What's up with Apple's down low on eBay sales?

What's up with Apple's down low on eBay sales?

Summary: Apple's eBay store is something of a mystery. Cheaper prices (mostly) on its refurbished hardware. Is there a story here? Inquiring minds want to know.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

Early this morning before I could even clear the crust out of my eyes, someone sent me an email with a link in it describing a "secret" Apple eBay store with lower prices than are available on their own site. What's up with that? Lindsay Sakraida, DealNews.com features director, sprung this little prize on the world: Some items sell at up to $100 less on this mysterious Apple eBay store.

The big question is, "Why?"

The bigger question is, "Do I really care?"

To answer the first question, I think it is, as the article suggests, an experiment. Again, why would Apple experiment with eBay? For one, Apple could just buy eBay and do whatever it wants. Second, Apple could sell igloos to Africans. OK, maybe it could sell igloos to Americans in Africa, but I think you get the point. Apple is one of those companies that apparently doesn't have to lower its prices to compete with the rest of the market.

While in Las Vegas last week, I went to the Apple Store located conveniently in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace where I stayed. The MacBook Air I want is $1,199. The comparable MacBook Pro is $1,499. For the number of extras I would get with the Pro, it's worth $300.

But $1,499 for a laptop? Seriously? Even the comparably priced Alienware M17X, at $1,499, seems way too expensive for me. But see, that's the thing with Apple's stuff. I would never, ever, in a million years consider buying a PC laptop for $1,499 — not even the M17X. But I'd totally go plop it down for the MacBook Pro.

And I have to ask myself, "Why?"

Yeah, I know, we're back to question one. Why, indeed.

I'm afraid I can't answer that. Not honestly, at least. I want a MacBook Air/Pro so bad and I don't know why. I just do. I need help. The first step, I'm told, is to admit that there's a higher power. I admit it. Apple is that higher power.

Would I buy a refurbished model for $1,199 or $999? No way. If I'm going to buy Apple, I want it new with that new computer smell. I'm digressing, aren't I?

OK, so back to the story. Why is Apple doing this? And do I really care?

I think it's just looking to dump its hardware inventory and someone came up with the idea that eBay is a good way to do that.

The answer to the second question is easy. No, I really don't care. OK, maybe I care a little or I wouldn't write this post.

Do I think it's scandalous? No. Do I think it's interesting? Yes. It is interesting that they're doing it. But I mean, couldn't they just discount their refurbished stuff on their own site and have the same effect?

Perhaps it's playing on the weak minds of potential customers who think they're scamming Apple by paying $100 less for a piece of hardware.

I, personally, wouldn't buy anything refurbished from Apple or from its eBay store. I've seen refurbished stuff. So called "blemishes" and "normal wear" can mean scarred screens and body cracks. No thanks. I'll put my own blemishes on my hardware. I don't want to pay $999 for something refurbished when I can purchase new for just a bit more or can double my down (Vegas-speak, you know) and buy PC hardware. Meaning that I can get twice the value in PC hardware for the same money.

So, now that the word is officially out on Apple's eBay store, do you think it'll pull it back or keep it going? Maybe only the people at DealNews will know for sure. I hope to stay on top of this because I'm curious to see what's up with it and what Apple has in mind for its eBay store.

Tell me what you think about Apple's eBay store. Do you think it's an attempt to trick its customers, just an experiment or something else?

[Author's note: The purpose of this article was to see if there was some explanation for the cheaper prices on eBay vs. the Apple store. As for refurbished hardware, I can only speak of the refurbs I've seen in person with my own eyes. If your mileage is better than mine, then great, I'm happy for you. I am sorry that I can't unsee what I saw and now change my mind about it. Anyway, I also know that people reported months ago that Apple had an eBay store — also not my point — this one was simply to discover why it sells refurb goods at a lower price on eBay than on its main site.]

Topics: Apple, Hardware


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • TLDR;

    Don't buy Apple stuff from eBay.
    • Dont buy Apple stuff and you will be richer

      Otherwise you make money for Apple.

      If you are a shareholder. The price of Apple shares keeps on falling and hasnt gone up while the market has gone up.

      So you will loose money any way you buy Apple stuff. Though you will be just as cool as the next Joe.
  • Apple refurbished is good

    I will always buy Apple refurbished unless I am in a hurry for a newly introduced item. They are visually indistinguishable from new and carry the same warranty. That is from the Apple online store. I imagine the eBay is the same.
    • Apple refurbished is typically store returns.

      As I understand it.

