Pricing Ethics (split from Shady Dealers)
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:34 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
Sure, if you want to get into subtle practices of advertising and what not, then of course not every item you buy will come at your maximum willingness to pay. Moreover, the store cannot identify perfectly what each an everyone is willing to pay for something (though they try.. coupons anyone?).


For one, I don't consider anything Wal-Mart does to subtle. For two its not even something that Wal-Mart advertised, it was something that their competion advertised by thier complaints about this practice.


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:34 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:He did that? Seems pretty difficult to do..


I didn't say he was smart

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:Anyways, no one is forced to buy an H1.. just like no one is forced to buy a Tsojoconth. I mean, all you serious collectors prevent me from owning one by driving up the price. When it gets down to $100 I'll start to hand over my money.


Missed the point.  I bid, win one and move on.  I don't hang around bidding on every auction and driving the price up for all other buyers.  

Getting back to our car example earlier in this thread.  Imagine you find a car you like. You put in an offer only to be beaten by another seller who then tries to sell you the same car at a higher price.  No one is forcing you to by the car.  So you don't.  Now imagine this happens everytime you try to buy a similar car.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:36 pm 
 

For one, I don't consider anything Wal-Mart does to subtle. For two its not even something that Wal-Mart advertised, it was something that their competion advertised by thier complaints about this practice.


Ah yes, the competition. When they can't beat Walmart on price they need to revert to something else.

  


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:40 pm 
 

Missed the point.  I bid, win one and move on.  I don't hang around bidding on every auction and driving the price up for all other buyers.  

Getting back to our car example earlier in this thread.  Imagine you find a car you like. You put in an offer only to be beaten by another seller who then tries to sell you the same car at a higher price.  No one is forcing you to by the car.  So you don't.  Now imagine this happens everytime you try to buy a similar car.


I wasn't equating buying Tsojoconth's with the H1 scheme, only stating that you're never forced to pay what the "market" wishes you to pay.

As to the car example, if this happened then the price would reach a lot higher than I was willing to pay. So instead of the 300zx -- for example -- costing $8000, it now costs $12,000. The car is no longer attractive to me and I look to buy a different car, or ride the bus.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:06 pm 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
That notwithstanding, businesses operate to maximize profit which -- as a whole -- means they will charge the highest amount of money for a good that they can get away with.


And there it is, exactly. We as a group are NOT in the "business" of selling RPG's. RPG collecting is a hobby we love. We all work for our livings.
We have no issues with those who buy items and resell them for profit. We DO have issues with those who pay stupid prices for items and then try to flip them for even stupider amounts. This concept may be hard for you to grasp, not being an actual collector and all, but when some asshole who is only interested in money pays a fortune for a rare item, it fucks us all. It removes it from the collecting pool, and insures that no one who cares about it for it's historic value will ever own it, since we are not typically willing to take it up the can.
I can tell you are American, since the concept of running a business to make a living, not to fuck everyone possible, is foreign to you. I have seen this trend in every facet of American life; get as much as you can out of everyone and everything you can. No wonder everyone hates us.


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:27 pm 
 

We DO have issues with those who pay stupid prices for items and then try to flip them for even stupider amounts. This concept may be hard for you to grasp, not being an actual collector and all, but when some asshole who is only interested in money pays a fortune for a rare item, it fucks us all. It removes it from the collecting pool, and insures that no one who cares about it for it's historic value will ever own it, since we are not typically willing to take it up the can.


No need to insult me. I'm frustrated a bit by those who pay more than $100 for a Tsojoconth -- thus depriving me of the chance to buy one -- but I don't castigate them for paying what they want to pay for it. More power to them.

And I do collect quite a few TSR things (my room is full of the stuff). I just happen to follow my own tune.. ie. actually paying what I think it is worth not what others think about it.

[Do not take that the wrong way -- the Acaeum is a brilliant resource for me as a buyer and seller. I've used the site at least for the last 6 years or so.]

I can tell you are American, since the concept of running a business to make a living, not to fuck everyone possible, is foreign to you.


