Do You Speak Up About High Prices?

I had a situation pop up recently where I found that a price was way higher than it should have been.  I  thought it would be a good time to reflect on high prices.

Our Gutters

Our gutters in the back of the house are clogged with leaves.  I never had them cleaned out last year, and there’s one in particular that, when the runoff overflows because the hole to the downspout is plugged with leaves, will ice up the entire 20′ down the side of the house.  It happened last winter, and I figured with the damage done, I’d address it this fall.

There’s a guy that does our window cleaning that also will clean gutters, and I know that he has the right ladders and skills for the job.  We ended up calling him, but I always like to look at alternatives.

I don’t have a long enough ladder, and I’m not a big fan of climbing ladders anyway, so I wanted to see if there were any tools I could find that would allow a clean out from the ground.

Amazon To The Rescue?  Maybe Not This Time

The first place I looked, as is usually a starting point for any ‘new’ item type was Amazon.

A few items came up, many of which would involve lifting a hose up and having it spray water to loosen the leaves and somehow get them down.  Those sounded wet, messy, and cold, so I skipped through to see if there was anything else.

One that caught my eye was a product called Gutter Sense.  To describe it, the product sounds like a pair of salad tongs.  You screw it onto the end of a long pole, adjust the height and the angle, and via a rope that opens and closes the tongs, you basically ‘salad scoop’ the leaves out of the gutters and drop them.

mb-2015-11-guttersThe reviews were mostly positive, though many people say that it is time consuming, it can be frustrating to get the knack of it, and you do get messy as release the leaves and they inevitably fall on you.

I noted that there was a single seller listing the product, and that it was a third-party seller.  It was not Prime eligible.  The listed cost of the product on the listing was $59.99.  Shipping was included.

I put the idea aside, and came back to it.  I decided to look beyond Amazon, specifically if I could find any YouTube videos that demonstrated the product.  Turns out there were.  One of them was by the actual creator and company that makes the product, and there was a link back to their website, where you could purchase the product.

Their price: $24.95 plus $6.50 shipping.

The private seller price on Amazon was nearly twice as much as the price elsewhere!

I looked to see if it was for sale beyond Amazon and the product store, and it was found in a couple more places, right around the same $31 price as I found.  (One place I didn’t check was eBay, but read on for why).

I decided not to purchase the product this year.  It wasn’t so much the price, but more for the fact that I simply don’t envision having the time to dedicate to learning the product, especially with the fact that our trip to Disney World is coming up, meaning that I need to spend some time getting ready, plus we’ll be gone for a chunk of time as well.  I can see myself using this product moving forward, but this wasn’t the year.

I also figured that it would be wise to get a full cleanout done this year, seeing as it hasn’t been done in a while and there’s probably a lot of buildup.  This would, in theory, make next years cleanup a little less cumbersome, which would probably be more practical timing.

Still, the high prices bugged me.  A lot.

So, I actually went to the product, found the store front for the third party contact, and found the link where you can fill out a form that emails them.

I was nice about it, but I made the following points:

  • Amazon was the first place that I looked
  • Amazon is my online store of choice
  • They were the only store on Amazon.  Had I decided to purchase there, they would have had a 100% shot at the business
  • The product was available outside of Amazon for substantially cheaper
  • But, they blew it because of their choice of price

Predictably, I never heard back.

But, I hope maybe it gave the seller a bit of insight.  My guess (and just speculating) is that when they saw they were the only seller, they decided that they could increase their profits by increasing their margins.  Maybe this is true, but I wanted to let them know that this could backfire. In my mind, when you become the only seller you could increase volume.  That would lead to higher profits and more sales in the end.

That’s just my opinion, though.

Readers, what do you think of the seller’s strategy?  What about my decision to drop them a note about the potential lost sale?

9 thoughts on “Do You Speak Up About High Prices?”

  1. I think that you did the vendor a favour. If he/she (probably he) is wise, he’ll think so too. It would be interesting to see if the Amazon price has changed. How fun that you’re getting ready for Disney! Paid for upfront too.

  2. Everyone’s trying to make a quick buck these days and this sort of ‘price discrimination’ is very common. I always tell shopkeepers that their prices are comparatively higher and they always answer by saying, ‘It’s a superior quality product.’ Sometimes that may be true but mostly it’s just an instant reply to justify their profit seeking behavior. On the plus side, some retailers will be willing to drop their prices to that of their competitors to seal the sale and that’s when you pat yourself on the back!

  3. My wife has no problem telling people so I’ve been picking up on it as well. I love statements like, “is that the best you can do?” I have no issue negotiating, there is no pressure on me and all the pressure is on the person to make a sale. All they can do is say no, but a lot of times they will say yes…but they never will if you don’t ask.

  4. My perspective is that either the seller knows that he’s way overpriced, or the seller is simply not a very good business person. The only time I’d mention price to someone that is way over is if I’m trying to negotiate with them if for some reason buying from a specific retailer is more advantageous to me. Otherwise,I really don’t feel the need to help a seller/retailer out.

  5. Hmmmm…. Well, yeah, I might, under those circumstances. Usually not, though.

    On Amazon, though, e-mailing the person is a lot better than bellyaching about it in a reader review, which could harm his business all the way around.

    In the real-world environment? Probably not. I usually just go somewhere else when I realize a product is overpriced. Who needs a confrontation? And the person who’s gouging usually knows he is…he knows there are people who’ll pay the bloated price either because they don’t know any better or because it’s worth not having to drive around the city to get a lower price.

    • True. For the seller on Amazon, I didn’t leave a review, and I don’t think that would stick anyways. You’re allowed to review the product, and I think you can maybe review the seller but only if you’ve actually done business with them. Mine would not fall in either of those guidelines, so I never even considered it. I just used the ‘contact seller’ function which leaves private feedback.

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