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#1 Posted by mujeeb (2 posts) -

So the new semester just started and everyone is rushing to get their textbooks. In my Organic Chem class, the textbook that we require costs $150 at the bookstore and there are no used versions available. I, on the other hand got lucky and managed to find someone who was selling used copies of the book for $40 each. Apparently, they had alot of copies and no one else from my class knew about it.

I saw an opportunity to make some major cash here since there are hundreds of students taking organic chemistry. So I purchased ten copies of the book at first and sent an email to everyone in my class, telling them that I am selling used copies of the book for $120. I had a bunch of buyers, all of the books that I had sold right away and I made $1200 with an $800 profit. I still had a bunch of people saying they wanted a copy of the book. I went back to the people who were selling the used books and bought everything they had ( they had 37 copies left) and sold them all to the people in my class.

In the end, I spent around $1900 buying all the books and made $5640 selling them all. So I basically made around $3700 of profit. I told one of my friends about this and she said I was a huge jerk for doing what I did. She thinks I should've just told everyone that someone was selling the book for $40 instead of exploiting the situation for my own personal gains. She also said that I could get in big trouble if the university ever found out about this.

So, really I have two questions:

1) Am I really a jerk for doing this?

2) Did I actually do anything illegal here? Can I actually get into trouble for this?

#2 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3051 posts) -

Yes.

#3 Edited by RecSpec (3815 posts) -

Yeah, you're a jerk for selling them at a markup of 200% but hey, follow the money. I don't think you can get into trouble legally for that.  
Seriously though, unless this is online, I don't see how the hell you were able to sell 47 copies of the book at that price without someone, ANYONE catching on. 
 
In the end, who cares what I think, you made almost four grand. Good on you. 

#4 Posted by Hamst3r (4482 posts) -

1. Yes.

2. Don't think so.

#5 Posted by Octaslash (528 posts) -

Oh, this isn't spam?

#6 Posted by audioBusting (1534 posts) -

Sounds like good business to me. I mean, you had to find your supplier first, and you had to have the money to buy the books in the first place, and this is what shops generally do (mark up the price according to demand). I'm not sure about the legality but I don't think anyone would care about legalities in a small case like this.

Online
#7 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

Jerk? Not really.

And get in trouble for what exactly? Buying cheap and selling for more is kind of how all of capitalism works, you know. You didn't steal the books.

#8 Posted by spankingaddict (2670 posts) -

You can get this for $40 soon .

#9 Posted by mellotronrules (1192 posts) -

i absolutely loathe ticket scalpers. they are the worst. along the same lines- anytime anyone takes a product out of the retail market and then resells said product for a sizable profit due to scarcity- that isn't cool.

i understand a student's got to hustle, and this isn't exactly the same thing as ticket scalping, but you ARE taking advantage of your compatriots.

#10 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@Octaslash said:

Oh, this isn't spam?

Only if he's selling the books in here.

#11 Posted by gla55jAw (2689 posts) -

You sound pretty smart to me.

#12 Edited by Barrabas (326 posts) -

1. If they were your friends, yes. If not, not really. Personally I wouldn't do it because I'd feel like I was taking advantage of people, but this is how businesses like thrift or pawn shops operate. I wouldn't be very good in that line of work. Just be prepared for some people to be really pissed at you if they find out about it.

2. No.

#13 Posted by DennisTM (20 posts) -

1) Not a jerk you still effectively saved them $30

2) not illegal I believe they call it arbitrage in economics

#14 Posted by IBurningStar (2172 posts) -

So the new year just started and everyone is rushing to get their drugs. In my neighborhood, the drugs that we require costs $150 at the street corner and there are no others available. I, on the other hand got lucky and managed to find someone who was selling some drugs for $40 an ounce. Apparently, they had alot of product and no one else from my hood knew about it.

I saw an opportunity to make some major cash here since there are hundreds of addicts taking drugs. So I purchased ten ounces at first and sent an email to everyone in hood, telling them that I am selling some drugs for $120 a ounce. I had a bunch of buyers, all of the drugs that I had sold right away and I made $1200 with an $800 profit. I still had a bunch of people saying they wanted my drugs. I went back to my supplier and bought everything they had ( they had 37 ounces left) and sold them all to the people in my hood.

