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jaydisc
26th May 2008, 11:01 PM
The word scalper seems to be refer to someone who buys as much of an item as possible as to constrain the supply in order to raise the price to satisfy the increased demand.

I think a good example of this would be someone going to Toys R Us this weekend, or to multiple TRUs and buying as many Deep Space Starscreams as possible for $40 and then selling them on eBay for $50.

Now, what if a person went to TRU and bought only 4 of the displayed 30, waited until the TRU sale was over, and sold the extra 3? Would they be a scalper?

What is they only bought 1, waited a year for the new movie to come out, and listed it for $60? What if they waited 5 years, or 10 years?

What are the dividing lines we use to define some as a "scalper"?

I think most of the scalpers I see on ebay.com.au probably started as collectors. They, like me, probably fell in love with the hunt. They probably spent many evenings browsing eBay, running around during sales, and generally immersing themselves in their hobby. Some, probably decided to see if they could capitalize on it. I mean, they're running all over the place, spending money on petrol in order to be the first to find toys. I'm also sure that many/most of their customers are happy to pay that premium because it means they can get their kid a toy at Christmas time without getting off their fat ass. In that case, doesn't it seem to be a person satisfying a market demand? Or a hobbyist just trying to capitalize on his enjoyment?

These guys would probably love to be able to buy stock from Hasbro and sell at more reasonable, competitive prices, but as well know, Hasbro only talks to big retailers. These guys probably aren't making as much margin as TRU is!

I could probably go on. I'm not necessarily condoning any of this. I'm just curious how much we've really analyzed this and what rationalizations we use for its hatred or acceptance or even our own participation or lack thereof.

What are your thoughts?

MV75
26th May 2008, 11:06 PM
Scalper = Buys everything that is in demand and sells it there and then for a profit. Instant money through capitalising on pissing everyone off.

Speculator = Buys a few extras, keeps them for a while and then sells them when you can't buy them in the store anymore and mainstream demand is long gone. Big $ on providing for collectors that initially missed out, or new collectors that like the old series.
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Pulse
26th May 2008, 11:41 PM
Scalpers have only 1 mindset = Make as much money from reselling toys as is possible.

To them, There is no such thing as a little mark-up over the purchase price - Everything needs to be atleast double, if not triple what it cost them.

Scalpers must believe the people who buy these toys have wallets that are just about to explode with overflowing money so... why not take a fair bit of that money off them?

I wish all toy people would flat-out refuse to purchase massively-overpriced toys from the Scalpers out there - just so that the Scalpers would get the message.

But that ain't never gonna happen... :rolleyes:

jaydisc
26th May 2008, 11:44 PM
To them, There is no such thing as a little mark-up over the purchase price - Everything needs to be atleast double, if not triple what it cost them.

So are you saying the amount of markup is the defining characteristic? As long as the item is priced at less than double, it's not scalping?

Scalper = Buys everything that is in demand and sells it there and then for a profit. Instant money through capitalising on pissing everyone off.

Isn't this what every store does? What about the negotiation of a store exclusive?

dirge
26th May 2008, 11:56 PM
I'm inclined to agree with MV75 - buys HTF or limited stuff while current, selling right away or very soon afterward at inflated prices.

Kyle
27th May 2008, 12:03 AM
I think time should be an important factor. If an item has been released for a while and there're still plenty of the same item left on shelf, then I don't see buying more than one for investment to be a big problem. If you grab many of the same item during a period when other people are still after them, then yes it's scalping.

Tetsuwan Convoy
27th May 2008, 12:39 AM
It would seem that the term is very objective then isn't it?

How would I class a scalper? I guess it would be someone who buys the stock off the shelf and then sells it for higher retail than what they bought it for. If they were a speculator, then the length of time would negate any Scalper tendencies I guess.

In example of the Toys R Us Sale of space starscream, I would say that buying 3 or 4 of them, waiting for the sale to end and then selling them at even normal toys r us proces would be classed as scalping, as they have made an effort to keep the toys and profit from them. Lets say that the price is a great price $29.99 for example and the stock sells out at all TRU. Then someone who genuinely wants the toy is going to miss out due to another person being opportunistic.

It all comes down to intentions in the end.

kup
27th May 2008, 12:41 AM
Scalpers also try to corner the market so that they are the sole purveyor of a certain item which they know is in high demand. Therefore they can charges grotesque amounts for it.

Golden Phoenix
27th May 2008, 12:58 AM
I think it is based on a couple of things: Quantity, Size of Markup and Reason.
Quantity is what I think the main factor is. If they buy 10 of the same item just to sell, especially if they ain't keeping one, then you have to put that in a negative view.
The Size of the markup also come in. If they are adding a couple of bucks onto it, maybe to cover costs or something, then it should be ok. It's not like they are doing it to make some serious profit.
The reason is another key. If they are doing it because they have seen an opportunity to make money, then it is a bad thing. If it was a collector buying a second figure, or adding some hard to get items and either keeping them for a while or selling them about the same time, then it shouldn't be frowned upon.
I know that if I were to buy a second figure to sell later it would be to help cover costs of my initial purchase. I'm strapped for cash as it is, anything helps. But it is also because I know that out there somewhere there is someone who wants this figure and I can give them a hand by selling it to them. It is also comforting to know that the figure will be probably sold to another collector and the figure wont end up like many broken ones.

Vector Sigma 13
27th May 2008, 06:33 AM
I think it is based on a couple of things: Quantity, Size of Markup and Reason.
Quantity is what I think the main factor is. If they buy 10 of the same item just to sell, especially if they ain't keeping one, then you have to put that in a negative view.
The Size of the markup also come in. If they are adding a couple of bucks onto it, maybe to cover costs or something, then it should be ok. It's not like they are doing it to make some serious profit.
The reason is another key. If they are doing it because they have seen an opportunity to make money, then it is a bad thing. If it was a collector buying a second figure, or adding some hard to get items and either keeping them for a while or selling them about the same time, then it shouldn't be frowned upon.
I know that if I were to buy a second figure to sell later it would be to help cover costs of my initial purchase. I'm strapped for cash as it is, anything helps. But it is also because I know that out there somewhere there is someone who wants this figure and I can give them a hand by selling it to them. It is also comforting to know that the figure will be probably sold to another collector and the figure wont end up like many broken ones.


Couldn't have said it better myself.

Tober
27th May 2008, 06:40 AM
Scalping at it's most fundamental level refers to rapid profit making by selling large amounts of limited items. Historically - tickets for railway travel where scalpers would buy large amounts of tickets for themselves and auction them to travellers who desperately needed them.

So for our purposes it refers to people who intentionally create a shortage, thus creating demand, in order to sell at a higher price while the initial demand is still there.

i_amtrunks
27th May 2008, 10:27 AM
I think MV75 has put it in the most succinct version here.

What annoys me most is not the scalper placing the items for sale at massively inflated prices, that is their perogitive, it's when they buy all the stock from a store/region of a hard to find/shortpacked figure that means that you have no alternative than to buy the item from them that truly infuriates me.

Pulse
27th May 2008, 10:45 AM
So are you saying the amount of markup is the defining characteristic? As long as the item is priced at less than double, it's not scalping?


Adding a few extra dollars on top of the purchase price to cover your time/fuel etc. is fine. Unnecessary mark-ups for no reason becomes scalping.

We could be talking about the scum that are Scalpers until the next blue moon so to end my post I'll direct you to a "discussion" I had with a former collector who's beginning to turn into a Scalper...