I'm not an American, but still:

Suppose there was a store that just wanted to "make a living" (whatever that means), by selling a good for less than a buyer was willing to pay. When such a discrepancy was noticed -- probably by an entrepreneur -- that person would make a profit by just buying low from that store and selling high. Does it make a difference whether the store gets all the profit or it is split by the store and entrepreneur? The consumer is still likely to get gouged, or however you wish to express it.

Pricing efficiently coordinates market activity, sending goods to where they are needed and wanted the most. If people didn't do that, we'd be like the Soviet Union.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:47 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:
Believe me, I know all about Baseball Cards, I used to collect them. :oops: Not signifigantly, but I did have a fair sized collection back in the early 1990's.

The fact of the matter is that with Baseball Cards a few things really destroyed the value.  First off and foremost market saturation in both new companies producing the cards and the sheer volume of the cards being produced IMO was the primary reason for the signifigant drop.

The second culprit in the market collapse on cards was in general the world wide web and more specifically online auctions sites like Ebay & Amazon(in the early days). People started to find out that the cards that owned or aspired to own were not quite as hard to find as once thoght they were prior to the internet.  I can specifically remember reading an article in the newspaper(I think it was the Boston Globe) back in 1997 or 1998 about the big hubbub about a Nolan Ryan rookie card that sold at auction for $1600.00.  Now, you can hop on Ebay 10 years later and pick one up a lot of times for $250 to $300.  granted thats not chump change, but it is a signifigant price drop for a collectible over a 10 year period.   With D&D stuff these days, those issues are either completely moot or have already been addressed.


Ditto for comics. I was heavily involved in buying and selling comics in the early 90's, and got out before it got really ugly.  It's taken 10 years for the hobby to recover from greedy companies and sellers trying to overinflate values.
  Ebay has changed a lot of the dynamics of collectibles, though.  Hell, I look at some of my old price lists when I used to sell RPGs on the old AOL forums (pre-ebay) and laugh.  Stuff like B1-9 or T1-4 going for $100 a pop; common letter modules for $25-$30 each.  While I would probably make a helluva lot more money at the old prices, the market has corrected itself, and I feel the prices for D&D items is probably the most accurate it's ever been....maybe even a little lower than it should be, if you want to be honest.  
  I guess I've evolved from the rightgeous rage of days gone by.  I just can't muster up anything but head shaking disgust and amusement at the Valhalla and Troll& Toads of the world.   I've seen so many "entrepreneurs" come and go, all the Creep1962's who were going to RULE THE WORLD by turning the collectible market on it's head.  They have all either been buried, or will be in the future, because no one person will ever corner the market by RAISING prices to godawful levels.   The quickest way to make me a sale is to price that Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil at $85, because mine at $45 looks like a kick ass deal.  And for every one you find to put up at $85, I'll find another to toss up there at $45 and undercut every sale you make.  Sure you might make a sale or two to a desperate newbie, but guys like myself, BTB, BC, Ian, etc, are going to bust your balls year after year after year until you move along to another overpriced collectible (garden gnomes, anyone?).
   I'll let these guys in on a secret...you want to shut me down?  Start UNDERPRICING me.  You'll wear me down by attrition.  If you start putting letter modules up for $5, you'll lose money for awhile, but you'll have me eating out of a trash can in 6 months, guaranteed, if you can sustain your inventory.  Luckily most of the guys who could do this (they have the deep pockets or inventory) just can't see the forest for the trees.  Titan Games for ex. could kick our ass if they ever pulled their head out.  Luckily, greed and bad judgement motivate most of the larger outfits.
  So I guess IMO I don't know if I'd call the overchargers "shady", dumb maybe, but no one is pointing a gun at a newbie's head to make him pay $2k for a Tso or whatever.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:51 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:
If that was really the case then why don't all stores(and I mean grocery stores, gas stations Wal-Mart, etc.) Just either have huge prices or run auctions all day.  I mean they could really be screwing themselves out of good money. There might be some buyer out there that values that pack of toliet paper to the tune of $100.  

