Amazon Pricing Weirdness?

I’ve noticed something on Amazon and wondered if anyone could explain it to me.

I was looking for a specific set of bike grips and noticed the price range of between about $45 and +$218. At full retail the grips are around $55, so I’d expect Amazon to somewhat close in most cases depending on ship terms etc…

Low end:

High end:

There were two vendors that had the grips priced at over $200, ridiculously over what I’d expect. I clicked on the vendor site links and in both cases they sold no bike parts or accessories I could find. One is mostly vitamin supplements and cheap toys.

My question is: does anyone know what the story is with this kind of pricing? I’m not clear if this is a system error either by the vendor or Amazon or some sort of scam. (maybe hoping users will click by mistake??)

I emailed Amazon customer service and just got a form email back thanking me and telling me I’d be contacted for a follow-up (nothing yet, 6 weeks later) I also posted a question for users / vendor and received no response.

I just noticed similar pricing discrepancies yesterday on some sandals my wife wants: a 400% price difference between most vendors and the highest, so I thought I’d ask here.

Those prices are set by (imperfect) algorithms - there have been discussions about them here before you might be able to find by searching, here is an article on the subject.

[edit: linked to wrong thread, can’t find the one on this exact topic that’s been active this week]

Oh, there it is–two topics below this one.

It is strange sometimes, I had to buy a brake caliper. Unfortunately the side I needed was at the regular price but the other side was 32, and after the core return would be -12, yes they gave be $12 when all was said and done to replace the other side. Was thinking if I didn’t need the other side I could have jsut bought it and core returned the new one back and pocketed the $12.

Yeah, in some cases it’s both an imperfect algorithm and a scam. Someone automatically sets their price slightly higher than the highest available price and when a sucker comes along they simply buy the cheaper one and then send it to the buyer. I consider it scammy because it probably takes longer and more things can go wrong when someone buys this way. I wouldn’t consider it scammy when/if they actually have the item in stock and ready to ship.

The inflated prices are when multiple people try this tactic, trying to one-up each other in price.

That’s the sort of thing people would do back when Staples was giving a $3 credit for returning a used inkjet cartridge. They would look at the clearance bins at other stores and buy ancient discontinued cartridges for $1 (or less) and take them to Staples.

How many people are actually buying the most expensive option? Enough to make a business model of it?

Amazon usually (not always!) has good prices for stuff they sell themselves, but I’ve seen amazing ripoffs for things that are sold by third parties, especially the “sold and shipped by” parties where Amazon is basically just a listing and payment processing service. This seems to happen quite often for out-of-print books, but I’ve also noticed it for various computer components because I’ve been upgrading a computer recently, particularly things like specialized cables, mounting adapters, and the like. I remember seeing one of those things being sold by an outfit like that via Amazon, and they were just shamelessly flogging this adapter thing for around three times what it would cost anywhere else. The logic seems to be that at least a few suckers who really need this specific hard-to-find thing will just buy it and look no further.

However, I did notice something interesting when I bought a couple of computer-related items directly from Amazon, one of those situations where they say “only x left in stock”. After that they quickly sold out, but instead of saying “out of stock”, it popped up a third party selling the same thing – and lo and behold, it was about 30% less. I kept the Amazon order because it wasn’t that much money, it was fast free shipping, and I wanted a no-hassle return in case of any problems, but Amazon does have strange and wondrous pricing and marketing policies.

Thanks for the info - I did see the active thread on the books, but seemed the consensus was it wes likely a typo.

In the last year or so I’ve seen this consistently with Amazon - one or two vendors, primarily selling products totally unrelated to the one you’re looking for, have your product at multiple times higher price.

The thing that I thought weird about my example was:

  • Neither of the places was a cycling retailer. These grips are pretty targeted at more serious cyclists and not something I’d expect to see somewhere selling cheap health and beauty products & plush toys.
  • The retailers have zero reviews for selling the item (no surprise at the prices), but then when I looked into them, all their buyer reviews are mostly 5 stars and sound like superficial BS: “Great experience”, “On time shipment” etc.

That’s what made me wonder if it’s some sort of scam.

@Wolfpup - My son built his own PC last year and when I was telling him about this, he said he also found the same thing for PC parts on Amazon. The worst example was a part that should have been around $100, but one vendor was inexplicably selling it for $1,200!