Mind the language (http://plasticcrack.net/archives/2008/04/another_afternoon_as_a_cowtown_toy_comic_dealer#co mments)

Scroll down to the comments & I'm sure you'll be able to figure out who I am :).

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 11:10 AM
There are a lot of interesting measurement in this thread, and virtually none are consistent.

I think MV75's original, concise description of a scalper is accurate. This is very similar to my initial definition, and reinforced by Kup, Tober and others. By that definition, a key criteria is the intention to reduce supply.

I think all other definitions are purely objective. For example, Tetsuan says buying 4 extra SS's and reselling at retail prices is scalping. Golden Pheonix has pulled the magic number of 10 out of his hat.

How many of you City-Commander-X-2 purchasers are purchasing the 2nd after seeing the price that the Cliffjumper kit went for? How many of you are willing to admit it? I am! I don't plan on selling it for $300 the next day, but my thoughts are that five or so years down the road, I'll sell it for double, thus paying for the one I keep. Why is earning money off of the hobby any different than earning money in other ways?

Now, Pulse, your comments that you linked to are a bit concerning to me, specifically:

I don't know how some scalpers can do it. By Scalpers, I mean the ones who have amassed an amazing collection over the years (which began in 1984) & then one day decide to sell them all for as much as possible.

Are you saying that a collector that suddenly decides to move on, possibly due to the birth of a child, or a higher interest rate on their mortgage, should be selling their toys at cost??!?!

Pulse, you also say that markup to cover costs is acceptable, but unnecessary markups for no reason becomes scalping. I don't understand this. Every goods-based business is all about markup for profit.

Why is profiting off Transformers such a no-no? Why can used car lots by cheap used cars and mark them up? Why can a supermarket by cheap groceries mark it up? What makes markup on these toys so different?!?!

jimoinj
27th May 2008, 11:15 AM
It's an interesting discussion. I think most of us would enjoy having a toy shop and make our hobby our job, but for most it's simply not possible. Is there much difference between a private seller who wants to make a profit or an official shop who want to make a profit? I don't think so. But sure, anyone who tries to buy up a figure to create a shortage, well that's a scalper and it's against the spirit of being a Transformers fan, I think.

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 11:16 AM
Is there much difference between a private seller who wants to make a profit or an official shop who want to make a profit? I don't think so. But sure, anyone who tries to buy up a figure to create a shortage, well that's a scalper...

This is much of what I am alluding to. Thank you.

MV75
27th May 2008, 11:34 AM
How many of you City-Commander-X-2 purchasers are purchasing the 2nd after seeing the price that the Cliffjumper kit went for? How many of you are willing to admit it? I am! I don't plan on selling it for $300 the next day, but my thoughts are that five or so years down the road, I'll sell it for double, thus paying for the one I keep. Why is earning money off of the hobby any different than earning money in other ways?



That fits into my other definition, the speculator. I too have a couple of extras of a few things that I've currently got sealed away in boxes in the cupboard that I plan on looking at again in about 10 or so years time to see what they're worth. :) Did I buy them all out to the very last toy? Heck no, I wouldn't want to flood the market against myself in the future. :D Plus the mainstream hungry market will not exist at that time for the figures either, which is what fuels a scalper.

The difference is what people are getting confused with. Scalpers buy everything they can of the more rare items to sell for an immediate profit through creating a shortage.

Someone who has a collection for 20 years then sells it is not a scalper as they didn't create a shortage of toys 20 years ago. They were either speculating or just decided the money is too good to pass up over not selling and could use it for other things, or starting a different collection.
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roller
27th May 2008, 11:37 AM
man, back in the old days we used to purge the board o scalpers with pitchforks and confetti!

Everyone collector knows the difference between scalping and making a bit extra on a double, its a gut feeling

If someone has another cliffjumper kit they can sell it to me

TheDirtyDigger
27th May 2008, 11:56 AM
I bought some Ult BB's before Christmas for $88 from Big W and got around $200 each for them on eBay BUT I started all my auctions at 99cents and there wasn't a shill bidder in sight.:)


Also could/should eBay seller potions11 be considered a scalper?
She buys from US eBay, doubles the price and puts them on Oz eBay. B!+@#.

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 12:03 PM
Great example TDD. Thanks for your honesty.

The starting-at-99c auction is an interesting point as well. Since it is the market, not the seller, inflating the price, if there is insane market demand and the product fetches 2-300% the seller's cost, does this in itself make the seller a scalper?

Paulbot
27th May 2008, 12:14 PM
To me, Scalping is when you can't buy a hard to find item (TF, Concert tickets, whatever) because someone else has bought them solely to make a profit by selling them to people who missed out/couldn't find them.

Buying some toys for investment is fine but I wouldn't be impressed when it prevents others from buying them. For example, in the instance of the City Commander kit say there were only 10 available, and the first board member to see it bought 10, kept one and put the other 9 up on ebay and 9 other board members missed out. I would call that person a scalper. Fortuntely in this example the preorder requests came first to ensure there were enough kits to meet the demand.

STL
27th May 2008, 12:23 PM
I do agree w/ the assessment that an intention to reduce to supply is a key component of scalping.

But I think what lies at the heart of the scalping though is the artificial inflation of prices. Scalpers are interfering w/ the market mechanism by constraining supply and creating a situation of excess demand. They do this to the detriment of not necessarily just the fanbase but the casual consumer as well. They manipulate the supply of the toy/good to their own advantage by profiteering off an artificial niche market that should not exist.

What Jay raises about buying a potentially valuable toy and holding onto it for future resale value is inherently different. This is not b/c it's speculative. This is because of the temporal nature of it. Three years, four years, five years later is beyond the control of a collector who holds onto a toy. It's value is not derived by a concerted effort to reduce the supply. The time that elapses before resale is uncertain.

The other critical aspect is there is always an element of detriment. Scalping exists to the detriment of fans. It is an artificial inflating of prices. For instance, if the price of City Commander appreciates tenfold in the next 3 years that is beyond my control. If I'm after one in 2 or 3 years, that's my problem b/c that is what the market has dictated for a toy that is no longer in production. There is no detriment. However, if I were to buy a heap of City Commanders now and then offer them up on eBay in September in recognition that they're so hard to find, that is scalping. That is exploiting hte market mechanism. There is detriment. This is b/c the usual channels I would've gotten the toy from have been deliberately bled dry.

The argument that most fans would want a toy shop to profit from their hobby in itself distinguishes it from the act of scalping. A toy shop exists w/ the primary objective of making a profit. It becomes then a business venture that is a direct outlet for people to make an informed decision. But can the line be crossed? In the case of stores that markup prices excessively like some do in Melbourne? Perhaps.

There is an argument run that all prices purely reflect what someone is willing to pay for it, that something should only be worth what you are willing to pay for it. That is indeed true. However, shops that mark up their prices so much are aiming for a different type of collector. A niche. The ones that want to buy in a certain store or avoid buying online. Or, in the worst case, one who is affected by information asymmetry. It is not scalping unless they are going out and buying from the other toy stores/online stores and then offering themselves up as one of the few alternatives.

Now i briefly touched on the issue of the argument that prices are only so inflated because consumers are stupid enough to pay for it. So it is not a scalper's fault. That argument is flawed and conceited. Scalpers are interfering w/ the accessibility of something and then selling it a severe premium. Consumers who would have wanted a chance to order/purchase it from theat source the scalper used now cannot. Grand Final tickets are an example of this. Why wait in line to buy them and then resell when someone else in line is there genuinely trying their guts to get a ticket? To turn around and then say, I'm not doing anything wrong - this dumbass wants to pay for it, let him/her do it. I camped out here all night to get these tickets so I can sell them as I wish. I cannot begin to express the disdain I'd regard an individual who is capable of that.

