up at you and smile. Then they ask you, what they are going to be when they grow up. You look down at them, smile and say; "I buy lots of toys from stores, so I can make parents pay a lot of money for them, so their kids don't cry,". Imagine the look, on your childhood self's face when they hear you say that. If imagining that doesn't hurt, then I feel truly sorry for you.

That being said, I'm not against capitalism. I understand supply and demand. Low supply and high demand means you can charge more, which is what is going to put food on your table and a roof over your head. I'm not saying not to charge more for items in high demand. If there is somebody out there welling to pay 10 times the MSRP for the latest cellphone, fruit juicer, designer watch or whatever, by all means, sell it to them. They are an adult, they can decide wither or not it's worth the price.

I'm not even against charging over the average retail price on toys in high demand. After all, for a bit of money your saving the customer a trip to the toy-store and the risk of being trampled by rabid Black Friday shoppers. But please, I am begging you, show restraint in the markup on children's toys, and when you do mark the price up, do your best to let the customer know that you are charging over the average retail price, and the reason for this. Like I said before, no trip needed, no risk of trampling.

I'm not going to point out specific examples of excessive markup. Everyone reading this knows just as well as I do, what is and is not a reasonable markup.

---

In conclusion, there are more important things in life than maximizing profit margins or getting "THAT-ONE-TOY". Spending fun times with your family and being able to be proud of your self and the way you've lived your life are worth more than money or colored plastic.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2012 11:29:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 5:34:15 PM PST
Nice little missive. You do indeed write well. You are no DispclacedMIC, but you definitely have some potential. I am sure that you will be a sucess at whatever it is that you decide is your passion. I am sure that it would be interesting to read what your 40 year old self would have to say to your 6 year old memory as it is quite easy to cast aspersions (sp?) when you don't have anyone to consider other than yourself. That aside, I was kinda with your logic until wrote this little doozie

" ....I buy lots of toys from stores, so I can make parents pay a lot of money for them, so their kids don't cry..."

First problem with this faulty logic is that sellers aren't MAKING anyone do anything. Secondly if your kids are crying because of a toy, then they need to go back and reread the first part of your post.

If any of these 'victimized' parents took the advice that you gave in the first part of your post, there would be no need to even write the second part. The 'problem' is NOT the kids, you even said as much yourself. Without the poor parenting element/component this isn't even a converstation. IF you blame the parents who allow the kids to value the toy that they (for whatever reason, can't have), by your own logic, if that parent was corrected, then the second part of your siloquy(sp) would not even need to be stated. Entitled kids+clueless (or spineless-take your pick) parents=major profits for toy resellers. Eliminate the first and second parts and there is no equation.

"X" TOY is too high right now, so we will get it later or purchase something else. If (as you suggested) a parent learns to say 'no', this PROBLEM solved IN THE HOME without blaming or attempting to placie BLAME on anyone. Furthermore, if you as a parent have no idea what your child wants until 'a few days prior' to XMAS, it is a pretty good sign that you are NOT as involved (as your child would probably like) in your child's life. NOT the fault of a toy reseller who is providing you with an OPTION that you are not 'FORCED' to take!

Lastly (and I do believe the most astonishing part of your post, that I will simply attribute to your youth) the fact that you think that selling toys is some sort of life's goal is really quite an oversimplification of the impact of selling a few toys to make a few extra bucks during the holidays, has on a person's life.

I would HIGHLY doubt that the person that sells toys on here at Xmas is doing this as some sort of career path.

Many of the kids that 'wanted to be musicians or fireman or whatever other juvenile desires you stated' do not believe that because these did not come to fruition that it did not 'work out' and they need affirmations that 'it is okay'. I wanted to be SUPERMAN-
I hardly feel like a failure because I did not attend a school and major in being a superhero.

I would suspect that many are in professions that a child could not even fathom when they were 5 or 6. I doubt any 6 year old states that they want to be a real estate broker or a human resources director or a tax administrator, but none of those professionals would weep at the 'poor' choices that they have made when having a conversation with their former selves. All that to say, if a person DID choose to be a toy reseller, I would hope that their six year old selves would be proud to know that their adult counterpart was able to provide for his family without resorting to crime or sucking off of the government teat.

I am sure that when parker brothers or Milton/Bradley have that chat with their inner child, they feel no guilt or shame when they laugh (all the way to the bank) about selling you $3.00 worth of marketing and materials in fashioned into a Monopoly game for $20.00.

