Pricing Ethics (split from Shady Dealers)
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:24 pm 
 

Coming back to pricing ethics, to make the point from the opposite perspective, I wonder what people think about finding old modules at a flea market or thrift store.

I mean, according to the discussion here, surely it would only be ethical to tell the seller, for example:

"Sir, you are selling me a ratty book called Tsojoconth for $1. However, despite its condition and lack of aesthetic qualities, the actual value of this item is closer to $1,000. Can you please adjust the cash register.. I wish to pay the proper amount."

I guess for every "shady seller", there are about 100 "shady buyers".

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:33 pm 
 

Actually, I have seen some of the members of this forum seek to inform sellers of the real value of rare items. There are some very genuine and caring people on this forum so put away that brush that you are trying to paint everyone with.

Personally, I would love to find a Tsojoconth for $1 at a flea market.  I suspect though that my chances in Australia would be quite low.  :cry:

As I have stated before I also have no problem with someone trying to sell at rediculous prices.  What I do have a problem with are sellers that:

1. Lie about the condition of a item (ie overgrade it) eg. Tanya
2. Increase the shipping fee well beyond what they pay eg. Tanya
3. Run fake auctions eg Game Emporium
4. Compete against their buyers on ebay then try to sell the items they have won to the very people they outbid at rediculous prices eg creep
5. Try to monopolise a market eg. Cougie
6. Charge large shipping fees then package with tinsel paper.

Sea-to-sky which sellers do you believe we have listed as shady who we shouldn't have?

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:45 pm 
 

which sellers do you believe we have listed as shady who we shouldn't have?


I don't have experience with any of them so I have no comment either way.

I was just remarking that it appears this forum is about one-way capitalism.

There are some very genuine and caring people on this forum so put away that brush that you are trying to paint everyone with.


If you want to seriously argue that people are generally not selfish and do not wish to profit when the opportunity arises, then we'll need another thread.

And almost by definition, every single buyer on eBay, flea markets, whatever values the good far more than the price they end up paying for it... I mean otherwise they wouldn't buy it. If there is a couple people telling sellers the true value of the item -- to the collecting community or to themselves -- there are about 1 million every day that do not.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:01 pm 
 

I was just remarking that it appears this forum is about one-way capitalism.


Sea to Sky - I am almost exclusively an RPG reseller.  My comments are made from a reseller's POV and not a buyer/collector's.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:04 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
If you want to seriously argue that people are generally not selfish and do not wish to profit when the opportunity arises, then we'll need another thread.

And almost by definition, every single buyer on eBay, flea markets, whatever values the good far more than the price they end up paying for it... I mean otherwise they wouldn't buy it. If there is a couple people telling sellers the true value of the item -- to the collecting community or to themselves -- there are about 1 million every day that do not.

My brush stands ready. :D


When I buy used gaming items from a corporation/chain (aka Half Price Books) I see no reason to inform them of an items potential worth in the collectible market.  They have the personnel and resources necessary to research prices; that they don't speaks to the fact they don't see a great potential for extra profit...in other words, the time and money it would take to set an employee to checking the prices for every gaming item that comes in in their mind outweighs the potential profit, plus they typically make their money back for the entire buy after selling just 2-3 items from a lot.
   Conversely, if the item was being sold by a local store that I patronized regularly, I would probably bring up the fact that the item is underpriced, and ask them if they wished to have me sell it for them on commission or something similar.  I would feel bad for someone I dealt with on a regular basis, who was always fair with me, getting screwed on something like that.  However, if the item was bought at a out of town used bookstore, flea market, garage sale, etc, I would see no need to inform the seller.  Once again, it's not my job to do the work of research for the seller and help them maximize profits.  If the seller can't do the least bit of action to plop down in a chair in front of a computer and enter "Tsojonth" on ebay or google, that's not my problem.  
 I've tried to assist people in this way, but not to raise their prices but LOWER their prices to make a sale.  A local used bookstore got a lot of D&D stuff in a few years ago.  Nothing was that great, but among the lot was the inevitible Deities & Demigods w/Cthulhu.  They immediately priced it at $300 because "somebody" told them it was the rarest D&D book ever published.  The next time I came in, they knew I collected D&D and so proudly directed me to the item on a shelf up front. I think I burst out laughing when I saw the price.  I informed them that regardless of what their trusted source had told them, there was no way a copy of this book should bring over $100 at most and that would be for one in perfect condition...not to mention a small bit of time and research would show them that if they had bothered to look on Ebay.  The next time I came in it was lowered to $150 (I guess they thought half the original $300 was more in line). The book sat on their shelf for several years, until they closed up and moved.  Never understood the reasoning. In their case, if they had gotten in a $1 Tsojoncth I would have gladly bought one at that price and never mentioned it's true worth.  If they won't listen to me in one instance, why should I think they would listen to my advice in the other instance...