At the end of the day, the consumer is the one who is at the mercy of the seller b/c the underlying good is something that commands more than just monetary value to the consumer. They are in the position of power relative to the buyer. And thus should be held to a higher level of scrutiny and accountibility.

In the case of exclusives, the situation is much more sensitive. A quantity of 1 can be viewed as a significant reduction in supply. And really then it comes down to intent. I've seen several buyers offer 2-3 Botcon sets before. That might be small qty that on the mass market is hardly detrimentally or significant. In the case of an exclusve, there's a difference between ordering a set to see if you'll like it and then selling it on if you don't; and someone who is deliberately constraining supply and selling multiples. The act becomes that much more repulsive owing to the exclusive nature of it. I find such individuals disgusting and reprehensible. I think everyone accepts that exclusives will naturally command a higher price but scalping drives that to insane levels.

In summary, for me there are 3 elements that constitute scalping
1.) Intention to manipulate supply enabling them to
2.) excessively price to the
3.) detriment of the consumer

kup
27th May 2008, 12:30 PM
What about Ebay Scalpers?

Playdia, Wheeljackslab and Dit138 have a habit of cornering the ebay market on a particular figure. Once they do, they charge obscene amounts for it.

Not long ago Playdia and Wheeljackslab were the sole sellers of the original Beast Wars Rattrap and as a result it cost like $70 (without weapon) on average. Thankfully that is no longer the case but the supply is now almost non existent. Rattrap isn't exactly a new toy as its over 10 years old but Scalping of old high demand toys is very common on Ebay with people trying to corner the market.

STL
27th May 2008, 12:33 PM
The starting-at-99c auction is an interesting point as well. Since it is the market, not the seller, inflating the price, if there is insane market demand and the product fetches 2-300% the seller's cost, does this in itself make the seller a scalper?

I'm inclined to say so. We cannot hide behind the veil that we started the auction at 99c. If you are fundamentally aware of the significant shortage of the product and its desirability, you are still profiting on it. The market supply has been reduced, the price becomes excessive by its own nature. The same goes for concert or sporting tickets. If you were genuinely not a scalper you'd be offering it at cost, covering your own costs and charging a small mark up. I saw one or two Botcon 2008 sets sold at very close to what it would've cost to get from Fun Publications w/ buy it now prices. While I wasn't all that interested, I do respect those sellers cos they are very rare.

STL
27th May 2008, 12:37 PM
What about Ebay Scalpers?

Playdia, Wheeljackslab and Dit138 have a habit of cornering the ebay market on a particular figure. Once they do, they charge obscene amounts for it.

Not long ago Playdia and Wheeljackslab were the sole sellers of the original Beast Wars Rattrap and as a result it cost like $70 (without weapon) on average. Thankfully that is no longer the case but the supply is now almost non existent. Rattrap isn't exactly a new toy as its over 10 years old but Scalping of old high demand toys is very common on Ebay with people trying to corner the market.

For me that satisfies all 3 elements to make out scalping
1.) they clearly are attempting to constrain what market supply would otherwise be
2.) excessive pricing
3.) detriment of genuine collectors

I came across a Rattrap last year and paid about $40 all up for it in an auction. So if you wait, you'll get it good. But I do hate those eBay names you mention. Playidia I particularly hated when we used to be able to see the name of bidders. He would often be bidding on stuff I wanted and it often encouraged me to put in an extra bid b/c i really wanted him to hurt a bit more. He's a conniving, opportunistic prick.

kup
27th May 2008, 12:41 PM
I also had a mega hard time with BW Dragon Megatron because Robozone and Playdia had cornered the market. I remember 2 pages filled with with the toy and they were all Playdia.

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 01:16 PM
I'm inclined to say so. We cannot hide behind the veil that we started the auction at 99c. If you are fundamentally aware of the significant shortage of the product and its desirability, you are still profiting on it. The market supply has been reduced, the price becomes excessive by its own nature. The same goes for concert or sporting tickets. If you were genuinely not a scalper you'd be offering it at cost, covering your own costs and charging a small mark up. I saw one or two Botcon 2008 sets sold at very close to what it would've cost to get from Fun Publications w/ buy it now prices. While I wasn't all that interested, I do respect those sellers cos they are very rare.

If you, as a would-be-scalper, are not constraining supply, why is profiting so bad or wrong? I'm starting to think that our own selfish desires to acquire what we want as cheaply as possible is causing us to morally attack those running a business.

What makes someone who buys 4 Starscreams and sells them on eBay any different from a Toys R Us that buys four cases and sells them in their physical store? Why can a company exist for profit and not an individual?

The other major issue as I see it, is the unfortunate situation of the chicken and the egg. Who sets the exorbitant prices first? The consumer or the seller? Once this price has been set for whatever reason, why should the next seller not be entitled to make the same profit as his predecessor?

Why is someone that ordered three Botcon box sets more evil than one who ordered three City Commanders?

Why should an ethical seller sell his box set at only a slight margin when a scalper is only going to come in and sell it at triple the margin only to fund further scalping?

Pulse
27th May 2008, 01:24 PM
Are you saying that a collector that suddenly decides to move on, possibly due to the birth of a child, or a higher interest rate on their mortgage, should be selling their toys at cost??!?!

Pulse, you also say that markup to cover costs is acceptable, but unnecessary markups for no reason becomes scalping. I don't understand this. Every goods-based business is all about markup for profit.

Why is profiting off Transformers such a no-no? Why can used car lots by cheap used cars and mark them up? Why can a supermarket by cheap groceries mark it up? What makes markup on these toys so different?!?!

Jaydisc, Where did this topic originate from? Are you thinking about becoming a Scalper? To me, all Scalpers are scum! I'm sure all people who buy toys (be it either collectors or Mum's/Dad's searching for a gift for their child's Birthday/Xmas) have encountered a Scalper at some stage & have nothing good to say about them.

jimoinj
27th May 2008, 01:34 PM
I think it's true that some shops have a similar mindset to scalpers in that they set exorbitant prices that people are willing to pay in person when they can see something, but less likely to pay over the Internet. Shops have a certain amount of legitimacy for people psychologically compared to an individual, particularly selling through the net. But doesn't that just make it legalised extortion? Maybe some people know they are buying things that they could get cheaper, but they simply can't wait to get it through the post - impulse buying. I think some shops really capitalise on that.

griffin
27th May 2008, 01:49 PM
Scalping is excessivly profiteering off an item, through limited availability at its regular price. The most obvious toy scalpers (usually in America) are those who go around to stores buying up short-packed or exclusive items, with the sole intention of re-selling them way above retail. When they remove from the general market a product to re-sell immediately or within a short space of time, they are scalping the product by artificially inflating its value.

Great example TDD. Thanks for your honesty.

The starting-at-99c auction is an interesting point as well. Since it is the market, not the seller, inflating the price, if there is insane market demand and the product fetches 2-300% the seller's cost, does this in itself make the seller a scalper?

A seller doesn't have to be directly inflating demand for an item to still be a scalper, they can inflating the price of it instead.
Listing a rare (current/recent) item as an auction instead of a Buy-it-now is inflating the price by forcing the market to fight over items that have been removed from a (public) retail source, either by that person or by some other cause (limited release or short packed). Due to such a smaller demand for TFs toys in Australia compared to America, I think there is very little actual toy-scalping happening here (someone going around to every store, buying up limited or exclusive items to resell on ebay). I just think there is the occasional person taking advantage of the odd rare or hard-to-find item from time to time (like Battle Jazz, Classics Jetfire, Ultimate Bumblebee, MP Starscream, 08 Bumblebee).
The stories I've read about US toyscalpers, and toys like Star Wars and the recent MOTU, make our toyscalping seem rather insignificant.

