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I Think Whoever Set The Prices on Amazon’s Trade-In Program Must Have Been Doing Drugs

Amazon has long had a trade-in program for gadgets, books and media but it wasn’t until last night that I realized just how badly they were cheating their customers.

Last night I was buying a number of books for my mother. She’s a construction manager, and due to a shift in her works ite she needed to get a new set of the standard reference manuals (in this case, mainly legal books form Wolters Kluwer). As I added the books to the cart, I kept seeing things like this:

Yes, Amazon is trying to sell me a $300 book and buy it back for only $14. Either they are doing some pretty powerful drugs or they must be assuming that I have been recently been lobotomized. Which do you suppose it is?

Now, I have known for some time that the offers Amazon made via their trade-in program were never very good, but this was the first time I’d seen one which was clearly not in the customer’s interest.

The $14 credit offered above is clearly exploitative. No one with half a brain would take Amazon up on it, and that makes me wonder if perhaps the entire program is designed to take advantage of fools. It’s certainly not intended to offer a fair deal; the $14 credit for this book can tell you that.

While I am all in favor of Amazon making the best deal they can, I don’t think it should be quite this one-sided.  This is an example of Amazon using their more powerful position to exploit the customer, and one-sided abuse never sits well with me.

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michelle November 6, 2012 um 9:28 am

That’s better than what you’d get at a used bookstore or a college bookstore after term. Reference books are outdate when you by them and almost no value in the after market.

Nate Hoffelder November 6, 2012 um 9:35 am

Except this is the latest edition and I could get a hell of a lot more if I sold it myself on Amazon. And I seriously doubt Amazon would have offered me anything if this had been an outdated edition.

Isles November 6, 2012 um 11:36 am

No, it is a rip off. As a student, I buy and sell expensive research essays collections and textbooks all the time on Amazon. All of their buy-back prices are insulting to customers. I have noticed that a few rare and out-of-print books I purchased were given $1 – $10 buy-back prices, but yet they sell for $200 – $400 on eBay. I’m not sure if Amazon knows that they are seriously ripping off people who probably have no idea that their book is rare, but someone from Amazon gave it a valuation at one point.

colm February 25, 2014 um 1:36 pm

Of course Amazon know there are a corporate parasite company who just think about profits & that is it , as luck has it we don’t have amazon in Ireland so have never used them & after reading this I never will, Funny enough I just won a Amazon
£50 amazon voucher in a raffle I will be selling it on ebay, lol!

AmyCat (Book Universe) November 6, 2012 um 3:21 pm

You needed more proof that Amazon was a major scum-bag? As if the way they treat their warehouse workers, or creating apps specifically for "show-rooming" so they can STEAL sales from the original merchant (who brought a book to your attention by having it in his/her shop, creating an attractive display, maybe having a helpful clerk who told you things like "If you enjoy [Author A] you’ll probably like [Author B] too!" or "I read that one last week and loved it!"), wasn’t enough?

The solution: Boycott Amazon. Ask your local bookseller about placing special orders. I’m an "indy" specializing in science fiction & fantasy (I sell at science-fiction conventions) but have happily special-ordered everything from tech books on computer programming or stock-market investing strategies to home gardeners' guides to "permaculture" for my customers. I can usually offer free shipping on mail-orders of at least $15 which ship "Direct-to-Home" from my wholesaler. I may only make a buck or two profit from a "Direct-to-Home" sale of a $50 textbook, but the area where I can BEAT giants like Amazon is in good customer service.

Another resource, particularly if your item(s) are old enough to be available used, is A.B.E. Books (, a website which allows you to search links from HUNDREDS of member stores (independent book-dealers, "remainder" houses, even Goodwill). Amazon also uses ABEBooks… but then they add a mark-up!

Support independent bookstores, buy local if you can, and fight the WalMart-ization of the literary marketplace!

Mark November 6, 2012 um 10:34 pm

Actually ABE books is OWNED by Amazon. So by using them, you aren’t boycotting Amazon.

KarlB November 6, 2012 um 7:51 pm

Yeah, I’ve seen those "trade in" deals for a while, always with similarly wacko price ratios. A $16 book that I can trade in for $1.05? And meanwhile Amazon makes it really easy to sell the same book "used and new," where I can get maybe $10 or more.

I’ve been looking for a link on Amazon for "click here if you think we’re on drugs," but haven’t found it yet.

Agnes July 11, 2013 um 10:17 am

I have nothing but negative experiences. My two books sent out on on June 12. Received by third-party on June 16 and processed on 26. On 30 I called Amazon. They said one was sent back to me. ( no any update on my website)Today July, 11 I still not have received it back. The other one had been processes for 25 days that update change to Expired ???? What. Of course Amazon has no clue what does mean. And because they do not know what to say. They told me to wait for few more days. bal bla . Never again!!!!

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