Why Would Anyone Bid $55 For A $50 Target Gift Card?!

The ever-thoughtful economists over at Freakonomics are stumped by eBay member lpinok, who bid $55.71 for a $50 Target gift card.

Skipping past the fact that gift cards are a terrible investment and that you could easily take your $50 straight to Target, why would anyone bid more than face value on gift card?!

Steven Levitt is baffled:

This seems to defy all logic. The item description is: “Just a $50 gift card to Target … .”


We need to find lpinok and sit him down with Ben Bernanke. Maybe, hopefully, hours of conversation will unearth the mangled thought process behind baffling phenomena like the subprime meltdown.

Until someone offers an explanation, we have no choice but to believe that lpinok represents everything that is wrong with personal finance in America.

How Much Would You Pay for a $50 Target Gift Card? [Freakonomics]

Comments

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  1. gilman says:

    maybe he heard the dollar was falling or he’s a mortgage broker

  2. john42 says:

    Money laundering? Either that or just a complete moron.

  3. homerjay says:

    Its POSSIBLE that this guy has all his money in PayPal and doesn’t realize that you can take it out in a check or use the PayPal Visa……. No, this is just dumb.

  4. Kay Bee says:

    he got caught up in the bidding high/frenzy

  5. ohwevad says:

    Four runner-up bids:
    $54.71
    $54.00
    $52.00
    $50.00

  6. Scudder says:

    Goof! Also paid 20.50 for a 20 dollar card and 25.01 for a 25 dollar card!

  7. 1. Money Laundering (aka the owner of Illegal-drugs-R-US)

    2. Nigerian National that is bored

    3. 14 yr old looking to fark somebody over.

    4. Miss read the listing and thought it said $500 gift card.

  8. hills says:

    Maybe the buyer is hoping the seller doesn’t use delivery confirmation – in which case the buyer can claim he didn’t get the gift card and paypal will refund the buyer – so he gets the $50 gift card for free….

    Or maybe he just wanted to be on the consumerist:)

  9. @Scudder:

    Money Laundering or Nigerian National are my best bets

  10. @hillsrovey:

    Ah yes, #5.

  11. parad0x360 says:

    I had no idea selling gift cards on ebay was such a lucrative business. Im going to have to start selling them

  12. Zwitterion says:

    Pretty sure this guy is getting rid of some IGG’s (ill gotten gains). He’s going about it the wrong way though, this obviously attracted someones attention…

  13. keenconsumerist says:

    Hmmm… This seems very fishy.. Maybe a close friend of the seller is over bidding to raise the price… which it quite against ebay policies. Also, what intrigues me is that why would someone go to ebay to buy a Target gift card when they can simply purchase it at Target’s website. @Corporate-Shill: That would be my last guess!

  14. Plat says:

    I like the fraud ideas. But there’s also “coupon codes”.

    For example [www.retailmenot.com] shows that there might be a $10-off-$50 item for any purchase using PayPal (expiring June 6). In the past, eBay has doled out coupons to specific users, too, which let them ramp up the bid.

    Now, I don’t know if you can get $10 off a gift card purchase, but if so, then it’s like “only” bidding $40. It would also explain why $50 seems to be the sweet spot.

  15. Quatre707 says:

    I think it should be pretty obvious it was purchased with a stolen PayPal account.
    Anybody who has ever been an Ebay seller knows all-to-well the PayPal dispute.

    It’s likely the person who purchased the gift card did so with a stolen Ebay & PayPal account (as in figured out another persons password through some nefarious scheme). Then bid on the item with this account, and sent payment.

    Now I would imagine the winning bidder is probably asking
    the seller to simply email them the gift cards code, so they can purchase something from Target.com…

    Than, 4 or 5 days later the seller would receive a PayPal dispute from the real account owner, because of a purchase they did not make… and since the seller did not physically send the gift card via a mailing service (to have evidence of the delivery) PayPal will favor the buyer, and the seller gets screwed.

  16. DH405 says:

    How would this be money laundering? The money is coming via PayPal or a check/MO. It’s not cash.

  17. sven.kirk says:

    Some gift cards are/were “collectible” items also. Saw a $50 Dale Enhardt/ Walmart go for $100 a few years back.

  18. yurkinator says:

    save money on gas driving to Target?