      They have a 14 day Money back on all purchases. If you go to an apple store they even advise you to use it; can't decide if you want an air or a 13 retina? Well why doesn't sir just buy the one he wants now and run it for a week and bring it back and swap it for a different one. They even offer this on contracts; if you take out a phone contract in the UK, you're boned; no come back, no way out... Contract law doesn't seem to apply. Once you open the phone box(they do this for you) there is no going back. Get a contract at apple and you have two weeks to go back and change the phone or the plan. If you change the plan they have to change the phone because it's locked to the contract.

      At the end of the day anything other than minor use and the device is stripped for parts for their Genius Bar service... Well that's what I've summed up from visiting the Genius Bar!
    • I can only speak from...

      the ones I've seen physically, in person. They were pretty bad. I was shocked. I'm glad others have had better experiences. I still will never buy refurbished Apple or anything else for that matter. If I can't buy new, I won't buy.
      • I call BS

        You didn't see an Apple refurb then. Some places (not Apple stores) will sell Apple gear refurbed by other companies. Apple's refurbs are always like new, and have been since I can remember them offering refurbs.
      • I've bought three Apple refurbs...

        and there was no way of knowing that they were anything but new.

        Either you haven't seen actual refurbs purchased from Apple, or you're being a bit less than honest.
      • I'm going to chime in here

        And agree that I've never had an apple refurb that I could distinguish from new other than the box.

        That said, the refurbished IPad 3 I bought a couple of months ago when the iPad 4 came out had some annoying screen yellowing in one area. Of course, I took it to the apple store and they swapped it right out.

        Apple has been making a lot of strange pricing decisions of late. Reducing mac prices while devices are still in the channel
        And current products is a rather unusual move. I get the feeling the retail sales team is just trying multiple approaches right now possibly because of a glut of Mac hardware. Either way, I love my 13 inch Retina MBP and I only paid 1215 for it as an open box at BB. It looks like new runs like new and now with the proceeds I saved even over the 1499 LOWER price, I put a 512gb SSD in it.
        • Weird price decisions?

          "Apple has been making a lot of strange pricing decisions of late. Reducing mac prices while devices are still in the channel"

          That's nothing new... And remember the iPhone $200 drop a few months after launch?
          • Yes, weird

            I.e. "not typical"... Apple is not known for dropping prices on anything during the run of a given product. The price is the price until refurbs come along or the new model replaces something. The reason people always cite the original iPhone price drop is precisely because of how unusual it is. Why is this difficult to grasp?
      • Strange...

        I would like to know what you have seen in person because I'm pretty sure they are not Apple Refurbished. As others have said, Apple will always replace any part of the exterior that doesn't look brand new and that's how they go out the door. The savings allows you to buy the extra 2 yrs of warranty.
      • I also call BS

        Apple refurbs are almost better than new since they are inspected. I bought a refurbished 2010 MacBook Air a few years ago, and it had a brand new battery (0 charges).
      • Of course this is bs

        @khess sock puppet windoze fanbui had to say something.
      • Your loss, I suppose

        I've purchased refurbs from Dell, and Apple, and they where just like new. With the Dells, the ONLY thing that would clue you in that it was a refurb was that it had a green sticker on the bottom that said "refurb". They cost less, and shipped for free, come with 3 year warrenty, and are working 100% just as well as the new Dells I've purchased.

        Same with Apple - I can't tell the difference in either looks, or function.
        William Farrel
        • I think the only way to tell if an Apple is a refurb...

          is the serial number. I think the refurb serial numbers start with "Y."

          At least, all of mine have.
  • Scarred by PC Manufacturers for life

    It seems the author has been scarred by PC manufacturers and needs healing.

    Unlike the skeptical standards of PC manufacturers, Apple refurbished means that the outer shell, the batteries, and any of the reportedly defective parts are all replaced with new parts.

    Link to CNet, where the author did some actual research and none of this "I want a Macbook Air/Pro so bad and I don't know why. I just do. I need help." Apple bashing disguised as voodoo.
  • "double my down"????

    "double my down" is not any Vegas speak I've heard. You must mean "double down",
    • Really?

      That's the part you're going to focus on is my use of double down? LOL.
  • Hmm

    The Apple refurbs are probably nothing more than buyers remorse returns (That is what the apple staff called my iPad 3 return). Likely, these units have never had an issue beyond being less than what the user wanted or too expensive for some.
    • Re Hmm

      Probably true. Years ago, if something was brought back within a few days and didn't have any scratches, dents, etc., it was just reboxed and put back on the shelf, since IN REALITY it is still "new".

      But a few folks in a few states complained to their state's Consumer Protection agency that "used" products were being deceptively sold as "new". A few sellers got slammed and so now such items are sold as "open box", refurb, etc.