Friday, May 29, 2020

"Amazon sellers are marking products as ‘collectible’ to get around price gouging rules" (Quaranzine)

The Verge:

The seller with the $1,275 dumbbells was also selling a Coleman SaluSpa inflatable hot tub for $1,400, which is also, allegedly, collectible. Back in March, it was going for $359. Other sellers were offering “collectible” Cuisinart bread makers for $239 ($82.76 two months ago) and $279.99 “collectible” Nintendo Switch games that previously went for $79.99. Amazon removed the listings I asked about, but other examples are still abundant, including a “collectible” $450 barbell bar and a “collectible” USB cable for $259.99.

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The opacity of Amazon’s price rules, and the difficulty of coming back after getting suspended for violating them, is exacerbating shortages on the site, McCabe says, as sellers decide to sit out the pandemic rather than risk running afoul of the algorithm. “To avoid that whole nightmarish scenario, most people understand that it’s better just not to risk it in the first place, which means the quantities of the items offered for these kinds of products will be lower,” he says.

“It’s not well defined on Amazon’s part, there’s no clear definition of what a pricing ceiling is or how it gets calculated,”