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:31 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:Coming back to pricing ethics, to make the point from the opposite perspective, I wonder what people think about finding old modules at a flea market or thrift store.

I mean, according to the discussion here, surely it would only be ethical to tell the seller, for example:

"Sir, you are selling me a ratty book called Tsojoconth for $1. However, despite its condition and lack of aesthetic qualities, the actual value of this item is closer to $1,000. Can you please adjust the cash register.. I wish to pay the proper amount."

I guess for every "shady seller", there are about 100 "shady buyers".


Dude, seriously, what is your goal here?  I mean it really seems to me like you have some sort of axe to grind.  It is pretty apparent that a sound majority of the folks here do not agree with anything that you are saying, and yet you continue to post along the same lines of discussion and the same persistant ideas.   I guess I don't get it . :?  

Don't get me wrong, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion(s), but it seems pretty apparent to me that you are trying to change everyone elses mind to your line of thinking and in case it wasn't blatantly obvious to you yet, it isn't happening.  So why do you continue to beat this dead horse? I mean to this point it seems that some folks have defended you which is also thier right to do so on an open forum, but there really isn't much more to talk about here is there?

What is your purpose in continuing to to press this discussion further and further?  Its pretty evident that you have your own ideas and everyone else has thiers. The more that you continue to force feed your ideas onto everyone else here, the more and more it appears as if you are really here trying to start trouble and not much else.....


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:16 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:What is your purpose in continuing to to press this discussion further and further?  Its pretty evident that you have your own ideas and everyone else has thiers. The more that you continue to force feed your ideas onto everyone else here, the more and more it appears as if you are really here trying to start trouble and not much else.....


I am starting to agree.  There doesnt seem to be any clear direction to this thread.  Poll 100 people on this forum with your questions and you will probably get 50 different answers.  We can discuss business ethics and economic strategy as it pertains to RPG collecting and selling until we are blue in the face....actually I think a lot of people here are already at that point.  All I have seen is a lot of arguing, name calling, and the resurgence of a past forum member that I am certain most people here would soon forget.  :evil:

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:32 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
 All I have seen is a lot of arguing, name calling, and the resurgence of a past forum member that I am certain most people here would soon forget.  :evil:


No kidding..I swear, when Maxi-pad popped in last night, I felt like I had just dropped into the middle of a Fellini picture, kept waiting for a guy in a gorilla costume to bicycle by my window wearing a Carmen Miranda hat and playing a ukelele or something....that was just bizarre.... 8O

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:11 pm 
 

Woah - what the hell is going on here ?? I have just read through all 8 pages of this stuff - including some particularly surreal posts  8O  8O  8O

Let me try and understand, is this really just an argument about whether it is ethical for an ebay store to charge way more than the normal (or average) price for a D&D module?  OK, well a lot of this has been addressed before (if I recall, just some months ago we discussed whether it was ethical to pick up a Woodgrain for a few $$).  But anyway here's my answer: No.  It is sneaky.  

