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Regarding scalpers

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by matadorpoeta, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    i have a bunch of replies to your replies to my replies. but i can see we are not going to agree on this matter. you might be thinking "this guy doesn't understand business." and i'm thinking, "these guys don't understand life."

    what i see is that there is a fundamental difference in the ways we view society, and our roles within that society.

    i understand business. i'm a restaurant manager and have been in the restaurant business off and on for a long time (i practically grew up in one.)

    my principles are to treat people the same whether they are in my restaurant, on the street, in my home, or on the internet. i have one standard.

    i will always speak frankly to you, and give you my honest opinion whether you like it or not. i will not compromise. life is not worth living unless you live it your way. reminds of frank sinatra...
     
  2. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    If you knew of a restaurant across town that served the same food, just as good, and for half the price - would you as a restaurant manager and a man with one standard, send all your customers across town to your competitor??
     
  3. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    absolutely. we recommend other restaurants to our clientele all the time (and they recommend places to us). it's just part of being friendly. even our most loyal clients don't eat at our restaurant every time they eat out. if i try a new place and really like it, i share the experience with people.

    to answer your question more specifically, i would say "there's a new place over on la cienega. i was there the other night and it's excellent. check it out." we do it all the time.

    money is only part of the reason i work here. i could make just as much working fewer hours elsewhere, but i love this restaurant, and if i owned it myself, i wouldn't change a thing. okay, i'd change 1 or 2 things, but that's it. my plan is to own this place one day.

    not everyone in the world is jaded and sees life as a competition. when you treat people with kindness and earn their trust, you will begin to attract these kinds of people into your life and that serves to reinforce your actions. it's a beautiful cycle.

    if i sell the sportcoat to the man for full retail, i will have gained a few bucks in the short-term, but i will have lost his trust in the long-term. i will also have compromised my principles and no amount of money is worth that.
     
  4. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    This is what I absolutely fail to comprehend. There is nothing whatever wrong with not offering the lowest price. If your principles say that there is, then your principles are perverse. My principles say that he who provides the service and he who takes the risk deserve a chance at compensation. And quite frankly, I don't appreciate the implication that I am ethically deficient or am ignorant about life because I believe it.
     
  5. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    i never said anything about having to sell at the lowest price. someone selling the exact same sportcoat online can certainly afford to undercut the price that a shop owner can offer - especially if the shop is located in a high rent district.

    higher overhead = higher price. we all know that, but in my example, the other store is right across the street. by not lowering your price in this one instance, you dehumanize the customer.

    i don't expect you to agree with my opinion, but i'm only stating that i disagree with yours, and in order state my case, i have to explain the principles that shape my opinion. don't take this as a personal attack on you as a person. we're just having a conversation and i do understand your point of view.
     
  6. Alias

    Alias Well-Known Member

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    I'm just going to chime in that, while I don't share some people's descriptions of what a "scalper" is, I don't like eBay sellers misquoting their retail prices to be abnormally large.

    I also don't like people who sell shoes over that thing misquoting condition. "SLIGHTLY WORN ALMOST BRAND NEW" does not mean the sole looks as grey as concrete, and with a texture to match.
     
  7. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    Not at all. If anything, by arguing that there's some sort of moral imperative to match the price of a store across the street, you're dehumanizing the shop owner. If the customer doesn't want to pay your price, he doesn't have to. Nobody would have anything bad to say if he doesn't. You're arguing that the shop owner has an obligation to match his competitor's price, which robs him of his autonomy and consequently his humanity.

    How can I not take it as a personal attack when you say that my argument would lead to the dehumanization of the customer or that I don't understand life? I have no desire to turn this into a flame war, but you're the one who is casting this argument in moral terms when that's really not appropriate.
     
  8. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that always gets me, too. I mean, does the seller think that I just won't notice that the shoes look like they've been through World War III? Stating something that's not true is bad enough, but insulting my intelligence with ridiculous untruths is something else entirely.
     
  9. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    i can see we speak a totally different language.

    when did morality become taboo? i conceded from the beginning that it would not be illegal to make the sale at full retail, but i did say i considered it unethical and sleazy. if you choose to disagree with me you know you're doing so on ethical grounds and that this is essentially a moral issue we're discussing. there's a class in college called 'business ethics'. one of the topics they cover is doing things that may be legal, but which sometimes are hard to swallow ethically, like selling cigarettes, for example. we choose how we conduct our selves and our businesses independently of what others may or may not consider acceptable. you think it's acceptable to withhold useful information (a sale across the street) and i don't. c'est la vie.
     
  10. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    I think you misunderstood me. I mean ALL your customers - every one that walked into the door. That is to say, would you consider it unethical to sell the same food and the same service for twice the price as your competition - even if your price is fair and your competition is losing money selling at half-price??
     
