Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I have to admit I think Amazon is a pretty amazing company, but anyone who thinks the Federal Government is the only messed up organization is wrong. Amazon has more than its share of issues.

So first let me tell you I have a small sellers account on Amazon where  I sell used records albums. If you're under 30, there's a good chance you won't have a clue what an album is. Ask your parent, or grandparents about record albums. They'll tell you about the old, pre compact disc, or MP3 files world. Anyhow, I sell used albums. Most were pressed in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, well before the introduction of Universal Price Codes (those little black and white bar codes you see on virtually every product known to mankind).

Back to Amazon. If you have a sellers account, when you add a new product to their sales inventory they want you to provide a UPC code, or something similar like an International Article Number (EAN) identifier. I fully understand the concept.  Makes sense for a retailer to have that kind of product information.

What happens for those millions of items that don't have UPC, or other codes ?  Well for books you can ask Amazon for an exemption from the requirement. You fill out a short form; send it in, and when Amazon approves your request, if you go to sell an old book that doesn't have a UPC code,  no problems.

Well, just like books there are millions of pre-mid-'80s record albums that don't have a UPC code. Shouldn't be a big deal to get an exemption for old albums right?   Wrong. Amazon will not grant you an exemption for records. Their suggestions are to buy UPC codes for older item.  Now I'll readily admit I did not know you could buy UPC and EAN codes. Turns out there are a slew of companies that will sell them to you. A typical UIC code will cost you roughly $1.29 (I'm sure there are discounts it you buy lots of them at once).

So Amazon wants me to pay an added fee to get a UPC code and the privilege of doing the work to add a new item to their inventory, in addition to the privilege of paying them the existing fees they collect on sales ... Maybe it's just me, but something doesn't seem right here. Am I going to pay $1.29 to get a UPC code for a used album that I bought for $2.00 and will sell for $10.00? I don't think so.

So where's that leave me?  Well from here on out I will only list albums that are already  listed on Amazon since I won't need to worry about a UPC code for an existing item. That means the more obscure and expensive albums I own and would like to sell, will not be listed on Amazon. Those items will get listed on MusicStack, CD and LPs, and Discogs.  Those companies will get their cuts of the sales,  That means Amazon won't be getting their slice of the sales for those items. Not that Amazon cares one way or the other. Still,you've got to wonder. If they can't get this little thing right, what hope is there for the rest of the system?  

And as for those helpful folks staffing Amazon's customer service group ...   Ever had to talk to the IRS about a tax issue?   Well, my experience with the IRS was more helpful than dealing with the Amazon folks.