Suspicious Sellers 11


There seem to be a few suspicious sellers on Amazon Marketplace.

Well, I say they are suspicious, but I prefer to tell you what’s going on so that you can judge for yourself.

There are several accounts on Amazon Marketplace selling fountain pens for £7.99, £8.99 and £9.99, but even pens usually selling for several hundreds of Pounds are being offered for under £10.

Some of these sellers have real names, some just have random letters as their seller name. All of them seem to be registered in the USA. I wrote ‘seem’ because I don’t know whether Amazon will actually check the address used by sellers who register.

Why would they sell these pens so cheap, far cheaper than what they’d have to pay from the manufacturer?

..and especially when Amazon offers their “A to Z Guarantee”, which means that if there is a problem the customer won’t be out of pocket (and Amazon will probably chase the seller to get their money back…).

I rule out that this is just a simple mistake form the sellers. All these pens are sold by new sellers on Amazon Marketplace and they put a lot of them online. One wrongly priced pen might be a mistake, but not if all you offer is under £10.

Explanation a) Maybe it’s a bored millionaire who just wants to make people happy by reselling pens with a colossal loss.

Explanation b) Maybe they want to get people’s address details? ..but I guess there are easier ways of collecting people’s addresses

Explanation c) When you pay they get the money from Amazon and keep it for a while. Delivery times are very long (many weeks), so they have many weeks before the customers can complain that the product didn’t arrive (and then the postal service can be blamed), so it will be a long time before they have to return the money. Time they could use to get interest on the money or time to pack it all up and disappear.

Well, the good thing is that if anyone wants to try these sellers out and my suspicion that this is dodgy is right the customers are only out of money for a few weeks – until Amazon reimbursed them, so the risk for customers seems small.


Update: shortly after posting this I have been told that Scribble has discussed this issue a few days ago in Facebook’s Fountain Pens UK group. Thanks Mark Porter, for letting me know.


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11 thoughts on “Suspicious Sellers

  • Amro

    I had a nasty experience with something similar but in cameras. A camera that usually costs £900 was advertised as £300 (it mentioned that it was bankrupt stock – not unusual discount in the camera market). Long story short: I ended up being £300 out-of-pocket. Amazon refused to help despite my repeatedly trying. I even wrote to Jeff Bezos, the CEO, and he passed it onto the UK head of customer service. Luckily the credit card company refunded my mone6 eventually. It’s made me more wary of Amazon and more determined to help local companies stay alive, by shopping with them.

    £1 or two pounds is probably not too much to lose in one go – but be careful; it all adds up

  • Matthias Post author

    Thank you for your comment.

    What a bad experience. I am happy to hear that you got your money back eventually!

    I thought Amazon has that A-Z Guarantee on their marketplace. Did you buy the camera before this guarantee existed or are there loopholes that allow them to not honour the guarantee?

  • Amro

    They have loopholes … which I very stupidly fell for. I thought I was cynical, but it turns out I am naïve. I communicated with the seller and then I got request to pay by Amazon gift voucher from Amazon (it was not from Amazon but from the criminal gang that took the money; a very convincing fake). That was my downfall.

    I suspect that many people don’t bother if it’s only a small amount …

  • Amro

    Sadly I have deactivated Facebook for a bit, so I no longer have access to the excellent FB page that you mention in the update

    (sorry for so many comments!).

  • Koralatov

    Sorry to hear about your experience, Amro.

    I’ve noticed similar scam sales on Amazon for Chromebook Pixels — normally £1,500 but advertised by new sellers for £300 or £400. It looked too good to be true, and the listings disappeared quickly. I suspect it’s the same thing as you experienced.

    I’ve also noticed similar iffy sales on eBay. I nearly got caught out by one: a Kobo e-reader for £15. It seemed too good to be true, but the model had just been discontinued so I took the leap. Needless to say, weeks later and still no sign, and no communication from the seller. I ended up raising a PayPal dispute and getting my money back. I’ve seen several more since then.

