The (not so) secret second life of your Amazon returns

She’s not the only person doing this. They are different genres of these videos. People who are clothing oriented make them. I’ve seen a bunch of people who are tech oriented brag about getting $2000 worth of “tech” for $150 or something and then opening the box and finding lots of wires and ink from mislabeled printer and often one or two things that really were sold at a fairly high price and really To do apparently working; you just don’t have to decide what they are. (I once saw an errant, apparently unopened Anova sous vide machine—a decent enough take—appear in a pallet of clothing, and the person said, “Hey, I don’t know what that is.” Likewise, one guy got a Dire Straits record on vinyl and said, “I’ve never heard of it.”)

Of course, the revelations – it’s a fashionable styling tool for your hair! Headphones are expensive! It’s a Nespresso! – are only the beginning to understand what you actually did. Because these things have been returned. That means a lot has been opened, a lot has been used, a lot has been deemed insufficient in one way or another. Again: many have been used. I saw a guy who was pretty excited about a pair of headphones until he saw… proof that they had been in someone’s ears. Ditto a razor that had been used to shave someone… something before being returned.

A couple I saw actually did some tricks to find out how much money they can make by buying and trying to resell (like on Facebook Marketplace) items from a pallet. They found it to be… somewhat unsatisfactory. The woman estimated that once she accounted for her time, she was making about $12 an hour by “flipping” a pallet, after quite a bit of effort. It’s better than nothing!

But I don’t think actual monetary gain is the goal here. That’s the surprise and performance of it. And it’s the promise of getting something for nothing, even if that something isn’t something you want. These people use the word “value” in the most stretchy and generous way possible: “It’s worth $300!” just means that’s what it was sold on Amazon for. Just because something was sold once at a particular price doesn’t actually imbue it with that substantial value (ask people who have invested in Theranos).

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