Closeout sites offer cheap shopping

Carrie Circosta

Seattle Mariners’ relief pitcher Jeff Nelson was selling bone chips from his elbow surgery on eBay for more than $23,000. eBay removed the bone chips from auction because the company prohibits any selling of body parts.

An Ohio nurse was able to sell a cotton ball for $115 and a handful of peanuts for $59 on eBay. Every time he was in the newspaper about it, he would sell the newspaper clippings for $5.

Discount Web sites such as eBay, Amazon and Overstock have changed the way people shop when it comes to necessities, such as books and clothes, or when it comes to the not-so-necessary, such as a handful of peanuts or bone chips. Even a trip down memory lane is possible with these Web sites.

“There is just so much stuff on (eBay),” senior education major Brent Ardo said. “If you can think of something you always wanted from your childhood or something you need right now, it’s on there, and the prices are unbeatable.”

Ardo said he also uses Overstock.

“With (a) broad range of products, we think we have something for mostly everyone,” said Kevin Moon, the director of Investor Relations of Overstock. Moon said Overstock is an online “closeout” retailer offering discount brand-name merchandise, including bed-and-bath goods, jewelry, computers and some travel services. The Web site is comprised of five main tabs: shopping, books, music, movies and games.

Overstock’s shipping rate is almost always $2.95 and is often lower, he said.

But no matter how many items a Web site has, the question of security is important.

“The biggest way our shopping customers are protected is that they are buying from us or one of our partners, not an individual they do not know like they would in an auction format,” Moon said. There is also a 20-day return policy and a best price guarantee.

“I use eBay and Amazon because I know they are secure sites,” said Andrea Guarnieri, freshman leisure studies major. “On eBay I buy DVDs, old Nintendo video games, clothes, and I know I am dorky, but mostly old TV show memorabilia.”

Guarnieri uses Amazon mostly for DVDs and books, like many other Kent State students.

“I live for Amazon!” said Renee Doddy, assistant residence hall director of Koonce Hall. “I get all my DVDs from there. I stalk them and wait for the prices to go down.”

Doddy is also a fan of Overstock, and even snagged a name-brand purse for $75. But she is still waiting for it to be shipped.

Even though security is getting better, one problem is actually getting the purchased items.

“The only bad experiences I’ve had with eBay is that sometimes the people take a really long time to send your order,” Guarnieri said. “But eBay makes it easy to look at the seller’s ratings, so you can see if they are a good seller or a bad one.”

Doddy said she bought a video game using Amazon and it was never sent to her. She said she made sure the seller received a bad rating.

These strategies for improving security and customer satisfaction seem to be paying off. Many students are buying, and even selling, for extra cash.

Alicia Verbic, freshman fashion merchandising major, purchases her textbooks from Amazon. She was able to get her Spanish textbook for $20, instead of $86 at the bookstore.

“I buy mostly textbooks; lets face it, sometimes it’s cheaper that way,” said Michelle Walder, junior integrated language arts major. Walder said she has also bought movie tickets and concert tickets using discount Web sites.

“I personally haven’t sold anything yet, but I plan to start this summer,” Guarnieri said. “My parents sold my sister’s car on eBay. They didn’t make much, but they made a lot more then they expected to get out of that old car.”

Contact features correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].