Your disgust with everyone over this 'silly' issue will disipate as you face more serious issues in your adult life and both sides (of this debate) will anxiously welcome you into the REAL WORLD! Until then, I do admire your passion and think it would be great to see it directed towards a REAL problem.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 4:54:10 AM PST
>First problem with this faulty logic is that sellers aren't MAKING anyone do anything.

I completely agree. I used the language that I did because I wanted to put it in "kid words", since most children don't understand supply and demand.

>Many of the kids that 'wanted to be musicians or fireman or whatever other juvenile desires you stated' do not believe that because these did not come to fruition that it did not 'work out' and they need affirmations that 'it is okay'.

On rereading that particular section I can see how what I said might be easily misinterpreted. My intention was NOT to make anyone feel bad that they weren't Superman or imply that they should feel bad. I probably should have explained this more clearly, my mistake.

>All that to say, if a person DID choose to be a toy reseller, I would hope that their six year old selves would be proud to know that their adult counterpart was able to provide for his family

And they should be! There is nothing wrong with selling toys! What upsets me is the distinction between selling toys and taking advantage of poor parent/child relationships to put ridiculous markups on toys.

>Your disgust with everyone over this 'silly' issue will disipate as you face more serious issues in your adult life

A lot of my disgust on the reseller side of things comes from the way they seem to behave on this particular forum. Note that even though I put essentially the majority of the blame on the parents, I managed to do without calling them useless or spineless. That kind of language is exactly what causes parents to lash back at resellers.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 6:12:21 AM PST
I'm impressed and inspired by your comments!

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 7:54:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 7:55:22 AM PST
Omar says:
Dear Isaac,
You are indeed a talented writer. Your depth of understanding definitely supersedes your age. Your parents should be very proud.

However, I wanted to share a couple of points with you (as they were discussed in other Amazon forums that reached deadlock between what seems to be forces of good and forces of evil).

One thing I noticed while reading those forums were, resellers were getting burnt to the stake when they list an item for more than its MSRP's worth, yet never got any show of gratitude when they are selling an item (whatever that item may be) for below the MSRP point. And believe me, when an item is being sold (let's just use Amazon here to not complicate matters) on Amazon (as in shipped directly from them), you will almost always find someone else selling it for cheaper (whether in new or used condition). Hence giving the buyer the option to save a few bucks.

Now reverse the situation. Item X is no longer manufactured, and can no longer be found on Amazon for its MSRP. It automatically becomes, to those who desire/want/need/whatever it may be, a rare item. Buyers at this point are expected to pay more (less supply, not necessarily more demand) to acquire such item. How much the item is marked up is up to the seller's discretion (how much they want to make a profit out of selling). But again, there will always be options, and it is up to the buyer to decide the value of that item (translated into money of course), and how much money they are willing to depart from to obtain such item.

I will not use the "you should have bought it when it was available" argument, as it does not hold water. What if the person had money difficulties, or wasn't even aware that item existed? Happens to the best of us.

A different method is, stocking and reselling (think video game consoles, iPads, toys for Christmas etc). A seller at this point takes away your chances of obtaining an item, buys a stock (the volume depending on that seller's purchasing power and availability of said item) and sells the item for a personal profit (again, how much profit up to seller's discretion and buyer consent). How you view this matter depends on your own personal feelings on the matter, but we cannot say it is right or wrong, because it is a two-way transaction. There is no such thing as "I must have this item" (unless of course your life depended on it, hardly fitting our discussion here). And if the buyer is NOT willing to buy from seller at seller's price, the seller will have to reduce that price, otherwise suffer a massive blow to his/her business. What might have been their Eureka ended up a disaster. At the end, it is the BUYER who decides.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 11:21:56 AM PST
>However, I wanted to share a couple of points with you (as they were discussed in other Amazon forums that reached deadlock between what seems to be forces of good and forces of evil).

Is marking up prices a big deal on other sections of the Amazonian forums? I've never read any of them before.

You mention video games, game consoles and other technology. I am 100% completely okay with drastic mark ups on these to suit demand. Back when the PS3 first came out, people could sell them for $3,000. If a customer is a die hard Playstation fan and is economically comfortable enough to pay (about) an extra $2300, to get a PS3 a couple months before they might be able to get one for retail, then its a win-win situation. Adults can make adult decisions about (what is essentially) an "Adult Toy" and their own money.