Here's an example of what I think best describes a toy scalper, from my own experience.

Alternator Rodimus.
It was limited to about 20 Toyworld stores in Brisbane, making about 200 of the figures released in this country for $40 retail. I aquired about 50 of them. This mass acquisition of a rare item is only half of the procedure for a toy scalper - limiting availability to the general public. The result is that it becomes even more sought after by those who know about it, because if I hadn't bought them, there would be 50 less people fighting over the ebay Rodimus Primes. That's the 'demand' factor, inflated by the toy scalpers, but rarely monopolised by scalpers acquiring all stock***.

The difference between me and a toy scalper though, is the second part of the process - re-sale price.
A toy scalper would resell them at a hugely inflated price (most on ebay were $80). I sold them for $40 (or $45 if you bought a second one, or if I listed it on ebay), which in itself doesn't cover all the costs of fuel and credit card fees/interest (and ebay/paypal fees). But that's the thing a toy-scalper doesn't care about - making sure real collectors get the items without paying more than they would if getting the items themselves from the store.

But then the last Rodimus I had available, I took the toy-scalper approach, by listing it as an auction on ebay. Even if you list a rare item at a tiny start price, and the seller (me with the Rodimus) knows it is a rare item that now has an increase in demand on non-retail sources (due to it no longer being available at retail, either intentionally by scalpers or unintentionally by short supply/short packing), the high final ebay sale price is not the fault of the buyers. Just because they are prepared to pay that much, it makes no difference if it sells at an inflated buy-it-now or at an inflated auction price. The best way to prove that you aren't scalping a toy on ebay, is by selling it at a buy-it-now that is close to what you paid for it.
I didn't do that with my last Rodimus figure I listed on ebay, because I listed it as an auction (the other 19 all had BIN prices). Even though I listed it with a small opening bid price, I was taking advantage of the market, by getting them to fight over a figure I had removed from retail sale (it ended up selling for $56). Sure, most of those who bought my Rodimus toys were out of state anyway, but that doesn't justify taking advantage of them by making them pay more for an item, by listing it as an auction instead of a buy-it-now at what it cost me. It made me feel good to have so many fans out there getting their hands on a rare toy for about half what it would have otherwise cost them.

Even if I did end up losing a little money over it, hopefully at least, I didn't lose the respect of people buying them off me by not listing them as auctions or hefty buy-it-nows.

Hope that example helps distinguish the difference between a toy scalper and toy collector helping out other collectors.

*** The one exception to this for TFs was Beast Machines Battle Unicorn. Bigbadtoystore acquired an almost exclusive supply of the toy when the line was axed before BU was released. It was a basic sized toy, which would have retailed for about US$5. BBTS price was US$50. They fulfilled the first part of a toy-scalper by inflating demand of their stock (couldn't buy it elsewhere), and as such fulfilled the second part of a toy-scalper by inflating the price (fans had no choice if they wanted that toy). BBTS was taking advantage of the desperate or completist collectors, excessively profiteering off those willing to pay that much for a rare TFs toy. Fortunatly after about a year when demand for that price died, they were selling them off for about US$5, which allowed for more collectors to get one at a more reasonable price.

griffin
27th May 2008, 02:02 PM
In summary, for me there are 3 elements that constitute scalping
1.) Intention to manipulate supply enabling them to
2.) excessively price to the
3.) detriment of the consumer

I essentially agree with the first two (I pretty much said the same thing in my own posting above before reading yours), but the third is a bit subjective. Buying from retail can be just as detrimental to consumers, especially with AUS prices, while some items I have bought from toyscalpers I have been happy about, because of how rare they are, and at least I had them. I find a lot of the limited JP items are effectively scalped on ebay and online stores (if you can't find someone who can get them first hand for you), so finding a rare item by an online 'scalper' can still be a good thing, because without the online scalpers, I wouldn't probably get a number of items I currently have.

So in summary :p scalpers aren't always a detriment if you have no direct access to the retail source and they do, and retailers (who are not scalpers) can be a detriment, as is the case for us Aussies.

Pulse
27th May 2008, 02:07 PM
Trunk's recount from some 10 months ago comes to mind...




Quote:

"I'll keep this short.

I had to pop into Big W on my way home (I love their extended hours) to grab a few things for the gf (Uni goes back next week, the stress begins, for the final time!.

Managed to get all the paper, books, pens etc, so I decided to pop on down to the toy section, and see if they had restocked.
They had, half a dozen Dreadwings, Arcees, Swindles, 10 Bonecrushers, but not a single 08 Bumblebee, but there were 2 empty pegs.

"ah well" I thought, and grabbed an Arcee, seeing as she is meant to be somewhat decent if you take her head off. I made my way to the checkout, and stood in line behind a woman who had a basket full of Deluxe transformers figures.

Naturally I tried to peek at what she had, but could only see the top one: 08 Bumblebee. Now that irked me, as it meant I had literally just missed getting it.
What happened next irked me even more.

When it came her turn to be served she pulled out 7 08 Bumblebee's. 7. Now I could understand maybe 2 or 3 of the same figure, 1 for each kid, or maybe one to open, one to keep mosc, but 7? Straight away I knew she was one of them, the filth and lower than low scum that is a scalper.

I hoped against hope that she was paying by cash (but it seems no-one does anymore) and that she would not have enough, and would have top leave 1 or more behind, she didn't.
I hoped her card was declined, it wasn't.
Finally I begged whatever higher powers there may be that she should slip on her out scum layered feet, fall and crack her skull open. I't didn't happen.

The second she left the store, she lit up a cigarette (still inside the centre mind you) and took a few puffs, by the time I had been served, she was walking away about 3 metres ahead of me. She whipped out her mobile phone, and starting yapping away, loud as anything, and I Quote:
"Yeah got seven of 'em, all dey had in the shop, y'know. Yeah 19 bucks each, yeah cheap, make a pack on 'em, gonna put 'em up tamorra, yeah, see if dey go as quick as de last bunch. Didn bofer wif any others, jus' de yellah one..."

She started talking bout how cheap she got them again as she left the centre, into the carpark. I was seriously tempted to follow her and smack her around with the 20 notepads and various books I had bought, but fought the urge.

Now I dont mind the average person selling doubles or spares of figures on ebay, what I do hate is people like this woman that go and snap up every figure that they can, as cheap as they can, leaving none on the shelves for regular people, for the one purpose of re-selling them at a far greater price. It's despicable.

Anyone else have stories about scalpers, either trying to buy from one, or witnessing the scum actual buying stuff themselves? "

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 02:13 PM
Jaydisc, Where did this topic originate from? Are you thinking about becoming a Scalper? To me, all Scalpers are scum! I'm sure all people who buy toys (be it either collectors or Mum's/Dad's searching for a gift for their child's Birthday/Xmas) have encountered a Scalper at some stage & have nothing good to say about them.

What this topic aims to do is to discuss this topic. I have no motive behind the discussion except to raise my own and others' awareness of different perspectives on the topic.

(With much adoration): What I certainly would like to dispel are general comments like this:

To me, all Scalpers are scum!

At least for the point of this discussion, there's nothing that productive in that comment. I would personally much prefer you responded to the specific questions I asked.