But it really isn't the worst crime in the rpg collecting world (e.g.  overcharging on shipping, trying to corner the market, selling and not shipping  etc etc...).  Am I arguing against the free market and advocating a move towards a 1930s Soviet planned economy?  Again, No.  All markets are commented on (and many are heavily regulated).  That is in a small way what we are doing here - by drawing attention to sellers who massively overcharge (and other shadier business practices) we are trying to help others in the hobby.  Is what we do ethical?  Yes.

Welcome to the forum!

*** edited to add - top marks for the Fellini reference - for me it was like the hospital scene in American Werewolf in London  (only without Jenny Agutter)  :wink:


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:09 pm 
 

yo! wrote:Dont know if I am unbanned or not. Bclarkie will have to research that. It just started working. So no one thinks someone could corner the market the way I described..


Geez Max, I guess its moot now, *banned* again.  :roll:


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:48 pm 
 

This is one of those threads that really gets interesting, especially if they stay relatively civil.  As a tried and true lurker on a number of boards, this by all measure, is pretty civil (even with the heated exchange between Sea and Hidden...and no Im not counting you Mike, your intervention was misconstrued and it surely is hard to convey intent over text).

But heres the rub.  Like many collectors here, I too get a bit miffed when people get taken advantage of, or when people try to take advantage of me.  But what Sea-to-Sky had to say about how many, if not all of us, look for great buys was pretty brilliant actually.  Heck there is a running post pages long here about just that.  It got me thinking, and if you take a second I think it might sink in a bit.  BClarkie, you may be correct, maybe Sea is just being incendiary.  Still....

How many times over the years that any of us have been collecting, did someone actually send an email back to the old lady who normally sells doilies and antique little pig salt and pepper shakers that the first print her son left in the attic someone won at auction was really worth $80 and not the $25 winnning bid?

Maybe you did, maybe you didnt (not pointing at anyone specific here, just in general).  Does that make you a bad person if you didnt?  Does it make you a saint if you did?  Was it your responsibility to do the ladies homework for her?  Its an interesting moral/ethical question.

We seem to want to do the homework for the sellers we dont like, thats for sure.  Heck I myself have sent some scathing mail to a few I felt were unscrupulous.  Especially the ones that try to hide the shipping fees.

I think Sea-to-Sky is taking a bit of the high road by saying that beauty (or value in this case) is in the eye of the beholder, buyer beware etc....  Its not entirely without merit, because quite frankly, value is pretty subjective.  But its also a very easy to defend position because its without any real judgement.  It looks like hes making a judgement based on generalities, but he isnt really.  In fact hes kind of taking a "Judge not lest you be judged" position (hold the religion comments no need for flame wars please, it was just an easy to understand reference).

So thats it really.  It all comes down to judgement.  Whether its socks at Walmart or the Tsoj.  The socks however are pretty darn regulated by ooooh lets say 100 million purchasers (dont you love internet statistics hehehe) so Walmart has its hands relatively tied.  It cant very well sell socks at $20 a pair.  The Tsoj on the other hand....well thats a different matter.  In fact, besides this board there are very few real reliable sources for value.  So when a reseller gets his hands on something that has some relative rarity, "Eureka!" baby they are off to the races.  People get all pissed off, try to warn the noobs out there not to pay such ridiculous prices.  Some "idiot" buys it for a jillion bucks and theres a post with a few laughs, some name calling about the seller, and so forth.

Does the Aceaum have the right to do that?  Well....actually....yes.   See I think Sea was saying kinda between the lines that maybe we dont or maybe we shouldnt.  I just think he missed one critical element in all of his argument.  That judgement (or value), is everyones responsibility.  The problem with that of course is that too often people do not apply the same judgement to themselves.

I would say to you Sea that your opinions have really made me think and bravo for that.  I would then ask you, did you consider that the value placed by members or the site does factor into that true item value, and that the measure of its impact is just as important as the buyers personal value?  In addition, can a buyer who has no idea of what the market value for an item is, be counted on to evaluate?  Are they pricing the item, or their desire?

