Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daily Deals, formerly DailyDeal USA: Meet A Spider

: The subject of this article is unrelated to, a Phoenix-based site that reminds one of Groupon.

Sometimes you see a pattern of behavior, and it lets you safely infer that certain unstated things are going on.
I have noticed a dealer selling a healthy number of textbooks, and at the same time having a low feedback count.
Normally large inventory counts come with commensurately large sales, especially in the textbook marketplace. When the kids are buying textbooks, they’re buying by the truckload.
There are a few explanations that are plausible. One is that this dealer is engaging in what is colloquially known as ‘spidering’.
Spidering is a polite term for finding an item on one online marketplace, let’s say, and then cross-listing that item as your own on another online marketplace, such as
When you spider, you use an app to find listings for a given item on one site and then note the price. Your app then marks up that item and places it for sale on the other.
I can’t say where they’re spidering from, but I believe DailyDeal USA is spidering for at least some of their listings.
One tell-tale of this behavior is feedback for lost books. The USPS’ rate of losing properly packaged books is well under 1 in 1000. If buyers are relating in feedback that the book is being lost by the post office, you’re probably looking at a spider. Note that I didn’t say “a buyer” in that last sentence, I said buyers in the plural. If you can find a ‘seller said book lost in mail’ on the first page, that’s highly suggestive. If you can find two, that’s very suggestive.

Let's look, shall we?
1 out of 5:"Never received item purchased. Seller replied after sending second email and said item was lost in mail. I do not believe that it was lost, but did receive money back."
Date: September 5, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Rachael H.

Hmmm. A second lost item on the first page of feedback:
2 out of 5:"Ordered on July 30th, estimated time I would receive product was August 22nd. Its September 4th today still no book!! As a student this lag in delivery time is VERY inconvenient. "
Date: September 4, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Sunnie Ayers

Interestingly, despite having USA in the name, they shipped from Germany:

5 out of 5:"The outside box was pretty battered but the contents were is perfect shape. The shipment came from Germany so some battering was to be expected. Came earlier than expected as well."
Date: September 3, 2011     Rated by Buyer: John Rogalsky

Another spider-sign is customers opening a package and discovering an invoice in the package with a lower purchase price on it than what they paid. This occurs when the spider orders a book from a lower-priced seller for shipment to a customer who has paid a higher price. 
In your example below, the spider charged $66.75 and paid $47.02. 
1 out of 5:"I was charged $65.75 for this order however when the book arrived the invoice indicated that the total order came to $47.02. When I confronted the seller with this, I was told "...the wrong invoice..." came with the order. Do you believe this???"
Date: September 2, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Richard Bond

On Amazon, you wind up getting paid 85% of the selling minus about $1.35 or so. 
So, in this case, our spider got $54.53 and then had to spend $47.02 to get the product for his customer.
I'll tell you what, if you told me my job was to order books online and that you'd pay me $7.51 each time I checked out, you'd have an employee for life! Not a bad deal from the spider's perspective.
In a few instances, they're accused of having cancelled an order and then having re-listed the same item again.
What people don't realize, of course, is that they didn't own the item to begin with; they sold the item to you, then the guy they tried to spider FROM was out of stock, so they cancelled on you. Their spider app doesn't know about the history of a given title, so it goes ahead and slaps it back up there the next time it runs.
Two feedback suggestive of this:
1 out of 5:"Seller cancelled order and sold for higher $.BEWARE!Seller canceled order per own convenience. Seller stated my book had been sold and said that the ones listed on the site were higher quality then the one I ordered. However the book ordered was Used-Like New and the other one they were selling was Used-Old. 1day later post my cancel, a book Used-Like New was posted for HIGHER $"
Date: August 30, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Christian G.

1 out of 5:"Had ordered the book they cancelled saying it was out of stock. Looked the book up again they (DailyDeal USA) had put the book back up for more money. Will never do business with DailyDeal USA."
Date: August 29, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Caleb Fisher

As I scroll down their feedback, I come to yet another 'lost in mail'. That pretty much cinches it, these folks are spiders:
1 out of 5:"I didn't receive my order and when I contacted the seller they responded that it must have been "lost in the mail". No tracking number was ever created and I suspect that my order never shipped. "
Date: August 25, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Ellyn P.

