A Crazy Way to Make Money On eBay!


A couple of years ago I stumbled upon what is perhaps the craziest way to make money on eBay I’ve ever seen. Some of you might disagree and think it’s a quite ingenious way to make money on eBay. Whatever your school of thought, I’d be interested to know if any of you have ever tried selling on eBay in the following way or if you’ve ever spotted others doing it.

The Deception Begins     

In the past I’ve made a bit of money on eBay selling things like antiques, retro clothing, mobile phones and anything else that was profitable. Those of you who have used eBay to sell things will know that when you receive a payment from a sale the money always goes into your PayPal account. As I always seemed to have a stash of money in my PayPal account, I often bought a lot of things on eBay and they always seemed to be the cheapest around, or so I thought!

If you have children you’ll know that once your kids start to crawl you can’t survive for long without a baby gate, so I started to search for one on eBay. After scouring the eBay listings I came across a company selling a brand new, good quality baby gate at a dirt cheap price, far cheaper than any other seller. I noticed however that they only had around 97% feedback so I thought I’d better check the reviews just to be on the safe side.

All Was Not Well

When I clicked on the negative feedback button I noticed a few buyers were extremely angry that the product they had bought from the eBay seller had actually come from Amazon. I know some retailers use Amazon to stock and deliver their products but that’s not what was happening here. Another review stated that the item they’d bought had been marked as a gift and that the Amazon receipt that had come with the item showed the price to be less than they’d paid to the eBay seller. I decided to have a look at the baby gates on Amazon to see if they were any cheaper. I managed to find the exact same baby gate on Amazon for a couple of pounds less than the eBay price and unlike the eBay item it also came with free delivery.

The Penny Drops

It then hit me exactly what the eBay seller was doing. Any products that Amazon had on sale or special offer, the seller was then listing on eBay at a slightly higher price. The eBay seller was then charging a postage fee to the buyer even though Amazon was delivering the product for free as a gift item. The money the eBay seller was charging for postage was going straight into his pocket plus any extra money they were able to make by inflating the price of the product.

Genius or Dishonest?

I couldn’t make up my mind if what the seller was doing should be viewed as legitimate business, after all most businesses buy things and sell them on at a profit, or if it was misleading and dishonest behaviour. You can certainly see the business potential. The eBay merchant could effectively sell any cheap item from Amazon on eBay and make a few pounds on each sale, without ever having to stock a single product.

In some ways it seemed like a genius business model but in other ways a recipe for trouble. The negative feedback the seller had received had all been due to one of the following issues

1. The buyer wasn’t happy they had paid more for the item than the receipt stated.

2. The item was faulty and the buyer now had to deal with several parties to resolve the issue.

3. The buyer never received the item because it had gone out of stock at Amazon.

4.  The buyer didn’t like Amazon and preferred to shop on eBay.

There’s also the problem of having a product listed on eBay and the price suddenly changing on Amazon leaving the eBay seller making a loss.

It’s All In the Small Print

The sellers response to all this negative feedback was that it stated in the listing that some of the items sold would come from 3rd party retailers. Sure enough when I scrolled down to the VERY bottom of the listing, there was a short sentence explaining that some of the products sold would come from other retailers.

I had a look on eBay today to see if this kind of third party selling is still going on, it is!

What do you think, have you come across this before? Do you think it’s just legitimate business or is it misleading to customers?

20 Responses to A Crazy Way to Make Money On eBay!

  1. Interesting to be honest but doesn’t surprise me. If there is a way to make money, someone will do it. I’ve never bought or sold anything on EBAY before. Should they maybe disclose they are third party or do they?

  2. You’ve got to read the fine print. If the buyer doesn’t take the time to find the cheapest price and best deal, that’s their own fault.

    I think it’s a bit both legitimate and misleading but until ebay makes it illegal Buyer beware.

  3. While I don’t like it, I do think it is creative. This person is just thinking outside the box. Not sellers problem if the buyer doesn’t read the fine print.

  4. Jason says:

    Wow, that’s genius! I have never noticed anything like that. I actually buy and sell distressed merchandise like customer returns from Amazon, Best Buy and so forth. I don’t think it is deceitful especially if he discloses the information properly. I wouldn’t personally risk my feedback score, but well done on his part!

    • Yeah I’d hate the thought of having to deal with all the negative feedback, not just because it looks bad but also because I like my customers to be happy with the service they’ve received.

  5. While it does seem sketchy, it is creative. I don’t know that I’d do it, but then again all this person is doing is taking advantage of a little arbitrage.

  6. Matt says:

    I can understand people feeling a bit p***ed off, after all the seller hasn’t actually done anything or provided a service of any kind, but then I don’t know why anyone still thinks Ebay is necessarily the cheapest still? Funnily enough, I often check Amazon prices as well these days.

  7. Kretek says:

    It’s capitalism at its finest. Look at it this way. Yes, you didn’t get the sale price or the free shipping, but what are you really buying on Amazon? Most people don’t know that many businesses on Amazon are dropship companies that channel wholesale products through a business front. They buy from Chinese manufacturers, go on Amazon, post the product, and make a cut of the profit.

    That’s capitalism.

  8. This is classic Retail Arbitrage – GENIUS!

  9. I see no real problem with that. The buyer agreed to pay a certain price for an item. The buyer must have thought it was a decent value? It shouldn’t matter in the least that the seller was more creative and found a way to profit…

    I love it!

  10. Ganhar dinheiro says:

    Hey, pretty good post you have here. Thanks for share.
    Ebay is for sure an excellente tool to make money online.
    Continued success to you !

  11. Bettylee Harrison says:

    Seller should leave a small info, concerning the honesty of the break down of the product price..

    Thereafter the buyer then can decide, weather they will purchase the item or not. To prevent substility or decietfullness.

  12. See no issue with this at all.

    Another person who is selling other stuff NOT from amazon would have just bought it from another source instead, would have bought it cheaper than what they are selling it for and therefore would have also made profit. Why are people not complaining about every single transaction they ever made? Or do they think the other things being made by eBay are being hand made in the garages of the person selling them!? 🙂

    I don’t see why they should care whether it came through amazon or not.

    I get that it is clever because they are not stocking any of the items, and therefore may delay the receipt of the item, but as long as the seller specifies that delivery will be 3-5 days or whatever and that products may come from a third party as they have, then there really is no come back. It’s not even deceitful it’s just doing business, buying something and then selling it at a profit.

    • FrugalFox says:

      Usually I was able to get the product to the buyer the next day by using Prime next day delivery.
      If i was doing it now i would state a slower delivery time period (3-5 days) and then take the £1 credit you get from not taking next day delivery.

  13. FrugalFox says:

    I must admit around 2 years ago i did this for a short period of time. I was selling various types of backpack and rucksack. I only sold enough items to cover my amazon prime membership for the year. Another benefit was the Airmiles I collected on my Amex card at the same time.

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