Rambling over Coffee: how easy it is to sell discarded goods and list them as new on Amazon

Well... this news article I'm going to ramble over coffee about in a minute, gives me pause for thought.

Ironically I read this about an hour after I received a package I ordered online - although not from Amazon, but from Target.  I actually chose it off of a registry list as a 'gift' for a family member.  Now, normally when you choose a gift for someone off their registry, it's mailed directly to them.  You never actually SEE the gift, so you assume it's new, unused and packaged correctly.
It just so happens I had it sent to me instead so I could give it to them as a Christmas gift in person.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the box this morning and didn't see the correctly packaged item, but a second brown box.  Opening that box, I just shook my head.  The item was shoved into this brown box haphazardly - OBVIOUSLY bought, used or at least tried out by someone else, then shoved back into this box and returned to the store.

And then... sold to me from someone's gift registry as BRAND NEW.

Target is a liar.

But really, that's ok with me because I haven't really given them much business in the past oh, 8 years.

  • When we moved here I didn't like the layout of the current store.
  • They stopped offering as many product choices for items, only a couple big brands and then their own store brand.
  • Their prices kept going up up up!  And they almost never had real sales.  10% and 15% is NOT a sale.
  • Rude employees
  • DATA HACK - yep, as little as I started to shop there (once a year), I was part of their customer data hack 7-8 years ago. Hackers got all my info and I got 'free credit watching for one year' from Target for it.
  • And lastly - when they decided they weren't going to question men walking into and hanging out in the women's restrooms... (and yes, search the news for stories of gross, disgusting and violent things men going into the women's restroom's have been caught doing after they implemented the 'use any restroom you wish' policy.) 

I pretty much said "yeah, fuck you Target" and I think I've shopped there a total of about 4 times in the last 8 years - only because I was with someone who had to pop in for a second, and then this year I had a couple specific Target items someone wanted as a Christmas gift.

SO it's NOT JUST AMAZON that sells things listed as new... when in fact they are used.  I just got the same thing from TARGET but what made it more frustrating to me is that they knew when I ordered it, it was from a GIFT REGISTRY so had it been delivered to them direct, I never would have known how horribly re-packaged and obviously used it was, and the recipient would have thought I sent them a gift like that on purpose.


The Wall Street Journal released a news article this week, which was really pretty disgusting.... about how easy it is to sell discarded goods and list them as new on Amazon.

After they talked to several people who sell items either salvaged from dumpsters or purchased discounted items and sold them as new, the Journal decided to test it themselves.

They opened an Amazon store and sold items that reporters found in dumpsters behind stores such as Michaels and Trader Joe’s.

“The bins were a humid mess of broken glass and smashed boxes, a stench of rot in the air,” the story read. “Several products were in original packaging, some soiled with coffee grounds, moldy blackberries or juice from a bag of chicken thighs.”

The WSJournal cleaned and packaged three items:
  • a jar of lemon curd
  • a stencil set 
  • a sheet of scrapbook paper

They mailed them to an Amazon warehouse and Amazon promptly listened them for sale without asking about the origin or sell-by-date of the products.

The Journal purchased the items before anybody else could. (WHEW)
But... Amazon mailed all three with no questions asked.

Jesse Durfee used to sell items on Amazon that he found in dumpsters behind various stores. He told the Journal that he “used Amazon to sell toys, videogames, electronics and trinkets from dumpsters including bins behind Michaels and GameStop stores. The 26-year-old in Torrington, Conn., said one of his favorite places to find things to list on Amazon is his town dump.”

According to the story, sellers have expressed concerns about trash being listed on the site. The Journal found around 8,400 comments on 4,300 listings for items such as food, makeup and medications that described those products as being “unsealed, expired, moldy, unnaturally sticky or problematic in some other way.”

Around 554 of the 4,300 products were promoted as Amazon’s Choice, and 241 of those 4,300 products had at least five reviews from different customers complaining that the item was used or expired.