1 out of 5:"I ordered package on July 13, received an email informing me of its shipment July 18. August 4 I contacted Daily Deals to find out where my package was and was told to contact them if it wasn't there by the 19th. My package never arrived, I was told a refund would be posted and six days later, after contacting them again, was told that they didn't post it and I am still waiting. Bad Experience!"
Date: August 25, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Johnathon B.

Notice two of these, on the same day no less!
As an aside, on some forums this type of seller is referred to as a drop-shipper. 
While it's common usage online, the term more properly refers to a wholesale provider that fills orders placed by a retailer for direct-to-consumer shipment.
When applied to the online marketplace in transactions like this, DailyDeal USA isn't the drop-shipper; rather, all of the other sellers they order from are drop-shippers. 
Here's the final nail in the coffin:
4.7 stars over the past 12 months (669 ratings)See more information about this seller.
Showing 1 - 24 of 429,302 Results

Notice that they have 669 ratings with an inventory of 429,302 different products.
If you carried a physical inventory that large with sales that poor, you couldn't afford the rent.
And, their feedback:
DailyDeal USA 
Feedback Rating:
4.7 stars over the past 12 months (670 ratings)

Feedback30 days90 days365 daysLifetime

In and of itself, I don't think that spidering would make you a bad bookseller.
However, it seems that one thing frequently leads to another.
In this case, spidering results in unhappy customers, and 12% negative feedback. There's no excuse for that.

Bad Bookseller, DailyDeal USA! No Cookie!

[The cookie you're not getting today is for my favorite Sesame Street character, after The Count.]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bad Touchpad Seller onSale aka MacMall! No Cookie!

Today our bad marketplace seller was selling the HP Touchpad. It isn't a book, but it does make a decent E-Book reader, especially if you are a fan of classic out-of-copyright literature.
For those that haven't been following things, Hewlett-Packard discontinued the Touchpad and decided to sell off its personal computer business, pretty much all on the same day.
As a result, the nice version of the Touchpad with 32 GB went from being a $600 device to being a $150 device.
This took it from being a moderately-priced gadget with an uncertain target market to being a really, really good deal in the mind of many consumers.
Well, apparently at least one seller decided to mark the device down to $150 on Amazon, make a whole bunch of sales and then cancel them. I'm not sure if they were welching on the good deal they gave people, or just had a blind guy that couldn't count doing inventory in the back room.
Here's their self-description on Amazon, proving they're big enough to know better:

About Seller
About onSale onSale is a brand of MacMall, the #1 Apple Direct Reseller in the US.  We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of PC Mall, Inc., established in 1987.  With annual sales of $1.13 billion, we are publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange  (NASDAQ: MALL).    onSale is dedicated to customer satisfaction.  We provide a standard of customer service you have come to expect from and its marketplace vendors.  onSale offers great deals and rapid response delivery on a wide selection of brand new notebooks, desktops, software, accessories and peripherals like storage, monitors, routers and more.   All products are fully backed by authorized manufacturer warranties.  We also offer low prices on manufacturer certified refurbished products.  onSale has achieved the highest level of technical certification and sales authorizations from the world's most important technology companies, including HP, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, and many more.

Anyway, now they're at 80% negative for 30 days. Ouchy. That is just about 6000 negs in that period.
Bad not-a-Bookseller! No Cookies!
Here are the cookies you're not getting, onSale! Normally folks I roast on this blog are only shown the one cookie they're not getting, but I'm giving  these guys more than one to look at but not have. I guess they deserve it based on volume.

Take a look at onSale and their wrecked Amazon feedback:

Feedback Rating: 
3.7 stars over the past 12 months (20267 ratings)

Feedback30 days90 days365 daysLifetime

Recent Feedback:
See all feedback
1 out of 5: "Order was cancelled without any reason" 
Date: August 28, 2011     Rated by Buyer: pei c.
1 out of 5: "Ordered within five minutes of TouchPad price going live. Not only was my order canceled FOUR DAYS later, but other people who ordered later still received the product. Ridiculous." 
Date: August 28, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Vincent L.
1 out of 5: "Canceled my item! " 
Date: August 28, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Ball3r900
1 out of 5: "No star" 
Date: August 28, 2011     Rated by Buyer: Ankur G.
1 out of 5: "You don't sell what you don't have in stock. Is it really that hard to figure that? Horrible company" 
Date: August 28, 2011     Rated by Buyer: David R

