- Disclaimer -

I mean that. Seriously, you don't have to read this, you know. There are plenty of better things to do with your time. Time is valuable. You'll thank me in the long run (actually you won't, will you, you ungrateful bastard? You won't even give it a second thought and nor should you).

It was originally quite vague, but it's now known by a few people (luckily, people that I like).

Any views expressed of course, are my own.

Of course, if you do stumble upon this and don't know me, feel free to get in touch, it'll be interesting.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Fun With Music Magpie

Following on from this postthis post and finally this attempt to understand the business model of Music Magpie and their imitators, I thought I'd try to have a bit of fun with them (I chose Music Magpie for this experiment as they are - by a country mile - the biggest reseller out there and they don't attempt to hide their identity when selling on Amazon, unlike some of their rivals).  I wanted to see how low they would go on a particular album.  Their normal policy - if they had the album in stock - seemed to be to set their price at £0.01 lower than any rival (with certain caveats, as previously discussed).  So, if another Amazon seller priced at (say) £7.99, they would price at £7.98; if another offer was £2.50, they'd go £2.49, and so on, all the way down to £0.01.  Bearing this in mind, my original intention was to find an album that they - and I admit there was some guesswork here - only had one copy of, then beat them down to a penny, then buy their copy for £0.01 plus the mandatory £1.26 postage.  Then I'd sell it back to them, as their buying price would automatically - I assumed - revert to the higher value.

But this didn't quite work out.

The album I chose for this experiment was this one:

When I first looked into it, Music Magpie did not have a copy available on Amazon and so were willing to pay £2.30 for a copy (this has later significance), just to get into the market.  Obviously I didn't take them up on the offer; the cheapest copy on Amazon at the time was about £14 or so.

However, at some point in between me writing the original pieces and today, they must have managed to get hold of a copy. As per their normal arrangement, they then set their price at a penny less than the other cheapest seller.  I think at the time it was £13.14, or similar.  (Incidentally, the buying price on their site fell to £0.68 at the same time, which is actually quite high for them - their average buying price - considering all albums across the board  - is about 33p).

Now, I didn't take proper notes to begin with, I just listed my copy at about ten quid.  Music Magpie had adjusted their offer to £9.99 within the hour.

So then I went straight down to £7.00.  Again, within the hour they were at £6.99.

Next I went to £4.00.  They went £3.99.  I went £3.96, they went £3.95.

At this point I started making notes, and this is how it all played out:

26/09/16, 4.53pm, I reduce to £3.88.  I was lowest for precisely half an hour, at which point Music Magpie reduced their price to £3.87.

26/09/16, 5.27pm, I go straight down to £2.77.  By 5.58pm Music Magpie were listing at £2.76.  It was becoming obvious that they - or their automated system - checked prices every half hour and adjusted accordingly.

26/09/16, 5.59pm, down I go again, but this time to £1.73.  Naturally I was expecting them to go to £1.72 by 6.30pm.  But they didn't.  They had however reduced their price to - guess what? - £2.30.

By 6.47pm it became clear that they weren't going to budge.  Had I found their limit?  To try to find out, I increased my price to £1.99 to see if they would go down any more.  But they resolutely stuck to their £2.30.

So at 7.02pm I increased again to be one penny lower than their offer, i.e. £2.29, to see if this would tempt them into moving down from £2.30.  It didn't.  They were still on £2.30 at 7.56pm and again when I checked at 9.16pm.  And at 10.33pm.

Just to check my theory, I increased to £4.44 at 27/09/16, 12.04am, to see if they would maintain their low price, or adjust accordingly.  And as expected, they increased their price to £4.43 within half an hour.

So, I reckon I've found their formula and plan to have a lot more fun with it in the future.  It's not that I have anything against them, but I think it pretty much proves their sharp practice.

[Edit @ 27/09/16, 1.14am:  I put my copy up to £6.44 once I'd discovered their price floor for this album, as I don't particularly want to sell it.  But Music Magpie only increased their price to £4.98, which seemed odd.  Aha!  Someone else had a copy available for £4.99.  Mystery solved].

[Edit @ 27/09/16, 12.30pm:  Out of interest, I checked the listing again and Music Magpie had increased their price to £6.43 (a penny below my price, as previously mentioned).  So whoever had the £4.99 copy either removed it or sold it, thus allowing Music Magpie to potentially squeeze a couple more quid out of the deal if possible].

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