  19. ChuckECheese says:

    I’ve seen people overbid for other items too, like used cell phones. Why would you pay $20 more than retail for a used, locked phone you can get new and warranted at the store?

  20. ameyer says:

    Possibly the same reason you occasionally see crappy laptops going for over $10000 on ebay.
    Either:
    1) Someone trying to mess with the seller (Non-paying bidder like the $99 million PS3)
    or
    2) Someone trying to transfer money to someone through a “legitimate” business transaction (AKA money laundering)
    Of course, it’s equally likely the buyer’s an idiot.

  21. @SMSDHubbard:

    Money laundering does not need to involve cash per se. Funny or Bad money just needs to be converted into another media. And to do so the holder is willing to take a hit on the transaction. Sometimes a big hit.

    We all have seen the movies involving counterfeit $. Funny money is worth pennies on the $. There is also an entire organization devoted to making fake money orders. Getting caught with either form of bad money is going to land some serious jail time. So the bad guys know they need to convert their bad money for some good money. Getting caught with a legit gift card is not cause for being arrested and sent to jail, so buy up a bunch of gift cards. Then buy something with the gift card (and a little cash to make it a “cash” transaction) and then return the item to the store for a cash exchange. A lot of work, but the bad money is turned into good.

  22. ameyer says:

    @ameyer: Oh, and the $10000 laptop payment probably would just look really suspicious if the feds noticed. I don’t think “Yeah, I paid $10,000 for a broken 3 year old Dell laptop” is particularly convincing.

  23. sleepydumbdude says:

    Had someone buy a 20 dollar xbox live card from me for 24 before.

  24. bpotterr says:

    Obviously he’s going to turn around and resell it for a profit. I believe that’s called “flipping” a gift card. No?

  25. DeltaPurser says:

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see more stuff like this now that sellers can’t give buyers negative feedback…

  26. t325 says:

    Maybe him and the seller are working together to increase their feedback ratings and no real transaction is taking place

    But they’re dumbasses because bidding $55 on a $50 gift card is a great way to draw attention to that.

  27. wildness says:

    Why do people bid only $5 or $10 less than B&H retail price for used lens?

    Probably the same people who fall into the 24% that still approve of the The Shrub.

  28. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @ameyer:

    That would make sense, except for the fact that the winning bidder has 98+ positive feedback…looking at the detailed feedback, most of it looks legit (i.e. not all from the same seller…and it’s from a varied array of items, including a rocking chair cover and a charger for a cell phone…).

  29. cloud-on-a-bike says:

    Come on, why are we giving this guy crap? Clearly, this auction was a steal with the FREE SHIPPING!!! Most other Ebay sellers would be charging him $10 shipping and handling for a gift card!

  30. MrsLopsided says:

    Target cards typically sell for over 90% face value on eBay.
    Perhaps the buyer made a mistake with their auto bid options.
    Or.. maybe there is market for reselling cards at more than face value?… to those offshore or without credit who want to shop online?

  31. mgy says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: I went through eBay hell trying to find legitimate bidders on a laptop I was selling. Most of them had 20-50 feedback and looked good enough. Until they bid on my item, where I immediately received a “This user had their account hacked and you should not accept their bid as being valid” email from eBay.

  32. joebloe says:

    These are the same idiots that drove up home prices to ridiculous level, then leaving it to crash. You can bid up anything to any ridiculous amount, but are you willing to pay for it pay for it when the bill come?

  33. Greeper says:

    Almost inevitably, when I’m bidding on something non-unique, I can find it for way less by simply clicking to see the Buy It Now offers. So a camera will have 13 bids, high bid of $400, but there are five or six sellers offering it for Buy It now for 300. It’s always made me go hmmmmmmm.

  34. Syrus28 says:

    Hah. I bet it probably doesn’t even have money on it!

  35. BalknChain says:

    Ooh boy, I love people. Someone looks like a magic bean-buyer. Maybe lpinok is a Bank of America board member.

  36. @Syrus28:

    Oh No!

  37. RumorsDaily says:

    Foreigners.

  38. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Either a mistake or stolen credit card/account. Hoping the person ships the card before they find out they aren’t going to get paid.