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bad Boardgameseller On Ebay: Titan The Board Game

I am getting more and more disillusioned with Ebay.
A few months back, I was sold 3 board games listed as NEW. When I got them, one was new, and two had lengthy box cutter slits down the side.
Here's another one. 
This time, Ebay seller "cheapgeek" got me.
I ordered a copy of this fine board game, Titan, a reprint of an earlier Avalon Hill wargame from, IIRC, the 1980s.
Here's the Amazon catalog entry:

The listing for the unit cheapgeek sold me included the note "BRAND NEW, NEVER USED."

Additionally, the auction title read "

TITAN-Board Game,2 - 6 Players-NIB-S&H $9.18to10.95(US)

". NIB is board game speak for New In Box.

My first complaint is the packaging. It shipped inside of a USPS Priority Mail box, which would be okay, but the void fill used appeared to be shredded paper, shredded polystyrene boxes, and some kind of shredded foil.
When I carefully opened the box and removed the item, I still got polystyrene particles and other junk all over my carpet and furniture. I'll have to vacuum to get rid of it all.
Here's the box once I pulled the game out:


By itself, the packaging isn't a huge deal, but all things being equal, I'd rather order a product online without having to run the vacuum cleaner after opening. 
I bought this guy as 'New In Box' with the intent of selling it to a collector. It's a neat game, with deep roots in the wargaming genre and high-quality artwork. 
It isn't sealed, and that's worrisome. 
I opened it up, and it has 12 boards full of counters you can punch of to play the game. Problem is, if you look at the manual, there are supposed to be 13.
The box is damaged, as well. 
We're not talking light corner wear from shelving or transit, either. The cardboard of the box is ripped, and it's the cardboard on the upper inside of THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE BOX... that's the interior wall, not the exterior wall. This thing had to have been opened, damaged, and closed back up again.

Obligatory picture:


For comparison, here is a less damaged corner:


When I was opening the game, 20 amber 6-sided dice spilled out onto my feet. Anyone board game enthusiasts happen to know how many dice this thing comes with when new?

Also, this game has a two inch gap when you box it up. I'll paste a pic below. Look at the bottom of the box to see what I'm talking about. I've seen a lot of board games and wargames, and I've never seen one where the top and bottom parts of the box don't almost meet in the middle. 
Pic of the box:

Anyone know if this is legit? It seems odd. Did some add-on pieces from another game get shoved in? 
Now, I could have read through their feedback and seen that another buyer of this same item had the exact same problem, but in my defense, you really shouldn't have to do that. 
Check out a feedback he was left previously: 

The box was damaged . And the description said that the item was new & undamaged
abdul_bashur ( 40)   May-06-11 23:17
  TITAN - Board Game for 2 to 6 Players -NIB-NR- $11 S&H (#380330786685) US $15.74


Bad Boardgameseller! No cookie!
Here's a pic of the cookies you're not getting. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amazon Seller Doesn’t Check ISBNs Properly, Sends Wrong Book

On this entry, we discuss sending the right book.
I ordered a book with ISBN 0534968880. This is the Amazon entry for this book:
Notice that on Amazon, the book I wanted goes for $12.17. Once a couple of copies sell, actually, it should be worth $22.00.
I received a book with a couple of ISBNs on it. On both the back cover and copyright page, the ISBN was 0534520065.
That book is worth 1 penny on Amazon.
Some sellers don’t seem to know how to figure out which book they’re holding. These sellers frequently check by looking up the title and author on Amazon’s search, rather than checking the ISBN.
Had the seller checked the ISBN on the book’s copyright page, they would have gotten things right.

One other defect should be noted.