In the end, I spent around $1900 buying all the drugs and made $5640 selling them all. So I basically made around $3700 of profit. I told one of my friends about this and she said I was a huge jerk for doing what I did. She thinks I should've just told everyone that someone was selling the drugs for $40 instead of exploiting the situation for my own personal gains. She also said that I could get in big trouble if the cops ever found out about this.

So, really I have two questions:

1) Am I really a jerk for doing this?

2) Did I actually do anything illegal here? Can I actually get into trouble for this?

#15 Posted by Zella (745 posts) -

Some might find what you did kind of wrong but it really isn't that bad. You saw a situation and capitalized on it. Your classmates still end up paying less than what they would for a new copy. In my personal opinion I think the price you sold them for was a little high(probably would have gone 90-100), but that's just me. You followed basic economics, the demand was very high and the supply was low thus justifying a high price. I would only say you are a bit of a jerk if you have any friends in the class who you sold a book to for your price, otherwise it's absolutely fine in my books.

Legally I think your main risk is how you got so many textbooks used. Cause it's not often someone has nearly 50 textbooks lying around. I think the actual selling of the books is fine, it just seems shady that you would have access to that many textbooks.

#16 Posted by mlarrabee (2949 posts) -

First of all, tread carefully, folks. The robots may be asking moral questions. Or this may actually be a new user with a legitimate quandary. Bots have a tendency to post moral or hot-button topics before trying to sell you personal lubricant, but I'll assume this is legit for the moment.

You're only vaguely a jerk. Literally everyone else, whether on campus or on giantbomb.com, would have done exactly the same. If you waste the cash on hookers and cocaine, then you're a proper jerk. If you invest it in a mutual fund and are a millionaire in thirty years, then you will have been an entrepreneur all along.

I can see some of the faculty looking down on it, mainly because they didn't get to it first, but I seriously doubt you'd catch anything for it.

#17 Posted by DarthOrange (3860 posts) -

No, there is nothing criminal with what you did. Your friend is a bitch and upset for not having such amazing opportunity. Also, you shouldn't go around telling your friends what you did, otherwise someone could snitch and you will end up with an army of angry organic chem nerds calling you an asshole. 
 
"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

#18 Posted by OllyOxenFree (4973 posts) -

You rich son of a bitch.

#19 Posted by Grillbar (1824 posts) -

1. depends on how you see it. as a fellow person yes you are a jerk. as a businessman, your really no different then everybody else, you saw a market and filled the gap for profit. so good on you and shame on you

2. dont think so but i honestly dont know. cant see it any different then selling stuff you own as a privat person to other individuals and not as a business

#20 Posted by hollitz (1516 posts) -

Pretty shitty of you, but it's how America works. You'll probably be a successful business man if you're able to see your fellow classmates as potential sales instead of people in the same boat as you.

#21 Posted by mellotronrules (1192 posts) -

@Zella said:

Some might find what you did kind of wrong but it really isn't that bad.

of course it isn't "bad" per se- but as opposed to sending an email that said "hey fellow students i found a cheap source for used books" it was "hey i can make money off my classmates."

nothing "wrong" about that, but it is revealing of character.

#22 Posted by byterunner (306 posts) -

well, there is the idea of fairness and good will to you peers. Though that means jack shit in Capitalism, I would say that I don't like it and its manipulative, but I can't say I wouldn't do it if I was in the situation. I mean, I've never been in it, so I don't know if I could ignore the temptation.

However that said, all the people you sold to did get the book at a lower cost than what they normally would have got. Though i don't think they were particularly smart. Seriously, someone had the really expensive book that everyone needed, and had almost 50 copies of it? What. Common someone had to have seen something fishy here.

Also, where did you buy that had the fucking book for 40 bucks. And no one else found it? Online? I would assume that if the store had almost 50 copies, they would be catering to College students.