You also mention collectibles/collect-ability. To return to that 3 3/4 inch Darth Vader; one of the merchants is selling one for $99. This is because it has the wrong kind of lightsaber, and is thus rare and collectable. I am 100% okay with this as well. It's a collectors item being sold to adults.

Heres what I'm not okay with. Like I said before, there are about 30 merchants selling unopened 3 3/4 mid 90's Darth Vaders for about $5. Lets say that I know that Darth Vader will be on the Christmas lists of many children. So I buy out all (except for the $99 one) the other merchants stocks (they all have about 1-3 Vaders each). Assuming a steep shipping fee of $10 each, I now have 50 something Vaders for about $750. I then turn right around and put them up for sale at $80 each. Before Amazon takes their cut thats a $65 profit per Vader. I don't even need to sell half my stock of Vaders to make a substantial return. After Christmas is over, maybe I'll lower the prices a bit, because even if I put them back down to $20 I'd still have made money.

It isn't the act of marking up prices as per demand its self that I object too, its doing it in obscene amounts to children's toys. If you want to charge over average retail for a "THAT-ONE-TOY" since you waited outside a mall to get one to sell online, thats okay. If you want to make mind boggling profits by relaying on demand to increase the price of gold, diamonds, oil, steel, housing, whatever, thats okay. Its the excessive markup on one particular item (children's toys) which seems to rely on exploiting societal ills (poor parent/child relationships) that makes me sad and angry.

The behavior of Sellers to Parents is also rather upsetting. Admittedly, it may have started as a reaction to the Parents slinging every insult in the books at the Sellers, but some of the posts made by Sellers are downright creepy. To summarize some of the worst offenders: "I'm exploiting you, I'm getting away with it, and I enjoy it." Its Schadenfreude bordering on Sadism. Admittedly there are some Sellers who try to calmly explain things to Parents and some Parents who aren't cursing at the Sellers, but they both seem to be in the minority. Such an environment in a little corner of the internet dedicated to children's toys seems ... wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 11:58:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 12:00:21 PM PST
1) Isn't The Forces of Good vs. The Forces of Evil exaggerating a bit?

2) What is being exploited is not parents, children, or any other single entity. What is being exploited is the DEMAND for these products.

3) Ironic that the ones who complain the most are ADULTS. This is clearly not a demand from children, these are the ones who are supposed to be more mature. These are the ones who would likely be the ones trampling other people and bodyslamming them to get the last "it" on the shelf. Vince McMahon was right. It's ADULTS that want the toys. Children are mature enough to understand that their interest will wane in 6 months.

4) If a customer, ANY customer, has no concept of the original price, MSRP, or what have you, then they are certainly not shopping smart, and WILL be taken. Bottom line. What any of those things have to do with the actual price one pays for anything is irrelevant. It's a value system. How much value does one assign to the product they are purchasing. That is your true measuring stick.

5) We suppose it was answered previously, but when did reselling become a moral issue? When did sales in general become a religious or moral issue? We've been reselling from the start, and make quite a nice living at it, although it's not toys. Everyone here at SFP has always wanted to be involved in the wrestling business or the fight business since that came into existence in its current form. Why is that so wrong?

6) What you speak of, Isaac, is a different time. The internet wasn't in its current form in the 1990s. Now, with the advent of the online marketplace and the concept of being an online merchant (regardless of whether you sell your original products, resell new or used products, are a brick and mortar store, are internet only, or both) has brought a whole new dimension to the profession of sales.

What seemed to be out of reach 10 or 12 years ago is now available. TV shows you loved 10 or 15 years ago and have every episode saved on your VHS are now readily available in a box set.

The flip side is that with the ease of shopping (and/or shipping), it allows more people to be players in the game. What people fail to realise is that while there is certainly those who will exploit the demand for a product, who is to say that if this item is popular, it didn't fly off store shelves by EVERY OTHER PERSON who wanted to buy it. What is the population of this planet? What's the population of your town? What is the reach of TV spots advertising this item? Does anyone honestly think that a reseller has that much influence on the local or national supply chain? It doesn't matter if people in sales don't work together (and they don't, sales is competition, not cooperation), even if all the resellers banded together, they still could not possibly influence the global, national, or local supply on the kind of level suggested here (here being these forums). This is a brand-new concept. Stan Lee Presents Uatu the Watcher in What If...Hot Items Were Bought By Consumers?

