Author Topic: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread  (Read 841897 times)

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Elfmama

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7050 on: March 12, 2013, 10:50:08 PM »
Why do some book sellers on Amazon and eBay charge such outrageous prices for their books?  Is anyone really so stupid that they would pay $999 for exactly the same book that they could buy for $10?  I'm not talking signed first-edition leather-bound Dickens vs a mass-market 20th. c. paperback.  Look here at the top of the page and at the bottom.  (I have one I'm about to put up on Etsy, and I'm asking nowhere NEAR $1000 for it!)

ETA: it occurs to  me that someone may have meant $9.99 in this instance, but this isn't the first time I've seen an enormous difference between prices, and in most cases it's clear that it isn't a slip of the fingers.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 11:00:22 PM by Elfmama »
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Onyx_TKD

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7051 on: March 12, 2013, 11:11:02 PM »
Why do some book sellers on Amazon and eBay charge such outrageous prices for their books?  Is anyone really so stupid that they would pay $999 for exactly the same book that they could buy for $10?  I'm not talking signed first-edition leather-bound Dickens vs a mass-market 20th. c. paperback.  Look here at the top of the page and at the bottom.  (I have one I'm about to put up on Etsy, and I'm asking nowhere NEAR $1000 for it!)

I've wondered the same thing. I ran across a textbook listing that was so expensive that I could have ordered brand-new books for my entire class for less.

My brother's hypothesis is that the sellers are using automatic pricing algorithms to adjust their prices based on various factors. Then when something goes awry, the price ends up skyrocketing without any actual person looking at it to realize how absurd it is.

Slartibartfast

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7052 on: March 13, 2013, 01:04:01 AM »
Why do some book sellers on Amazon and eBay charge such outrageous prices for their books?  Is anyone really so stupid that they would pay $999 for exactly the same book that they could buy for $10?  I'm not talking signed first-edition leather-bound Dickens vs a mass-market 20th. c. paperback.  Look here at the top of the page and at the bottom.  (I have one I'm about to put up on Etsy, and I'm asking nowhere NEAR $1000 for it!)

I've wondered the same thing. I ran across a textbook listing that was so expensive that I could have ordered brand-new books for my entire class for less.

My brother's hypothesis is that the sellers are using automatic pricing algorithms to adjust their prices based on various factors. Then when something goes awry, the price ends up skyrocketing without any actual person looking at it to realize how absurd it is.

This plus drop-shipping is it exactly.

Drop-shipping is a practice where the seller of an item doesn't actually own that item yet.  Say I'm looking for a copy of a particular DVD, and I see a hundred different choices ranging from $6 up to $50.  The professional sellers with feedback in the tens of thousands all have theirs priced around $7.99, and anyone cheaper than that seems to be an individual person with almost no selling history.  I decide I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks to work with a seller who will most likely ship quickly and have good customer service if the DVD ends up being scratched or broken, so I go ahead and pay the $7.99.

In that situation, I assume the seller has a warehouse full of DVDs somewhere and pulls mine out for me.  A drop-shipper, though, just turns around and automatically purchases the DVD from that $6 seller and has it sent to me directly.  The cheaper seller may or may not be professional, quick to ship, telling the truth about the quality, etc. (so basically, the same risks I would have taken on if I had paid the $6 myself).  The professional seller I bought from, though, ends up taking the risks - if there's a problem, they're on the hook for it.  The downside is that if I pay them $7.99 and suddenly all the $6 sellers yank their listings, the drop-shipper has no product to send me.  He won't pay more and take a loss, he'll just send me a note saying "Sorry, I can't complete your transaction!" and he'll get a slap on the wrist from Amazon/eBay/whatever and he'll keep on selling things he doesn't own yet.

Here's where the brain-hurting part comes in: the drop-shipper's computer algorithm is usually based on the prices of other sellers.  It might be set to sell for $1.99 higher than the cheapest other seller, for instance.  If the cheapest seller rises to $9, the drop-shipper will automatically raise their price to $10.99.  There have been some fantastic cases where there are only two copies of a rare book (self-published textbook or somesuch) and both sellers are drop-shippers - the result is the price rising incrementally at a predictable rate until someone realizes what's going on.  I saw a blog where a professor was jokingly excited that his out-of-print book was available for the low, low price of $10 million dollars!

I personally think it's a kind of questionable practice, because there's no repercussions for having promised to ship an item and then not actually having it  :-\  You can usually tell the drop-shippers because they're the ones who don't give shipping discounts for multiple items.  They're also more likely to have a super-low item price and a super-high shipping price - $2 for a DVD and $18 for shipping, for example.  They justify it by saying they really do have a higher shipping and handling cost, since the handling is outsourced to the person who was trying to sell the item in the first place  ::)

Onyx_TKD

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7053 on: March 13, 2013, 02:57:48 AM »
Why do some book sellers on Amazon and eBay charge such outrageous prices for their books?  Is anyone really so stupid that they would pay $999 for exactly the same book that they could buy for $10?  I'm not talking signed first-edition leather-bound Dickens vs a mass-market 20th. c. paperback.  Look here at the top of the page and at the bottom.  (I have one I'm about to put up on Etsy, and I'm asking nowhere NEAR $1000 for it!)