So in the end, you were a creative capitalist bastard, taking advantage of the situation. Kinda shitty, but that's what this country promotes anyways. Who cares

#23 Edited by Hunter5024 (5667 posts) -

Telling them would have been the nice guy thing to do, but just because you didn't do the nice guy thing doesn't mean you're a jerk. I certainly wouldn't have told anyone though, because they could potentially feel kind of ripped off. I do think 120 was a tad excessive perhaps, but really, if they thought it was fair when they bought it they have no room to complain. Also I am fairly certain that wasn't illegal.

Edit: If some of them were your friends when you sold it to them though, then you might be kind of a jerk.

#24 Posted by wjb (1661 posts) -

I remember reading a story of how some kid from southeastern Asia who went to school in America bought several textbooks for cheap in his home country and sold them for a profit back in the States. He made millions, but eventually got sued by the companies who made the textbooks.

You won't get sued (I don't know how that works, honestly), but you are a jerk.

#25 Posted by ChinaDontCare (111 posts) -

No fuck em, they were assholes for not realizing it

#27 Posted by jsnyder82 (733 posts) -

This is called capitalism.

#28 Edited by FourWude (2261 posts) -

If in doubt just ask WWTMD? What Would Tony Montana Do?

Tony would be proud of you, mang. You saw a giant pussy and you fucked it.

#29 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5826 posts) -

it was a smart business move.

i don't think that makes you a jerk.

#30 Posted by Subjugation (4720 posts) -

Jerk? I'm not going to make a call on that. It was definitely smart business though. I mean, they still saved money over buying new and you now have some cash to pay for your own expenses. I kind of wish I had the same opportunity honestly.

I have no idea how you could get in trouble with the university. I doubt you can. They were probably just angry.

#31 Posted by Piqued_Interest (63 posts) -

No, they are dumb for not buying online or through some other means.

Organic Chemistry takes some know how to get through. If you can't use amazon to look up a book, you deserve to get hustled.

People pay for convenience. You were convenient - They didn't want to think about it, and in the process you profited. It is the same way that the actual University bookstores work.

#32 Posted by fox01313 (5072 posts) -

You'd be more of a jerk if you sold them for more than what the bookstore was selling them for. You gave them a deal & as long as you don't tell them how much it really cost you, it should be good enough.

#33 Posted by GuyIncognito (445 posts) -

I'm not a tax lawyer but you may have to report your trading profits on a tax return or whatever. Otherwise, this is the same kind of bullshit people do on the stock market except that they always hope there is "greater fool" down the line.

#34 Posted by Donkeycow (556 posts) -

You made some money, absolutely nothing wrong with that, well done i say. You weren't being a jerk and you did absolutely nothing illegal, though i still wouldn't advertise it. As for your friend, she's being a little touchy about it and perhaps is somewhat envious.

#35 Posted by CaptainCody (1505 posts) -

Fuck no, good on you for making money. It's their fault for managing to not notice someone else was selling them.

#36 Posted by Animasta (14691 posts) -

I guess what would be most important here is; are you poor? how are you going to school? etc. cause I mean if you're parents are paying for all of it then they're probably rich enough to matter, but if you're getting a scholarship and you're poor I don't think I can fault you.

incredibly arbitrary of course, but these matters often are; I doubt (many) people would be calling you a jerk if you marked it up to 60-70 instead.

#37 Posted by GuyIncognito (445 posts) -

...also, this is why stores have policies "x number per customer" so they're not taken advantage of like this.

#38 Posted by Levio (1784 posts) -

Accounting-wise, both groups benefited because the classmates got the textbook at a lower price and you earned money. Had you not performed this action, such would not have occurred. So that's a win-win you made happen.

Economics-wise, you wasted time by not simply emailing the students saying the $40 books were available and instead spent hours needlessly acting as a middle-man with the textbooks. That's deadweight loss you created.

So obviously you deserve the death penalty.

#39 Posted by Animasta (14691 posts) -

now that i think about it though, I wonder why some dude has like 45 copies of a textbook. PROBABLY A LITTLE SHADY?

#40 Edited by TruthTellah (9000 posts) -

@mujeeb: Sure. You saw tons of people in need of books and instead of letting them know where they were, you sold them used copies at a premium. It's certainly a business model and not illegal, but it's a very crappy and crooked business model, as it relies on their ignorance over them actually preferring your product. You withheld information from them to make a bunch of money from their distress.

