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Ebay Seller Mark-Up Of Over 140% Seems Innapropriate / Unethical

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United States
566 Posts
 Posted 01/12/2021  11:53 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add one_fine_dime to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hey folks. I just purchased a coin on eBay and then realized I had seen it recently. Sure enough, blurry photos of a likely AU coin I tracked from a different seller (and passed on) was indeed the same coin. This new seller takes decent photos with better lighting and charges 140% more for it. I have a few questions that I was hoping to get some thoughts on:
1) Is it unethical for an eBay seller to buy a coin on eBay and then sell it at a 140% mark-up? They bought this coin for $29+$8shipping and sold it for $90. Typical coin dealer mark-up is 20-30%

2) This coin was advertised as being "Choice BU" condition. Do you feel it is false advertising or misrepresenting a coin if it is not actually an uncirculated mint state coin.

While this seller may not be an ANA or PNG member, their Codes of Conduct seem to suggest this is unethical behavior:

ANA Dealer Code of Ethics
https://www.money.org/ANAdealers/Code-of-Ethics

"To purchase and sell numismatic items at prices commensurate with a reasonable return to the seller and for a reasonable return on my investment with regards to the then prevailing rate."

"Whether or not an item has been returned within the limited return period, a dealer may be subject to expulsion or other disciplinary action for...the intentional misrepresentation as to the grade of any item"


PNG Code of Ethics
https://pngdealers.org/code-of-ethics/

"To refrain from misrepresenting the prices, quality or guarantees attached to my merchandise or that of my competitors."

"To refrain from any of the following in dealing with non-professional customers:
(a) buying or selling at unreasonable prices"


When I get the coin in hand, I plan to assess whether or not it is truly MS. I think many sellers caveat their sales by saying, "grade the coin for your self", etc. I think stating "Choice BU" implies the coin is indeed uncirculated. Or is this just a flimsy argument, and caveat emptor always supersedes whatever verbiage the seller includes in the listing? In any event, I feel a 140% mark-up is unreasonable and inconsistent with typical coin dealer code of conduct.

I plan to let them know that I feel like I was taken advantage of, at 140% mark-up. Does this seem reasonable, or should I just shut up and either keep the coin or return it?
My avatar is from the reverse of the US 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar and features 13 diverse people intended to represent the wide cultural and social spectrum of the United States.
>>> E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) - the de facto motto of the United States <<<
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2724 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  12:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If the seller took a chance on buying a coin with blurry photos and felt that it was a nice unc coin when he received it, I don't see any problem with him taking better photos and listing at whatever he felt it was worth. You obviously felt it was worth $90 based on his good photos. If you feel it's not mint state when it arrives, you could always return it, but grading is subjective and it's always caveat emptor on eBay.

As another example, if you cherrypicked a $200 coin at an auction for $50, would it be unreasonable to flip it for $200?
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Canada
62 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  12:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Fefimo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
IMHO once you buy something it's yours to do with as you please. It was bought on eBay where everybody looks for what they think is a deal.
The "choice BU" advertising I 100% agree with you. This is a picture on the internet not a TPG certified item so there should be a level of trust/honesty. This might be naive thinking but I wouldn't knowingly be dishonest about what I sell and would hope for the same from others.
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 Posted 01/13/2021  12:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add westernsky to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If the truth be known you would probably be floored by the markup on some of the stuff you buy everyday.

I see nothing wrong when buying "low" and selling "high".. It's a free market.

To answer your questions ..

1). It is not unethical to to have a 140% markup. Nobody is forcing anybody else to hit the "buy" button.

2). It would be a misrepresentation to advertise the coin as BU if in fact it did not meet industry standards for BU.

Chances are the buyer saw something when he saw the coin and realized the coin was better than the pictures represented it. He bought it. He repackaged it. He posted with better pictures. He got more money for it.

It happens a lot.

If it were me, I would keep the coin if it met MY standards. If it did not meet my standards I would return it and not consider buying from that Seller again.

Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.

