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Vasile Bobirnac | Dreamstime.com
Money

The sneaky trick Amazon sellers are using to charge you more

If you’re like the rest of us, Amazon has become your go-to shopping source during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the service gets the supplies you need to your door without ever exposing you to large crowds, which can protect you from acquiring the deadly virus.

Unfortunately, bad actors are aware of Amazon’s place in the pandemic hierarchy and are using the platform to their advantage. They’re bringing out all the stops, from price-gouging to fake reviews, even as Amazon tries to put out the fires. Tap or click here to see how you can filter all the fake reviews and ratings on Amazon.

Even though Amazon has policies and measures put into place to fight price gouging, shady sellers have figured out a new way to rip people off. Using a label reserved for rare and vintage items, they’re artificially jacking up the price of ordinary consumer goods. Here’s how to spot it, as well as what Amazon is doing to address the problem.

Collect them all?

Amazon shoppers have noticed a curious issue when filling their shopping carts. Certain products that are normally priced at MSRP are showing up in listings for double or triple the original value for what appears to be no reason.

But looking closely, you can see these kinds of listings are being marked with an unusual label: collectible. This is usually reserved for mint-condition items of a rare or vintage pedigree, but scammers on Amazon are applying the label to ordinary goods as a loophole for price gouging.

This loophole isn’t anything new, by the way. In fact, many mass-produced items like toys, games and electronics are often marked with a “collectible” label as an extra way for a shady third-party seller to squeeze some extra dollars out of hapless buyers. And the worst part: They can easily get away with it as long as the box is perfect and unopened.

On the other hand, while a slim argument can be made for games, toys and electronics (which tend to have short shelf lives, and could be collectible at some point in the future), it’s inexcusable to apply it to consumer goods that people are depending on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several of these listings discovered by The Verge were deleted after they contacted Amazon. The platform does have an option to report a fraudulent or abusive listing, and until Amazon gets its act together and starts patrolling for these kinds of scams, it’s the best option we’ve got.

How can I spot these fake collectible listings and report them?

You won’t always see the “collectible” pricing when you first open a listing, but viewing all sellers and prices will show you which accounts are making trouble. To do this, go to a listing and locate the button labeled See All Buying Options.

Clicking this will list all available prices and sellers. If you want to avoid the fraudulent listings, simply scroll down until you find something more reasonable.

And for those who want to take things a step further and report the offending items, Amazon gives you a way to do that. Here’s how:

  1. Tap or click here to visit Amazon’s Contact Us page.
  2. To kick off an investigation, try to include the following points as you describe your issue.
    • The store or business name of the seller you are reporting.
    • The ASIN or ISBN of the item’s detail page and the product title.
    • The marketplaces for which the violation has occurred.
    • A concise explanation of the violation based on the policy (mention price-gouging using the collectible loophole)
    • Supporting documentation (in this case, screenshots). Tap or click here to see the best tool for screenshots.
  3. In the Contact method field, verify that Your email and Your number are correct.
  4. Select Send.

And that’s it! Your report will make its way to Amazon, where hopefully, the company can remove the offending item and prevent some unfortunate shoppers from falling victim.

And now that you know what to look for, make sure to share this story with friends so they’re aware as well. Just like with phishing attacks, this trick won’t work if nobody’s falling for it. Tap or click to see why there are so many phishing scams these days.

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