Friday, February 5, 2010


This post is inspired by the many so called ethical debates on selling ammo in stacks of 100 at the price of 1,000. In case you're unfamillliar with this, it's when you buy a stack of 1000 arrows for 10g and post 10 stacks of 100 for 10g a stack, getting yourself a nice profit and fooling the unaware into thinking that they bought stacks of 1000. There's a lot of people that consider this a scam and some that just think it's being clever. Me? I think it's clever. I don't consider it a scam because of how obvious it is when there's a stack of 100 or 1,000. Even if you have an auction addon you'll see maybe 100 and 10... listed there, still very obvious how many are in the stack. But lets take it a step further.

Selling Icethorn herbs as single at the price of a stack. Yes some people have sold a single flower for 20g, the price of a stack. How are they able to do this? The answer is simple, most people are lazy, ignorant, and impatient. And if people were mostly none of these, I wouldn't be gold capped without doing daily quests for a year. Here's an example of what I mean.

Go to an AH and type in Cardinal Ruby. Since I'm a paladin, I'll want a Bold version for strength. There's a million and one JC's on my server that can cut it, just as there's plenty of engineers that can make ammo. Do I buy the bold gem for 230g or do I buy the raw cardinal ruby for 160g? I'll buy the raw gem and wait 60 seconds for a JC to cut it and leave a 10g tip, saving me a large amount for a minute of my time. If I need ammo, I'll look for an engineer to make it, give them a few stacks of eternals and tell them to go get a drink or something while they auto craft them. Just saved me a bunch of money by buying the materials.

Now most people aren't like that, and they want their stuff NOW and can't be bothered to wait a minute or two so they can get back to guarding the pavement in front of the dalaran bank looking sooo cool with their purples. So they go to the AH, lose a ton of money by buying a cut gem. In a perfect world, the price of a raw gem would be the same price as a cut gem. They all require the same material price and thus have the same price roughly (not counting a small service fee).

Now I go to the AH to buy a bold gem since I'm too impatient to wait, and I look for gems starting with the letter B and buy the first one my eyes lock onto. I buy it and oh darn, I bought a Bright gem, not a bold. Should I complain about blizzard screwing me out of my money because I'm a moron and didn't bother to look at what I was buying for more than two seconds? No, I should learn that making an assumption about what you're buying is only going to get you into trouble.

The most interesting part about this whole situation is that people that look down on selling arrows as 100s are also the same people that laugh non stop at people that buy ice cold milk for achievements at 10g each instead of from the vendor for a few copper. How is this different? Guess what, it's not.

Though I will say, there is one situation where I'll agree that selling something not in standard stack sizes is a honest to god dick move. Listing soo many of something that it takes up 8 pages on the AH so everybody has to spam the next button to get to the normal priced goods. This can be considered by blizz to be harassment through obfuscation. It's in the same category as hiding the mailbox by sitting on your retarded mammoth. That I'll agree is annoying as hell, but listing something in different stack sizes is a legit business move. Hell almost any gold making site/book tells you to do that because if you need 4 [item] you'll look on the AH for a stack of 4[item] regardless of price usually.

So if you think the 100 arrow bit is a scam, remember that next time you buy a gem that's cut, or an enchanting scroll. You just threw away money because you didn't bother to look for somebody with that profession. You wasted money because you're too lazy to look at the price of the materials. Each time I sell an epic gem for 200g I laugh because the poor sap that just bought it had to scroll past several pages of raw gems almost half that price.

Simply put, each time you make a profit with a profession, that is no different than selling arrows in 100s. The one that buys it has the option to look at raw gem prices just as they have the ability to look at the stack size. Please do not pity these people, if you're lazy, impatient, and likely a bit incompetent, you won't be getting anywhere in the world (of warcraft).

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I've only done an introductory Business Law course as part of my management degree, but one thing I've learnt is that a contract is not just the words on paper or tape, it's the intent behind the words.

    Posting arrows like that is being clever, yes. You're being clever with the intent to deceive. That's what we call unethical, immoral. And a harsher description would be a scam.

    Being clever doesn't make one ethical or moral. The two are completely different ideas.

    Now if you somehow convinced people that *your* stack of 100 is worth more than someone else's stack of 1000, and they willingly purchase that stack of 100 from you, then that's a different story. In real life that's called marketing.

    What you're doing is pretending to sell something you're not. It's the same item, but different quantities. You're selling a six-pack of beer with five of the bottles empty. In real life that's called a scam.

  2. "one thing I've learnt is that a contract is not just the words on paper or tape, it's the intent behind the words."

    That's such bullshit, though I suppose it's good to know that our courts have decided to honour bullshit.

    If you go into a court to try to get a partner to honour a contract, the judge can be sure two things, precedent, and the words on the paper. They shouldn't consider intent because you can say the intent was whatever you want. In other words, consider intent and you may as well just stop and compare the price of the respective lawyers, cuz it will come down entirely to their arguments.

    Another way to look at it; what if you legitimately, for whatever reason, only have 100 bullets to sell, and you decide to mark them up, because why leave money on the table? These two intents are outwardly identical, yet one is a 'scam' and one isn't.

    What, you're going to say auctioning off one stack of 100 bullets is fine, but two isn't? That's exactly like saying if I plant one plum tree it's fine, but planting two isn't. If I buy one discounted bag of rice, it's fine, but two isn't.

    Just to confirm it's bullshit;
    "Now if you somehow convinced people that *your* stack of 100 is worth more than someone else's stack of 1000, and they willingly purchase that stack of 100 from you, then that's a different story. In real life that's called marketing."

    Right, so if you 'deceive' them by the fact that they don't even look at what they're buying, it's a scam, but if you deceive them by making them willing do something completely retarded, it's not a scam.
    I'll be sure to keep that in mind.

    To scam someone you have to actually deceive them. At some point, they're just deceiving themselves, and the bullet scheme is definitely on that side of the line. At some point, we have to grant adults independence and thus personal responsibility. If you refuse even to learn to look at the number of bullets you're buying, it's not a scam, it's an idiocy tax. If the 'scam' is defeated by things you can check in the moment while looking at the item, it's not a scam. A scam's deception has to actually follow from the information presented.

    What, you're going to start prosecuting vendors when the customers misunderstand them? What, every time, or just some of them? Hot damn, it's time for me to go 'misunderstand' some packaging.

    Moreover, since these kinds of 'scams' are easily dealt with by reputation and market means, there's no need for the justice system to deal with them.

    If I try to sell boxes of potato chips with less weight for the same price as similar chips, first people are going to look at the grams in the box, and not buy them. Then, if they're innumerate and buy anyway, they'll be upset and tell all their friends not to buy box-chips. Finally, competitors will appear with cheaper packaging and undercut me. what point does a cop even have to think about this to get it solved?

    Bottled water is usually just tap water in plastic packaging. This is not only not legally a scam, but wildly popular.