Suppliers get tough on eBay's rogue traders

Bedroom businesses are 'killing' trade; "It?s harmful as it labels the toy industry as the bad guys."
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Distributors are clamping down on unscrupulous eBay toy dealers who buy rare figures in bulk and resell at extortionate prices.

Known as ‘scalpers’, these traders buy a store’s entire Skylanders stock before selling it online. Certain retailers reportedly search their own stock for limited edition toys (like the ‘flocked’ Skylanders, pictured) before selling them online, or in open packs, instead of allowing customers to find a rare toy in-store by chance.

Now suppliers are taking action, with distributor Asobi just one firm which has changed its trading terms – refusing to take on web-only retailers unless they can prove eBay is not their main selling platform.

“We do not want to encourage back bedroom businesses happy to make a few pounds as this kills our main customers’ businesses,” said Asobi owner Thierry Bourret.

“To be honest very few retailers open our blind Sonny Angel packs; those who do are removed from our list of customers.”

Flair didn’t comment on such retailers, but highlighted the positives of genuine consumers finding special Trash Pack toys.

“The swapping and selling of rare figures on eBay is not an issue for us,” said boys toys marketing manager Anne-Marie Noon. “It’s up to the collector if they want to cash in or build the ultimate collection.”

The Entertainer’s buying director Stuart Grant recognises eBay and Amazon Marketplace are “great for dealers to sell overstocks” but admits “bad bedroom dealers ruin it for everyone else”. 

“[Higher online prices are] unfair to the consumer,” he said. “It’s harmful; it represents the toy industry as the bad guys and that’s not the case”.

Amanda Alexander from retailer Giddy Goat Toys commented: “A lot of suppliers don’t want us to sell on Amazon or eBay as this crazy discounting is damaging their brand.”

Asobi called on Trading Standards to crack down on fake toys and part-time traders who don’t pay tax.

eBay Marketplaces spokesperson Steven Heywood told ToyNews: “Shifts in the retail market are blending online and offline commerce and changing the way consumers shop; in turn this is spurring changes in the counterfeit trade. We work closely with law enforcement, assist authorities with their investigations and we allow rights owners to report counterfeits or copyright infringements.”

Paul Jackson, MD of distributor The In Thing, concluded: “More retailers are finding they can supplement their sales via eBay, but the morality of whether retailers decide to sell highly sought after products for higher than the normal RRP is a decision to be made by the retailer themselves.”

Read our full eBay feature here.

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