High priced Amazon sellers.
May 12, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Do consumers buy items that are listed on Amazon by sellers for twice Amazon's list price?

I often see items sold by Amazon for one price and other sellers listing the exact same item on Amazon for more than twice the price. Does anyone buy the higher priced item?
posted by BillyAnne to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My completely anecdotal answer is that Amazon sometimes runs out of popular items, at which point private sellers' products will be the only ones available. I have shelled out a little extra sometimes for items from private sellers if Amazon is out of stock and it's something I can't get anywhere else. However I would be unlikely to pay 2x the cost.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

here is an answer from here that may be illuminating
... The problem is with the way that some of the third-party sellers determine their pricing on their listings. They have an automatic system in place that reads a certain "price value" based on the other listed prices, and adds on a certain percentage, when automatically adjusting their asking price on their listing. The problem is, when multiple sellers of the item use this automatic computerized system on a listing, their system automatically reads each other's prices as legitimate listing values, and so they drive each other's prices upwards, through a series of constant adjustments. I don't know that I explained it so well, but there was a story on this not long ago, when some plain book (I think it had to do with fish, but I'm not certain) reached an astronomical asking price among some of the sellers, prompting an unofficial "investigation" by the curious. Apparently, they don't have a "maximum value" set into the programming, so it can easily get insanely high very fast.
posted by edgeways at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Honestly, I think it depends. I'm occasionally tempted to buy things from IKEA that third-party sellers list on Amazon, since the closest IKEA is 4-5 hours away from where I live. However, most of the time, I don't, because I'm patient or willing to find an alternative brand or model for what I'd consider a fair price.
posted by PearlRose at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2014

Yes, sometimes. After searching for the Marvel DiceMasters game for two weeks, and hearing that even the reprint isn't going to fulfill the demand, I paid far more than the list price for it, just so I was guaranteed to get it. (Paid more than list price = not having to run to every target around to see if they maybe had it. I decided it was worth it!)
posted by needlegrrl at 11:14 AM on May 12, 2014

I'll see in the collectable world either the item isn't going to be available directly on Amazon so you have a re-seller or like was mentioned above, it goes out of stock directly from Amazon and people buy the higher price.

Depending on which collecting genre you are in, your free time amount, and your love for the "hunt" many people often chose to pay the premium to make sure they have IT.

I'm sure if you list enough items you'll also catch the occasional sucker. See also: astronomically high Ebay buy it now prices that are just re-listed forever.
posted by PlutoniumX at 11:39 AM on May 12, 2014

sometimes the high priced sellers don't necessarily hold stock of the items, they are hoping for unwise buyers to choose them and the high priced seller is buying/reselling an item from a lower priced source. They cancel the sale after the fact if they can't find a source at reasonable cost to them.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:40 AM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

More discussion of the algorithm phenomenon edgeways posted about is here:"...Amazon listed 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and 2 new from $1,730,045.91 (+$3.99 shipping)."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:53 AM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

You can build your own web store on Amazon. But it looks like you're running your own site, and only the stuff you sell is listed. Your orders and payment processing might go through Amazon, but you're the one who fulfills the orders.

So if you've got some specialty store focused on, say, mustaches, you might do this, and you get traffic to your store because you have a big selection of razors and wax and god knows what else, and you have some mustache focused reviews and advice and whatever. And SEO. But you're a specialty boutique store so you can charge more because you're the experts. You might actually have a brick and mortar store too, maybe with the same prices. I don't know if Amazon lets you automatically include your catalog in their search results (I'm guessing: yes), but if they don't you can just add them yourself. So some of your more exotic products you might still be the only one selling, but for anything common, oh well, you're charging twice as much as Amazon, but there's no reason to go out of your way to unlist those items. But people are buying them, just not through the main Amazon interface.

I'm sure there's lots of other reasons this happens - Amazon is a huge place with lots of people trying lots of approaches to selling stuff.
posted by aubilenon at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2014

I assumed sellers were listing outrageously priced items hoping for a sucker. Thanks PlutoniumX.
Software that automatically reprices items based on a flawed formula is something new to me. Thanks edgeway.
Thanks to all for your help!
posted by BillyAnne at 2:49 PM on May 12, 2014

Don't forget that Amazon has websites in only about a dozen countries. And since not all items are eligible for international shipping, private parties close that gap by offering to ship to various international locales at a premium. There are people who pay crazy prices (obviously not in the category of $1,730,045.91 though) for popular items (like smartphones, games or gaming consoles). I think people sell a lot of that stuff on eBay but some will try different marketplaces.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:50 PM on May 12, 2014

I live in a really remote place and have paid ridiculous prices for pedestrian items on Amazon due to lack of local options. I frequently notice that the reviews for these items note that the buyer is somewhere remote.

For example, I paid something like $16 for a 12 pack of plain seltzer, which is insane. But I really, really, really needed an egg cream.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:04 PM on May 12, 2014

As a (very) amateur seller on Amazon, I have sometimes priced things way out of the market if I was still trying to figure out how the selling fees were going to go. We had some unexpectedly high fees come out of our first few sales on Amazon, and I panicked and bumped the price of everything quite a bit to stop things from selling.

(They did not show a fee preview back in those days)
posted by getawaysticks at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2014

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