I've wondered the same thing. I ran across a textbook listing that was so expensive that I could have ordered brand-new books for my entire class for less.

My brother's hypothesis is that the sellers are using automatic pricing algorithms to adjust their prices based on various factors. Then when something goes awry, the price ends up skyrocketing without any actual person looking at it to realize how absurd it is.

This plus drop-shipping is it exactly.

Drop-shipping is a practice where the seller of an item doesn't actually own that item yet.  Say I'm looking for a copy of a particular DVD, and I see a hundred different choices ranging from $6 up to $50.  The professional sellers with feedback in the tens of thousands all have theirs priced around $7.99, and anyone cheaper than that seems to be an individual person with almost no selling history.  I decide I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks to work with a seller who will most likely ship quickly and have good customer service if the DVD ends up being scratched or broken, so I go ahead and pay the $7.99.

In that situation, I assume the seller has a warehouse full of DVDs somewhere and pulls mine out for me.  A drop-shipper, though, just turns around and automatically purchases the DVD from that $6 seller and has it sent to me directly.  The cheaper seller may or may not be professional, quick to ship, telling the truth about the quality, etc. (so basically, the same risks I would have taken on if I had paid the $6 myself).  The professional seller I bought from, though, ends up taking the risks - if there's a problem, they're on the hook for it.  The downside is that if I pay them $7.99 and suddenly all the $6 sellers yank their listings, the drop-shipper has no product to send me.  He won't pay more and take a loss, he'll just send me a note saying "Sorry, I can't complete your transaction!" and he'll get a slap on the wrist from Amazon/eBay/whatever and he'll keep on selling things he doesn't own yet.

Here's where the brain-hurting part comes in: the drop-shipper's computer algorithm is usually based on the prices of other sellers.  It might be set to sell for $1.99 higher than the cheapest other seller, for instance.  If the cheapest seller rises to $9, the drop-shipper will automatically raise their price to $10.99.  There have been some fantastic cases where there are only two copies of a rare book (self-published textbook or somesuch) and both sellers are drop-shippers - the result is the price rising incrementally at a predictable rate until someone realizes what's going on.  I saw a blog where a professor was jokingly excited that his out-of-print book was available for the low, low price of $10 million dollars!

I personally think it's a kind of questionable practice, because there's no repercussions for having promised to ship an item and then not actually having it  :-\  You can usually tell the drop-shippers because they're the ones who don't give shipping discounts for multiple items.  They're also more likely to have a super-low item price and a super-high shipping price - $2 for a DVD and $18 for shipping, for example.  They justify it by saying they really do have a higher shipping and handling cost, since the handling is outsourced to the person who was trying to sell the item in the first place  ::)

That wouldn't really account for the situation I saw, though. In that case, there were plenty of other listings, all in a normal price range for similar textbooks, including the brand-new copies in Amazon's main listing. Only one of the listings had the outrageously-high price (i.e., something like 20-30 times Amazon's price). I got the impression that Elfmama was asking about a similar scenario. Since all the other listings had normal prices, any algorithm as simple as pricing a small fixed amount or percentage above the cheapest price from other sellers (or the average of other sellers' prices, etc) should have produced something in a reasonable range.

Slartibartfast

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7054 on: March 13, 2013, 03:06:00 AM »
Two possible scenarios, then:

1) someone mistyped the price and missed a decimal point

2) There were two poorly-written algorithms keyed off each other and they both ran up their prices to something unrealistic, but one person noticed and fixed the problem while the other one didn't  :)  I figure if drop-shippers fall on a bell curve like everyone else does for intelligence, then we're probably just seeing the stupidest/least competent/worst programmers of the bunch.

Carotte

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7055 on: March 13, 2013, 06:28:12 AM »
This reminds me of when I found a toy replica from Doctor Who (the british tv show, the sonic screwdriver/sonic pen combo) priced 70 on amazon.co.uk! It was august 2011, right now the same listing is at 40, and that is still 25 more than the normal listing price of this object.

I don't know if it's still sold in normal stores since it's from a few series back, but if some sellers can have it for the normal price it's just uterly stupid to try and sell it at this price (or wait until they all catch up to yours). Just to be sure that no clueless parents or grandparent would think it was the normal price I wrote something in the 'this product forum', maybe I should have left a review.
There's another listing for almost the same toy at 50 too..

