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Promos and Ethics

johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
edited October 2011 in Buying & Selling Topics
I know I might get castigated for saying this but I'll go for it anyways...

Lego should be about fun, just imagine the delight of childs face as they get hold of a set - can't wait to open it and build the model....

Promos in papers (e.g. the Sun next week) or in comics (e.g. that recent Jack Sparrow set) are something that children can look forward toys!

Yet the issue I have is the greed of others that ruin the fun for these children....imagine - a child asking their parent for that newspaper toy or going to buy the comic only to find the shelves empty or the free gift gone just because someone has decided to get 10+ of these and sell them for their own profit....

It may be a dog eat dog world out there at times but to take away toys from a child (which is essentially what some people are doing) for their own profit is, in my opinion, wrong. I would go as far as to say that people buying these promos from ebay would be in the wrong as well as they are encouraging this behaviour.

Maybe being stricter about only one toy per person would help?

Thoughts from other AFOLs?


  • mnbvcmnbvc Member Posts: 136
    I completely agree with you.

    I do understand that AFOL invest in sets (and make the most of promotions) in order to put money back into their pockets to invest in the next round of Lego...but I've always felt a little uneasy about making a profit on Lego - particularly when the stock isn't there to be replenished (i.e. once it's gone, it's gone).

    With the free paper promotion (particularly the last one), I think it brought out the worst in everyone - and lots of adults suddenly became aware of the prices that Lego could command...especially when they realised it was a one-shot thing, so they started buying heaps up to sell on eBay. As money is tight for a lot of people these days, I can see why they've behaved like that...

    ...but like you said, Lego is mostly for children. This promotion should be for the children to get some extra (cheap) toys to play with, or maybe to get them interested in Lego, or for parents/grandparents to collect the whole set so that they've got some stocking fillers for Christmas.

    The other side an AFOL, I rather resent the fact that I buy all sorts of sets at full price and support the Lego brand... and yet I can't get one or two of the little sets I really want to own (I don't go every day, only when the sets appeal to me) because scalpers have taken 20 to put on eBay.

    To me, Lego is a toy. If you want to make money, go and speculate on the stock market or something... The profiteering is getting as bad as concert tickets selling out in the first couple of hours and then going on eBay for 10 times the face value.
  • DadDad UKMember Posts: 815
    Only trying to put another angle on the debate......

    Just to clarify, are you saying your opinion is that you don't think it is right to buy Lego with the intention of selling for a profit, or are you applying this to any toys?

    If you just mean Lego, then does this apply to all Lego or just promos? What about Lego that has been around for a couple of years of more and then goes on clearence?

    Is there a timescale that you consider acceptable before people resell at a profit?

    What about businesses that trade by selling retired toys and keep people employed, and should these employees be parents then ultimately that business enables that parent to support their children?
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I got over 100 last time, not to sell, but because its the cheapest way to get some interesting pieces. Is that wrong? Well hardly, I would say, its simply the result of the pricing ecosystem TLG have devised, which makes this the best way to get pieces.
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    Last time I got about 10 of each one, and felt bad for a while, but then remembered that I'm not getting these for massive profits, I'm helping overseas fans to get hold of them (by trading). If there are any left which I sell for profit, that's an added bonus, but by selling them, I'm again enabling other fans to get them. I will be doing the same again this time, proudly....
  • ThisIsMyCupThisIsMyCup Member Posts: 156
    has there been any mention of what the sets next week will be?
  • RavenhookRavenhook Member Posts: 70
    Oh, please! Children don't read The Sun, and responsible parents shouldn't be buying the rag. Murdoch papers and ethics are complete strangers.

    In my opinion, the unethical behaviour here is TLG helping to further promote the Murdoch empire.

    Buy 1000 of them and sell them at a profit. Good luck to you!

    The most ethical thing about the whole transaction will be dumping the paper, unread, in the recycling bin.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    We don't have these kinds of promotions in my country, so I don't fully know what's in these promotional sets, but is there much profit to be had by reselling them when you consider the time setting up all the auctions to sell them, dealing with questions from buyers, posting them...etc?
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    I often get multiples of these promos. I don't resell them, but trade/give them to folks (mostly in the US) and I don't necessarily see a problem with that since it helps fellow collectors get hold of country exclusives. In terms of how many is acceptable, I think there is a line that should not be crossed but it's difficult to define where that line is!