    The sellers of these items seem to be removed relatively quickly from eBay, so I’m not sure what the end goal is here? Perhaps to keep the money for the one or two sales that aren’t disputed?

  • Amro

    Thanks Koralatov!

    Yes, I noticed the same thing after I got scammed – sellers appearing then disappearing very quickly. I think Amazon have a huge problem with them but they won’t admit it. They make such big profits they can ignore the problem. Luckily I had my money returned by the credit card company – and maybe Amazon are expecting that. Enough idiots fall for them to make it worthwhile. (There has been a lot of research about people who fall victim to fraud and how shame stops them from making a fuss).

    I hate to say it but I think perhaps PayPal are better for the buyer in cases like this – they seem to refund one’s money immediately and without too much hassle.

  • Matthias

    Amro, The whole thing reminds me of a quote from a Terry Pratchett book (Making Money). It was something along the lines of if the criminals would spend that much effort on honest work they would have made the same amount of money ?

    I can understand deactivating a Facebook account. I don’t do much there anymore as it doesn’t seem time well spent. Btw: I’m very happy you comment here.

    Koralatov, you really have to wonder why people do that kind of stuff. They probably even think they are so clever, where in reality what they do is so stupid.

  • Koralatov

    My guess with a lot of these sellers is that they do put in a lot of work, but probably make more money this way than through honest work. A lot of them are likely based overseas, so the currency and cost-of-living difference probably makes it more lucrative, even with a high failure rate.

    Amazon is riddled with these kinds of scams, and also counterfeit goods. A few Xmases ago, I bought my fiancée the expensive purse she wanted from an Amazon seller. It was a little cheaper than the manufacturer’s own online shop — about 10% or so — but when I got it I immediately smelled a rat. It was badly finished and the logo didn’t look right. A girl I worked with had one of the real purses, and was a bit of a collector of the brand, so she looked it over an immediately identified it as a fake.

    I emailed the seller about, a young British lady in the UK, who took umbrage and was quite rude in reply. She refused to take it back until I threatened to report her to Amazon. I notice she’s since stopped selling on Amazon, so I hope she was caught out by every potential victim and didn’t make a penny off the whole enterprise.

    I’d agree on shame being a factor is some people not making a fuss about being scammed. I think in some cases the ratio of effort:cash comes into play — I’d be pretty unlikely to make much effort to reclaim £5, for example, and I’m certainly not rich.

    I said in an early comment section, I don’t have a Facebook (I deleted it in 2011), and I’m increasingly sad to see everything moving inside these tightly controlled platforms. A lot of useful discussion is being lost behind a wall some people aren’t willing to pass through because they see the price as too high.

  • Dan

    I had an odd experience with a similar situation on Amazon. There were the same multiple “sellers” with different names offering an extraordinarily good deal on something (I can’t even remember what it was now, but it was something like a $30 item for $10 – not as far a stretch as your Kaweco example). I went ahead and ordered, but the “seller” never shipped and eventually Amazon cancelled the order and refunded the money (apparently if the seller doesn’t report it to them as shipped within a certain amount of time the order dies automatically). The only thing I can figure is it was some sort of phishing – which is odd since Amazon would only have shared my name and address, not any of the financial information…

  • Matthias Post author

    Koralatov,
    good you got your money for the purse back. What you say about the cheater being in places with different living costs sounds plausible but makes Amazon look even more guilty for not checking sellers properly before allowing them onto the marketplace.
    I also agree that it is a shame that so much is moving behind ‘closed doors’. That was one of the reasons why i set up stationery.wiki, to have an open place to collect stationery knowledge, but unfortunately there’s not so much willingness to contribute knowledge as expected.

    Dan,
    I once ordered a camera that was very cheap, but it was then cancelled within a few hours. I suspected that was phishing, but in the end I don’t have enough criminal thought to imagine how this can be turned into money that is worth the effort.