Amazon Reseller Scams - and iMacs Saturday, 12 May 2012  
Thought I would recount something I have been investigating. It may help someone out there.

I have an interest in purchasing an iMac - the 27" screen is gorgeous and you can never have enough pixels. Remarkably, the iMacs hold their prices extremely well - just look at Amazon or eBay to see this. The difference between New or Used is a small percentage (20-30%). Even the older iMacs (2009 and 2010) models hold their value well.

Apple appear to allow approx a 9% discount, e.g. from Amazon, over the list price. You can buy a refurb or reboxed product, and get a good discount (both from Amazon, and other UK outlets).

A "refurb" model can mean anything: looking at some of the UK outlet stores, they occasionally do refurbs, but, some of these stores have display models, pretty much on 24x7, and its not clear if a "refurb" is just a boxed version of a display model, whose screen and hard drive have been powered on for long periods.

Now, if you monitor Amazon (UK - I havent checked US + Europe), you will see occasionally real bargains popup, e.g. instead of a 20-30% discount, you see 50%: the cheapest iMac model is 1400GBP, but to see one at 700-800GBP is a warning sign.

In each case, the marketplace seller is a new seller - no feedback, and in some cases, they are listed as a US address, and other times as a UK address, even using some other company as a front.

Now, for the start of the scam: if you try to order the product, you mostly can not: the reseller doesnt ship to the UK (or anywhere else) - ie they are selling something you cannot buy.

Now, in some instances the seller advertises to contact direct, and if you do, they will offer to enter the order for you, if you provide them with details. This seems extremely suspect and I raised it with Amazon. No harm done - as the order didnt complete.

Now, I dont know if this is the same reseller or a gang of them. Today I ordered, and the order was expected - got an email from amazon confirming the order was placed. Later on in the day, the order had mysteriously disappeared from my orders in Amazon. Again, I contact Amazon (via their live-chat feature) and the person there suggested that this can happen - reseller cancels orders, and my details should be safe.

Just to summarise:

  • Reseller has no feedback and is a new reseller
  • Item is too good to be true
  • Seller may not accept delivery to your address or country
  • If you contact reseller (either direct or through Amazon), and they want to be helpful and ask for details so they can enter the order for you

I hope the above is obvious to everyone, and if you learned something, then great. Amazon is a great place to shop, and seems very secure with good customer relations and security practises. But there are lots of people out there who are trying all sorts of scams, and you dont know what they are or how to spot the signs. (I am simply looking at this to better understand myself).

Be careful out there.

Posted at 22:16:47 by fox | Permalink