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?