--



I think the term is used way to loosely.

Personally, I see very little different between:

1. Target, who buys toys from Hasbro at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

2. An independent seller, that buys toys from Target at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

3. A collector, that buys toys from anywhere and resells them 10 years later to pay for his child's education

I think many generically categorize everyone in group 2 as a scalper. It seems that you, specifically in the comments previously posted, lumped someone in group 3 as a scalper as well!

I've passed on toys to board members in nearly every state here, and have always done so at cost. TF76 posted he was looking for Blackout one morning. I knew my local Target had some, so I stopped by after coffee and grabbed him one. He came over that night and asked me to take $40 instead of the $35 I paid... for my trouble. I politely refused.

Inversely, a month or so before Christmas, I picked up some extra Bumblebee Evolution of a Hero 2-packs. I offered them to board members and no one was interested. So I calculatingly put them up on eBay 2 weeks before Christmas at 99c-starting-auctions and doubled my money.

Now, am I a scalper for that? Should I not be able try to regain some of my shopping/hunting costs? Shouldn't I be able to recover those costs from those completely willing to pay (parents too busy to shop?) as opposed to my board brethren? I didn't constrain supply. I didn't mark up exorbitantly.

Why is treating those who buy and resell TF any different from those that do the same with stocks or currency?

As said, I really just hoped for discussion on the topic. I love hearing your opinions and I love pushing my own. :)

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 02:17 PM
Let me add something for clarity here.

Pulse, regarding your story of the lady buying 7 BB08's, I don't think anyone is denying that that is a scalper.

I'm talking about all the other people that get this label.

Golden Phoenix
27th May 2008, 02:22 PM
Golden Pheonix has pulled the magic number of 10 out of his hat.
It was just an example.

I think griffin's example is a good one. And I was thinking, is it really that bad.
Like if you were to do it on the occasion, I don;t think its going to cause too much damage.
Doing it all the time will, but if I were to order a case of deluxe figures, only intending to keep half of them, and sell the rest for a little more then retail so I can help cover costs, is it really that bad??

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 02:29 PM
It was just an example.

I didn't mean to single it out specifically. I was just trying to illustrate the ambiguity by showing that two posters suggested two very different figures. :)

Pulse
27th May 2008, 02:45 PM
Jaydisc, Toy People have a tonne of differing opinions on all things Scalping. You can sway some of those opinions in one direction or another, but my own personal opinion on Scalpers will never change.

Remember that time you picked up those 3 Allspark Scouts from me? All up they set me back some $60 (including BIN, shipping & exchange rate). All I wanted from you was $30 + shipping. So I lost some $15 of my own money. But I don't care about that. I consider you a Mate & all I wanted to do was to help a Mate out.

I guess when people sell toys on Demonbay etc. to complete strangers, They don't know them as real people so therefore - the seller doesn't care how much the buyer pays for them.

But when you wanna help a Mate obtain what they've been searching for, then you're more than willling to do them a good deal. :)

TheDirtyDigger
27th May 2008, 02:57 PM
Despite everyone's (highly) subjective opinions, the hard truth is that this is a capitalist society we all live in and any seller can charge whatever the market is paying.
If obsessed consumers are willing to spend three times or more of the retail amount on a luxury item like a child's toy then it is to the good fortune of the seller.

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 03:09 PM
Pulse, thank you for your kindness and I'm all about helping out my mates as well, as I'm sure many can attest to (though please don't :))

Also, I'm happy to not change your opinion, and I'm very glad that your opinion has been added to the mix here.

I'd still like you to answer the specific questions I directed at you in response to the comments you linked to:

I don't know how some scalpers can do it. By Scalpers, I mean the ones who have amassed an amazing collection over the years (which began in 1984) & then one day decide to sell them all for as much as possible.

Are you saying that a collector that suddenly decides to move on, possibly due to the birth of a child, or a higher interest rate on their mortgage, should be selling their toys at cost??!?!

You also say that markup to cover costs is acceptable, but unnecessary markups for no reason becomes scalping. I don't understand this. Every goods-based business is all about markup for profit.

Why is profiting off Transformers such a no-no? Why can used car lots by cheap used cars and mark them up? Why can a supermarket by cheap groceries mark it up? What makes markup on these toys so different?!?!

jaydisc
27th May 2008, 03:14 PM
Despite everyone's (highly) subjective opinions, the hard truth is that this is a capitalist society we all live in and any seller can charge whatever the market is paying.

Yes another great point. BMW is a very high margin business... as is Apple. Should they only be limiting themselves to make a few bucks? Apple is an even better example as if you compare them to any one else in their sector, they get CONSIDERABLY greater margins. Apple negotiates ruthless deals with Asian flash manufacturers for their iPods/iPhones and because they are buying in SUCH quantity, they get a much better price and reduce market supply, forcing competitors to pay higher prices! Yet, this is fair and acceptable business.

I think one of my key questions here is:

Why do we consider this market different? What are the DIFFERENTIATING characteristics??

Rampage
27th May 2008, 03:22 PM
I bought some Ult BB's before Christmas for $88 from Big W and got around $200 each for them on eBay BUT I started all my auctions at 99cents and there wasn't a shill bidder in sight.:)

i did that too however started the price at the price i paid for them $99 from target

i sold 8 the highest going for $191 and lowest for $146 made about $550-600 all up however 70% of it would've been respent on transformers or nikes on ebay

5 of the 8 the people picked up from me and all of them were older women buying them for their own kids/grandchildren so i didn't feel so bad about it

but i also grabbed 5x 2008 BB Deluxes from Big W and sold em to board members at cost so im not all bad :p:)

STL
27th May 2008, 03:27 PM
I essentially agree with the first two (I pretty much said the same thing in my own posting above before reading yours), but the third is a bit subjective.

Aye, I definitely can see where you're coming from. But I do think even though it is subjective it's a very important aspect. The law itself has to judge on many things which are inherently subjective. I agree we may disagree on detriment but I think it's very important to acknowledge it b/c it is the root cause of this discussion and any apprehension that the community as a whole has to scalpers.

In the US, as you noted, there has always been an extraordinarily righteous defence of scalping. It is very heated and I think that in itself is indicative of the fact that there is some underlying detriment. And any sidestepping of that b/c it is merely subjective avoids one of the core reasons for why this isn't just topical to TF fans but the broader community.


I think the term is used way to loosely.

Personally, I see very little different between:

1. Target, who buys toys from Hasbro at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

2. An independent seller, that buys toys from Target at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

3. A collector, that buys toys from anywhere and resells them 10 years later to pay for his child's education



I think there are distinctions in that. An company is incorporated w/ the purpose of becoming a business to generate a profit. In it's course, it benefits many stakeholders and serves as a gatekeeper to maintaining the efficiency and integriy of our economic system.

By no means are companies moralistic vehicles. They have the capacity for dastard deeds and I don't think any of us would contend otherwise. However, that said many company's these days are increasingly sensitive to their moral compass as it not only affects their brand and market position, but it damages their bottom line. So to assert that they are faceless vehicles of profiteering is not a sustainable argument.

From major retailers, we are provided w/ a regulatory framework that governs the operations of the retailer. Scalpers on the other hand do not. They unlike retailers are selective about what they prey on. They only chase down items they can sell at a profit. Retailers offer a range of products. Scalpers only want the one product they can generate a hefty return for.

