I should probably preface this. In case none of you could guess (or in case any of you actually care), I live in a state where ticket scalping is legal. If I had the time and money to get involved, I would have no moral problem doing so. If the distributors of a product can't see an obvious flaw in their distribution method that has been known for decades, then they are either too stupid to see it or they don't care. In either case, I see no problem in profiting from it. I have sold event tickets before. I sold them for more than I paid for them. They were to sporting events. I sold them right outside for roughly what the professional scalpers were charging. I haven't ever felt bad about it either. I will also say that I believe people that seem to be dead set against scalping are on the naive side. We live in a culture that prizes wealth above almost all else. Is it really so hard to believe people will do what they can to attain it? As several keep asking, what is wrong with making money? I make money working at my job, is that evil? The company I work for presumably makes money, is that evil? We pour concrete. We charge more than it actually costs to do it. Where is the faux anger for that? I see plenty of people trying to sound like they are taking some moral high road when there is none to take. This moral code is a total joke compared to the rest of society. Some are really trying to make it sound immoral to buy out the supply of a luxory item. Really? It makes me immoral because you can't spend your disposable income at Wal Mart and have to order online instead? I don't know how some of you have disposable income, what with not liking profit for the individual (which I am going to assume everyone here is) and being insanely oversensitive to the wants (not even close to needs, just wants) of your fellow man. Aren't there causes more worthy than LEGO you should be giving your money to?
I think the real problem here is that it is easy to do this. No one seems to have a problem with people making a profit all the way down the chain. It's just that last step. That last regular guy making a buck. They see how easily he is making money. And they envy him. Or feel bad for themselves. They see how easy it can be to make money on the side, and they don't do it and on some level they feel bad about it. So they go and create this whole fantasy of some code of chivalry reborn in the modern era to make themselves not feel bad. Naturally, scalpers must be evil incarnate for this view to work on any level, so they act like they are. Once it reaches this point for them, they will never even consider scalping and their anger just continues. It's like people who hate rich people (on general principle, not when they do something hate worthy). Deep down they want to be them, but they can't so their mind twists it around to the point that they hate them.
I've been following this thread pretty closely and it has been quite interesting and thought-provoking for the most part. It is clear that there are a couple meat-heads here who are not interested in a discussion but merely in asserting their own narrow-minded views. But to those who have contributed to the dialogue, thanks!
It's been a good read.
Ah, the age old non directional insult that most anyone can decipher who it truly targets. Oh so clever.
MrCRskater wrote:I think maybe what this boils down to is folks' sense of common decency and what is "fair". The act of walking into a single store and purchasing a cartload/clearing the shelves of one or two sets does carry some moral baggage in my opinion.
What moral baggage? If there is 1 left and I buy it, should I really feel guilty because little Timmy might have been just around the corner waiting to buy it? There is no reasonable difference between me buying the last one and me buying all of them (especially when they are replaced regularly and are available all over the place). For the record, if I ever did clear out a store and I saw the hypothetical little Timmy and heard of his wishing he had the set I had a cart full of, I would give him one. When I see parents complain prices are too high, if I know of a place where it is cheaper I tell them. I've even given people coupons I had too many of before. I actually saved those people money and helped their kids get the toys they want all because I pay attention to the best deals and keep up on where to buy. Funny how that oh so horrible practice can actually benefit the people I am supposedly trying to bend over a barrel.
The problem with the argument is that this is where it breaks down. If I buy any sets whatsoever, I am potentially taking one someone else would buy. Now, suppose I actually do want 20+ of a set (it's happened once or twice for me). How am I not being greedy buying that many? That is potentially 20 customers I have wronged by this morality being discussed. But it's apparently okay to be a total glutton as long as the sets are only for you. The moment profit enters into it, it's time to break out pitchforks and torches to storm the (LEGO) castle and kill the monster. Buying huge numbers of sets for yourself (which no one here seems to have a problem with for some reason) is also greed. That is what they call hypocrisy and it's why the argument doesn't work. The ultimate end result of the argument is to give everyone on the planet one of each set to be fair to everyone. Let me know when they announce that policy.
MrCRskater wrote:Such a practice does ultimately rob others of the opportunity to own those sets
So does buying any set at all. See how silly that sounds. It's true though. Every set I buy is one less set in circulation and there are presumably fewer sets than people. If robbing others of the opportunity to buy it is the problem, you should stop buying them right now because you are as much a problem as any scalper.
MrCRskater wrote:. . . waited around for clearance prices to give others a so-called "fair" shot? It's still wrong because even though those sets may have been around a while, others were probably waiting around for the same moment to purchase those sets because they couldn't afford regular retail prices (imagine a 10-year-old with a $2.00/week allowance. A kid like that is not spending his money elsewhere, but is only saving up for the Republic Gunship, so "don't buy cola for 3 months" is not a valid argument).