Store owners(both on and off Ebay) who have ridiculous prices believe that the marketplace is a lottery there for them to get rich in hopes some fool and his money will stroll along.  This is what makes them shady.


Yeh, but the spirit of competition keeps those toilet paper rolls in the reasonable range (thank god for that, I'm not going to use old Dragon mags for that business).  Store owners with ridiculous prices might make a sale or two, but in the long run those clueless doinks are just going to disappear when guys like myself or BTB keep beating their brains in with reasonable prices.  The marketplace will sort itself out eventually....hey, how's Creepie's plan to RULE THE WORLD working out for him?  If they stopped making D&D minis he'd be out of luck I guess.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:56 pm 
 

improvstone wrote:
I have no problems with sellers trying to make a profit.  However what I see more and more is sellers buying at the going rates then attempting to drive up the prices by a huge amount.  I have seen high price items put at BINs which are triple their market value.  

Lets not forget our friend Cougie who attempted to buy every H1 on the face of the planet.  To what end?  So the buyers such as my self are forced to purchase at inflated prices?  Fine I will (and did) but not one cent of my money went to that idiot.

To Brian and the rest of the crew who flag those shady sellers out there.  You have my thanks.  Keep up the good work and don't let the current discussion disuade you.  I would rather have the opportunity to read this discussion and form my own opinion of a seller.


Yeh, Cougie tried to RULE THE WORLD also...how'd that work out for him?  Trying to corner the market on a product that wasn't quite as rare as it needed to be for his plan to work (as seen by the dozens that have gone on sale since Cougie attempted his coup).  What a frikken idiot.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:59 pm 
 

jasonw1239 wrote:
As stated in the past, some of the sellers with the outrageous BIN's make regular sellers look like they are offering fabulous bargains. :twisted:

JasonW


Bingo.  I need to send out some Christmas cards to these guys, they made my holiday great... :twisted:

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:01 am 
 

I am involved at pricing at a large American owned oilfield service company and I assure you we price things with an attitude of what the market will bear.  I can name several situations where our prices were in the neighborhood of 10-50 times what we paid for the product, some products are only 12-20% margins but these are uncommon.  It's up-sold by creative marketing techniques and value added type marketing.  I have seen a $700,000.00 invoice come across my desk where I knew $500,000 was the gross profit.  Crazy but that is how some large corporations work.

RPG collectables has very few deep pocketed collectors; it is a very poor choice for investors.  It may be a better investment at some time in the future but probably not.  For investments to work you require sustained growth.  There is just not enough big spenders to soak up $2000.00 TSOJ's for very long.  Maybe some day that $100.00 TSOJ will be available.


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:15 am 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:
I'm not an American, but still:

Suppose there was a store that just wanted to "make a living" (whatever that means), by selling a good for less than a buyer was willing to pay. When such a discrepancy was noticed -- probably by an entrepreneur -- that person would make a profit by just buying low from that store and selling high. Does it make a difference whether the store gets all the profit or it is split by the store and entrepreneur? The consumer is still likely to get gouged, or however you wish to express it.

Pricing efficiently coordinates market activity, sending goods to where they are needed and wanted the most. If people didn't do that, we'd be like the Soviet Union.


That's exactly what places like Half Price Books do..they underprice goods that may or may not be sold for more.  In a perfect model (for them), everything would be priced exactly what the market would bear.  Unfortunately (for them) this is impossible, as sheer volume makes it unlikely they will ever be able to comb through every single item they get to discover the "true value".  Not to mention, that by pricing every single item at exactly what the market would bear, they would soon be up to their eyeballs in inventory and unable to effectively function as a used goods store. Their business model is to pay low, sell underneath what the market will bear....not high or even exactly what the market will bear...and accumulate profit by sheer volume.  Sure they "nostalgia price" a Beatles Butcher Cut cover or 1st edition Tom Sawyer hardback that comes through the line ocassionally, but this is the exception.  Which leaves a nice window of opportunity for entrepeneurs to buy items low, then sell for a profit because most individuals, unlike corporations, can afford to price more towards what a market will bear and actually wait until that price is met.  Sure McDonalds could price their hamburgers at $15 each if some moron decided this would insure maximum profit, but they would go broke in a week.
   I don't even know what I'm babbling about anymore, just downed 4 Shiners in an hour while watching the Mavs whip the Spurs to hell and back...all this free market/price manipulation talk has gotten me all goosebumpy though.... :wink:

