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Scalping of Astronomy Equipment During Covid-19


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First of all Scalping = the practice of buying an item / number of items at shelf price and then selling them at an inflated price / above retail price in order to make a profit. This is usually done when the availability of an Item is very low and specifically involves the "scalper" buying that item / items with the sole intention of selling it on at an inflated cost. This practice in itself often leads to further unavailability of the item being sold. 

During Covid-19 there has been a number of occasions when I have been looking for second hand items only to have them offered to me at higher than the normal retail value as displayed on sites such as FLO. Often with the owner claiming that they have only had it for days / weeks and are selling due to a change in direction, never having opened it. So...why did you not return it under distance selling regulations? 

I was starting to get annoyed by this and then I recently saw this add on Astro buy Sell. For referance a Az GTI is currently £215 new from FLO...

https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=167393

Am I seeing things or is this actually going on? Supply and demand is a thing I guess.

Adam

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Personally, I’d have washed my hands of that one.. think about it.....😂

Not sure why you would think this would be scalping - the guy is asking 200 pounds and FLO sells it for 215, so then he must be a complete looser as a scalper. I think the poor guy just wants as much

yes but then you'd have to swap the steering wheel and pedals over

There will always be someone who tries to make a profit by underhand means. There are loads of examples on line. One for instance was a bar of soap for sale from Aussie. They were advertising it at around £14 and £9 plus for shipping! The actual soap was available from Loccitane for £9. Yes I know a daft price even direct  from the maker, but there are many such crazy sales pitches going on at present. What I want to know is which idiots actually fall for it 🤣

Derek

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I looked at his other 3 ads.

It seems he twice sold an iOptron sky tracker late September, early October, but it was probably that the first sale fell through and he put it back up for sale. Price was for £100.

He then put another advert on, a wanted advert for an EQ1, or AZ Gti counterweight bar, on the 12th October. That wanted advert is still live and was put on 12th October.

Now he's looking to get rid of the AZ Gti, so I guess he's had it since at least 12th October.

Note - he says he hasn't used it, I can believe that, as those weeks were just rain, rain and more rain, but he doesn't claim that it was new when he got it.

So, I think he's a genuine seller, but I think he's just taking advantage of the fact that someone might be eagerly after one of these.

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seems a risky way to run a deliberate scalping/price gouging business, in a small market of specialised products that you could easily end up holding indefinitely and low profit margins?  

Thats not to say the seller doesn't look to be a bit cheeky in their pricing

I have bought stuff that I intended to use but have never got around to but if and when I  sell I wouldn't charge more than new

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Saw this so I questioned him on his ad as it didn’t say if it came with a tripod etc. He kindly sent a copy of the receipt from Telescope Express for 299Euros plus postage (330E). It was just for the mount and nowt else. I think he’s genuine but I guess the poor fella will never shift it at that price even if they are in short supply. Who could possibly need one that badly? Come to think of it how come TE were selling them for so much in the first place? Scalping?

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eBay has them, UK stock, for £299.  Just saying.


Of course it could be that the so called C19/lockdown upturn in sales of astronomy/astrophotography gear reported by retailers has run its course for some as the realities of our hobby and UK weather are starting to come home to roost.

anyone out tonight?

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6 hours ago, Physopto said:

There will always be someone who tries to make a profit by underhand means. There are loads of examples on line. One for instance was a bar of soap for sale from Aussie. They were advertising it at around £14 and £9 plus for shipping! The actual soap was available from Loccitane for £9. Yes I know a daft price even direct  from the maker, but there are many such crazy sales pitches going on at present. What I want to know is which idiots actually fall for it 🤣

Derek

Personally, I’d have washed my hands of that one.. think about it.....😂

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Some guys in Kentucky were arrested back in April for buying up all the hand sanitizer in Kentucky in early March.  They had somewhere around 20,000 bottles of it bought from dollar stores and other places.  They were trying to sell them for $10 or more a bottle on Amazon, ebay, Facebook marketplace, etc.  People were buying them during the panic even at that price.  What got them arrested was that those bottles were deemed essential items during a declared emergency.

My point is, if you can convince the authorities that astronomy gear is an essential item during this emergency, you could then get them arrested for price gouging.😉

Edited by Louis D
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12 hours ago, david_taurus83 said:

Have noticed a couple of items in our own sales section advertised for practically "as new" prices. I suppose someone can charge what they want really.

Well they are free to ask what they like of course but prospective buyers are free not to buy as well. So the market will decide what is a "fair" price I think.

We have had this a few times (not particularly here but generally in the secondhand market) when a popular product goes out of production, the demand increases as the availability drops and the used prices rise for a while. Usually this is a temporary thing and prices settle back down after a while. This happened with the Baader Genuine Ortho eyepieces when production ceased rather suddenly a few years ago. Used prices popped up from around £50.00 to over £100.00 for a while but then settled back down again.

A few really high end products that are out of production still command prices that are more than their original retail cost eg: Zeiss ZAO orthos, Pentax XO eyepieces. TMB Supermonocentrics. In this case I think the market sustains such prices because these products were simply the best of their kind (and still are) and those who have the funds will pay what it takes to acquire them.

Vixen HR eyepieces might be the next in this category although the Takahashi TAO eyepieces are still readily available and of very similar quality.

