Why Do Some Sellers Charge Impossibly High Prices?


When listing an item and checking out prices offered by other sellers, I have noticed that some sellers will list an item at an impossibly high price. For example a used book that may start at $5 (pick a number) as the low price…and if you follow through to the end, there will be a seller who offers the identical book for $2,499. (just picking another random number, but you know what I mean)

There have been a few threads about penny listings and how sellers could theoretically make a profit. I understand all of that logic, despite being a relatively new seller. I buy and set prices accordingly. Usually for books it’s about $10.00 before I think it’s worthwhile to list.

But I do not “get” why some sellers would offer items at such impossible and ridiculous prices. Especially if the items are described as only “good,” or “acceptable,” and they are not collectible nor autographed nor anything special. What is the point of offering something at an unreasonable price, knowing that no sane person would pay such a price? And these are the sellers with gazillions and gazillions of +++ feedback?

I just don’t get it. Can someone please enlighten me?



My guess is that it’s based on a complicated algorithm for repricing software, involving sales rank and number of copies available from other sellers. The people who worked out the algorithm were going to fine-tune it, but they left when they were hired to work on the healthcare.gov website.


LOL…I love it. I figured it must be computer generated but how? And why?

What is the point? Or, having noticed some of the seller’s names that do this, it seems like there are a few names that pop up over and over again. Could it possibly be some sort of “watchdog” activity for Amazon and not some sort of programming glitch?

Heck, I would love to get 2 grand for an ordinary run-of-the-mill book, but I have a feeling that it ain’t gonna happen in the near future.


It is a simple way of putting some of my inventory on vacation.

Sometimes when I notice that there is something wrong with a listing ( such as the book associated with it was in the box that got wet ) but it is low priority, I will add three or four zeros to get it out of the way.
This guarantees that it will not sell ( or if it does, it will be worth my time to acquire another copy )
When I get all of the higher priority stuff done, then I can just search my inventory by price from high to low, and the listings that need to be fixed will pop up.


My guess is someone is missing a decimal point in the data feed.


Ditto what RMS said. Could be a simple placeholder as part of the seller’s inventory record-keeping process and/or price watching.


Interesting. Never thought to do that.

I just enable/disable products through our back end system which synchs through the data feed. For people using the Amazon interface exclusively I can see how it would be useful.


I set my price to $100 when I first list it. Because I use FBA, my repricing software doesn’t reprice until it is received by Amazon. If I see an item at $100, this is an easy indicator that it has not been received. In otherwords, it’s just a placeholder price.


I think the people who list books at these high prices do not actually have the item in stock. They probably list every single book as part of their inventory at a high price and if by chance they sell (if you list a million items, something will probably sell eventually) they but it from another seller or website and have it shipped to the customer.


I like the “space saving” theory. I would never try it because I’d be afraid that I would forget that I priced an item so high and it would just linger indefinitely in cyberspace and never get sold.

It seems to me that the sellers who are doing this are mega-sellers, and probably have huge inventories to manage and these listings may have slipped through their review process. Perhaps, as previously suggested, it could also be a software issue?

Thanks for all your ideas/suggestions. I appreciate it!


I never considered money laundering and that makes perfect sense to me!!

And, as a former accountant, how did I ever miss that???


Maybe I am just suspicious, but I have always thought it was very possible that these out of whack prices were related to money laundering schemes.



Call me even more cynical but I always figured the price included the gram of cocaine that came with the book but money laundering was another thought


I agree to the laundering, I have heard this from other sellers that it is a “legit” way to pay for other items received.


I agree with Sara. Money laundering schemes fit in perfectly here :slight_smile:


I once made a typo and instead of selling a a DVD at $29.95 I made it at $229.95 and did not catch the error for 3 days.


Supposedly, Amazon has implemented a new pricing error system, to help with this, but I’d be interested in their plan to catch all of the impossibly low prices some sellers post. I mean, if you sell a board game that’s gonna cost you $15.00 to ship, for a dollar, you’re paying your customer to take it, right?


Actually, I had someone from Amazon explain this to me. We have a product that is $39.00 and someone was selling it $9,999.00 so I called Amazon to see what was up with that.

They said that some sellers will list a product that they are not yet prepared to sell just to get the listing up. The seller will put a price on the product that they know will result in no sales. i don’t really understand the point of that but it sounded as good as any explanation that I could come up with.


I think your theory is the most plausible. I think those sellers are deliberately skewing the pricing algorithms, in a way that I can’t quite work through in my mind, thus can’t explain. Or, they are sellers who have multiple accounts. They want to make their price seem reasonable, by listing a phantom item at an impossible price. Or??

Also for reasons I can’t quite explain, I don’t like the idea of parking a nonsensical price in order to protect one’s inventory.

It seems like a price listed out there for the Amazon public should be a legitimate price!
I mean, wouldn’t we all cry foul if Walmart did something similar?

It should not be a way to safeguard one’s inventory or let the marketplace settle on a price.
I’m actually very surprised that Amazon allows this.


aren’t u glad that wasn’t 2.295…lol…