  11. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    by arguing that there's some sort of moral imperative to match the price of a store across the street, you're dehumanizing the shop owner.
    i can see we speak a totally different language.
    Obviously so. Nice chop job on what I wrote, by the way.
    you're the one who is casting this argument in moral terms when that's really not appropriate.
    when did morality become taboo?
    That's not what I said at all. What I said is that casting arguments about this topic is inappropriate because there's not a moral dimension to it. It would be like injecting morality into a discussion of whether you should buy a red sweater. What's more, there's a difference between arguing that someone's position isn't moral and arguing that that person himself is morally deficient.
    See, this is an example of what sets me off about this discussion: the fact that your arguments are dripping with condescension and overweening self-righteousness. I know all about business ethics classes, and I would wager that you would be hard-pressed to find a professor of one who would agree with your position. Of course, that's arguing from authority, which is a logical fallacy; I won't mention it. Would you argue that a shopper has a right to examine a shop owner's books to see what he paid for merchandise, what his overhead is, etc., so that he can better judge the appropriateness of the prices? That he provide the names, addresses, and contact information for all of his suppliers? Ought he to put up a signboard at the entrance to his shop so that his customers can keep track of sales at other retailers? And there's nothing ethically wrong with selling cigarettes.
     
  12. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    I can see it now: Waiter: What can I get for you tonight? Customer: I'd like the herb-encrusted sea bass. Waiter: <snatching menu> You know, Phil's over on 1st gets their sea bass from the same source that we do, their chef trained at the same places ours did, and they're charging about half what we do. You probably want to go there for that dish. Shall I call in reservations for you?
     
  13. Thracozaag

    Thracozaag Well-Known Member

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  14. mrprlover

    mrprlover Well-Known Member

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    The whole topic has turned into a huge moral/ethical debate (way out of proportion) and things have been contorted to mean different things. Â We all interpret things differently. You deciding to charge full retail or not, and/or inform the customer of a lower price elsewhere...isn't necessarily a moral who's "right or wrong" issue...and shouldn't. Â As a shop or business owner, WANTING to remain in business should be your main objective. It is your decision HOW you do this. Several are discussing from a moral perspective and others from a business one...it's still the same in the end: Â You want the customer's loyalty. You want the customer to return. As the business savvy ones you are this shouldn't be Aerospace Engineering. If you feel like informing the customer and being honest and frank that's perfectly okay. My business and sales experience has taught me that honesty and acquiring a customer's trust is most important. (Not to mention it lets you sleep at night.)They remember this later and it pays two-fold in the future. Charge the customer full-retail (knowing it can be found elsewhere) and he/she might or might not find out. Â But rest assured that if they do and you said nothing, there's a chance they won't return. Â On the flip...be honest and tell them about it...and they'll make a decision. I would rather a customer make a well-informed decision and shop elsewhere than an ignorant one. Â A good number of customers DO know where to find what and at different prices. Â The shopping experience has a lot to do with their decision to return. I sell bicycles at a shop. It is my job to inform customers of a bike...be it good or bad. (Of course through time, the smart owner has narrowed it down only to carry the ones of utmost quality and yes some still are better than others.) There are several shops in the area within walking distance and the owner nor myself feel guilty or bad in telling them they can find cheaper elsewhere. Â But they know that purchasing elsewhere, if problems arise, will cost them more in the long-run. Â If someone asks me about a bike I tell them strait up. They respect my honesty and even if they don't get a bike in my shop...they will come back for service, a tube or for advice sooner than later. Â They might even come back later for a second bike or a child's bike. If you want to make the larger profit and not inform them than to each his own. Â Sooner or later it will come back and bite you...and when your sales drop you'll know why. Don't we all just want to sleep well at night AND make sure one's business stays in business?
     
  15. ken

    ken Well-Known Member

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    Don't these two statements contradict each other?

    As always, just an unbiased reader searching for a bias.
    Ken
     
  16. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps I confused the issue a bit by arguing against LA Guy's and matadorpoeta's original contention (that there is something morally wrong with buying on Yoox or BlueFly and selling on ebay) in this thread instead of in the original.

    I did so because matadorpoeta made this thread an extension of the last one - he proposed his hypothetical retail situation for the express purpose of making us &quot;see how the basic principle applies to ebay scalping.&quot;

    I didn't post an answer as to what I would do in matadorpoeta's hypothetical situation, because the situation he proposes is not the same as the original situation (buying on yoox/bluefly and selling on ebay.) It's a separate question and it confuses the issue so I will not answer it, other than to propose the equivalent hypothetical question about his restaurant.

    I wish to make something clear - I'm not arguing in any way that the bottom line is the most important (or the morally correct) factor in every transaction. When it comes to choosing between honesty and the bottom line, I choose honesty in every case, whether it hurts me financially or not. It certainly is the right thing to do, and I think, the best thing to from a business perspective.