 

Edited by John
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Always seems to be the way in a crisis when shortages hit. During the initial wave and after my sudden hospital stay I was looking at cat food on the likes of Amazon, prices were 2x or more what retail should have been via several opportunist sellers and also short on stock levels. Of course prime users who have the option of their grocery service were able to buy direct at more regular prices so I got my daughter to order me a couple large bags. Only just getting to the end of those now.

Anyone recall the great fuel blockade here? Long queues, small stations hiking prices etc. I used to travel round the country visiting clients back then and thankfully had filled the car on the last return just before it all went chaotic. Most visits after that were virtual and we either train'd into the office or worked from home for the duration. Some were auctioning by the gallon on the bay back then and according to the news one person bought 2 gallons for his ferrari at some stellar price. I looked over at my car with a full 17 gallons in the tank and pondered... but I didn't join that party. Of course the crisis ended not long after and I guess we'll never know if mr ferrari paid up or not 😄 

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4 hours ago, DaveL59 said:

Anyone recall the great fuel blockade here?

Aside from the 1973 OPEC created oil crisis?  No, none here in the states for the last 47 years.  I had to look up what happened repeatedly in the UK vis-a-vis oil shortages.  The last time truckers blockaded shipments here was indeed during 1973/1974 over the high oil prices and 55 MPH speed limit that hit their bottom lines hard.

Every time there's a hurricane coming out of the Gulf, local gas prices and hotel prices spike to about six times their normal prices.  However, it's pretty easy to report them to their respective state's attorney general for prosecution for violating scalping laws during a state of emergency.  All you have to do is take a picture of the charges with your phone and send it to the AG's office with the location details.  Texas in particular comes down hard and swiftly on offenders.

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What the garages tend to do with fuel crises is impose a maximum sale of a small volume when what they should do is obviously the reverse. If they limit sales to a couple of gallons everyone drives around all the time with full tanks, so the available reserve is locked up in those tanks. A minimum volume restriction would mean tanks not permanently full so more fuel available.

Something I've seen occasionally on the net is a specialist item like a telescope offered for sale at an utterly ridiculous price, far higher than new. My best guess is that the vendor is hoping to hook a buyer with no prior knowledge of the item and too daft to look it up. It's a big internet and you only need one...

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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Not sure why you would think this would be scalping - the guy is asking 200 pounds and FLO sells it for 215, so then he must be a complete looser as a scalper. I think the poor guy just wants as much as possible of his money back.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi-alt-az-mount-tripod.html

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2 hours ago, gilesco said:

Roughly 67.3% of the Pump price in the UK is Tax.

Whereas, in the US, it's roughly 50% (changes from state to state).

I'm paying $0.76/gallon in state and federal gas taxes here in Texas.  That does indeed work out to 48% tax at $1.59/gallon for gas.  Hidden taxes. 🙄

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1 hour ago, gorann said:

Not sure why you would think this would be scalping - the guy is asking 200 pounds and FLO sells it for 215, so then he must be a complete looser as a scalper. I think the poor guy just wants as much as possible of his money back.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi-alt-az-mount-tripod.html 

That price has just been dropped from (I think) £280. 

I can't really say it's a case of scalping.

 

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age old supply and demand thing most likely. Knows he has something that is likely in demand so chancing it to get as much as possible. Seen a lot of ads on the bay of late that are "opened never used" for scopes and gear and asking high prices. Experienced folk will generally avoid as we've got gear we can use but for someone wanting kit that isn't easily available at the moment some may well hit the buy button so they can scratch that itch.

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Earlier in the month, when I was looking for a Premium Cheshire Collimator eyepiece, there were none in stock at the time with Auntie FLO.  Some person was selling an unused one on eBay on bid or best offer.  The starting bid was £15, so I offered that as best offer, this was rejected and I offered £20, then £25 - these were both rejected.  I refused to pay nearly full price for one that wasn't new, technically.  It eventually sold for £30 + £2.90 p&p, if I remember correctly.  At this point, Auntie FLO had them back in stock, so I just bought a brand new one from them!

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3 hours ago, merlin100 said:

Earlier in the month, when I was looking for a Premium Cheshire Collimator eyepiece, there were none in stock at the time with Auntie FLO.  Some person was selling an unused one on eBay on bid or best offer.  The starting bid was £15, so I offered that as best offer, this was rejected and I offered £20, then £25 - these were both rejected.  I refused to pay nearly full price for one that wasn't new, technically.  It eventually sold for £30 + £2.90 p&p, if I remember correctly.  At this point, Auntie FLO had them back in stock, so I just bought a brand new one from them!

But come on, get real, do you think he had stocked up on "Premium Cheshire Collimator eyepieces" to make a few penneis becasue he had anticipaded a pandemy? If I was a scalper and had anticipated the pandemy I would have bough the complete stock of ZWO cameras, which could maybe have been worth the risk and effort, but then only in hindsight as no one could anticipate the current situation....

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40 minutes ago, gorann said:

But come on, get real, do you think he had stocked up on "Premium Cheshire Collimator eyepieces" to make a few penneis becasue he had anticipaded a pandemy? If I was a scalper and had anticipated the pandemy I would have bough the complete stock of ZWO cameras, which could maybe have been worth the risk and effort, but then only in hindsight as no one could anticipate the current situation....

I never claimed that he had stocked up on them. I think they were profiteering on the high demand, that's all. That's just my opinion. 

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Well I have a clear conscience :angel7:

I've recently sold a number of items, all in excellent condition and at prices of 50%-60% of the retail. All sold quickly and I'm pleased that they will be continuing to give good service under new ownership :smiley:

 

 

 

Edited by John
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