Originally Posted by Nate the great
I don't know about you, but I'm pissed.
I'm not pissed at all. I'm extremely pleased.
Well... let me attempt to explain as succinctly as possible. <-- Edit : Scratch that, in my usual way I'm writing an essay :P
Want to buy something small on the web? A consumable or a the like.. For example an ink jet cartridge, a mobile phone battery, a SD card...
Well, a few years ago you would go searching the various different retailers on the net, pick one and order.
Not now. It's all changed.
Now you can go to eBay or Amazon, or one of the few other places (Play.com etc). There's other shops you can go to, but they are disappearing. There's plenty of shops now that I wouldn't order from because there's tell tale signs that it's not a real shop. What do I mean by that? I mean it's the same shop you've got open in 5 different browser tabs, except it's got a different name in this one. Or, there's something about the site that makes you think "Hang on just a second. This site hasn't been updated for a while. Or links don't work properly" so you don't order there. Or you end up at one of many comparison sites which masquerade on search engines as the product you're looking for.
In short shopping on the net is getting really unpleasant.
The solution? Shop through a proxy like eBay or Amazon.
eBay has changed from just being a place where you're buying from a non-commercial individual, you're now met on eBay by a plethora of small businesses (many I suspect which are home based). Instead of going to an individual site you go to eBays marketplace.
Likewise on Amazon it's no longer just the Amazon warehouse you're buying from, they have merchants, much the same as eBay.
I originally thought this was a good thing - although I was aware I was probably paying a significant percentage to Amazon or eBay (especially when you include paypal fees). But then again, the retailer doesn't have to employ a web designer, register a site or buy e-commerce software, so perhaps I'm actually getting it cheaper.
However I recently nearly ran foul of a merchant on Amazon. I was looking for an SD card for my new Cybook. So I did the usual - try a search. I quickly gave up and went to eBay. However I quickly gave up because I'd be buying from abroad and I don't want the delays or the hassles. Off to Amazon I went... and lo and behold... it's impossible to use their site to compare SD card prices, because they allow merchants to pad up the delivery charges and run down the item charges. They were charging pennies for the SD card and pounds for delivery. Was there any way to compare the final prices? Nope. Was I even able to find out the final price before I ordered? Very nearly not. I had to log in, go to the checkout, give a delivery address, select which card I wanted to pay with, and just before I finally confirmed is when the delivery charge appeared. In other words the price jumped from pennies to pounds just before I hit ok. I should point out the end price was still competitive.
Effectively the prices on Amazon marketplace are lies. I'm not going over the top here, or overstating it. The prices are simply that, lies.
So I complained to Amazon. They sent me a standard letter, which didn't in any way respond to the complaint. I complained again. They fobbed me off. I complained again, they fobbed me off and told me everything was fine and they saw no problems. I complained again and got no response. Needless to say I'm quite annoyed at Amazon.
Clearly Amazon don't give a crap as long as they're making money and they can wash their hands of it.
So we're now facing a future where there's only a few large online retailers, and everybody else is going to have to go to one of their marketplaces, with their markups and their rules and compete with people who aren't being ethical.
I thought there was little chance of this coming to light... but now, assuming that this story is indeed true... Then the spotlight will be on Amazon for abuse of position. And if that happens then perhaps their marketplace will be lit up and examined.