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As a collector of books on (among other topics) politics & religion, I've been thinking of buying a 73 volume full size Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud for quite a while. However, these usually go for > $2,000.00 in the US and > $3,000.00 in Europe. So you can consider my surprise when I stumbled on a new set at Amazon that's sold at $509, with only $14.95 shipping to Europe.

So I ordered the set. After some days, I get a notification that the set has been shipped. But no tracking number, which is odd for a shipment of such value.

After a week or two, I contacted the seller if they could give me a tracking number or at least confirm the address they sent it to. They gave no tracking number a confirmed the shipping address, but left out the country.

So I asked in response if they could confirm the country. I then was told that the address the shipment was sent to was the address in my contact info, without details.

So I again contacted them with the request to explicitly confirm the shipping country. Then I was told that they could not find me other and therefore refunded my money.

Two weeks later, I went back to Amazon and noticed they re-listed the item (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A68XF9I/).

Then, I noticed several buyers complaining about items sent to the wrong address, packages being incomplete, etc :

* "1 out of 5 stars I ordered Love is in the Earth, a Kaleidoscope of Crystals. 7/30/18 -I received the wrong book in error Love is in the Earth- Laying on of Stones. I have contacted the store through Amazon, received a response and sent photos of the wrong book cover, back, spine and invoice. Awaiting response"

* "I have been back and forth with this seller about sending us two copies of the wrong ISBN. They have yet to provide a full refund for both books we ordered. They only provided a 50% refund at this point, and it has been more than a week of attempting to get our money back. Do not trust this seller to provide you with the correct items!"

* "Only one book out of the 10 book set arrived. A mistake was made. The seller responded timely and was very courteous."

* "The book arrived well before the expected delivery date but it was definitely not the version I ordered. The description was for the beautiful UK cover edition and I received the cheap mass market paperback production version. Contacted the seller and after multiple e-mails back and forth and pictures sent they ended up refunding the cost of the book so I ended up just paying for shipping."

* "The order that was listed as delivered on June 26, 2018 never arrived. The seller had us confirm our shipping address on July 7, 2018. Now it is July 26, 2018 and the missing order issue has not been resolved. Time for a complete refund of purchase price and shipping costs bookercafe."

* "I have not received my order and it is saying delivered. Can you tell me who signed for this? ORDER NUMBER 113-3032376-5177066"

* "I have purchased two books from this store and one of these orders had been canceled without notification and a fake tracking number has been submitted for the second one. Please refund as soon as possible."

* "lists books they actually don't have. now I have to be troubled to ensure I am refunded."

* "My book never arrived at my mailing address, even though there was a USPS tracking number. When I contacted USPS, they told me it was delivered to the shipping address listed on the packing slip (which was not mine). I contacted the seller, and they told me it must have been a bad tracking number. Haven't heard back...haven't received the book either. I have now submitted a refund request."

* "1 out of 5 stars Another reviewer called it a scam when the book didn't arrive even though there was a tracking number that said it did. Seller told him it was sent to another address. Guess what? Same thing happened to me. A bad tracking number and the excuse that it was sent to a different address. I never heard from them again after they said they would check into it. I've submitted a refund request."

* "I ordered five books from them. One arrived OK, the other four never came but they kept my money for almost a month. One had no tracking number, the other three all had fake tracking numbers, re-used numbers that showed the books were delivered to three other cities. I had to fight them and contact Amazon to get a promise of refunds, and they are still stalling. Cheaters"

* ...

Overall, however, customers appear satisfied and the store has a feedback score of 91% for 335 ratings.

However, judging by the fact that 309 of those reviews were from the last 90 days, the store seems to exist only about 4 to 6 months on Amazon.

Something else I noticed, is that I get their > 400,000 results and that there are quite a few items listed for the same amount of $509, most of which I can't imagine are actually worth that much and are sold by other sellers at much lower prices :

* Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker Trilogy (https://www.amazon.com/Douglas-Adams-Hitchhiker-Trilogy/dp/B...)

* Diablo III: Book of Cain (https://www.amazon.com/Diablo-III-Deckard-Blizzard-Entertain...)

* The American Pageant (https://www.amazon.com/American-Pageant-fifteenth-Kennedy-Ha...)

* Calculus: Concepts and Applications (https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Concepts-Applications-Paul-F...)

* The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures (https://www.amazon.com/Free-Range-Cook-Simple-Pleasures/dp/B...)

* O'Connor Violin Method Book I and CD (https://www.amazon.com/OConnor-Violin-Method-Book-CD/dp/B005...)

* Winnie the Pooh Complete Collection 30 Books Box Set (https://www.amazon.com/Winnie-Complete-Collection-Books-Slip...)

* No Excuses! The Power of Self-discipline (https://www.amazon.com/Excuses-Power-Self-discipline-Brian-H...)

* Straight White Men (https://www.amazon.com/Straight-White-Young-March-Paperback/...)

* Sequential Spelling 3: Teacher's Guide (https://www.amazon.com/Sequential-Spelling-3-Teachers-Guide/...)

* ...

The item I ordered has been re-listed at the same price point, a bit after I received my refund for it.

Interestingly, there are now 6 sellers offering the same set with "Used - Good" condition and prices ranging from $506.00 to $548.32. There were only 3 sellers when I checked last time. All of these 6 sellers have a storefront with 300,000 - 700,000 items in them. And this includes a new shop that hasn't sold anything yet!

Since I received my refund As the store I ordered from is the only one shipping to Europe, I asked them if they'd ship be willing to sell it to me again. First they were eager and even offered a 30% discount. When I asked if they could add tracking for a second order, the tone became less friendly and I was asked to remove my (negative) feedback for the initial order.

I'd also asked an explanation for what went wrong with my order but haven't received any.

I also came to notice that this seller uses a kind of broken English very reminiscent of the broken English of sellers on AliExpress. So I suspect that her native language is Chinese and this account is a good example of a Chinese scammer account. And the same probably applies as well to the other 5 accounts I spotted which sell the same item at roughly the same place.

AliExpress sure has its flaws, but I never really had that much issues with ordering on AliExpress. And I certainly never came close to experiences as strange / fishy on AliExpress as my recent experience with third party sellers on Amazon... which really surprises me, as this type of seller should be easy to spot, even by an algorithm!

I'll definitely think twice next time I see an interesting book - or set of books - on Amazon that's sold by a third party seller! I feel like Amazon urgently has some serious closet cleaning to do!




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