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3655 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  12:53 am  Show Profile   Check Pacificoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Pacificoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Can charge whatever he wants .
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8097 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  01:24 am  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I plan to let them know that I feel like I was taken advantage of, at 140% mark-up. Does this seem reasonable, or should I just shut up and either keep the coin or return it?


As "rude" as it may sound, you should have bought it when you first saw it.


Quote:
Is it unethical for an eBay seller to buy a coin on eBay and then sell it at a 140% mark-up?


Who says that's markup if it sells at that price, then it'd be the market price.


Quote:
Do you feel it is false advertising or misrepresenting a coin if it is not actually an uncirculated mint state coin.


Misleading yes


Quote:
the intentional misrepresentation as to the grade of any item


Intent is hard to prove. Unless he breaks a VF-25 and sells it as MS you're kinda SOL. Plausible deniability.


Quote:
a reasonable return on my investment with regards to the then prevailing rate.


Sometimes you miss on a coin. It happens. I've been hit before where I bought a coin as X and it turns out to be Y (in terms of a slider Unc). If you buy a slider knowing it's a slider then you can't complain if it's a slider.


Quote:
Or is this just a flimsy argument, and caveat emptor always supersedes whatever verbiage the seller includes in the listing?


I don't think so. I've sold coins in MS-62 holders at 65 price because I think that they're undergraded. All I said was look, I think it's undergraded, look at the pictures for yourself.


Quote:
buying or selling at unreasonable prices


This is more in reference to taking advantage of new people. For example, paying $5 for an S-VDB. Or selling a 1944 Wheat cent for $100 in circ to someone who doesn't know better.


Quote:
I plan to let them know that I feel like I was taken advantage of, at 140% mark-up. Does this seem reasonable, or should I just shut up and either keep the coin or return it?


Again, gonna sound rude, but it's your own words so... shut up about it. Again, it sounds harsh but I don't mean it that way. You paid that money, you didn't have to, there's an ocean of coins out there.
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11263 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  01:25 am  Show Profile   Check spruett001's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add spruett001 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I completely agree with @westernsky on this one.
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2723 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  06:38 am  Show Profile   Check SilverCents's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SilverCents to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I also agree with the majority of what's been said here.

Theoretically, it's simply a type of cherry picking. I see nothing wrong with it.

Capitalism is capitalism, it's a free market.

However misleading the buyer isn't morally correct of course.
"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump
The light shall never be engulfed by the flames of darkness. Even though night may devour, brightness shines, never defeated.
Enjoy the simplicities of life.
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United States
566 Posts
 Posted 01/13/2021  07:59 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add one_fine_dime to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This is really great feedback. I appreciate everyone taking the time to chime in with their thoughts

Reflecting more on this:
I know many of you also sell on eBay and since I currently don't, it was helpful to have that perspective, to "talk me down" so to speak

I was glad to see folks at least agree that indicating "Choice BU" for an AU coin is inappropriate. Yes, and the entire concept of "slider" implies misrepresentation. I think the fact that this is even a thing ("slider") is an ethical hurdle that the coin dealer profession needs to overcome.

Quote:
As "rude" as it may sound, you should have bought it when you first saw it.
I appreciate the "blunt" feedback, not rude at all. The hard truth is the only thing that is going to help me, so thank you. Yes, maybe I should have...I could tell it was better quality than the price indicated, at least strike-wise. However, based on the blurry photos, it was impossible to tell how impaired the luster was or if the coin had been wiped or polished, or how scratched up the fields were...those were the big question marks. I actually tracked this coin from the original seller through three different listings. This guy had no idea what he was doing. I kept asking for better photos and he kept re-listing it (after it didn't sell) with even worse photos. He told me he was selling his dead brother's collection and was simply going by what was written on the 2x2 holders as he knew nothing about coins. He did not accept returns, and I just did not want to go through the whole "not as described" process to return a coin after a dealer indicated "no returns", so in the end I felt it wasn't worth it.