Thats the key really.  Its also a very important thing to note when you hear some of those sellers berate this website.  The reason they do so is because they know that members here do their homework for the most part.  I can understand how that might seem a bit brash, because I got that first impression a very long while back.  But give it some thought.  Yes it is entirely subjective, as is lets say the antiques market, or the baseball card market.  Any collectors market for that matter really.  Whether its a Picaso or a Gygax.  The buyer has every right to pay what he or she wishes.  But value is set by the community at large.   It just so happens that this is the community.  For lack of a better description.

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:33 pm 
 

How many times over the years that any of us have been collecting, did someone actually send an email back to the old lady who normally sells doilies and antique little pig salt and pepper shakers that the first print her son left in the attic someone won at auction was really worth $80 and not the $25 winnning bid?

Maybe you did, maybe you didnt (not pointing at anyone specific here, just in general).  Does that make you a bad person if you didnt?  Does it make you a saint if you did?  Was it your responsibility to do the ladies homework for her?  Its an interesting moral/ethical question.


Exactly.

I think Sea-to-Sky is taking a bit of the high road by saying that beauty (or value in this case) is in the eye of the beholder, buyer beware etc....  Its not entirely without merit, because quite frankly, value is pretty subjective.  But its also a very easy to defend position because its without any real judgement.  It looks like hes making a judgement based on generalities, but he isnt really.  In fact hes kind of taking a "Judge not lest you be judged" position (hold the religion comments no need for flame wars please, it was just an easy to understand reference).


Precisely.

This is all what I meant by "one way capitalism". How can it be unethical (or shady) when someone charges higher than the "normal price" and ethical when someone pays less than the "normal price". The exchanges in all cases were voluntary.

BClarkie: I'm an intellectual. Why my posts? I just wanted someone to answer that very question for me. After all, we bash "bad" sellers.. but do we bash "bad" buyers, who I would argue are far more plentiful?

  


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:38 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
BClarkie: I'm an intellectual. Why my posts? I just wanted someone to answer that very question for me. After all, we bash "bad" sellers.. but do we bash "bad" buyers, who I would argue are far more plentiful?


Wrong again.  It is the sellers responsibility to know the value of what they are selling. Now if a buyer lies to a seller in order to get an item cheaper than what its worth, than I would also agree that that is shady, but if a seller in his/her own ignorance is not aware of an itmes value then they should make the effort to find out.  However, if a seller chooses to remain ignorant of what he/she is selling and lists an item at a price far below its actual value, than they have no one to blame but themselves.  You are arguing two totally different scenarios and trying to connect them as the same, they are not.

Once again though, it is pretty obvious where you stand in this equation and it is pretty apparent where just about everyone else here stands.  Beating the dead horse isn't changing anything, so why continue to argue about it?


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:46 pm 
 

Boring stuff  :D

I would then ask you, did you consider that the value placed by members or the site does factor into that true item value, and that the measure of its impact is just as important as the buyers personal value?
 

Initially I did not. I was buying tons of stuff at local thrift stores, didn't really care for what other people were paying online or wherever else (in fact I didn't even check online). All I knew was that all this "junk" was worth $xx to me.. and that's why I bought it. I loved the artwork, the memories, and to a lesser extent, the basic functionality of the stuff (ie. playing the game).

Then the moment of entrepreneurship hit me about 7 years ago. Once I already own stuff, should I sell off what I don't need to those who will value it like me? Checking online, it seemed people were willing to pay more than I would for some things (shrinked CM9s) and much less for other things, so I did a bit of selling in areas where I saw that discrepancy.

Now, of course, the market is dynamic. Value is subjective, which means a personal choice.. but that doesn't mean it can't be affected by your environment. So over time, when buying some very valuable items (like a $100 R2 or something) I will factor in a bit what I could get for it should I need to liquidate.

Largely though, I'm not an investor.. I only have a few rare items like a Roslof orange B3 or something. I buy the things I buy because they are worth it... to me. Even that B3 has an intrinsic value of about $400.. to me. I don't put much weight on what anyone else thinks. That means I'll overpay for many things (relative to the acaeum "norm"), and underpay for many others. This is precisely why I wouldn't fork over $110 for a Tsojoconth unless I planned on reselling it immediately. I won't tell you what I "overvalue" :)

In addition, can a buyer who has no idea of what the market value for an item is, be counted on to evaluate?  Are they pricing the item, or their desire?