    There is a difference in what matadorpoeta is arguing though. He is essentially saying that it is immoral, or at least distasteful, to (simultaneously) sell identical merchandise at a higher price than someone else. I consider that assertion to be indefensible and offensive, so I felt compelled to answer it. Sorry if I stirred things up.
     
  17. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    ken,
    in the second statement i was referring to an online retailer, not goods directly from a manufacturer. sorry i wasn't clear on this.

    mr. harris,
    there are too many variables that can apply to your question: why would someone open a restaurant and in order to lose money? is it a mafia money laundering scheme? is it a big company hoping to drive me out of business before jacking up the price? what about the atmosphere, the music, the service, and location? my initial reaction is that if your scenario did come true, there would be a sign in our window reading &quot;closed forever - thank you for your many years of loyalty. for great food at incredible prices go to...&quot;

    let me clarify something. i suspect your question is meant to validate your practice of buying close-out merchandise and then reselling it. i never said there was anything wrong with what you do. if you find a corneliani at marshall's for $100 then sell it on ebay for $500, you're doing good business. marshall's gets their money, you get yours, and the buyer gets a corneliani at a discount price. everybody's happy.

    however, if you were to sell me a pair of vass shoes for $1000, and 20 minutes later i found that the vass website had opened a webstore and was selling the exact same shoes for half the money, i would feel betrayed. Now can you see my position?
     
  18. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    No I do not see your point - you have it backwards.

    First of all, the Vass Budapest/USA pricing structure is not what you propose - I'm sure you are speaking hypothetically but I felt the need to clarify that point anyway.

    Second, Vass has the right to open a webstore and sell to US customers for a lower price if they wish. I very much doubt it would ever happen though. Prices in the US are higher because of the many hours of hard work that my boss and I do, also because of shipping costs and import duties, and finally because they will be offered in retail stores (in Budapest you are buying directly from the manufacturer.) Vass knows this - why would they take an action that could potentially harm their US representatives for the sake of a few direct sales?

    A comparable situation would be for me as an agent to offer to sell Vass shoes to the US public for half of what my primary customers, the retail stores, sell them for. If I were to do so, according to the argument you are making, the retail store that sells the shoes for a higher price would be unethical, not me. The opposite is true. I would be doing my customers, the retail stores, a great disservice. Now you may be quick to point out that I did indeed offer discounted shoes on this forum. But I did so before they were available in ANY US retail store, and I ended the offer before the shoes became available at the first retail store. My offer was made for the purposes of advertising, and was calculated to BENEFIT the retail stores in the long run by promoting the Vass name. Are you familiar with how Diego Della Valle made Tod's shoes so famous? He sent free shoes to stylish men in the public eye. They liked them, wore them, and others followed.

    Another appropriate example is my parent's business. They engineer, manufacture, and sell patented stone-cutting equipment used in the fabrication of marble and granite slabs. They are extremely careful in picking their distributors. Why? Because some distributors will try and sell the equipment at far too low a price. These would-be distributors are too stupid to know that they will ultimately lose money doing so, and in the process they damage legitimate distributors, and by extension the manufacturer.

    Do you see my point? Selling at the lowest price is not by its very nature the moral thing to do. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true - the person selling at the improperly discounted rate could, in many situations, be in the wrong.
     
  19. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    Also, before anyone tries to contend that, by my argument, ebay sellers are wrong in offering discounted merchandise, I'll clarify. To my knowledge, NO SELLER of high-end clothes on ebay buys current-production clothes directly from the manufacturer and offers them on ebay at sharp discounts. We are all selling past-season and excess merchandise or merchandise aquired from private customers. These items have already been offered for sale in retail stores - they did not sell, and therefore the retail stores should not any more concerned about ebay sellers than they are about Last Call, Off Fifth etc.
     
  20. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    let me repeat for the tenth time that i never said that a sale had to be transacted at the lowest price possible. you are putting words in my mouth.

    as a vass agent, your work has value. you are providing a service by making shoes available to those of us who are unwilling or unable to make a trip to budapest. that is the value that gets added to the retail price. no one is questioning that. to americans, vass shoes are only readily available through you.

    however, if before you ever got involved with vass, you already knew their shoes were available on the internet for a price much lower than one that you could reasonably expect to offer, you might think twice about getting involved with them. there would not be anything in it for you unless people stumbled upon your website or place of business before finding the vass site.

    an ebay scalper can argue that he is providing a service, but in reality his business is based on withholding information (or taking advantage of people's lack of information). his wares are readily availble to anyone at the click of a button (right across the street.) if only they knew where to look.

    edit: concerning your parents business; remember i said, &quot;a price that is fair to the business and fair to the customer.&quot;
     

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