It's Christmas time and the opportunistic money grabbers are hard at work at the expense of the unwary.
Amazon offers a marketplace from which vendors can put their wares on display. In some ways it operates rather like the eBay offers on the "buy it now" option.
Just as with eBay you find silly prices being asked, in the hope that some will be fooled into parting with cash without adequate research into comparisons. (Sometimes those comparisons are easily available on the same site).
Just at present there is a remarkable rash of excessively hopeful (or plain crazy or downright dishonest examples - take your pick as to which description fits).
For example on Amazon UK there is someone asking for £2,000 for "A couple Of Song And Dance Men" on vinyl. Any examination of prices obtained on eBay (and sometimes not obtained at all) will show how absurd this is. Many are currently listed for under £8 on the "Buy it now" option.
Then there is the CD "The Crosby Christmas Sessions" at £462:51 with an added incentive "only 3 left in stock - order soon.". Although this CD is currently unavailable new there are examples on the same Amazon site for much more rational prices down to under a twentieth (and that in my view is still rather a lot).
"Through The Years, volume 7" is offered at £255: 92, again with the urge "only 3 left in stock - order soon." Well, Sepia still have it on their own website for £7:99!
Another example of opportunistic optimism is that of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" with Bing, Burl Ives and Danny Kaye singing children's songs at £194:57, again with the urge "only 3 left in stock - order soon." On the same Amazon UK site there are currently five other offers ranging from £0:29 (!) to £13.
Only slightly less absurd is the offer of "Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings" - the 7 CD set from Mosaic, offered at £261:03. But Mosaic still list it at $119. Carriage will add something but that will still be under £100 to the UK.
Amazon US also has some alarming examples, among which are "Bing In Dixieland" at $2,130:22, (for which there are many other offers for less than one hundredth of the price asked), "Join Bing & Sing Along" at $1,302:32 and "It's Christmas Time" with Bing, Frank and Louis Armstrong at $718:91 (a CD easily available at under $8).
There are many other examples. Just search on the sites, setting the price sorting to "High to Low", (though oddly the result is not strictly in order).
I do hope that people are not hooked by these absurd asking prices and I imagine regular visitors to this board will be aware of what is reasonable. Do not purchase in haste and do research the market before you buy. There are some genuine rarities but in my view they are not to be found among recently issued CDs (which are always likely to be re-issued if there is a genuine demand).
It is possible that in the future demand might exceed supply for the Mosaic set, which is declared to be a limited edition of 20,000, but Mosaic are still listing it so it is senseless to pay excessive amounts elsewhere. And those numbers will not make it a great rarity.
I wonder if Amazon feel any responsibility for the listings on their sites?
I have received a personal note suggesting that some of the examples quoted could be the results of input errors and that the prices intended might have been one tenth - or even one hundredth - of what is shown.
That might be believable in a (very) few cases, but for most examples the prices are shown down to pence and cents which tends to rule out that explanation. Secondly there are so many examples. There would have to be a lot of clumsy thumbs combined with absence of checking.
I fear I look at it cynically, but whatever the cause the warning stands.