I think that when I ordered mine it was 15 with shipping to europe included  ::)

Elfmama

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7056 on: March 13, 2013, 09:31:53 AM »
Two possible scenarios, then:

1) someone mistyped the price and missed a decimal point

2) There were two poorly-written algorithms keyed off each other and they both ran up their prices to something unrealistic, but one person noticed and fixed the problem while the other one didn't  :)  I figure if drop-shippers fall on a bell curve like everyone else does for intelligence, then we're probably just seeing the stupidest/least competent/worst programmers of the bunch.
I queried the seller and got this in reply:
Quote
Thank you for your interest in our listings.  The item details on the Amazon page should be accurate.  We do not have additional information available at this time.  Most orders ship at the post office media rate.  If you receive an item from us and are unhappy with it for any reason please let us know.  We are always happy to assist with a return if necessary.
This was a professional seller with 350,344 total ratings.  So either the responder didn't have his morning coffee yet and just fired off a canned reply without looking at the price, or someone thinks they really can get that kind of price.
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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7057 on: March 13, 2013, 04:25:23 PM »
Okay the talk of the different American states, particularly the naming of New Mexico, in the Brain Hurt thread got me thinking...

Now if I remember my grade school history right, the colonies of New Hampshire and New York were named for English places the pilgrims came from, correct? So what Jersey is "New" Jersey named for? I think there are some places out there that are named "New City/Town/Province etc." but don't necessarily have an original counterpart. If so, why the "New"? Can anyone enlighten me on the naming process and the reasoning behind these names?  ???
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violinp

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7058 on: March 13, 2013, 04:31:51 PM »
Okay the talk of the different American states, particularly the naming of New Mexico, in the Brain Hurt thread got me thinking...

Now if I remember my grade school history right, the colonies of New Hampshire and New York were named for English places the pilgrims came from, correct? So what Jersey is "New" Jersey named for? I think there are some places out there that are named "New City/Town/Province etc." but don't necessarily have an original counterpart. If so, why the "New"? Can anyone enlighten me on the naming process and the reasoning behind these names?  ???

Probably this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey
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Tea Drinker

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7059 on: March 13, 2013, 04:33:22 PM »
Jersey is one of the Channel Islands. It isn't technically part of the United Kingdom, but is a Crown Dependency [sic] of the British monarchy. Similarly, it's not actually part of the European Union, but has some of the benefits of membership.
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marcel

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7060 on: March 14, 2013, 12:10:58 AM »
Okay the talk of the different American states, particularly the naming of New Mexico, in the Brain Hurt thread got me thinking...

Now if I remember my grade school history right, the colonies of New Hampshire and New York were named for English places the pilgrims came from, correct? So what Jersey is "New" Jersey named for? I think there are some places out there that are named "New City/Town/Province etc." but don't necessarily have an original counterpart. If so, why the "New"? Can anyone enlighten me on the naming process and the reasoning behind these names?  ???
I have for years had the problem that when Jersey was mentioned in books/films etc. that I never understood what was so special about Jersey that it got so many mentions.

It took me a few years to realize that usualy when Jersey is mentioned, that what is actualy meant is New Jersey, the US state next to New York, and not Jersey, the channel island. (nowadays I just get annoyed at people being to lazy to say/write new)

I actualy don't think there are any places that use new without an original counterpart. The counterpart may no longer exists, have changed names etc. but I think there actualy always is a counterpart. Curious if people can think of a new without an old counterpart.

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Bluenomi

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7061 on: March 14, 2013, 12:19:12 AM »
Okay the talk of the different American states, particularly the naming of New Mexico, in the Brain Hurt thread got me thinking...

Now if I remember my grade school history right, the colonies of New Hampshire and New York were named for English places the pilgrims came from, correct? So what Jersey is "New" Jersey named for? I think there are some places out there that are named "New City/Town/Province etc." but don't necessarily have an original counterpart. If so, why the "New"? Can anyone enlighten me on the naming process and the reasoning behind these names?  ???
I have for years had the problem that when Jersey was mentioned in books/films etc. that I never understood what was so special about Jersey that it got so many mentions.

It took me a few years to realize that usualy when Jersey is mentioned, that what is actualy meant is New Jersey, the US state next to New York, and not Jersey, the channel island. (nowadays I just get annoyed at people being to lazy to say/write new)

I actualy don't think there are any places that use new without an original counterpart. The counterpart may no longer exists, have changed names etc. but I think there actualy always is a counterpart. Curious if people can think of a new without an old counterpart.

It annoys me as well. Jesery Shore would be very different if it was actually set in Jersey not New Jersey.

Barney girl

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7062 on: March 14, 2013, 03:06:11 PM »
I had to think twice recently when someone told me in an excited tone that they were going to Boston for a long weekend. It's a pleasant place, but not that special ..... Oh, she meant Boston in the USA.

Similarly when my mother and I flew to Canada, landing in Toronto, it was very strange seeing the names of towns we were flying over, as though we were doing a crazy tour of the British Isles.

LazyDaisy

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7063 on: March 14, 2013, 03:21:57 PM »
Any Kiwi, or I guess Danish too, people know the answer to this one? I visited Denmark a while ago and learned that one of the Danish islands is called Sjaelland (pronounced as I understand it Zealand). Is then New Zealand a place where many Danish people settled and they named it after their homeland? If so, why the spelling change?
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Ereine

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7064 on: March 14, 2013, 03:26:26 PM »
I believe that it's actually named after Dutch Zeeland (though Wikipedia tells me that both are also known as Zealand and I guess mean the same thing, sea land).