7) Are you suggesting that you should decide what kind of markup an item should have? You seem to be, judging from your final three paragraphs. You also seem to imply that you know best what is and is not "overpriced". Uatu the Watcher presents What If...Someone Else Has A Different View On What Is Or Is Not a Reasonable Price?

8) Getting involved in (yet another) pointless thread was not our idea of an ideal workday, since none save a few truly do "get this", and as someone else once said, "We enjoy tilting at windmills", yet we're also kind of dense here at SFP, and enjoy spinning our wheels explaining concepts that are not difficult to grasp. Yet, those who "get their panties in a bunch" over this don't seem to recognise the simplicity of this concept. Perhaps if we produce a video we could sell about this? Or use one of our other companies to produce a comicbook that illustrates this concept?

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 11:59:18 AM PST
Omar says:
Isaac,
To answer your initial question, yes it is. Just look around in the Toys forum, you will find people engaged in heated debates over this.

I cannot say that I disagree with you. But this exploitation would not have been possible without the buyer's consent. Even if some of those prices are obscene (and I completely agree with you, some of them are), and does not reflect-not even remotely-the true value of an item. But who am I to say that this is an item's true (or even subjective) value to another person? It is, although I completely agree with you on this, their business not mine.

Your problem is with "excessive markups". However, if someone does exactly what you said (buy all Darth Vaders) and resell them at a 'reasonable' markup, it will be called 'smart business'. The seller took the time to know what's in demand, allocated money for the initial investment (buying all Darth Vader figures), and in turn was willing to take a risk if items ended up not selling (or a disaster befell his inventory). That seller definitely deserves some profit (as you know, in normal buying-selling environments, the profit margins with toys is very minimal, not taking into account Amazon/ebay commissions).

Which leads us to the conclusion; there is a very fine line between conducting smart business (which I will define as all parties being content/satisfied/happy with the transaction) and clearcut exploitation. As a part-time seller myself, I always try to have the lowest prices available. But without any sort of profit, I won't even bother (why would anyone?). I will though, never reach a point of 'exploitation', because I agree with you that this goes way too far over...children's toys.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 12:01:17 PM PST
YES! One more person who truly "gets it"!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 12:05:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 12:18:14 PM PST
Omar says:
Shadow (edited) Fire (my apologies)
I said "what seems to be forces of good and forces of evil". I am using this phrase figuratively intentionally, as I think there are a lot more important issues in this world other than toys.
I have read several of your posts in these forums I spoke of, and have found myself agreeing with your statements and taking your side of the arguments, although tacitly I have to admit.
I am only engaging myself in this thread because I was very impressed by the OP's thoughts and eloquence in explaining his side.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 12:12:18 PM PST
Shadow Fire (or SFP), please, Omar.

That said, while your intentions are to use the phrase figuratively, there are many who truly do believe that Stan Lee is here saying, "The fate of the free world hangs in the balance!".

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 1:29:37 PM PST
>We suppose it was answered previously, but when did reselling become a moral issue? When did sales in general become a religious or moral issue? We've been reselling from the start, and make quite a nice living at it, although it's not toys. Everyone here at SFP has always wanted to be involved in the wrestling business or the fight business since that came into existence in its current form. Why is that so wrong?

It isn't wrong! Reselling isn't wrong! Reselling with a markup relative to supply and demand isn't wrong!

My only objection is an excessive markup on children's toys that is designed to take advantage of a societal ill (bad parent/child relationships).

I don't bear any grudge against SFP Inc. On the contrary, I applaud you. You are able to work with what you feel passionately about (wrestling) and provide others who feel the same way with products they might be interested. What you are doing, is the exact OPPOSITE of what I am objecting too. Your store aims for a win-win situation. The customer gets product and can enjoy it. The business gets money, so they can stay open, pay there employees, and buy more product to sell to consumers.

>7) Are you suggesting that you should decide what kind of markup an item should have? You seem to be, judging from your final three paragraphs. You also seem to imply that you know best what is and is not "overpriced". Uatu the Watcher presents What If...Someone Else Has A Different View On What Is Or Is Not a Reasonable Price?