    IMO, the real fault lies with the way these promotions are run. If the stores involved in these promotions rigidly enforced a one per customer rule, the problem would go away. The problem was made worse in the last promotion because there was no official mail away option. Who knows, maybe this time around they will do things differently.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,835
    I think the Sun will look at sorting that out loads of people kicked off as they couldnt get the sets and the sun sold out in record time so i think expect it to go to more papers in the Sun empire.
  • purple_hazepurple_haze Member Posts: 95
    I didn't get any promos last time as there was no mail away option, I live 15 miles plus an expensive car park away from the nearest WHSmiths and 90 odd miles from nearest Toys r Us. The only two I wanted I bought off Ebay cheaper than it would've been to pick them up with a paper once you take into account Petrol, car park and time.
    I agree that people should not go overboard with getting multiples of these to sell for profit but at the same time some people like myself would not have the option of getting them at all if no-one obtained them with the intention of re-sale.

    So essentially I agree with Atkinsar above: " In terms of how many is acceptable, I think there is a line that should not be crossed but it's difficult to define where that line is!"
    Who is to say when someone has crossed that line??? and if the paper offered a mail option people wouldn't need to buy them off ebay or bricklink so people wouldn't get them to sell on anyway!
  • monkey_roomonkey_roo Member Posts: 1,381
    I don't think there is anything wrong with grabbing what you can and if you choose to sell on and make a bit then hey, I believe that is a founding principle of the free market economy we all embrace (well, what's left of it). That said I do think TLG needs to think about who they partner with and who the target audience for the promotions are. With the last round in the UK how many kids would even have known about it (i.e. most kids don't read newspapers, certainly not the fish and chip wrapping dross that you had to buy to get the toys). Better to tie in with more child focused publications, none of which would prevent AFOL's from getting them, although watching hoards of grown men buying multiple copies of 'Just 17' would be amusing...
    Personally I got one of each (and threw away the paper unread) and have been giving them to my kids periodically as incentives for good behaviour.
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    The most ethical thing about the whole transaction will be dumping the paper, unread, in the recycling bin.
    Quite right too. I actually take pleasure in tearing it up after I've got the token out!
    because there was no official mail away option. Who knows, maybe this time around they will do things differently.
    I'm not sure, the mailaway via consumer services seemed quite well organised, with the sets in brown envelopes with the set number on a sticker. I actually preferred that to having to pay £9+ and postage for the mailaway from the Mirror
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 2,940
    ^ this wasn't an 'official' mail away option though, more a face saving action following peoples complaints I think.

    I also dump the paper (as whsmiths insisted of standing at the checkut and tearing out the tokens. The time before I'd just bought the papers, then put them back on the shelf on the way out).

    I think they should cap peoples buying, people picking up 30 papers and claiming 'they're for party bags' (the lego not the paper :P) is frankly ridiculous. We all like 'free' lego, but it's a gift with the paper, not a toy sale.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,835
    edited October 2011
    ^well now we know what goes in your kids party bags (or will do if you dont have any), newspapers
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I too agree they should cap it per shop. I was lucky last time and was travelling a lot so could go to 5 different shops a day, usually not taking more than 5, but there was no consistency. some shops limited you to one, some wouldn't give you the lego as it was "reserved", some limited you to 5, and some had no limit. it certainly highlighted who the jobsworth managers are, but they had to do something to stop the 30 each crowd. some towns seemed to have a worse problem than others eg I noticed watford was particularly bad. I think they should have a cap of 5, but at the discretion of the manager as to whether or not to use it.

    they should also make it available at the london terminal whs this time, I bet a lot of commuters missed out because of that.
  • sirrich69sirrich69 Member Posts: 463
    @andhe the mail away option with one token per letter to sun customer services was there before the promotion started. I asked the question via email before the promotion started and got an automated reply saying "sorry you were not able to collect you LEGO please send the token to sun customer services"

    You are always going to get with any free promotion in a paper people profiteering, this does not just apply to LEGO.

