Friday, December 19, 2014

ASK THE EBAY QUEEN: How truthful is too truthful when buying items to resell on eBay?

By SUZIE EADS, Ask the eBay Queen | 5/8/2014

Dear eBay Queen: You talked about arbitrage in a recent column, and I wanted to explore that issue with you a bit more. When I’m out doing retail arbitrage, I’m usually very open to employees of the stores about what I’m doing when asked. I feel that openness has done me more good than bad.

However, Monday at Ross I had my first — and very embarrassing — experience being turned away at the register for being truthful about why I was buying so many of an item (which would have been very profitable, mind you). The sting of having a goldmine in my hands and having to walk away from it hasn’t worn off. Do you think this is a new policy for Ross? Maybe it was because I was trying to use my tax exempt number?

My other issue at Ross happened back in March. I was scanning stuff for Amazon and a manger asked me what I was doing. She asked me to stop, but couldn’t really give me a good reason as to what I was doing was wrong. Her final flippant answer is that I made the customers uncomfortable. I didn’t press it because I was finished anyway, but she did allow me to buy what was in my cart. I have gone back there and shopped again. I tend to go to that store after I’ve shopped several Ross locations, so I know exactly what I’m going to buy and don’t have to scan much.

On other occasions, I haven’t had any issue; like today, I bought six Elsa dolls at Toy’s R’ Us. The lady at the register knew exactly what was going on and asked, “Is that our entire stock?” I told her it was and she said, “OK.” Nothing more to it. She rang up my items and I was on my way.

One time I was in Wal-mart checking out, and I gave them my tax exempt number. The cashier called another cashier over for help. Before I knew it, I had several cashiers watching my order ring up. One of them asked, “What are you going to do with this? Are you gonna sell it?”

“Yes, I will sell this on Amazon,” I responded.

Another cashier asked me, “Do you sell it for more than you paid for it?”

Some people don’t grasp the concept that it’s possible to buy at a retail store and sell for a profit. They seem to wonder why the buyer just doesn’t go to the store and get it cheaper themselves. What approach do you take when asked about why you are buying multiples of items? — Chris

Dear Chris: I have friends that have had issues at Ross also. I think the issue is that Ross department stores do not want you to use your tax id number. I think Ross is one of those stores that cares about where their stuff goes. (I don’t know why) The best suggestion I have for you is to always pay the price they are asking, and pay tax. I know some of my friends make tons of money buying things at Ross, and no clerk has ever asked them what they do with the merchandise. My friend who buys children’s clothes will say “these are for my grandchildren.” The cashier usually says something like, “Wow you must have a lot of grandkids!”

I have shopped places where they did not say anything to me at the store, but tracked me down on eBay and called me (my phone number is in my listing). They did not want their product on eBay. This retailer basically told me I could not sell their product, yet let other people sell it. I eventually came to an agreement with them after I called their corporate office.

Sometimes, when I’m out shopping I get the same kind of questions, and I usually reply with some of these answers:

• We have a huge family (which we do);

• I come from a family of hoarders;

• We like to be well prepared for Christmas; and

• I’m a doomsday prepper. It gets some funny looks but no more questions.

I usually bring my children with me when I am out shopping, and I’ll act like I am having an intense conversation with them, which usually deters any chatting from the cashier.

Strange eBay item of the week: eBay item No. 181324243867. Disney Collectibles almost always sell well. Here is an original “Disney Mary Blair Concept Painting of Alice in Wonderland.” It sold for $12,000 at

Suzie Eads is a nationally known eBay marketer and eBay trained education specialist. She lives in Rantoul. Have a question for the eBay Queen? Email the eBay Queen

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