FM classics: How Amazon paid me to collect miles

FM Intro: While I’m on vacation, I will be lazily reposting old classic Frequent Miler posts.  Today’s post, originally published March 5, 2012, tells the true story of Amazon’s repeated mistakes that resulted in lots of undeserved money for me despite my best efforts to correct them.


Last month Nordstrom ran a promotion in the British Airways shopping portal in which they gave 36 miles per dollar to people who signed up for the promotion and made their first ever BA shopping portal purchase, and made that purchase through Nordstrom.

As I reported earlier, I bought approximately $4000 worth of merchandise with the intent to sell it for as little loss as possible.  The difference between how much I spent and how much I got back from reselling was my cost.  In order for this to be a good deal, I wanted the cost per mile to be less than 1 cent.  Specifically, I targeted .5 cents per mile as a really good deal. 

Selling Approach

I had bought 10 watches and 7 noise cancelling headphones.  Rather than deal with trying to sell and ship all 17 items individually, I decided to use a service called “Fulfillment by Amazon”.  I signed up for a seller account and shipped all of my stuff to Amazon.  They take their usual seller fees and also charge for storage of the items.  In exchange, they handle all of the details of making each sale, and shipping the items. 

So, how did I do?

With my original pricing, I was on track to meet my target of acquiring BA miles for .5 cents each.  Truthfully, though, I became a bit impatient and put the items on sale to sell them quickly.  They all sold in one weekend and I ended up with a somewhat final tally of acquiring BA miles for .67 cents each.  It was still a very good deal and I was happy with that.  But then Amazon made a big mistake…

Amazon’s Error

Of the 10 watches I sent to Amazon, Amazon somehow sold 24 of them!  I opened a ticket with Amazon’s seller support telling them they had sold 17 of the 10 items (this was before they sold 7 more), but was told the following:

Greetings,
Having researched your account I could see that you have sent 10 units but total order shipped for this […] is 17 and I could see that all the items are shipped and the payment is already posted to your account. As all the orders has been fulfilled and there is no fulfillable quantity in your account we would not able further investigate on this issue.
You would receiving the payment for all the 17 orders.
Thank you for selling with Amazon,

No, Amazon, Thank You!

What’s Next?

I fully expect that Amazon will eventually figure out the error and come back to collect their money.  And, of course, I’ll readily return it.  It does reduce my confidence in them considerably though.  If they can accidentally pay me too much, they can just as easily accidentally pay me too little in the future.


2014 Update

Every now and then, in the months following the above post, Amazon sold more watches on my behalf and sent me more money.  Each time I entered a support ticket.  Finally, on September 6, 2012, they fixed the problem:

Greetings,

Our fulfillment team have worked on this issue and found that the 17 units of B004WIUDGM were incorrectly received to your account. They have now removed the units.

We apologize for the inconvenience this issue has caused to you.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Sigh, it was great while it lasted.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Just wondering if the fees makes it justifiable to sell via Amazon. Or do the quantity have to hit a certain # for it to break even? Thanks!~

    • The fees are dependent upon the type of thing you are selling. Electronics and computers tend to have lower fees than most other categories. Anyway, to me the fees are worth it just so I don’t have the hassle of having to deal with each customer individually as I would with EBay or Craigslist.

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