As for category 2, I have no dispute about being that constituting a scalper. Category 3 I think is very different. The person sold their collection years on to fund their child's education after having enjoyed what they purchased for its primary purpose. It's a TF toy. The fact that they later sell it on for value is not of their own making. They are simply profiting from forces beyond their control - not forces they are trying to control. They have had the pleasure of those toys - the primary purpose they bought those toys for. When they sell them, they should be entitled to. Scalpers do no such thing. They horde the toys for the purpose of manipulating the market mechanism.

As Digger rightly points out, we live in a capitalist society. That though does not mean we do not have community standards, that we do not have the right to exercise judgement and opinions as to what consitutes acceptable behaviour and what does not. Scalping is viewed with ire because it is behaviour that society as a whole regards as exploitative.

And whether or not you want to view it through the lens that society does, I don't think we can argue that pricing via constricting supply is predatory and exploitative. I think to stand behind the line of capitalism and rely on it for justification is insufficient. I think we as human beings are still capable of determining our own values and our own course of actions.

Certainly consumers are partially responsible but ultimately, as I contended above, sellers retain the final power. They exercise to their discretion the way and method in which they want to sell and the consumer is dependent on that. That is why ACCC laws exist, it is a recognition of the power imbalance between consumers and sellers. So I don't absolve consumers entirely but I do hold a seller to a higher degree of responsibility as they are ones at the heart of the act in the first place.



Now, am I a scalper for that? Should I not be able try to regain some of my shopping/hunting costs? Shouldn't I be able to recover those costs from those completely willing to pay (parents too busy to shop?) as opposed to my board brethren? I didn't constrain supply. I didn't mark up exorbitantly.


Well, for me, you did scalp to a degree. Am I going to hold that against you? No. The scale of things matters as well. After all, you had what? Two sets? It is scalping but hey many of mates (and myself) do things that I'd consider morally dubious too. But its all about scale. We're not talking about a systematic scheme to profit from others.



Why is treating those who buy and resell TF any different from those that do the same with stocks or currency?



It is very different. Stocks and currency are tightly regulated markets. The regulatory bodies behind these hold companies, investors and traders to account for misdeeds. Insider trading, which bases itself in information asymmetry, would be the equivalent of scalping. The market moves very hard and regulates itself in order to ensure it is efficient. Prices are signals to investors of changing demand, profitability or global phenomenon.

They do trade on arbitrages, I concde, but they're hardly predatory. They're based on market imperfections, interest rate differentials etc. And really, it is not the equivalent of scalping. You can't buy up stocks and hold onto them and sell at different prices to what the market itself is offering.

griffin
27th May 2008, 03:29 PM
I think the term is used way to loosely.
Personally, I see very little different between:

1. Target, who buys toys from Hasbro at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

2. An independent seller, that buys toys from Target at a certain price, and marks them up for profit.

3. A collector, that buys toys from anywhere and resells them 10 years later to pay for his child's education

I think many generically categorize everyone in group 2 as a scalper. It seems that you, specifically in the comments previously posted, lumped someone in group 3 as a scalper as well!

I don't see how anyone in 1 or 3 can be classed as scalper. As much as we like to call TRU scalpers, it's just the way the corporate laws work in this country. The difference with 2, is that individuals or independent online stores (rarely though in AUS), harvest their items from 1 to limit the options of the people who would have otherwise bought from 1. 3 would never be classed as scalpers, because the items are not even currently or recently in release. Collectors originally aim to acquire items for themselves, with no immediate or short term intention to resell.
1 - retailer, small profit margin.
2 - scalper, large profit margin.
3 - collector, unintentional profit.

STL
27th May 2008, 03:47 PM
Boy have u started a can of worms. :p

This was actually a topic I was hoping to discuss in depth in a column I hope to start up soon btw. So you beat me to it. :mad:


You also say that markup to cover costs is acceptable, but unnecessary markups for no reason becomes scalping. I don't understand this. Every goods-based business is all about markup for profit.

Why is profiting off Transformers such a no-no? Why can used car lots by cheap used cars and mark them up? Why can a supermarket by cheap groceries mark it up? What makes markup on these toys so different?!?!

Mark up is a representation of several things but one of the many things is the assumption of risk. Businesses take on risks to operate. Hence a large part of their mark up is a reflection of the risk they've taken on board in attempting to sell the product. It compensates them for that uncertainty.

Scalpers mark ups aren't that though. They are artificially entering the market, cornering it and them reaping the profits. If what they want to scalp has no value, they have a nice option of refunding it. Furthermore, they are contributing to inefficiency in the market b/c their mark up is not based on an apportionment of risk. Many prices reflect that. Scalper prices are inflated amounts that are predatory in their nature. They know the product they sell is a goldmine. That is by definition why their act is defined as scalping.

As for business practices, we have to draw a fine line here between equating scalpers and businesses. Businesses operate in a formal capacity under strict rules w/ many formal regulatory obligations. They are held accountable and have to account for the community. Scalpers are predatory and move in and out. Scalpers prey on consumers - that is how they exist. They exploit the demand for something but artificially inflating prices to above what they otherwise would be . Businesses though don't exist for that primary purpose. They are run to profit, certainly, but they can't afford to be predatory as ultimatley their brand and image is damaged.

Pulse
27th May 2008, 04:52 PM
Are you saying that a collector that suddenly decides to move on, possibly due to the birth of a child, or a higher interest rate on their mortgage, should be selling their toys at cost??!?!


The Seller can do whatever they want to do with their collection - It's solely up to them. If they want to sell their toys to their Mates at good prices, so be it. If they want to scalp them off for top dollar on Demonbay, it's up to them.

From personal experience on this topic, back in January this year I decided to get rid of all my SW Lego (some 25 pieces altogether ranging from $20 to $600 monsters). I was planning to throw them all in the bin but I was told to put some ads in the local papers for a garage sale. I did that & three mums ended up buying all of them off me for a total of $520. To me that was a profit of $520 because (as I said) I was planning to throw them all in the bin.

I know that not everyone who decides to get rid of their toy collection thinks like me but (as I said) people can do whatever they wish with their collection - it's entirely up to them.


You also say that markup to cover costs is acceptable, but unnecessary markups for no reason becomes scalping. I don't understand this. Every goods-based business is all about markup for profit.


How many toy stores actually make a decent profit on Ebay? Only one immediately comes to my mind = playidia (http://myworld.ebay.com/playidia). Sure there are plenty of people who have their own smaller toy stores on Ebay but do they make enough off these toys in that it becomes their full time job? I don't consider the guy I bought my sealed BW figures off as being a scalper in the same sense that I consider playidia as being a scalper - He's not even close to being in playidia's league. To me, his prices were very reasonable & he only had some 40-50 items altogether. On the other hand, Playidia currently have 3206 items for sale. Now, wouldn't you say Playidia is the Walmart of Toy Scalping? Isn't there something wrong with that?


Why is profiting off Transformers such a no-no? Why can used car lots by cheap used cars and mark them up? Why can a supermarket by cheap groceries mark it up? What makes markup on these toys so different?!?!

I guess it all comes down to supply & demand.

If you asked someone in-the-know on used cars, they would probably have a tonne of differing opinions regarding reasonable prices on buying & selling them. The same thing could be applied to real estate agents, as well as Supermarkets & all the players who are involved in putting the groceries/fresh food on the shelves (eg. Growers/Middle Men eg. Kelloggs & Cadbury/Supermarkets). Depending on which of these groups you ask for their opinion, their answers will vary widely.