  39. 628 says:

    I pretty much had something like this happen to one of my auctions that was up on eBay: I had an auction in which allowed you to both bid, or Buy It Now for $350. It was bidded $400+, nobody purchased it for $350!

    WHAT?!

  40. Lambasted says:

    @Greeper: Yep, I’ve noticed identical auctions where one will have 12 bids and the other none. Most people are lemmings who only want what other people want. That’s why I never bid early on an item. Once you put down a bid, that is a red flag for all the lemmings to suddenly want the item too and they come out of the woodwork to start bidding. Then a bidding war ensues driving up the price.

    If you notice, most auctions rarely have just 1 bid because the lemming phenomenon exists that once one person bids others will follow. Last minute bidding is the only way I would ever participate in an auction. Why anyone would bid early is beyond me. No way do I want lemmings to jump on my auction driving up the price. I’ll not play that game of auction footsy.

  41. This is a common charity raising approach. Im not entirely surprised it worked in a another context. $20 auctions were popular in the 90’s. People would auction off a $20 bill, and people would bid 4 or 5 times that to win.

  42. Doug Nelson says:

    How else can you get Target to take Paypal without signing up for their Visa card?

    I’m also guessing that in some neighborhoods a Target gift card can be traded for much more than face value. And those people don’t even take the Paypal Visa.

    So you’ve got a hefty Paypal balance, but don’t have a clean ID. How you gonna get your money out?

  43. MrsLopsided says:

    I like Doug’s thinking – it touches on money laundering and a market of non-creditworthy consumers.

  44. Veeber says:

    @ChuckECheese: Running joke in the military is that people buy used cell phones on eBay to make IEDs

  45. ablestmage says:

    Seems perfectly reasonable. If there’s not a Target in one’s own hometown, but one wishes to get a Target gift card for a loved one who shops there in another town, overbidding the original price seems like a fair “run an errand for me” fee. Means they don’t have drive a long way to get it.

  46. christoj879 says:

    I don’t know this buyer’s rationale (check gas gift cards, they always go over face value), but I have bidded over face value on gift cards/stamps when eBay/PayPal were offering a promotion where bidding over face would still benefit me.

    Example: $10 off $50 code, I bid and win for $54, save $6.

  47. FadedSpark -- I Dream of birdie says:

    I’m sorry to be so blunt and to the point, and brutally out of place, but I need to know how to get a hold of the consumerist for some advice, and maybe something to point to rogers. I’m having serious trouble with them right now, and i’ve fired off emails here and got nothing :( I’m really grasping at straws over a 1100 dollar bill with rogers wireless and anything I can get would be great in terms of help to fight this :(

    Thanks

    white(dot)eagle(dot)14(AT)gmail.com

  48. t325 says:

    @628: IIRC, the Buy It Now option goes away after the first bid

  49. kaltkalt says:

    Ebay should have a policy (to prevent fraud/theft) that gift cards cannot be
    sold for higher than face value, pre-determined reasonable shipping costs
    excluded. By permitting this, I say ebay is partially responsible. It
    would be very easy to police. Just set a maximum bid at the face value of
    the gift card. It seems like it should be illegal to sell, at the present
    time (i.e. sell, not lend) a dollar for more than a dollar.

    I’m sure this was bought with a stolen cc, or with the intent to claim it
    never arrived. There is no legitimate, bona fide reason for purchasing a
    $50 gift card for even $50, let alone $56. Obviously, one fungible dollar
    is worth more than one (non-fungible) dollar that can only be used at one
    store.

  50. haoshufu says:

    Ipinok needs a gift card from Target but he is 25 miles away from the closest Target store. Ipinok drives a Suburban and it will cost him 4 gallons of gas for the round trip + time to go to Target to get that $50 gift card. 4 gallons of gas will cost him at least $16 dollars this day. Therefore, paying $55.71 with free shipping is well worth it, plus no need to spend the time going to Target and wait in line.

  51. bobpence says:

    Not the same thing, but I noticed that Costco Cash cards go for over face value on eBay. That makes sense, since it allows you to shop without a $50/year membership, and only members can buy them from Costco or Costco.com. It would be interesting to gather some data on how much over list they are going, and on whether buyers are buying multiple cards over time such that a membership would pay for itself solely by virtue of the overages (as opposed to the low, low prices on high-quality merchandise for middle class families).