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:19 am 
 

Blackmoor wrote:RPG collectables has very few deep pocketed collectors; it is a very poor choice for investors.  It may be a better investment at some time in the future but probably not.  For investments to work you require sustained growth.  There is just not enough big spenders to soak up $2000.00 TSOJ's for very long.  Maybe some day that $100.00 TSOJ will be available.


That is a really good point that I've been thinking about for a while.  The upward trend that we had been witnessing the past couple years on the holy grails took a downward trend as soon as some of the big pockets pulled out of the hobby (no need to name names, we know who they are  :wink: ), and new big pocketed collectors have not appeared in sufficient numbers to replace them.  We are such a niche hobby that just a half-dozen big collectors pulling out of the active market will have a diminishing trend on big-ticket item prices, while the influx of a few David Van Wies (remember his White Box test?) sends big-ticket stuff way high, way fast.  
Long term in our lifetimes, I think most items will continue to push slowly higher as more Gen-Xers achieve higher income and nostalgia levels.  And then when their kids leave the nest, well, I expect a big price jump in about 20 years.  I just read an article about the collectible train market that is experiencing big growth now since most of the collectors are guys in their 50's and 60's with nice incomes and no kids to spend their money on anymore.  But after they die, the hobby may go with them.  So, yeah, in 70 years, a Tsoj or PotVQ may go for $10 after all.  None of us will probably be around to see it however.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:32 am 
 

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:But are those interested in using the products in playing the game at all influencing what an Egg of Phoenix goes for? Most players will pay no more than $10.. but they go for a lot more than that.


Actually I had someone recently spend over $250 for a super rare non-TSR adventure, and he said he couldn't wait to run it.  

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:The analogy is that you can "fly cards" with your friends, but that doesn't have any affect on the price.


Actually playing "fly cards" kills the collectible value of baseball cards.  
You can play a module carefully and still have it kept in excellent condition for a later sale if one desires.  

Sea-to-sky-games wrote:Not really. They hold tremendous nostalgic value which drives up the price.. precisely what happens with rpgs.

In fact, who is to say staring at your sports hero is any less volatile a characteristic for purposes of garnering nostalgia then playing a 20-year-old game?


A baseball card is about nostalgia, it has no intrinsic value besides its aesthetic design.  The statistics and information on the card can be easily garnered on the web or elsewhere.  The potential for the faint scent of bubblegum is the only sensational aspect of the card, otherwise they are almost all the same.  
I used to collect baseball cards as a kid but sold them this past summer without any regret or sense of attachment.  

A gaming item is much more than an object of aesthetic nostalgia.  It can be played.  Boardgames and miniatures are perhaps even better examples of this since they are tactile as well.  Modules tell a story, and human beings have pined for great stories since the advent of spoken language.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:59 am 
 

VermilionFire wrote:A gaming item is much more than an object of aesthetic nostalgia.  It can be played.  Boardgames and miniatures are perhaps even better examples of this since they are tactile as well.  Modules tell a story, and human beings have pined for great stories since the advent of spoken language.


This is very true, I spent $175.00 on a game once (Talisman with two expansions if you must know) and I play it all the time!!  I even considered updating some of the super rares like POVQ and Dwarven Glory to 3.5 rules so a new generation could enjoy them. :)


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:11 am 
 

Damn!  I go to sleep for 6 hours and there is a "split" thread and 70 new posts!