But I guess with Toys & more specifically TFs, you'd have to agree that we know way too much about TFs for our own good :D. But all we are is the TF consumer. If you asked the typical TF consumer for their opinion on pricing (be it either when purchasing from Hasbro/Big W-Target-TRU/Sellers online), I'm more than positive they would give you a completely opposite point of view than if you were to ask the exact same question to someone who sold TFs or any other toys in bulk. Marking-Up prices or the extreme marking-up of prices (aka. Scalping) occurs in every buy & sell market out there & it will continue to exist for as long as consumers purchase goods. I don't think the marking-up of prices or the extreme marking-up of prices (aka. scalping) will ever stop taking place & in the long run, there's not a whole lot we can do about it. :(





I don't think I should post any more replies on this particular thread - for my own sanity. :)

STL
27th May 2008, 04:59 PM
back in January this year I decided to get rid of all my SW Lego [...] I was planning to throw them all in the bin


I'm surprised you didn't think of me. :p

TheDirtyDigger
27th May 2008, 05:21 PM
I was planning to throw them all in the bin.

Apart from being incredibly detrimental to the environment by putting all that petrochemical product into landfill, why would you not seek to recoup cash spent or even profit (scalping to some) from disposing of these items responsibly?
I don't know of many people so wealthy that they are willing to throw money in the bin.

jaydisc
28th May 2008, 01:43 PM
Boy, did this topic have a rock star's life. A quick burst, followed by a sudden death.

Glad to see there are lots of different interpretations.

FWIW, a bit of a disclaimer, for the sake of perspective. I don't want you all to think I started this topic to get your approval to start a scalping business. The software industry is treating me just fine ;)

I, sell to board members at cost. I always have, and would like to say I always will. Now, when I say cost, I'm talking current releases. If I decided to sell some of my G1s, I'm not going to sell it at cost. And I'd wager that 99% of you wouldn't expect me to.

Because I'm such a chronic hunter and group buy organiser, If I look at the amount of toys I have bought on behalf of board members, I'd wager that that number nearly totals the size of my own, obviously small, collection. I'm sure many Melbournite and some others in other states can vouch for me in that regard. The Melbourne Missionaries thread is a great example.

Using MV75's definition, I am also a speculator. The best example of this, is that I am buying 2 x City Commanders, one to enjoy, and one to recoup the cost of the other's enjoyment. I apply a lot of this philosophy to my collecting, although I've yet to reap the rewards. Look for my next topic on that topic ;)

Anyway, my personal collecting styles is that while I am a completist, I try to keep all duplicate molds MISB. I also predict that one day, I will sell most of those MISB figures to pay for the loose figures that I will keep, play with, display and adore. I certainly expect to take advantage of the benefit of time, and I expect to profit off of these figures. At least that's how I rationalize it to girlfriend :D

Am I a scalper? I say no. Do you?

STL
28th May 2008, 11:13 PM
I don't think anyone would ever call you a scalper. Me tho, that's another story. :p

MV75
28th May 2008, 11:45 PM
Jaydisc, why are you so hell bent on trying to bring retailers into this?

It's not like the average joe can go and buy the toys directly from hasbro. You have to buy them from a store unless you are buying on the same scale the stores are. What are you going to do with 1000 case assortments? Plus are you creating employment like the stores are?

The difference is that a store will not buy them all for itself. Can't find it? Go to another store. Too dear? Go to another store.

Now as for scalpers, they deliberatly create a shortage, thus a monopoly.

Plus you then have to fight over others for bids. Stores don't auction their goods typically at a store front.

I don't know why I even have to explain this.
________
Ford India History (http://www.ford-wiki.com/wiki/Ford_India)

griffin
29th May 2008, 01:33 AM
Scalping is more of a subjective assessment of a person in a certain situation, rather than an objective simple designation that covers all scenarios. It's more of a mentality by the individual or corporate body, that allows most of us to label someone (or some company) as a scalper. That scalper mentality is when a person (or company) charges more for a product or service because of added demand, often created by them in the first place, rather than charging the same price that covers their own standard profit margin reguadles of how much stock they have.
Retailers, even the big two (Coles and Woolworths) have a scalper mentality when it comes to their competitive behaviour. They will drive out the competition, and then raise their prices in their newly created monopoly. We wouldn't necessarily label them as scalpers, but it is the same principle, and technically they are scalping by taking advantage of their 'market position'. Generally though, stores like Target and Kmart, will have a national pricing structure, that covers their expenses and profit margins (usually about 40% on top of wholesale), and you can usually find the same price in any of their stores, no matter what their market position is.

The same applies to individuals. How an individual sells a particular item or toy, is how they will be perceived by others. If they have in their hands a rare item or their 'market position' is that they have a monopoly on that item, selling it for more than a reasonable profit margin would make them act like a scalper. It is difficult to draw a line on what exactly makes someone a scalper or not a scalper, but the way they operate and are perceived by the marketplace, is what labels them as a scalper. Some people might not seem like a scalper to everyone, but in a lot of cases it is easy to label a toy dealer as having a scalper mentality.

An example I noticed yesterday while browsing Robotkingdom - they sold out of their first batch of Animated Leader Cases (one Megatron, one Bulkhead), which they priced at US$105. The huge demand, which they even note on the page itself, has enticed them to raise the price on the next batch to US$114 (their wholesale price wouldn't have changed). They would have been making a significant amount of money off the original price, but now added an extra chunk of profit to each sale. That's scalper mentality. They don't need to be selling them at US$114, but because they are one of the first dealers with those toys, they are taking advantage of the demand while they can.
It might be argued that it is just the balance of supply and demand, but if the same happened at Target or Kmart or any department store chain that sells TFs, they'd never raise their prices on the next batch.

That's the difference between retailers and scalpers - the price doesn't fluxuate with demand at retail stores. Us consumers/collectors can rely on prices at retailers, but not with scalpers.
I guess one way of classifying a scalper is reliability of their pricing. If it is by auction or has unpredictable pricing due to demand, they are more likely to be a scalper.

jaydisc
29th May 2008, 08:41 AM
Jaydisc, why are you so hell bent on trying to bring retailers into this?

I've brought retailers into this, as I think we apply a double standard in a few cases, and I'm using them to illustrate a few of those.

I think that the term scalper is varyingly used to describe these four types:

1. (our favorite) Someone who reduces supply in order to increase demand and prices. This is clearly a scalper to me.

2. Someone who takes advantage of reduced supply and increased demand in order to increase prices. Now, when we are talking about a TF seller that does this, we call them a scalper. However, we accept that gas stations, supermarkets, and a bucketload of other business do this to us every day. As many illustrated, this is standard supply & demand. In the case of TF, it's scalping. I find this double standard fascinating.

3. Someone who acquires stock of Transformers from one avenue and marks them up for profit. Usually this involves an improved or differentiated distribution scheme. Now that might be a nationwide retail chain or an eBay dealer. I don't see a problem with those eBay dealers that get their stock from retailer's sales. They are adding an online delivery mechanism, and providing a shop-from-home experience. These things have value. Granted, I personally am not interested in the premium associated with them, but others are. I have brought retailers into this discussion as I fail to see the difference between the two situations, assuming that the non-retailers markup is fair (not 1. or 2.).

4. Finally, there is the collector or speculator who finally gets the opportunity to cash in. Unfortunately or fortunately, that is the nature of antiques or collectibles, and I think using the term, scalper, to describe anyone in this sector is just ridiculous.

So Im down with definition 1. I think definition 2 is accurate, but the double standard annoys me, and I object to 3 and 4.