This book arrived missing the auxillary materials.  To wit, a CD should be included with the book. On Amazon, in fact, that CD is MANDATORY; you can’t sell a book on Amazon missing CD if the book was included in the book itself. In some cases, you can wind up losing the book AND not getting paid for it either. 
This should be distinguished with books that originally came in a set that had an ISBN separate from the book’s ISBN. In some cases like that, you’ll buy a book, study guide, and DVD. All 3 items would be shrink wrapped from the factory, and then an ISBN and bar code attached that referred to the bundle. In those cases, you may be able to break the set and sell the book without the auxillary materials, so long as it has its own Amazon catalog page and its own ISBN.
In cases where the book is missing the CD, some sellers choose to disclaim the absence of the CD and grade the book acceptable.
While this is a rules violation, it doesn’t strike me as unfair play, although it has sometimes caused problems of wide-spread note in the past.
No such disclaimer was on their listing, as evidenced by this packing slip:

Which reads thusly for the description:
Comments: Some highlighting and notes. Shelf weaar and sticker on spine.
My official suggestion to anyone who wants to get their money back out of a book they’ve purchased missing the CD is to sell it on Ebay, properly disclaimed. If you want to be very cautious, mention the missing CD in all-caps, red, and a larger font.
To summarize:
- Always use the ISBN from the copyright page. No other will do.
- If your book is missing the CD, don't sell it on Amazon.

Here's the cookie you're not getting:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bad, Spamming Android Software Developer For Booksellers! No Cookie Book Bandit! Bad developer, bad!

I was browsing the Amazon seller forums the other day, when I ran across spam for a software application marketed to booksellers.
What's worse, the spam was disguised as product reviews.

Here is the first post I ran across:

Re: FBA Booksellers: What is your criteria for sending to FBA? 
Posted: Apr 28, 2011 5:36 PM    in response to: booksbybertram

There's an Android app called Book Bandit that lets you scan a book's ISBN, then it calculates what your profit would be on that book based on Amazon's lowest selling price and all the FBA fees.

In terms of hard numbers the apps uses the actual marketplace data and FBA fees to calculate an extremely accurate profit figure.

So what I suggest is start scanning some books with that app and you'll get a good idea pretty fast if you'd be able to turn a profit being an FBA bookseller with Amazon.

I took the app to some library book sales but I realized that most of the books there I wouldn't make any profit if I sold them on Amazon.

Good luck 


So, that's his post. Notice that it was posted the same day the account was registered, and for some reason he was answering a thread from February 2010... in April 2011.
That screams self-promoting spammer to me.

Here is another post:


Click to report this message to  Administrator


Posts: 4
Registered: 4/28/11
Scan a book with your phone, see your potential profit - FBA seller support 
Posted: Apr 28, 2011 5:29 PM

There's an app on the Android Market that calculates your profit after scanning a book's ISBN.

It is designed for FBA sellers in that it calculates your profit based on all the FBA fees. It also lets you specify your UPS shipping rate to calculate your profit more accurately.

It's impossible to calculate your FBA fees in your head for a book you've found. Just scan it and know if it would be profitable to ship it to Amazon and sell it with FBA.

Message was edited by:

Here's the user profile at Amazon:
User Profile for: okudzhava
UserID: 69595
Username: okudzhava
Name: Bez Appel  
Registered: 4/28/11
Total Posts: 4
Recent Messages:
Re: Anyone know a good scouting gadget to use in UK for FBA?
Amazon Services » Fulfillment by Amazon, Apr 28, 2011 5:41 PM
There's also an app for Android called Book Bandit It uses the lowest Amazon selling price, curre...
Re: FBA Fees Calcualtor/Spreadsheet
Amazon Services » Fulfillment by Amazon, Apr 28, 2011 5:38 PM
One alternative to a spreadsheet is using your Android phone to scan a book and have it process all ...
Re: FBA Booksellers: What is your criteria for sending to FBA?
Amazon Services » Fulfillment by Amazon, Apr 28, 2011 5:36 PM
There's an Android app called Book Bandit that lets you scan a book's ISBN, then it calculates what ...
Scan a book with your phone, see your potential profit - FBA seller support
Amazon Services » Fulfillment by Amazon, Apr 28, 2011 5:30 PM
There's an app on the Android Market that calculates your profit after scanning a book's ISBN. It...