    For we members who sell these on eBay, assuming they use the face value or more as their reserve price, this is pure arbitrage. I think they are excluded from the percentage back for $100/year Executive members and Amex/Costco combo card holders, so the overage is the only benefit to selling them. Cheaper gas is not a reason to buy: Unlike BJ’s and Sam’s Club, the Costco gas stations require a membership card (i.e. you can pay with a Costco Cash card, but need to swipe the member card first).

  52. MikeGrenade says:

    @wildness: Or how about used lenses that go for 10-15% OVER retail? It’s incredible.

  53. BadBadKitty says:

    @FadedSpark , Whatever you do , DONT go to the consumerist forum looking for help , I posted a few weeks ago , posted a link on a blog asking others with the same problem to also post , and ended up banned permanently as well as all others .
    Now i cant even read the forum !
    Thanks so much for the help !

  54. mikelotus says:

    when there is both a buy now or bid on an item, i have seen bidders bid above the original buy now price by a long ways. there are so many ripoffs on ebay. items a simple google search that you can find at a much lower price.

  55. nacoran says:

    I’ve seen this before. My guess was they were running up their seller rating. Would it be hard for Ebay to force listing like gift cards to enter their value? Once they had the value in the system they could put a piece of code in that would trigger investigations on anything like this.

    Seller ratings on online sites are such a scam anyway. A 90% rating looks good. 90% is an A in school, but it really is a lousy job. It means 10% of people were so angry about their purchase they were willing to risk a retaliatory hit on their buyer score to report it.

  56. TangDrinker says:

    See comments 71 & 74 in the original post – the bidder is a grandmother who’s been spending the past month at a hospital because her grandbaby was born with severe birth defects. She probably just made a mistake due to lack of sleep.

    Mountain out of a mole hill here, people.

  57. nardo218 says:

    Convenience. Their sibling/bff/college roommate has moved away and is getting married and registered at Target; there is no Target near the bidder. Either you can’t get a target gift card online, or the bidder is too dumb to figure out how.

    Or, drunk ebaying.

    Or, the bidder is one of those aggressive monied idiots who treats online auctions like a game and will bid anything as long as they WIN!!

  58. portus says:

    Here’s my plausible explanation. Maybe the winning bidder wanted to purchase a $50 gift card as a gift for a friend or family member; and was too lazy to go to the store. With high gas prices (it went up 10.75/barrel Friday!) it’s getting exponentially more expensive to drive. His logic makes sense if you factor in an economic value to his time which he saved by buying this way. He may have simply valued him time (subjectively) more highly than someone who’s willing to spend half an hour (& gas) going to Target to buy a $50 gift card. This is just a guess; I could be wrong…

  59. legwork says:

    @portus, but target sells $50 gift cards online for $51.95 shipped.

    @nardo218: Now that’s a possibility! I know a guy (*cough*) who once bought two old camcorders on another auction site after a bad night out. What an idiot. (*cough*)

  60. matt314159 says:

    I’ve read that gift cards can be a big buyer’s scam on ebay. The buyer buys and pays for the gift card, then the seller mails it out 1st class mail (usually w/o a tracking number) the buyer spends the card and then files a dispute with paypal saying they never got it. so they get their money back and the seller is SOL.

    Espeically with ebay’s new feedback rules, once the buyer has paid for the transaction, the seller CANNOT LEAVE NEGATIVE OR NEUTRAL FEEDBACK for the buyer. This was intended to help the buyer, but it instead cripples the seller’s possible recourse against a fraudulent, insolent, or any other kind of rogue buyer that a seller would want to warn other people about.

    not sure if links are allowed here, but a better method of buying/trading gift cards, and one that is much safer, is swapagift dot com. I have used them a few times and they were pretty good. MUCH better than eBay, anyway.

  61. evslin says:

    @portus: It seems you can buy gift cards on Target’s website as well. If I were in that situation I’d prefer to get the card directly from the source as opposed to some random third party on Ebay. Still a plausible explanation though with regards to the price of gas.

  62. CapitalC says:

    Two words: Nigerian Cheque. ;)

  63. This has been going on for years. Almost as long as eBay has been around.

    The only explanation that has ever made sense is fraud and money laundering.