Holy Moral Subjectivity Batman! I don't want to dictate limits on markups. I don't know nearly enough about economics or business and I don't have any delusions of grandeur that might make me think otherwise. I realize that everyones definition of excessive is going to be different. See the last paragraph of Omar Bary's post. That completely sums up the kind of attitude that a merchant should have. Some of the sellers have made posts along the lines of "I'm exploiting you, haha suckers!". Again, they are definitely in the minority, but deliberate, self admitted exploitation of bad parent/child relationships is just wrong. Admittedly, some (likely most) of this is the fault of advertising/original manufacturers/brick-and-mortor-malls, but that doesn't change the fact that some individuals are taking advantage of it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 1:37:20 PM PST
S. Kase says:
I know it is a hard lesson for my kids who get paid a nice allowance, my 13 year old gets $20 a week, my 4 year old gets $5 and my 1 year $2 (just bc we need to instill the love of money early on-no just kidding=)Her dad just wants to bless her too. Anyway when my kids spend thier money they are shocked to see what things cost (kind of like me at the grocery store) but it does teach them the world is full of greed and often they choose to buy a little treat like a candy bar instead and sock the rest away in thier savings accounts. Sometimes they choose a toy to give to someone else through Church missions. My oldest has even said, I want to not make these people one dime richer let's go to the donut shop and I'll buy you a donut Mom, and she does! So is it wrong to mark up toys, yes it is, can good come from bad things-yes it can, even my 4 year old looks at prices with me in the sales flyers and says "that's a lot of money, I'm keeping my money Mommy"! And that is a good thing indeed!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 2:12:27 PM PST
Mr. Edmondson,

While we agree with most everything you state, there is the one little thing that still has us wanting to post a responce.

"My only objection is an excessive markup on children's toys that is designed to take advantage of a societal ill (bad parent/child relationships)."

That seems to go against what you said later on about not knowing enough to determine what might or might not be excessive.

You also talk about bad parent/child relationships. The thing here is that it is the PARENT who buys. It is up to the PARENT, the party legally able to enter into a business transaction to be able to make fiscal decisions on behalf of their own budget. It's only good business to price your items as much as the market will bear. If a PARENT is not thrifty enough to be shopping around, whether in person or on line, then, again, they are ripe to be engaging in financial decisions that may not be wise.

While a "ha, ha!" attitude is probably not the most professional way to go about things, if you said to someone, "Name your price on this Spacely Sprocket.", and they say, "Twenty-five bucks.", and you were happy with ten, would you not gladly accept the extra? Sure, you wouldn't say, "Boy are you DUMB! I would have taken ten!", but if a PARENT is foolish enough to be taken in by an advertising campaign that tells them that "A Spacely Sprocket is the ONLY gift to have this season!", then they ARE going to be taken advantage of.

Now, having said that, it's not a matter of "SOMEONE has to keep these people honest!" kind of thing, but the truth of the matter is that people like that, people who not only buy into that kind of advertising, but also believe it is a Constitutionally guaranteed right to buy things at a price they set (it's not a right to do such, but everyone DOES have the opportunity to do such, because that's what makes sales...buyer and seller agreeing to a price), are the ones who REFUSE to learn and are the ones stomping their feet the most when the hot item of the season is gone on December 22.

It's not a question of exploiting poor parenting (maybe in a tertiary way), but it's more of an exploitation of the DEMAND of a certain product.

The attitude of "SUCKER!!" is wrong, yes. However, (we hope) it is likely a responce (the wrong kind) to the attitude of those who accuse them of having no morals, being less than honest, ripping off people, and otherwise disparaging them in print, doing everything they can to pass judgment on sellers who do not meet that particular person's strict criteria, while at the same time carrying themselves as a victim, one who feels they can do no wrong and that everyone should bow to their whims.

An overly emotional reply to an overly emotional complaint, yes.

That said, it is understandable that some DO get "hot under the collar" when their way of life is threatened for no legitimate reason.

Think of the government's stance on gay marriage. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, would you want the government to dictate to you who you can marry? How about the government stepping in to issue you a girlfriend whom they deem appropriate for you. As you are $10,000 in debt, clearly your current girlfriend needs to be replaced with a government issued one more suitable for your station in life. If your situation changes, simply fill out the forms and submit them to your elected officials, who will review them and issue a replacement as needed.

If you're thinking, "HEY! I don't need anyone to tell me who to date!", then take that situation and apply it to the sellers who are upset that an uninvolved third party with no knowledge of the situation otherwise should walk in and start dictating terms. Imagine getting hired at Motorola and saying to them, "Your cell phone designs SUCK! No one wants this junk! Let's ditch this and start making French fries for McDonalds. That's where the REAL money is!". Needless to say, Motorola would likely give you a tour of where the exit door is.