A bit of both.

I'll go a little bit technical here [boring].. even though it is a fairly simple concept. Everyone has an absolute maximum they'd be willing to pay for something. They may not know precisely what that is, but a general idea can be easily reached.

For instance, I once bought an Oriental Adventures a long time ago for $18. Now, you can laugh at that high price, but my point is: that book is probably worth $50 for me to own it. I love the artwork, reading the book, and potentially applying it to a campaign. That is, I'd be indifferent between having the OA, and $50 with no OA.

In a sense, I just got $32 of free money because I've spent less than the good is worth to me. We call that consumer surplus. [The opposite side is producer surplus].

Now if I could have gotten it cheaper, it would make me even better off because my max would still be $50. But getting that cheaper price (I could probably get it for about $5-8.. or whatever they go for nowadays with clever eBaying).. but it was costly for me to find that better price. This is why I bought it for the amount I paid.

So I wasn't ripped off in any real sense, because I still value that OA way more than I actually paid for it. That the seller was able to boost his producer surplus and lower my consumer surplus doesn't really irk me.. I do the same thing all the time to him in the opposite direction on other things. It's not about ethics or morality. It's how the market functions.. voluntary exchange.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:47 pm 
 

If a seller on eBay lists an item at $2000, there has to also be a buyer who also values the item at $2000 in order to affect a sale. Mike could list his Planes of Existance manuscript on eBay for $25K knowing its rarity, but without a buyer willing to pony up the money, it will forever remain unsold.

I see nothing immoral or unethical about that.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:51 pm 
 

Wrong again.  It is the sellers responsibility to know the value of what they are selling.


Why?

I think if I'm wrong then this remark should be self-evident.

Beating the dead horse isn't changing anything, so why continue to argue about it?


I chimed in because MadMaligor had a couple interesting things to say and I wanted to continue the discussion. You are free not to continue if you think it is not productive or interesting.

  


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:55 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
I chimed in because MadMaligor had a couple interesting things to say and I wanted to continue the discussion. You are free not to continue if you think it is not productive or interesting.


No, I wrote that again because you never acknowledged it the first time I wrote it. Madmaligor's post came long after I wrote it the first time.  Your refusal to acknowledge it the first time is what prompted it the second time and really says a lot to your intentions here.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:58 pm 
 

To be fair to bclarkie, he trades on eBay for a living and he knows the market place as well as anyone here. You may have different moral values, and views on ethics, but I wouldn't get into an arguement with any of our resident resellers over the economics of doing business on eBay. They are all very successful.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:01 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:If a seller on eBay lists an item at $2000, there has to also be a buyer who also values the item at $2000 in order to affect a sale. Mike could list his Planes of Existance manuscript on eBay for $25K knowing its rarity, but without a buyer willing to pony up the money, it will forever remain unsold.

I see nothing immoral or unethical about that.

With all due respect Ian, there is a lot of what you think that a majority of the board does not see eye to eye with. :)  As with everyone else, you are most certainly entilted to your own opinion on the matter and I would never attempt to take that away from you. I am quite happy to agree to disagree.  :)

That said, even though you do disagree with what most of what everyone else here thinks, you also have not gone out of your way to try and cram your own opinions on the matter down everyone elses throats either, regardless of what it is. :wink:   The same cannot be said for our new found friend here. :?


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:01 pm 
 

No, I wrote that again because you never acknowledged it the first time I wrote it. Madmaligor's post came long after I wrote it the first time.  Your refusal to acknowledge it the first time is what prompted it the second time and really says a lot to your intentions here.



I don't know. It seemed like the conversation hasn't been forced. I've just been responding to questions or comments made by others. I figure it would be rude not to.

If I can persuade some people, fine, but I wasn't aware there were site regulations on what constitutes an interesting discussion. Is there, like, higher costs for the admin the longer the thread? :?

  
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