I want to order Green Day's live album (CD+DVD) which is due out in March. Normally I use Amazon UK for books and CDs, so when I saw their price was £23-99 against $18-99 at Amazon US I decided to hang on for a bit before ordering.
Next thing I know, they're asking £31-99 for it, so I wrote to them asking why it was so expensive compared with the US site. This is what I got back:
"There are several million titles listed on our website, some of which have never been ordered from us and may not have been ordered by any retailer for quite a while. It would be impossible for us to regularly check on the price of each item, and so we must rely on the data supplied by publishers and other suppliers...Amazon.com deal with completely separate suppliers and therefore will have a completely different pricing structure to Amazon.co.uk"
I wrote back and said I really didn't think a new Green Day album ranked with items "which have never been ordered from us" and by the way did they know that Play.com had it for £8-99. No reply.
So I've just checked again and it's gone UP to £32-99. Meanwhile, amazon.com have brought it DOWN to $17-96. I would have ordered it from the US site (postage about $9) except I don't have a region-free DVD player and I'm not sure I can really be arsed to get one just for one DVD.
I want the DVD so much, but no way am I paying that. I've heard that play.com are very unreliable, but they might be about to get my order anyway.
ETA: On Saturday night I discovered a button right at the bottom of the screen which allowed me to "report a lower price" which I duly did. This morning the price has come down to £11-99. I took off the "overpriced" tag.
You'd think they'd have some kind of mechanism for recognising when a new book or CD is from a big name and likely to be fairly high-profile, but the bloke who wrote back to me (above) was acting as if it was your kid brother's band who were never going to sell more than five copies.
ETA2: On Tuesday I received notification that they had accepted my catalogue change request - from "format: CD" to format: CD + DVD" and that this would be implemented within the next two to three business days.
By Wednesday - I think, I didn't note it at the time - the price had gone back up to about £26-99. The item was then lying about 86th in Music on Amazon sales rankings, obviously as a result of the lowered price. I put the "overpriced" tag back on.
On Thursday night, I noticed they'd taken the item off sale altogether and it's gone back down to 485th in music. There is one available "used - very good condition". I'd like to know how the seller managed that when it's not on sale for another seven weeks.
This is possibly the first time I've "watched" a CD on Amazon in the weeks before launch, although I have done it with books while deciding whether to order or not. So I don't know whether or not this is normal behaviour in the run-up to launch. But it simply doesn't strike me as the kind of super-efficient, business-like behaviour I associate with Amazon. It honestly strikes me as if the listing is being deliberately mucked about with. Why would anyone do that?
I can't be the only person who would have ordered this weeks ago without a second thought had the price been within shouting distance of other sellers.
ETA3: Jeez. I just went back and had another look, and this time I put in the capitalisation on the album name. Turns out Amazon have discontinued the original listing and created a new product line with the "format: CD + DVD" amendment. It's currently listed at £13. And Amazon's search function is case-sensitive. I never realised that before because I normally type the caps.