Again, it's an emotional responce, but the larger problem is that a logical, reasonable reply (some of which have been posted by sellers) are rejected offhand and the same comments designed to besmirch a reputation and/or way of life continue to be posted.

If both sides agreed to disagree on the way one does business and simply parted ways, there would be no need for a dozen threads and more than 400 posts spanning over 30 pages. Unfortunately, even when that does happen, someone else comes along and stirs the pot yet again, sometimes going back to a posting made months ago and worn out to insert their own thoughts, which inevitably starts the vicious cycle all over again.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 3:30:11 PM PST
>If both sides agreed to disagree on the way one does business and simply parted ways, there would be no need for a dozen threads and more than 400 posts spanning over 30 pages. Unfortunately, even when that does happen, someone else comes along and stirs the pot yet again, sometimes going back to a posting made months ago and worn out to insert their own thoughts, which inevitably starts the vicious cycle all over again.

Oh, bother. I hope I haven't restarted a vicious cycle, I had no iterations to do so.

>Think of the government's stance on gay marriage. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, would you want the government to dictate to you who you can marry? How about the government stepping in to issue you a girlfriend whom they deem appropriate for you.

No-no-no-bad-bad-bad. I don't want the government to regulate toy prices nor do I want them to regulate my social life. All that I'm advocating for is self-restraint and mutual understanding between merchants are parents. Just a little bit of understanding could make the Toy section of Amazon a more pleasant experience for the parent and a more pleasant (also profitable) experience for the merchant.

> if a PARENT is foolish enough to be taken in by an advertising campaign that tells them that "A Spacely Sprocket is the ONLY gift to have this season!", then they ARE going to be taken advantage of.

If a parent falls for that sort of ad, then thats there own fault. Unfortunately, most advertising is targeted towards the young (especially for products like children's toys, for obvious reasons). If you get the chance, read the section on advertising in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (Yes, I know the title makes it sounds like a lot of bleeding heart whining, but it's better than it sounds, especially the part on advertising). Advertising campaigns targeted towards adults have almost always have a message close to the following; "Buy this product, you'll like". On the other hand advertising targeted towards children increasingly seems to be; "You need this product, your quality of life is dependent on this product, heres how to get mom and dad to buy you this product". Of course things are never quite that blunt, but you get the idea. The ads are meant to turn children into 24/7 salesperson for the product, even if this means acting against both their own and their parents best interests, since they are children and don't know any better. It just strikes me as, for lack of better words, perverse.

>The attitude of "SUCKER!!" is wrong, yes. However, (we hope) it is likely a responce (the wrong kind) to the attitude of those who accuse them of having no morals, being less than honest, ripping off people, and otherwise disparaging them in print, doing everything they can to pass judgment on sellers who do not meet that particular person's strict criteria, while at the same time carrying themselves as a victim, one who feels they can do no wrong and that everyone should bow to their whims.

I agree, there are a lot of parents behaving badly on this forum. Part of the reason I got so upset when I first found this forum was the way parents placed the blame on the sellers and demonized them to an almost comedic level. Part of my (entirely unrealistic, overly idealistic, society changing) goals in posting something like this on the internet is that it might help change things. Children learn from their parents by example. The whole Dec. 22nd Christmas shopping behavior didn't just appear out of thin air. A decrease in poor shopping behaviors on behalf of parents will lead to a decrease in "Ha-ha sucker!" businesses, as well as vis-versa. This allows for a mutually beneficial relationship between business and consumer instead of a hostile one.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 3:44:06 PM PST
Check the thread, "Third party sellers are killing the deals". Just when you think it's dying down, someone comments on something from the VERY BEGINNING that was shot down by people on both sides for being unrealistic (writing to Amazon that third party vendors charge too much and need to step in), when someone new inserts their one cent to start over.

We agree with what you say about ads targeted to kids, but again, it is up to the ADULT to be able to step in and say something, as opposed to giving into that kind of behaviour. Poor parenting? Perhaps. However, in these threads, it's the ADULTS who are stepping in and:

1) demanding the murder of anyone who doesn't price items to their liking
2) attempting to get an identical product cheap, then return the item for a refund, thus exploiting the returns policy
3) libelling sellers and their businesses due to the insistence that a seller price items to the satisfaction of others
4) exchanging ideas to "stick it to" anyone they deem unworthy of being in business
5) discussing how because they can't get what they want when they want, how that is someone else's fault, and those people that don't bow to these whims are morally bankrupt.