  64. kalmakazee says:

    I have seen people overbid for gift cards on ebay all the time and I could never understand why. Anybody have a logical explanation for this?

  65. 628 says:

    @t325:

    On my first few listings the Buy It Now option went away after being bidded on, but this particular listing it did not.

    But the option did go away after the bids went over the Buy It Now price.

  66. kalmakazee says:

    @628: @628:

    Did the person who won the auction in the end end up paying for the item he/she won from you?

  67. kalmakazee says:

    @628:

    Did the person who won the auction in the end end up paying for the item he/she won from you?

  68. 628 says:

    @kalmakazee:
    @kalmakazee:
    Yes, he or she did, but I’m not sure why that matters?

  69. Megladon says:

    @Corporate-Shill:
    If this isnt some sort of money laundering deal i would be amazed. This guy should really be investigated.

  70. matt314159 says:

    just be on the lookout for a chargeback or paypal dispute. Hopefuly you kept the card # to be able to track if the balance is used or not. Just as a precuation.

  71. jamar0303 says:

    This is common for foreigners; for example, I pay about $37 for a Japanese iTunes card worth a little less than $30.

  72. matt314159 says:

    @jamar0303:
    ^ I’m not sure that makes any sense. I can see the fact that currency conversion can make it more expensive, but you still have no reason to bid more than the value of the card to get it.

  73. freejazz38 says:

    One of the MANY reason I no longer use Ebay. Too many IDIOTS out there who have no idea the value and worth of things

  74. He can also be a Nigerian Scammer, they always bid weird amounts on auctions.

  75. @keenconsumerist: Ideally you’d be able to get the gift card for a fraction of the face value, so instead of paying target $50 for the card, you pay Steve $30 for his $50 gift card.

  76. Kali Mama says:

    @NigerianScammer: Maybe they bid the euro amount for $50 and it tanked even more between corrections leaving the odd dollar amount.

  77. Mykro says:

    “There is also an entire organization devoted to making fake money orders. Getting caught with either form of bad money is going to land some serious jail time. So the bad guys know they need to convert their bad money for some good money. Getting caught with a legit gift card is not cause for being arrested and sent to jail, so buy up a bunch of gift cards. Then buy something with the gift card (and a little cash to make it a “cash” transaction) and then return the item to the store for a cash exchange. A lot of work, but the bad money is turned into good.”

    I have a now 19 year old cousin who was in on this scam a couple years ago. He helped make the guy enough money that the guy bought him a brand new 2005 Cadillac.. Eventually, the cops were brought in. The guy is in prison now.. When the cops found out a 18 year old had a brand new, cash paid for Cadillac in his name when his mom made nowhere near enough to pay for it, they looked into it more. Eventually, it was taken from him and he was threatened with prison time, but since it was a “gift” to him, bought from one guy given to the next, he was not liable for charges. It was considered stolen, because of how the guy got the money to pay for it. He was in on it for almost 2 years, and made enough EXTRA for a cadillac… Crazy shiz

  78. PinUp says:

    Maybe the buyer and seller are in cahoots (sp?) and the gift card is stolen? Then they could spend the g/c and get the $$ back also on the eBay order by saying it was never received? That doesn’t really make sense, either… brain/hurts/don’t/get/it

  79. one800higgins says:

    I’ve sold a $50 card once for $49. I asked the person why they did this and they said that there was no where near by that sold said gift card (I believe it was iTunes). I left it at that and let it go… But I was really tempted to ask if there were any Walmarts… Or gas stations… Or any business that isn’t run by some 80 year old couple near by.

  80. god_forbids says:

    eBay scares me. Seriously.

  81. TamarCaiti says:

    I follow Chipotle gift cards on eBay, hoping for a good deal at one of
    my favorite places to eat. However, for the 6+ months I’ve watched
    these auctions, *every* single one goes for face or just above face
    value. These are different sellers and buyers each time, too. I can’t
    figure it out. Its really dumb/annoying.

  82. whereismyrobot says:

    Hmm, maybe they used a sniping service thinking it wouldn’t go past $50?

  83. HOP says:

    they got the bidding fever……

  84. Ciao_Bambina says:

    I doubt there’s anything nefarious going here. Looking at the recent ebay purchases – ac/dc power supply for breast pump, lots of very cute clothing and toys for a new baby boy (some at fairly high prices), baby shower decorations, XL women’s clothing – this is a woman who is either hugely pregnant or has just delivered and is house-bound.