Now, finally, the last point of hypocrisy that I'd like to raise, is based on Griffin's beautifully topical definition and example. Thank you Griffin! To me, this shows that we can lump Robot Kingdom (and most likely BBTS for that matter) into description 2. While they are not creating the shortage, they are truly taking advantage of it to increase prices.

Now I shop at Robot Kingdom, and as long as I, or anyone else aware of this situation, is to continue shopping at Robot Kingdom, I think they are as much a contributor to the rise and prevalence of scalping as those raising the prices. I wonder how many of the I-Hate-Scalper types will have the integrity and consistency to put their money where their mouth is and no longer shop there (or BBTS and most other online resellers for that matter)?

dirge
29th May 2008, 09:54 AM
My issue is #1, really. #2 bothers me when it's a retail chain that drastically overcharges for exclusivety (TRU are the main culprits locally), but I wouldn't call that scalping.

#3 does provide a service, and I'm happy to pay someone a decent finder's fee if something would be otherwise unavailable to me for whatever reason. #4 also provides a service, in that they stockpile stuff and make it available later.

I don't object to (say) Robotkingdom charging stupid prices for early Animated figures, because they're not forcing people to pay more than they should - just pandering to impatience. I'm not saying it's "right", but I don't object since they're not trying to corner the entire market, but taking their cut as an early entrant.

roller
29th May 2008, 10:35 AM
on a similiar topic, what is love???

MV75
29th May 2008, 10:54 AM
Now I shop at Robot Kingdom, and as long as I, or anyone else aware of this situation, is to continue shopping at Robot Kingdom, I think they are as much a contributor to the rise and prevalence of scalping as those raising the prices. I wonder how many of the I-Hate-Scalper types will have the integrity and consistency to put their money where their mouth is and no longer shop there (or BBTS and most other online resellers for that matter)?

Ok, well said for everything, but for the quote above, you're only "contributing to the problem" if you buy those particular figures. Just wait, unless people are so cashed up and need them a week earlier than retail, then that's just sad really, because when everyone else has theirs, there is nothing special about the one they paid an extra $60-80 for. :D
________
Mercedes-Benz 260 D (http://www.mercedes-wiki.com/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_260_D)

TheDirtyDigger
29th May 2008, 11:07 AM
on a similiar topic, what is love???

Paying an extra $60-$80 for a figure to get it a week earlier.

kurdt_the_goat
30th May 2008, 02:34 AM
An example I noticed yesterday while browsing Robotkingdom - they sold out of their first batch of Animated Leader Cases (one Megatron, one Bulkhead), which they priced at US$105. The huge demand, which they even note on the page itself, has enticed them to raise the price on the next batch to US$114 (their wholesale price wouldn't have changed). They would have been making a significant amount of money off the original price, but now added an extra chunk of profit to each sale. That's scalper mentality. They don't need to be selling them at US$114, but because they are one of the first dealers with those toys, they are taking advantage of the demand while they can.
It might be argued that it is just the balance of supply and demand, but if the same happened at Target or Kmart or any department store chain that sells TFs, they'd never raise their prices on the next batch.

You can't really compare a single, online store with Target/Kmart. Customers don't expect them to raise their prices in response to demand because they have a reputation of not doing that - so they simply couldn't even if they wanted to. In all likelihood they also couldn't respond fast enough anyway (the lack of movie figures on shelves, and don't they all put their orders in months in advance?). An online small business can change prices in response to demand because they have no one to answer to. But, when raising prices they run the risk of people going elsewhere online (easier than getting in your car and driving to another shop to save a few bucks). Also the risk that like now, the toys hit retail locally - and the general risk that they put up the price to a point where demand says f**k you! (BBTS thundercracker not withstanding!). Consideringy leader megatron went for 350 to some moron in the states just a week before RK had them in stock, $5 US per leader is not scalping in my book!

The leader megatron, and voyager starscream i bought from them recently cost me less than what they'll retail for in Australia (and was early, and was shipped). Even at $114 it's better value. Sure it has a lot to do with the exchange rate... but, they deal with an online marketplace where oftentimes the price works out better than local retail - that's their business model. If they sold at those prices to HK people only, where the prices are probably ludicrously marked up, then you could say they're scalpers. Even then, they're obtaining them from hasbro direct, so they're not creating the demand themselves.

Should i point out that you can get a Leader Bulkhead shipped from RK for less than Kyle was offering in the sale forum the other day? :eek:

Kyle
30th May 2008, 10:56 AM
Should i point out that you can get a Leader Bulkhead shipped from RK for less than Kyle was offering in the sale forum the other day? :eek:

Great, now even my name is being thrown into this. :o

Andrew, I was reading your post and agreed with everything until the last sentence. :eek: Very "smart" comment but I don't believe that's a fair comparison. Considering that RK is a shop with a shop account to order Bulkhead from the HK distributor of Hasbro directly, while my friend does not have such an account and we get ours from various secondary sources.

If you do the math, RK's price of US $54.90 is good but you still have to add on the shipping. In the case of Bulkhead, considering my friend gets his from another retailer similar to RK who charges more than RK, the total we offered at US $80 (which we stated "postage included", and we always use registered airmail) was actually not that bad. Why not mention the fact that a number of other toys we offered in my thread (total + postage) were lower than RK, sometimes even before they add on their shipping? Examples such as Music Label Soundwave, Rumble/Frenzy earphones and the Revoltechs?

My friend can only offer what's available to him from the street or his own sources. We certainly cannot be responsible for what deals other people are offering. If what we have is lower than other people then great! If what we have is not lower than others then there's not much we can do about it.

I might as well use this post to talk about the CC kit situation as well. A week or two ago, another fan asked me how come RK is offering the CC kit at below the RRP of US $77 offered by TFSource and BBTS. All I know is that, if you are an online retailer, and you aren't selling at the RRP, then you aren't getting yours direct from the source FansProject. And I have no idea where else you're going to get your kits from.

kurdt_the_goat
30th May 2008, 11:19 AM
Sorry mate, i didn't mean to slander or offend you. I agree your price is still good. I just bought it up cause the discussion was on the leader toys. The real point i was trying to make was that they only raised prices by a bit, compared to say this - Masterpiece Voltron for the low low price of $395 (http://www.figuresdirect.com.au/oaftoynamivoltron.html). Of course this is never likely to sell but it's not stopping him from trying!

Perhaps a better example to illustrate, would be the awesome prices you got for the music label Soundwaves. Well below retail in japan, lots of people were quick to snap them up. No one accused anyone of scalping because they were all happy with the price. But, your friend wouldn't have offered it unless there was a margin for him, however small. So technically he's a scalper? No one cares about scalping unless the price gauge is huge and the desire for the toy strong enough to force them to buy it. I don't think you can accuse RK or you/your friend of scalping considering you/they are still offering a good deal relative to what's available (http://www.figuresdirect.com.au/takaratransformersmusiclabel.html).

Disclaimer: Paul at figuresdirect.com.au is a great guy and when his prices are right, a great place to shop at.

Kyle
30th May 2008, 11:28 AM
Scalping: Make what was originally available at local retail, disappear, and sell at high price.

Not Scalping: Make what was originally not available at local retail, available, and sell at low price.

These are only my own opinions, of what I believe. :o

Kyle
30th May 2008, 11:38 AM
So technically he's a scalper?

So you were asking if my friend is a scalper, based on your own technical definition? :p

roller
30th May 2008, 12:10 PM
hmmmmmmmm a tough debate that im sure we will be discusing long into the twilight years.


Now im sure we'd all like to hear from 'Pete' and 'HeroicDecepticon' on this topic, over to you Lord Zed