Maybe I can boil this down:

If an RPG item typically sells for somewhere in the range of $25 - $50 (which is a large range, allowing for a great difference in market fluctuation) and a knowledgeable seller with a store puts it for sale at $95, then that is shady.  A buyer who might someday purchase it, is NOT doing it because they THINK THAT IS WHAT IT IS WORTH or because it is WORTH it to them.  They are doing it because they DON'T know what to pay.  They were probably unfortunate and started searching ebay at the exact time that:

1) They decided they wanted to buy some item or items

and

2) It was the only one listed at the time.


Guaranteed, when they someday get a better handle on the market, they won't say "I was happy to pay $95 because it was WORTH IT TO ME", they will say:  "Shit, I got ripped off".


Life goes on, the seller isn't a criminal, the buyer hasn't lost any money  they weren't willing to pay.  But is it shady on the seller's part?  Hell yes it is.  Is it taking "unfair" advantage of a buyer?  In my book, it is.

I've had buyers contact me before asking about items I have on auction or other things that I might have that aren't listed.  I've had them plead that they desperately need something and some people (granted a little foolish) indicate they MUST have it and would pay anything!  Can you believe a buyer saying that?  Still, if I make a deal, I will only ask for what I would have without "knowledge" of their "desperation".  

What kind of person are you?  (you being general to mean "anyone" and not any acaeum member specifically  :D   )  If you see a buyer in need do you try and rip him off or give him a fair deal?

If you see the guy in front of you in line drop $5 on the ground, do you wait for him to leave and then pick it up or tap him on the shoulder to let him know?


As a final note:  "Worth it to that buyer" for exceedingly high prices ONLY applies to RARE items that are seldom seem.  If you buy an original painting and shell out $100,000 more than was expected . . . then it was worth it to you.  If you buy the home run ball that won a World Series it was "Worth it to You".  If you buy Gary Gygax's personal 1st owned copy of a Player's Handbook, it was "Worth it to you".  

If you buy a module for triple the going rate that had a print run of 50,000 . . . then you got ripped off!


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:23 am 
 

What he said.


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:49 pm 
 

Wow! Hot topic.

I don't think that setting your price high in the market is in any way unethical or immoral. If no one buys then you have to either continue to pay eBay for the privelidge of having your item displayed, or lower your price to sell it.

If this system of business affects price in any way, then there are two sides to the arguement. If you havent got a Tsoj' and are pissed off that the price is being driven up, then for those who do have a Tsoj' their investment value is going up.

It seems odd that we are arguing here over what is essentially the capitalist market economy, and we are living in the most prosperous capitalist societies in the world, and some of you are pissed off 'cos some people run their businesses in what is considered 'sacred collector terratory'.

It's business. I'm sure you all run your own businesses, or work for employers wh do, who always put the interest of their business first. Sometimes that means keeping your prices high and squeezing he market, and sometimes that means dropping them to cost and getting rid of stock.

You can't lambast someone because they have something you want and you can't afford to pay their asking price. And if you don't have the option to shop elsewhere, then that just goes to show he's running his business well.

Believe me, all of us who sell on eBay know EXACTLY what effect our pricing has on our sales. I stock neiche market goods price at the upper end of what the market will bear. I also conciously bid on items on eBay that I already have in my store in order to ensure that I either have additional stock or maintain a high price when I am outbid. Either outcome is benefitial to me business and maintains the value of my stock.

I would really like a Hummer. But they are f"ckin expensive in the UK and those people who bring them here double the price on them. A mid range new Hummer would cost me $120K-$150K. I'm not really pissed off about that however. I'm certainly not gonna start complaining that some US capitalist car maker is trying to f"ck over the Brits byrestricting the flow of goods and price fixing high in the market.

That's life in a rich capitalist society. I have no naive ideologies towards a world where everyone will shop in my shop just because mine is the same as everyone elses and carries the same stock. And of course, if our friend wants or needs different stock to make his shop different from the thousands of others, then he needs to bid high to get that stock in the first place. Maybe you'd rather there were RRPs on all goods and it was illegal to sell beyond it. Then everything you collected would never go up in value at all. But at least other collectors could buy your rares cheaply.


