Amazon marketplace: If a deal’s too good to be true…

My mum always told me not to trust something that appears too good to be true, but until very recently I’ve argued that this doesn’t always apply to online shopping, especially at trusted big-name sites such as Amazon.

Amazon marketplace: If a deal's too good to be true...

If you came across a no-name website offering totally free digital versions of novels by popular authors, you might rightly suspect an ulterior motive such as malware downloads or “we just need your credit card details to register you”.

Amazon regularly offers free versions of books for its Kindle eBook reader with no strings attached

But Amazon regularly offers free versions of books for its Kindle eBook reader with no strings attached.

I’ve discovered a number of new (to me) authors this way over the past month or two, and I never thought twice about the possibility of scams during these downloads; after all, this is Amazon.

Marketplace sellers

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the likes of Amazon and now also allow other people to sell goods via their sites using the marketplace concept.

You apply to be a “trader” and, so long as you pass some cursory checks, you’re in.

The stuff you have for sale then appears in the main Amazon site whenever people browse for those items, although the site makes it clear what’s being sold by Amazon directly and what’s being supplied via the Amazon marketplace.

All well and good you may think, especially since goods sold through such traders are covered by a safe buying guarantee that promises to reimburse customers should goods not be delivered or not be as described.

Not good enough

PC Pro reader Chris Skeel doesn’t think it’s so good, though, and got in touch to explain why.

Chris was searching for a particular make of guitar when several items appeared on Amazon that he describes as “distinctly iffy” for the following reasons: their price was too low to be genuine, compared to licensed dealers for that make; all these sellers had identical prices; and despite having different names, all showed “just launched” status, which meant no buyer feedback was available.

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