Online
#41 Posted by WilliamHenry (1203 posts) -

@Animasta said:

now that i think about it though, I wonder why some dude has like 45 copies of a textbook. PROBABLY A LITTLE SHADY?

If somebody has 45 copies of a book that sells for $150 and sells his copies for $40, they were definitely attained in a shady manner. I'd say they were most likely stolen and they wanted to unload them as fast as possible.

#42 Edited by mellotronrules (1192 posts) -

i'll probably get booed off this thread (and i don't blame you if you do), but let's recontextualize the situation. this being a video game enthusiast website, and presuming we all have an invested interest in staying abreast of good gaming:

let's say bioshock infinite launches tomorrow in extremely short supply (ridiculous hypothetical, but bear with me). and let's say for whatever reason, i found a retailer selling steam codes for $20 in a limited supply. wouldn't you rather i share the love and let the duders in on the deal, as opposed to buying a ton of codes and then reselling them on ebay or the forums for $50 (if such a thing were allowed)?

#43 Edited by Animasta (14691 posts) -

@mellotronrules said:

i'll probably get booed off this thread (and i don't blame you if you do), but let's recontextualize the situation. this being a video game enthusiast website, and presuming we all have an invested interest in staying abreast of good gaming:

let's say bioshock infinite launches tomorrow in extremely short supply (ridiculous hypothetical, but bear with me). and let's say for whatever reason, i found a retailer selling steam codes for $20 in a limited supply. wouldn't you rather i share the love and let the duders in on the deal, as opposed to buying a ton of codes and then reselling them on ebay or the forums for $50 (if such a thing were allowed)?

do you need the money fairly badly?

I would exploit that shit as much as I could but I'd need the money for prescriptions and shit

#44 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

I hope for you your classmates don't find out, which also answers your first question. God what a jerk move.

#45 Posted by mellotronrules (1192 posts) -

@Animasta said:

do you need the money fairly badly?

I would exploit that shit as much as I could but I'd need the money for prescriptions and shit

someone faced with financial and physical hardship certainly adds an element of justification. but in my hypothetical i'm still exploiting our shared interest- i'm using our mutual admiration for personal gain. and that isn't entirely reprehensible, it isn't entirely clean either.

#46 Posted by Animasta (14691 posts) -

@mellotronrules said:

@Animasta said:

do you need the money fairly badly?

I would exploit that shit as much as I could but I'd need the money for prescriptions and shit

someone faced with financial and physical hardship certainly adds an element of justification. but in my hypothetical i'm still exploiting our shared interest- i'm using our mutual admiration for personal gain. and that isn't entirely reprehensible, it isn't entirely clean either.

I don't think anyone said it was entirely clean, but to just straight up call him a jerk without knowing is a little cart before the horse, I feel.

#47 Posted by PandaBear (1371 posts) -

Illegal? You can charge a million dollars for a bag of shit you bought from a homeless due for $1. I mean should a retailer go to jail for selling for more than they paid for stuff from a wholesaler?

#48 Edited by mellotronrules (1192 posts) -

@Animasta said:

I don't think anyone said it was entirely clean, but to just straight up call him a jerk without knowing is a little cart before the horse, I feel.

i completely agree. but the duder did have some $1900 on hand to buy surplus textbooks. i'm making some large presumptions, but i would bet it wasn't from a place of destitution.

#49 Posted by ReyGitano (2467 posts) -

My general rule of thumb is that if you're doing something that you can't be upfront about, you're being a jerk.

That rule is just for me though, I don't expect others to follow it. In your case if you brought all those books and made some kind of profit for yourself, fine. You did the work, you found the books, you supplied them directly to people; that's worth something. That said, if they ever found out that you had marked it up by an outrageous amount and people start reacting back, that's just the consequences for your actions.

#50 Posted by NeVeRMoRe666 (268 posts) -

1. No, morality is a liability. This is business.

2. No. I'm a lawyer and I can't think of any laws you may have broken unless there is anything in the University policy about this but I doubt it.