...and more. And YES, these are exact threads existing in this forum.

Have you opened a new can of worms? Not at this time. Did we need yet another thread? Probably not, but so far, everyone is civil, and arguments are made logically and rationally, so as long as that continues, then no real harm is done.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 3:56:07 PM PST
>Have you opened a new can of worms? Not at this time. Did we need yet another thread? Probably not, but so far, everyone is civil, and arguments are made logically and rationally, so as long as that continues, then no real harm is done.

Glad to hear to it. I was afraid I had accidentally perpetuated the very thing I was trying to resolve.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 3:59:40 PM PST
You managed to attract the more eloquent group of folks to this thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 5:51:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 5:53:47 PM PST
"Everyone reading this knows just as well as I do, what is and is not a reasonable markup."

Yes, we do. A reasonable markup is one in which a buyer voluntarily agrees to pay the price after evaluating the expected value to be received in return. Note: this price may or may not be higher than you personally would be willing to pay. It is presumptuous to assume for someone else what price is or is not reasonable without knowing more of the context that they have used to determine that products value to them. Likewise, it is presumptuous to assume that a given price is "too high" (as set by the seller) just because you wouldn't personally pay that price. I'm not assuming that all such purchases are indeed rational, well-thought out purchases, I'm simply suggesting that assuming otherwise right of the bat is just that, making an assumption without the requisite facts to justify such a judgement.

That said, in another thread I pointed out a $45-75 product on Amazon that is available at that price range on Amazon but is listed by one particular third party seller for $10,000. Would you buy this:

Bulldog X-Large Deluxe Black Range Bag with Pistol Rug

Who would be at "fault" if someone purchased this item at that price?

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 7:18:48 AM PST
I'm sorry that I've disappointed you. Please forgive me, kind stranger.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 9:06:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2012 9:31:07 AM PST
Omar says:
I am glad the discussion here is still productive (even educational). Did not have time yesterday to share a personal story about a product you (Isaac) specifically mentioned...The PS3:

On the day of its release, the only outlet store that did not have a camped out line in my area was a Best Buy at NJ's biggest mall (Garden State Plaza). The BB is a separate store outside the mall but still within its premises (other side of one of the parking lots). My friends and I waited for 6 hours inside a Ruby Tuesdays (inside the mall) till the preset time for the line to form (I think that time was 9-10pm). It was cold and raining. We moved outside to get ready to stand in line. Needless to say of course, there were at least 300 people scouring the parking lot (and believe me, not all of them looked like gamers, the majority didn't). People rushed to form lines a few times, only to be dispersed by mall security till the preset time. On the last attempt, security didn't even bother, although it was still a few minutes before 'line time'. In a mere 10 seconds (I kid you not), at least 200 people were in line. The line was set.
I even remember walking across the cones they had on the ground and a security guy tells me "you can't walk here". I simply answered "Don't tell me where to walk". I was angry and disappointed that all this waiting was in vain, especially that I abided by the rules and others didn't, yet they were rewarded by being first in line. We left.

Of course I saw the prices you spoke of on ebay afterwards (I even saw a guy advertising to send a naked picture of his girlfriend with the purchase, I think that purchase was $10,000... another pleading prospective buyers to help with the mortgage by buying his PS3). But a couple of weeks later, I saw an auction that was unbid on, comprising of the 60GB console, a game, and a controller for $1000. I did the math, turns out I would pay about $200 extra than retail. I was very surprised nobody was bidding on it, given the prices at the time far exceeded that amount. I bid and won the package for $1000 (no shipping charges). Turns out, the seller bought 2 consoles, one for himself, and the other to sell to payback a portion of the amount he paid.
That for me was quintessential 'smart business' (as defined in my earlier post).

Another point I wanted to make earlier was that exploitation starts with the manufacturers themselves. Let's take Apple---the world's most valued company (a company I know well, have followed for years, during their dark times, happy times, and now very lucrative times). Their average profit per device is around %30 (and reaches more than %50). Their suppliers hardly make any profit, and are not even allowed to advertise that they supply to Apple (read the recent reports about how abysmal working conditions are in China's supply factories; so abysmal they lead to deaths). Yet their products are the most desired in the world. The secret? Their marketing campaigns (Shadow Fire made an excellent point about this in one of his earlier posts). Their end product is truly amazing yes, from the packaging, to the product's form factor to performance (but are they 'really' revolutionary?). But if enough people knew HOW these products are actually made, the calls to boycott their products (google it) will actually increase exponentially.

