Part of the problem of navigating life in a consumerist society is that, pretty much, everyone selling you something is only in it for the profit. That said, there’s nothing wrong with making a profit because, by and large, profit within reason is a good thing.
Where it gets nuts is when profits exceed fair & reasonable, and start looking a whole lot like gouging or theft.
Here’s an example I happened across yesterday while trying to buy some anti-fouling for my dinghy as there didn’t seem to be what I wanted on island.
Pettit SR21 is a hard anti-fouling that makes sense for a hard dinghy as it has a thin film, it’s easy/quick to apply, and it’s hard so scrubbing is non-problematic. Normally it’s a bit too expensive for my tastes as it retails for $69.99 a quart but West Marine currently has it on sale for $35.88 so I said to myself “That’s what I want”.
Of course, as it turned out, WM won’t ship it to me because I’m in a non-incorporated territory and it appears that the powers that be at WM don’t realize we are part of the US of A. Perhaps we could have shipped it with our freight forwarder but as that adds another $20-$30 to the transaction it makes it more than what I want to spend.
And, yes, dear reader, I’m frugal/cheap.
Anyway, since I now had an overwhelming desire to put some SR21 on the bottom of my dinghy, I started looking further afield with no luck until I got to eBay…
eBay is a rather interesting place and I used to buy quite a bit of film stuff, marine gear, and musical instruments from eBay sellers but do it less these days as it seems to be mostly greed-head dealers selling stuff for more than it’s worth.
But, as it happens, there was a guy selling SR21 and he’d even ship it to me. Sounds good until you do the math…
$139.88 + $19.99 = $159.87
That’s for one quart of anti-fouling that is supposed to retail for $69.99 and it’s as far from a fair or reasonable price as you can get without it becoming armed robbery.
Sadly, just about every time I’ve gone to eBay in the last couple of years this sort of thing appears to be the norm rather than the exception where boat stuff is concerned.
It’s important to remember that marine trades are seldom your friend and if you’re lucky enough to have found one who is, cherish it like you would a Unicorn. Far too many people looking for boat gear consider that the prices are going to be better than some marine vendor like West Marine whose economic pressure on the industry and consumers is both controlling as well as dastardly. However, even they don’t measure up to the ripoff artists who inhabit eBay. The bottom line is that eBay is not your friend and should be treated with suspicion and do your homework before going there in search of deals.