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:21 pm 
 

Interesting points from all here.

I believe the future of RPGs has more to do with playability - to - price value than anything. How many 3.0-3.5 players even bother with 1st and 2nd edition stuff when WotC is pushing out more products month after month than TSR ever did? Not to mention DMs converting 1st/2nd edition modules to 3.0 status. Why do that when WotC otr other sanctioned companies are just coverting it already and producing it as there own new product (yah, I know WotC own the rights to it).

I know this to be true for when I recently went to a game store and saw the PBH 2 for the 3.0 system with practically the same cover art as the 1st edition. I told the store operator (maybe 20 years of age) that it was basically just a work over of the 1st edition cover and he gave me the 'deer in the headlights' look. When I pointed his computer to the Acaeum and showed him he could not believe it.

The thing is that the old stuff for the most part is not 'playable' any more with the current market of 3.5 stuff. Only us old timers use it and value it more than the current 3.5 players. If WotC still produced 1st/2nd edition D&D the the old TSR stuff would sky rocket in price.

Just as the CCG market is so sustainable because of this fact. Take MtG, how many of the first card sets produced cannot be used in competition today? Yu-Gi-Oh? LotR? These games can still use the old stuff along with the new because the format has not changed.

So the value of 1st/2nd edition D&D is finite/tied to the current collecting community (ie us old timers). In the next 20-30 years we will pass on and our children will inherit our stuff. They will be playing the current incarnation of D&D (current growth rate will put it at 8.5-9.0) and look at our stuff as Junk. There will be a few 2nd editon players still alive and will pick up this junk for a few pennies or nickles and then they will die off. !st and 2nd edition will be in the grave along with there owners and it will become just a memory or something to be viewed in a museum.

So who cares if noobies come along and pay an ass load for something that in the next few decades will only be worth worm food?! You're better off making PDFs of it all and selling it back to recoup your money (that is what I decided). You will still have it in the same condition as when you bought it. You can print as many playing copies you want and the shelf/room space you save will be better used for other things (like expanding families, college books or whatever)

For me it is frustrating to not be able to get an item due to the noobie or reseller who has the money to pay the outrageous amount that it gets to. It's especially frustrating trying to get something only to be betten buy a deep pocketted reseller. Either way you will have to pay a premium for an item due to these two individual types of buyers, plain and simple.

So get it while you can, make a profit while you can, collect it while you can and in the end just bury it with you when you go. At least then in 200+ years when the new civilizations dig you up (like the Egyptians of old) you will be worth more due to the size of your collection.  :D


"Ah, you seek meaning? Then listen to the music, not the song."

"I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 760
Joined: Dec 31, 2005
Last Visit: Apr 18, 2021
Location: Dallas, TX

Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:49 pm 
 

If an RPG item typically sells for somewhere in the range of $25 - $50 (which is a large range, allowing for a great difference in market fluctuation) and a knowledgeable seller with a store puts it for sale at $95, then that is shady.  A buyer who might someday purchase it, is NOT doing it because they THINK THAT IS WHAT IT IS WORTH or because it is WORTH it to them.  They are doing it because they DON'T know what to pay.  They were probably unfortunate and started searching ebay at the exact time that:

1) They decided they wanted to buy some item or items

and

2) It was the only one listed at the time.


Guaranteed, when they someday get a better handle on the market, they won't say "I was happy to pay $95 because it was WORTH IT TO ME", they will say:  "Shit, I got ripped off".


This seems like strange reasoning to me and not one that has any explanatory power over human behavior. After all, it means all of us -- whether it is in rpgs at times, or buying food, or whatever -- go walking around with really no idea what things are worth to ourselves and we just fork out money like zombies.

Value is always subjective. It is preposterous for anyone to impose their personal valuations (ie. many on this forum) upon another person, or somehow perceive their valuations to be superior.

Every time someone here says "this newbie got ripped off" just remember some Half-priced books, flea market, or game store said the exact same thing to you.

  
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