Ignoring the obvious attempt to appeal to the bleeding heart using the kid example for a moment, if you are banking on waiting for clearance, you are gambling. When you gamble (and I love to gamble, so I would know) you can't always win. The odds always catch up to you sooner or later. If you really want it, buy it when it's everywhere. If you wait, there is no one to blame but yourself. Now, I understand people have reasons to wait (no money at the time, no time, etc) and I truly do sympathise (I'm not made of money). However, their problem should be with LEGO and their distribution scheme that doesn't leave these items on the market long enough. The scalpers follow demand, they don't create it. I've played the clearance waiting game before and I usually get burned. It happens. I accept it as a risk I have to take and I move on. I don't curse the scalper who bought it. I salute him for having more resolve (or better luck) than me to get it.
My recent personal example would be with the current Castle line. I wanted the Giant Chess set but I had no plans on paying $200 for it. I assumed that like other products of a similar nature released in the past it would drop in price at some point. It looks like I was wrong and they planned on low volume (I assume it was low volume, it might have just sold out regularly). I have been watching the medieva market village to see what it does. I knew I wanted one, probably two or three. After watching the shipping date move farther and farther out I finally broke down and bought one. I had wanted to see one in person before buying more. As it is I am afraid to wait and might go ahead and order more before I even get the first one. My past experiences of waiting for a better deal have taught me that the better deal doesn't always come around so I am taking the initiative on this set that I really want. I am doing that instead of complaining that they apparently can't make them fast enough to fill demand. If we're going to discuss morals, my moral compass tells me complaining is waistful and wrong. Action is productive and right. Do something about it instead of demonizing everyone else. Take personal responsibility. I know that is an almost foreign concept anymore, but it works wonders.
MrCRskater wrote:As Don pointed out, if we lived in a utopian environment where everyone only took what they needed (i.e. only bought the sets they wanted, and only bought what they themselves would use), those high-demand items would still be difficult to come by. But the irksome element here is when I've visited 10 different stores within 100 mile radius and can't find what I want, look online and see that Joe Shmo-face has 5 and is selling them for double the retail price, my immediate reaction is that Joe Shmo-face and all of his shmuckity cronies have robbed me of the opportunity to own a set at what I believe is a "fair" price.
Did joe and his cronies also clear out S@H, or was that too much to ask to check that too? Did you check to make sure Joe lives right next door, or is really 5 states away and it was just regular customers who bought them and poor distribution is what is causing your problems? I understand being upset. It's happened to me. The difference is I don't curse the day Joe was born. I figure out what I did wrong and better prepare for next time. I adapt and overcome. Complaining solves nothing in most cases.
MrCRskater wrote:Sure, it would be disappointing to know that several other LEGO customers just beat you to the punch, but that (and that alone) could be attributed to a capital market, and I could live with missing a set knowing that those who did get it are at home right now swooshing it around their house with a smile. But it's downright infuriating to know that someone beat you to the punch and stood to gain from it financially. For the record, disappointment and fury are two different emotions. . .
Maybe it's just me (possibly), but why is that the making money factor is what tips all these instances over the line? It really sounds like the whole problem is that people believe it is wrong to make money. That's honestly what I am getting from it. Let me know if I'm wrong because I really do want to better understand this. Like I said, maybe it's me. Maybe I'm a borderline sociopath who doesn't care at all about his fellow man (possible, though improbable). I think I just more easily accept that the world is the way it is and if you want to succeed there are things you have to do (like make money).
Inzane wrote:Now, as for a possible "solution", I can only offer this:
--> LEGO eliminates the concept of a "limited" set. If upon early release a particular set encounters higher than expected sales and acclaim, produce more of it. Period. If the TLG corporate folk, or LEGO brand store employees, feel bad for the kids who miss sets the solution seems simple to me. Extend the set's production run.
I can see some variation of this being viable. I don't see them eliminating Limited or Exclusive sets. But what they can do is if that set sells enough (some amount to be determined by TLG), they will reissue it a year or two after it was originally available. There has to be lag time built in so the store that originally got it can clear out all of their supply. And so that they can up the price a little (which they will, if for no other reason than it will probably have a lower production run). Or, they over produce the sets beyond the order by some percentage (probably no less than 10% but no more than 25%) and release them 6 months after the store initially carrying them runs out (or they go to clearance). They sell them on their website with some way of limiting them that deters most scalpers (ideas on that one anyone?).
MrCRskater wrote:Finally, I'd just like to denounce those who think this practice is "smart". Sure, you can make a fair bit of money on retired LEGO sets, but on average you can only recoup about 5 or 6 times the retail price. There are far more lucrative "investment" opportunities out there, so scalping/investing in something with such a low kick-back doesn't seem very smart to me. . .
First I will mirror the other poster who wants to know what you consider a good return if 500-600% isn't worth messing with? And drug traffickng, arms dealing, and diamond smuggling aren't legitamate businesses. With the current state of the market, I am fairly confident in saying a lot of those "smart" opportunities you are talking about aren't looking so hot right now. Not to mention, they have a far higher entry price to play that game. This one can build exponentially if you play your cards right (and get lucky) and the starting costs are minimal. The risk is also minimal. What I buy to resell will never be worthless. At the very least, I will use it in my own collections if it comes down to it. Other investments can reach truly worthless levels. Denounce all you want, I know which is the smart choice here.