Stamp prices on eBay

US “Forever” stamps sell at the post office for 55 cents apiece. But they are commonly offered on eBay for prices significantly lower than that, as low as 34 cents each. If you include that these sellers are also giving free shipping and giving a cut to eBay and PayPal, their own costs must be significantly lower than even that.

Where are these sellers getting the stamps at such prices?

Possibilities that come to mind include scam, theft and counterfeiting.

A responsible website would contact all sellers offering such ‘‘discounts’’ and have them document where they’re getting the stamps from.

However eBay only seems to respond to complaints, and not very effectively or consistently even then.

They’re probably getting them from the post office, same as everyone else. The difference is that they’re buying the stamps with stolen credit card numbers, and getting clean cash from you in exchange. So it doesn’t matter that they’re reselling the stamps below face value, because selling them for any amount is a profit for them.

In the year 1989, American postage stamps cost $0.25. If I bought $500 worth of “Forever Stamps” back then, and never used them, I could resell them for a profit today.

Or am I missing something?

Forever stamps never cost that little. I don’t think they ever cost the 34¢ the OP mentioned.

ETA, Forever stamps came out in 2007 for 41¢.

Only if you discount inflation, whatever time/effort/costs you may have incurred in procuring and storing and selling them, and the fact that Forever Stamps didn’t exist in 1989.

So if I bought some and used them, would I be guilty of receiving stolen merchandise?

And is eBay guilty of selling stolen merchandise?

While we’re here, I have another one I want to add to this thread.

I’ve found it’s next to impossible to find coupon codes for Home Depot. However, you can go on ebay and buy and for $20 off a purchase of $200. The coupons cost less than $3.00, so you’re still saving $17. Just about 10%.
And the thing is, it’s not that someone has a coupon and they send a picture of it. These seem to be limitless. You make the purchase and a few minutes later you can a PDF with, what I’m guessing is a unique or semi-unique code. And all these sellers have thousands of them already sold.

If it makes a difference, I’ve used them several times. They always work.

One eBay seller has 200 Forever stamps going for $80 with free shipping.

If (s)he bought them back when they were going for 41 cents, 200 of them would’ve cost $82, so they’d be losing money on the deal now.

The only benefit I can see to such a transaction is that you could build up a base of satisfied customers to help generate future eBay sales (seeing that people tend to trust sellers with lots of favorable ratings).

They’d have to prove that they’re stolen and that you bought them knowing they’re stolen. And, since the person who’s card was stolen, the person who bought the stamps and the ebay recipient are all in different states, I’m guessing the Feds aren’t going to come after the end user.

But if they’re stolen, why stamps? Why something involving the postmaster and feds? Why not pick up some other random merchandise (ipads, phones, etc) and sell that at a discount.

ETA, Jackmannii made a good point. They could be purchased legitimately and being used to bump up their star rating.

A similar scam is selling premium one off sports event on satellite TV. The seller on Amazon gives you a code and an email address.

You have to register the email address provided to your NowTV account (in Uk) and code and lo and behold watch the sporting event live for half the price. When the match is finished, go back to your regular registration.

Either seller is scamming Now TV or laundering money. Crazy.

As per the OP, they are being sold for even less than that. Here’s1,000 for $339.89, also with free shipping.

[I would be very disappointed if the only explanation is that they were stolen, because I just bought some myself, and am opposed to buying stolen goods on principle.]

I’m sure people launder money that way too. But I doubt most people laundering money with postage stamps are even aware that there is a separate police service for postal crimes. (And if they are, so what? The postal inspector already has jurisdiction over fraudulent commerce conducted by post, so the crooks are still on the federal hook if they mail an iPad instead of a roll of stamps.)

Possibly the seller has cracked the algorithm Home Depot uses to uniquely identify coupons, so they’re essentially producing counterfeit coupon codes that are indistinguishable from real ones. Home Depot either hasn’t wised up to it, or they have but consider the volume of counterfeiting to be too small to bother shutting down (compared to the cost of revamping their coupon system), or they’re letting the scammers operate for a while while they set up some sort of sting operation with the police.

While I lean towards “stolen or scam,” it’s also true that some people sell things at a loss all the time. If I’m sitting on 1000 stamps, and I never use stamps anymore, I might just want to get $339 and move on with my life. Every transaction doesn’t have to be a profit center, sometimes we’re just liquidating our inventory. $399 cash might be worth more to me that $550 worth of stamps.

Maybe. I do see them for Lowes as well now that I’m looking. Best Buy, on the other hand, only has ‘real’ coupons for sale.

It was nice back when you could just run into the post office and grab a change of address packet. It used to come with Home Depot coupons.

You can buy stamps in a bricks and mortar store, can’t you? Where do you suppose the store gets them to sell? Presumably the postal service sells stamps to retailers in bulk at a discount, so the retailers can sell for a profit. The overheads of an eBay store are less than a bricks and mortar store, so they can sell for less and still make a profit. They might buy rolls for, say, $25 and sell for $35. After eBay and Paypal fees they still make about $6 per roll.

And posting out to customers is cheap, they use their own discounted stamps.

I don’t think so. From the USPS FAQ:

In the US, while “forever” stamps date only to 2007, non-denominated stamps go back to 1975. So one could in theory have an old set of stamps you bought at 1989 prices and use/sell them today.

But this would be stupid. By US law going back to the quite a while, first class postage rates (among others) are tied to inflation. (Modulo short term variations.) See the chart here.

So any non-demonitated stamps you bought in 1989 are more-or-less worth the same now as then. And putting your money in something that doesn’t change in real money for 30 years foolish. A Savings Bond back then would have a far greater rate of net return.

Hmm, this gets me thinking. Suppose someone who fails to understand inflation bought thousands of stamps some time ago. They eventually realize their mistake and try to sell them on eBay. No sales at current face value. Offer a discount. Still no sales since people are wary. Go to big discounts hoping that someone will take the risk and take them off your hands. I.e., some sellers may be merely bad stamp investors.

Things may have changed, but years ago I looked into this, and was told the USPO didn’t sell stamps at a discount, ever. The retail sellers were marking up the face price and justifying it by saying to the public that they could now buy stamps at places where there were no post offices (like supermarket vending machines), and at times & dates that POs weren’t open.

ETA: What Telemark says.