    Perhaps the pregnancy hormones have something to do with it: she doesn’t give a crap anymore and just had to have that Target card, dammit!

  85. JohnMc says:

    Its a series of sniping errors. They set it to snipe based on time at end of auction with no $$ limit set. Has nothing to do with economics and everything to do about not thinking…

  86. JustThatGuy3 says:

    I do find that high $ value cards sell for well below face, and particularly for certain retailers (Brooks Brothers and Tiffany cards generally sell for 20% off or more).

  87. KCJMAC says:

    As TangDrinker mentioned above, several Freakonomics commenters were able to figure this out.

    I’m surprised the Consumerist didn’t bother to read the comments before linking to the article.

  88. Wormfather says:

    @Carey, If Bernanke wants to find out what caused the subprime meltdown, he need look no further than the mirror (as long as Mr. Alan Greenspan is standing right next to him.

  89. purell54 says:

    The real reason people bid over face value for these gift cards is because gift cards/certs DONT APPLY FOR THE PAYPAL SELLER PROTECTION POLICY. The purchaser can dispute/chargeback the transaction for any reason and win even if there is proof the item was delivered.

  90. ludwigk says:

    @1800higgins: People buy iTunes gift cards via eBay from other nations, for instance, so that they can buy iTunes content from that nation.

    iTunes music store has different content based on your nation, so if you’re in France, and want content that’s only available in the U.S, one hack is to buy a gift card from the U.S. and setup an account to spend it.

  91. ShadowFalls says:

    Actually, more likelihood is this person is intent on committing fraud. Like many others who use Ebay and paypal using stolen credit cards and the sort. Once they have they gift card in hand, you will be sure to see Paypal taking back the money.

    @Ciao_Bambina:

    Regardless of past purchases and being “home bound” You have really no good reason to pay more for a gift card than its actual value.

  92. jamesdenver says:

    I was shocked when I sold a $100 American Airlines gift card for $98, plus shipping. WTF? Why even deal with buying it online when they’re hanging at every store.

  93. fjordtjie says:

    it’s also possible that it was a scam to get more money for it…like most times when i used ebay. i would bid on something, be out bid, give up, and then when the auction ended, have the seller contact me to offer it to me for the price i first bid. i wasn’t willing to pay more than i thought something was worth, and i’m pretty sure the seller had a fake account bidding on it to get me to pay more. it is likely this target giftcard is the same situation.

  94. mammalpants says:

    BREAKING NEWS….target gift card values TRIPLED yesterday as the price of oil jumped $15/barrel.

    at least thats what wolf blitzer says…and i believe everything he says..his entrancing silver beard has the mark of a man who has gazed directly into the eyes of god.

  95. rdm says:

    Because he’s going to dispute the charge with CC/Paypal and get a $50 gift card for free. Especially if the code is transferred by email. The seller will be SOL.

  96. jackspat2 says:

    Sometimes corporations will purchase their items on eBay to find out where the product is coming from. Home Depot, Starbucks, and event sponsors(tickets) frequently buy their own product on eBay to find where, how, why, when, its coming from. Usually it’s stolen company merchandise.

  97. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    I’ve heard people that live FAR away in the middle of nowhere will do this when they give gift cards as gifts to avoid a 2-hour drive to the nearest target.

    Personally, if:

    (cost of driving + time driving + $50) > buying on ebay for a 7% premium

    I’ll do the latter.

    For example. Say I live here: [maps.google.com]

    I would not want to drive to a Target to send a gift card to a birthday, graduation, or other event. I would gladly fork over $7 for someone else to do it and send it to me. Meanwhile, I can work during the would-be driving time, and earn that $7 back in less than a coffee break.

    Makes me want to start selling them on eBay, though.

  98. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    eBay and PayPal have become so frequently used by fraudsters, thiefs, cheats, and bums that I think this is probably some sort of fraud in action. eBay in particular has really become the online equivalent of the Star Wars cantina.

  99. midwestkel says:

    @Quatre707: I was going to say the same thing. This happens a lot on eBay. I could find one a day, why does Consumerist care?