Here's a link to the user profile:

Look carefully at the dates and times.
Posts at 5:30 PM, 5:36 PM, 5:38 PM and 5:41 PM, all on the same day.
It seems like a non-spamming poster would not plug someone else's product 4 times in 11 minutes, never having posted on the forum before.
Notice that the poster chose to have Amazon display their name as bez appel.
A quick Google of that name shows posts on the Amazon Web Services developer forums from late March 2011.
Note the post, and the platform this poster mentions he's developing for:
Re: Java code and signature
Posted by: Bez Appel
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 5:43 AM
in response to: fougny in response to: fougny
  Click to reply to this thread Reply
For those still having problems with the solution posted in the 1st thread (which might be outdated at this point or not applicable in all situations) I got a slightly modified version to work.

Instead of:

if (sig.endsWith("%0D%0A")) {
            sig=sig.substring(0, (sig.length()-6));

I used

if (sig.endsWith("%0A")) {
            sig=sig.substring(0, (sig.length()-3));

I'm using Java 1.6 and developing for Android using the Advertiser API

Link for this forum post:

So, we've got posts from March 27, where the guy is developing an app that runs on Android 1.6 and uses Amazon's Advertister API.
We've then got posts from a month later, where a guy with the exact same name is extolling the virtues of an application that use Amazon's Advertiser API to check marketplace prices for products. I wonder what platform the app happens to require?
Let's check the product page:


That's right, folks, Android 1.6 and up.

Here's the link at Android Market for the app:

Here's part of the item's page there:


Scan any book with an ISBN barcode to find out how much money you can make if you sell it on Amazon.
This is the best-value Amazon scout app on the Market today.
NEW FEATURE: Numpad style input for ISBN and book cost. Save time entering those numbers by hand
"Force Close" errors have been fixed!
Super easy to use. You must install a barcode scanner for this app to function (ZXing and QR Droid are both free scanner apps)
Make the money back that you spent on this app after only one use!
If you're an FBA seller Book Bandit calculates all the FBA fees for you and even lets you input your UPS shipping rate to give you an extremely precise profit figure. And you don't have to do a single calculation!
Even if you're not an FBA Book Bandit uses USPS Media Mail rates and Amazon Marketplace fees to calculate an extremely accurate profit figure without any calculation necessary on your part.
Potential uses:
1) Find valuable books in your collection
2) Pick out the most valuable books at a garage sale or thrift store
3) Booksellers can instantly assess the resale value of a book
* Get full details for all merchants selling the book, including full price (and shipping cost), book condition and any condition notes
* Displays weight and Amazon Sales Rank
* When you're ready to list the book for sale, a single tap takes you to the Amazon selling page for that book.
* Or add the book to your "Shipment", then save the list of books in your Shipment to a CSV text file that you can use when you create your FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) shipment.

* Choose if you'll be selling with FBA or shipping yourself. Book Bandit uses up-to-date calculations for USPS Media Mail rates or specify a UPS per pound rate if you're an FBA seller.
* Ability to specify that you're a Pro Merchant

PLEASE CONTACT THE DEVELOPER if you encounter any problems. We are committed to providing a bug-free experience to our users. All bug reports will be resolved and a free update will be made available to our users.
* Requires a separate barcode scanner installed (We recommend the free and open-source ZXing)
Visit Developer's Website

App Screenshots

User Reviews

revising my review below

     by Becky– April 29, 2011
After being contacted by the developer and downloading a brand-new update, this app works great! I wish every developer gave such customer service. Thanks! If there is a way to delete my one-star review, please let me know so I can follow the steps necessary!

Didn't work on Samsung Fascinate. Would be interested if it ever got fixed

     by MAD– April 12, 2011

This is interesting and certainly gives you some good information on the value of ...

     by Aaron– April 8, 2011
This is interesting and certainly gives you some good information on the value of a book. Great hobby for some extra income.

My comments to the developer:
I'm sure many booksellers really would have thought that this was a worthwhile app, but no one likes a spammer.
What's worse than spamming, which is real evil anyway, is being a liar by pretending to be a satisfied customer.
Lying tells me you are untrustworthy. You can't do business with a liar.
Even though the app is under $2, by installing your app on their phone, a customer would have to trust you to not be doing other evil things to their phone while you're checking marketplace values and Amazon fees for them.
On top of that, you're just not clever; you could have used a fake name for the Amazon seller forum post, and another fake name for the Amazon developer forum posts.
Thus, you win this blog's first:
Bad developer, bad! No Cookie!

Here's a picture of the cookie you're not getting: