Jump for a nickel!
I use Half.com all the time. I like it. It’s great to be able to get used books at a good price, and it’s nice to be able to sell books and games once you don’t want them anymore. Of course, it’s great to be able to reuse stuff. It’s one of the best forms of recycling.
I’ve rarely had a problem with Half.com, but something odd happened this morning.
I was selling a book for 75 cents. Clearly I was not looking to get rich off this book. It had a cover price of about $14. but the book was only selling for $1 - $2 in the condition of “Very Good.” I figured 75 cents would attract a buyer and just get the book off my hands. And it did. But this buyer had some odd requests.
Comment/ Question: Hi,
Would you mind sending this package without a packing slip and/or invoice? I would really appreciate it. Also, please use delivery confirmation, if possible - I only make this suggestion, as the USPS is far less likely to lose the package.
If this item is a different condition (used/new/etc.), binding or media type (softcover/hardcover/tape/disc/etc.), edition or version (international/etc.) or differs in any way from your listing, please refund this order immediately.
You don’t need to respond to this email unless there is a problem with the order. However, if you write me with a question and I don’t respond right away, please hold the order until you hear from me. I receive a lot of emails and sometimes I’m backed up. Thank you!!**NAME OMITTED **
I’m a skeptical person, and anything out of the ordinary raises my attention. Even if I eventually comply, and I determine there isn’t a scam involved, it’s a mystery to be solved. So, here are the irregularities:
Anyone know what’s happening here? It’s not a scam, but it’s not something I’m used to. At first I thought maybe this person was giving the book as a gift, and they didn’t want the recipient to see the low price. But that’s not it. I did some digging online and noticed some other things.
Digging verified my suspicions. This person is using a business method known as “drop shipping.” In short, they have listed this item on Amazon.com (for example) after checking the prices on Half.com. When they get an order through Amazon for a higher price, they order the item from me through Half.com for much cheaper. Then they ask me to ship the product not to them, but to its final destination.
Revisiting the irregularities:
Philosophically, I don’t care who gets my book as long as I get paid. Even if this person is making money off my low price. However, I did not agree to assist in maintaining the drop shipping ruse. My participation on Half.com is to take orders, fill them according to Half.com guidelines and my own policies, and get paid. This person wants to use me as a shipper and act as a middleman to my transaction. But in this case, I don’t need or want a middleman because I’m not making much off the sale.
This book is being sold for 75 cents. After Half.com takes its 15% commission out of the selling price, I’m getting 64 cents for the book. Half.com decides what I get to charge for shipping and handling (cost of shipping, cost of shipping container, equipment, time, etc). In this case, they will pay me $2.40 to ship it. That’s a total of a $3.04.
It will likely cost me $1.59 to ship this book which is around 12 ounces, although if the shipping container is more than 4 ounces I’ll end up paying $2.07. Let’s assume the cheaper $1.59 for the sake of argument. $3.04 - $1.59 = $1.45. A shipping container will probably cost me about 80 cents. Doing the math… yep, I’m making 65 cents, so one cent of the shipping allowance is going into my pocket! I’m rich!
But the “buyer” has requested that I spring for delivery confirmation (which is not included in the shipping allowance). That would be 60 cents. Making my total (not profit) on this transaction a solid 5 cents. In other words, I would be agreeing to accept a nickel to go shopping for a shipping envelope, pack the book, make a special trip to the post office and mail it. Forget it if it turns out to cost me over $2 to ship — I’m in the negative.
What was my motivation again?
As I said earlier, I did not agree to be involved in drop shipping. I will treat all my buyers fairly and similarly. And I’m not springing for delivery confirmation on an item I’m listing for less money than you can purchase a small cup of coffee at McDonalds! (unless the buyer agreed to reimburse for delivery confirmation, of course) Half.com is specific in requiring an invoice be sent to buyers, so I will adhere to that. But I will give the drop shipper the choice.
I’m sending this email to clarify this order, and to request that you confirm whether you still want the order sent.
1) We do not offer Delivery Confirmation as part of the Half.com shipping at this time for orders under $25, and we currently do not have a way for you to pay for an increase in shipping once you have placed your order.
2) Half.com requires that a packing slip be sent out with every order, and this is our standard operating procedure.
If you disagree with these policies, please notify me and I will refund your order.
I will await your reply before I ship or refund.Thank you
If a drop shipper wants to use me as part of his or her operation, and therefore wants special treatment, you’re going to have to give me reason to participate. Otherwise, you’re getting treated in the same fair way I treat every other buyer.
All this over 75 cents! Talk about “it’s the principle of the thing.”Posted by James at February 8, 2007 1:26 PM