  100. Nenne says:

    I follow gift cards on eBay a lot. I also noticed that a lot of gift cards went over face value and could not understand why. I don’t see how ALL of those people are somehow trying to commit fraud, is eBay that bad?

    I’ve noticed Wal-mart gift cards go for $1-$3 less then face value. People love their Wal-mart! The only gift cards that I see a real deal on are Sephora gift cards. You can get a $150 gc for like $130 which is awesome. A $150 wal-mart would go for $146 + $2 shipping.

  101. @cloud-on-a-bike: Damn, you beat me to it. That free shipping is a fantastic deal! I mean, the buyer saved, what, maybe a buck? Woo!

  102. MMD says:

    A couple of years ago while browsing eBay, I found an auction for a Wal-Mart gift card. The guy selling it stated in the auction listing that he’d received the card as a gift but doesn’t shop there so wanted to get rid of it. Here’s the kicker: he said he had no idea how much money was on it.

    So, even with *no value* listed on the auction, people were actually bidding on it. Probably the same people who buy lottery tickets.

  103. FrankTheTank says:

    @haoshufu: Apparently you are the only one here who is NOT a paranoid fool.

    Congratulations.

    Seriously, people not EVERYTHING is fraud/money laundering…

  104. TheNerd says:

    I should try selling gift cards, and see if I can turn a profit!

    (I agree, it is not illegal, as long as one is being honest about the actual cash value of the card.)

  105. krom says:

    The real question is “why don’t my Ebay auctions ever go this well?”

  106. NFlames says:

    De-Evolution FTW!

  107. LUV2CattleCall says:

    All the tinfoil theories have merit..but what about the 4 other people who bid above $50?

    @mgy:

    No kidding…selling laptops on eBay is a huge PITA

    @628:

    eBay called this Windorphins

    @Lambasted:

    I always wondered what the appeal of selling an item for the starting bid of $1 was…as in, who would be dumb enough to get drawn in to that? You just answered why it’s so effective!

    I love the people who price compare with eBay and say “What? You bought a Zune for $230 on Amazon? They’re going for $70 on eBay!”

    Me: How long left?

    “Uhh…4 days 23 hours”

    @t325:

    True..but he was talking about cases in which there are other identical items still offered as Buy It Now for less than the final value

    @HOP:

    Windorphins…
    @Ciao_Bambina:

    I was looking at them…wtf is an elite breastpump? How’s it different from any other glorified cow milker/penis pump?

  108. kalmakazee says:

    @628:

    Relax man! Nothing to get overly excited by me asking you a simple question. I was just curious if all or most people bidding more then the amount of a gift card actually do pay for the gift card in the end that they won.

    Thanks for answering me though.

  109. christoj879 says:

    I just bought a $100 Sunoco gift card for $105. The reason? eBay sent me a 10% off coupon, I get 6% back through eBay and 1% back through FatWallet. The end result? Cheap diesel for me (not biodiesel but it will get me through).

  110. clickable says:

    @MrsLopsided: You might be on to something. I don’t know about shopping offshore, because if Target has rules about that, it probably means they won’t ship outside the U.S. so buyer would be stuck on that point. But possibly someone who wants to order off the website but can’t use a credit card for some reason. Maybe they have a free shipping code, or they are buying something that qualifies for free shipping, so they figure the $5 surcharge is worth it.

    Actually that doesn’t seem so very unlikely. For example, right now Target has 15% off + free shipping on select furniture. Let’s say the guy wants to buy this leather club chair: [www.target.com] which now costs approx $280 with free shipping. This is a heavy, bulky item that would probably require a substantial delivery fee even if he bought it locally, assuming he has no other way of getting it home. So he buys a few Target gift cards, let’s say six $50 cards. Not all of them will end up costing more than face value. This incident was unusual enough to attract media attention. But if he has to pay a $5 surcharge on even half the cards he buys, the overall price for the chair, including delivery, will still be $295 – which may be quite a bargain for the item in question. Also, he may belong to eBates, for example, where he would get another 4% cash back (saving an additional $13).

    In the end, lpinok might be the smartest consumer of all of us after all. I think it’s impossible to judge unless we know what his plans are for the card. I could definitely see doing that in certain situations where buying from an online merchant might save me tax and shipping/delivery fees, if I could not use a credit card for some reason.