I'm curious what folks think about this hypothetical scenario, in the spirit of "Can charge whatever he wants" and similar sentiment:
Does that also give me the right to respond to this situation however I want? Meaning, what if I were to point out this fact to the seller, that "I gotcha". Meaning, simply telling them that I know they just charged me 140% mark-up on this coin and ALSO misrepresented the coin as "Choice BU" when it was in fact AU. I can suggest two options to the seller:
1) I'll return the coin and leave them the following negative feedback: "Sells flipped AU coin to me at 140% mark-up, indicates "Choice BU"!". There is nothing untrue about this feedback.
2) I'll keep the coin and we'll negotiate a dollar amount that they credit back to my PayPal account.

While I know many of you also sell on eBay, getting caught flipping at 140% markup can have consequences in that you end up with a buyer that feels they were taken advantage of; and misrepresenting the coin as "Choice BU" when it is clearly AU can also have consequences.
Quote:
if you cherrypicked a $200 coin at an auction for $50, would it be unreasonable to flip it for $200?
I'd say the answer is no. However, if you cherrypicked a coin at a coin show and then tried to sell it 10 minutes later two tables down at 140% mark-up, and misrepresented a "slider" as BU, would it be unreasonable if someone caught you and verbally called you out in front of other buyers?
My avatar is from the reverse of the US 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar and features 13 diverse people intended to represent the wide cultural and social spectrum of the United States.
>>> E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) - the de facto motto of the United States <<<
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 Posted 01/13/2021  08:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add trdhrdr007 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
How do you know it's the same coin if the pictures on the first listing weren't good enough to convince you to buy the coin? IMO selling a coin as BU when you know it's AU isn't ethical. There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking 140% over cost. Many retail items sell for 1 to 3 times wholesale.
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 Posted 01/13/2021  08:21 am  Show Profile   Check SilverCents's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SilverCents to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
2) I'll keep the coin and we'll negotiate a dollar amount that they credit back to my PayPal account.


If by this you mean keeping the coin and asking for a refund, meaning you keep the coin to "punish" them, that is known as theft, and definitely not okay. However if you mean you keeping the coin and they return $50 out of the $100 you paid, I mean, I heavily doubt that'll work. What's done is done. If you feel like you purchased a coin that was labeled as BU, but in reality was AU, then I'm sorry but that's eBay for ya.

Scamming is quite common on eBay, you just need to learn specific strategies, such as what to look for in listings that might signify red flags. If you keep chasing down every scammer, it won't lead up to much. It's just apart of the deal, be careful what you buy and if you fall for a scam, then take it as a learning lesson. Sure you can return the coin of course, but don't try to get back at the person. Be the better man.


Quote:
However, if you cherrypicked a coin at a coin show and then tried to sell it 10 minutes later two tables down at 140% mark-up, and misrepresented a "slider" as BU, would it be unreasonable if someone caught you and verbally called you out in front of other buyers?


Well I mean, depends on how you look at it. Technically what they're doing isn't wrong. It's the sellers fault for simply not catching it before the buyer did, happens all the time. It's literally what cherry picking is, doesn't matter if it's in person or online. Now would it be quite rude of you to do so? Yes, but again, it's just apart of the deal. So yes I suppose someone would warrant the use of calling you out for it. However if it's happening online that's quite different. In person at a coin show, I feel like everyone is apart of a community, all huddled together in one large room. So it would be more offensive if you out right cherry picked and then sold the coin off if you did it in person. But online, there are just far too many listings and people. It becomes a game at that point.

In the end, this is common in the eBay community. Don't keep chasing scammers trying to fight them, because it's just a waste of your time. Learn to analyze listings, deciding if they're legit, and then take it from there. What the fella did isn't scamming, it's cherry picking. In an online situation, I don't see anything wrong with him flipping for a profit unless he was rubbing it in another person's face.
"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump
The light shall never be engulfed by the flames of darkness. Even though night may devour, brightness shines, never defeated.
Enjoy the simplicities of life.
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 Posted 01/13/2021  08:40 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
IMO probably half the raw coins on eBay that are labeled "Choice BU" are misrepresented, either intentionally or unwittingly. I think threatening a seller with bad feedback or demanding a partial refund because you disagree with their grade is bad form.
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 Posted 01/13/2021  09:04 am  Show Profile   Check nss-52's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add nss-52 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
So, it seems your initial thought is that anyone that sells something for more than 30% markup is acting inappropriately.
Do you still feel that way?