Let's go back to our initial discussion...toys. How much would a Darth Vader figure actually cost the manufacturer? With mass-production, I highly doubt that cost will surpass a few cents, yet the MSRP is, according to you (I really don't know) is $4. How much of a markup is that? But because it is the manufacturer that made the figure, it is their prerogative to put whatever price tag they want, or deem fit. Isn't that-in the spirit of our discussion-considered exploitation? After all, they are in the business to make money. They care less about a child's happiness. But of course a smart-and usually successful-company will blur the lines between making profits and customer satisfaction (something along the lines of "we only exist to make you happy" which is all bull), something Apple does very very well (as the customer has the power of the purse) Like I said before, it's only the buyer's consent that will seal the deal.

The concept is pretty much the same for resellers. They will calculate their efforts and risks taken (just like manufacturers calculate theirs), and can even go as far as calculate shelf space, translate those calculations into monetary value. Some will come up with 'reasonable' markups, others with 'obscene' (terms relative to each person) ones. Power of the purse and common sense (again relative to each person) will prevail.

Side note:Shadow Fire...two thumbs up. A very realistic viewpoint of how the world works. I neither live in a fantasy land, nor am I interested in living in one. I prefer reality, no matter how somber it is.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 9:54:11 AM PST
Hi,
This is an interesting conversation, but I must ask, why is it the sellers responsibility to be concerned with a poor parent/child relationship. Has the government snuck so deeply into your mind that you believe people have a right to things at a price they can afford?
Capitalism, not socialism, is the basis of our country. You can see what happens when people dictate and manipulate the market. Let the market come to its own level.
If you don't want to buy a five hundred dollar toy, don't. But why should the seller reduce his or her ability to profit. There is no such thing as unfair profit, only what the market can bear. If no one will pay five hundred the seller will have to reduce his or price to make a sale.
If a person can only charge a set price, how many people will take on the work and financial risk.
As a side note, I was offered a job recently for half of my former salary. I asked the person how I could live on that money and was told she hadn't thought of that, only of what she wanted to pay. Because the employer has the upper hand right now, I am sure she found someone. I could cry that it is wrong, but it is just the way of the world. Supply and demand.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 11:57:04 AM PST
>Let's take Apple
I agree, a lot of Apples success has come from good advertising and brand management. I would however, like to note that there are certain individuals who buy Apple products for other reasons (myself for example). I suppose this ties into the whole "adult capable of reasonable decisions" thing; I as an adult am willing to pay 2-3 times what a comparative Windows or Linux system might cost in order to receive what I perceive as the benefits of Apple/Mac OS (namely centralized tech support, from my experience Apple techs will handle ANYTHING, even if its 3rd party software problems, admittedly they do charge a lot for it, but its a price I am willing to pay for not getting the dreaded "We blame Microsoft" response).

>Has the government snuck so deeply into your mind that you believe people have a right to things at a price they can afford?
In short. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

I am a diehard, "cold-dead-hands" conservative (As a qualifier to what I mean by conservative, Cato the Younger would be a good example). I do not want the government inside my head nor do I want it to control toy prices. I am advocating for SELF restraint on the part of the sellers. I don't want the law to get involved with this, at all, in any way shape or form.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 12:39:04 PM PST
Gamer091 says:
</i> "I'm not even against charging over the average retail price on toys in high demand. After all, for a bit of money your saving the customer a trip to the toy-store and the risk of being trampled by rabid Black Friday shoppers. But please, I am begging you, show restraint in the markup on children's toys, and when you do mark the price up, do your best to let the customer know that you are charging over the average retail price, and the reason for this. Like I said before, no trip needed, no risk of trampling." </i>

Don't worry about this. As parents we compare prices in several websites before making a purchase - plus there is always craigslist selling toys too and in the worst case we can always say "no" to a child and say this "toy is too expensive and we can't get it this time" so far 100% kids have survived by not having the latest toy.

;-)

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 1:29:41 PM PST
In response to the original post by Isaac Edmondson, I think you must have gotten this web site confused with your FACEBOOK account!!!
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