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 Posted 01/13/2021  09:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add one_fine_dime to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for this further feedback. I think "venting" here was very helpful for me and you all sufficiently "walked me back from the cliff". I honestly have a better perspective on this now. I will not be threatening bad feedback, and I will not point out to the seller that I know what they did. I may simply return the coin. Now, as a buyer, I know it is perfectly acceptable to charge whatever mark-up for cherrypicked or other coins in the future, and I'll keep this in mind once I do start selling part of my holdings on eBay or elsewhere.

For the initial coin that I neglected to pull the trigger on:
I really feel that with "no returns", a seller is forced to just keep whatever shows up in the mail. I really didn't want a coin that would come back "details" if submitted to a TPG down the road. I would have taken the chance to cherrypick the coin with less than ideal photos if they had a return policy. Or maybe I should just ask about the potential to return next time, and be honest about 'no returns' being what is holding me back from bidding, and see if they change their mind about returns.


Quote:
However if you mean you keeping the coin and they return $50 out of the $100 you paid, I mean, I heavily doubt that'll work. What's done is done. If you feel like you purchased a coin that was labeled as BU, but in reality was AU, then I'm sorry but that's eBay for ya.
Yes, this is what I was suggesting, but I'm not going to do that now. The fact this new seller has a good return policy helps a lot! I pulled the trigger quickly based on the fact that it was a new BIN listing and eBay was telling me something like 17 people had already viewed the listing, it was a very good price for "Choice BU", the seller seemed to have impeccable feedback, and they had a return policy.


Quote:
Sure you can return the coin of course, but don't try to get back at the person. Be the better man.
Thank you, I needed that. I will follow your advice.

Quote:
How do you know it's the same coin if the pictures on the first listing weren't good enough to convince you to buy the coin?
Yes, great question! Who, knows maybe I'm way off base in that assessment, but here are the two photos of the same coin. The mark on the cheekbone and the faint scratch on the neck gave it away for me. This appeared to be the large 'S' mintmark variety but the first seller couldn't confirm even after I sent him pics of what the two mintmarks looked like, I can tell with certainty it is a large 'S' on the coin I bought. The reverse photos were always blurry in the first seller's listings. Do you all think this coin would straight grade with a TPG based on these photos? Do you think the coin is AU or BU?


My avatar is from the reverse of the US 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar and features 13 diverse people intended to represent the wide cultural and social spectrum of the United States.
>>> E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) - the de facto motto of the United States <<<
Edited by one_fine_dime
01/13/2021 09:35 am
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 Posted 01/13/2021  09:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add one_fine_dime to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
So, it seems your initial thought is that anyone that sells something for more than 30% markup is acting inappropriately.
Do you still feel that way?

Since I had the previous understanding that typical coin dealer mark-up was on the order of 20-30%, I felt that a 140% markup would be price gouging and somewhat unethical. Based on my interpretation of the ANA and PNG Code of Conduct, it seemed that 140% mark-up wasn't really in line with industry standards. I do not still feel this way. Based on the helpful feedback here, I realize I was being unreasonable in that expectation. I really hope I didn't offend anyone.
My avatar is from the reverse of the US 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar and features 13 diverse people intended to represent the wide cultural and social spectrum of the United States.
>>> E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) - the de facto motto of the United States <<<
Edited by one_fine_dime
01/13/2021 09:25 am
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 Posted 01/13/2021  10:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add westernsky to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
On all the pictures of the coin you posted it looks no better than AU / cleaned to me.

Luster looks dead.

At TPG it will most likely NOT straight grade.
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