    What needs to be sorted is the consistency from shop to shop and an officIal mail away option, as that would have stopped the scrums at the shops, then those that wanted to profiteer from the promo could go to the shop and those that just want a set could mail.

    After the last promotion I sent a letter to sun customer services to indicate the areas that needed to be improved in my opinion, the first item on my list was a mail away option for a complete set with x number of tokens, like the mail. I would suggest if this is not there this time round then people should send a email to the sun and indicate their frustration.

    I got 4 to 5 packets each of the last promotion, sold one set on eBay which paid for all my petrol to collect them, and traded others with fellow brickset members on the couple of days I did not get.

    I do not feel bad for getting that many as in most cases the next day they still had some left from the previous day, so I was not restricting a child from getting the promotion. Clearly in some areas of the uk this was not the case.
  • Silber334Silber334 Member Posts: 147
    Good topic you posted johnsbricks:) I honestly never gave a thought about being considerate to other buyers. For one thing, there are toy stores or the likes scattered pretty close by where I live. So "stocking up" on the same set wouldn't be much of a problem. If the stores were scattered much further away, ( ie, a car's drive away, compared to only a stone's throw away ) then I'd probably consider :P Another reason is that demand for Lego is pretty low here.

    But if you are talking about buying up Legos for the sake of your own profit, I have never done that or ever intend to. It's not really for the sake of ethics tho. I'm just too lazy to do something like that. I'd rather invest in Lego stocks or make money out of something else that's not Lego.
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu UKMember Posts: 368
    The stores should definitely enforce a 5 papers/ 5 sets per customer limit, but beyond that it is down to the individuals if they want to resell them. To be honest as per the comment above by the time eBay have had their cut I doubt it would be a worthwhile endeavour for most people anyway.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    There is no effective way for stores or outlets to police this, nor should they try. Some amount of people will go around and buy these up to resell - that's just the nature of the game. Perhaps they shouldn't, but I think that's a debatable argument in any case.

    If LEGO doesn't like this kind of behavior, they shouldn't engage in this type of limited, narrow-target distribution of sets. But since we are talking small introductory-type sets that are meant entirely to be loss leaders and introduce people to the brand, I wouldn't expect them to walk away from this. It must be working, and any buzz generated is good for LEGO.

    At the end of the day, the average kid isn't going to be scarred for life if he misses out on a cheapo polybag - it's the hardcore AFOLs who have to have their collections "complete" that obsess about that sort of thing. The parent of said kid can just move on to the next giveaway or go to the store and buy the small impulse set or something. The kid will be fine.

    In short, I don't really see anyone getting hurt here. So why worry?
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Something worth keeping in mind is that "Ethics" is another word for "opinion".

    In that, everyone's is different, so while it is temping to say things like "businesses should limit customers to x number of items to be fair", never forget that is your opinion, and not a fact of the universe.

    People who think their "Ethics" or "Morals" or "Opinions" should automatically apply to everyone would do well to keep in mind that door swings both ways.
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu UKMember Posts: 368
    Well that may be your opinion LegoFanTexas and you are entitled to it. ;-)
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 774
    I'll take the Cars promo set off someones hands when they come out!
  • llanowarsoldierllanowarsoldier Ohio USAMember Posts: 357
    I only get 2 of the Promo/Exclusives...1 to open and build and one to keep sealed for a trade later on...I only do these with the Impulse/Polybag sets.

    Also, have you seen the prices on the Mini Hogwarts Train? People are asking 35-50 dollars for that thing.
  • johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
    @legofantexas, I disagree that "ethics" is synonymous with "opinion" but that is a digression beyond a lego forum. My title "promos and ethics" was to hopefully stimulate some discussion about:

    (1) Whether it is morally right to deprive someone else of a freebie for personal financial gain. The analogy is of a jar of sweets with the label 'take a sweet for free'; should you come along and take one sweet or should you take a few sweets and share with your friends or should you take the whole jar and sell the contents on to others and pocket the profit. I have no issue with the first two approaches but the latter I find morally reprehensible. Even more so, when these people boast of their exploits on money saving forums saying how they got lots of lego by claiming they were for 'goody bags' and then how they made a killing on ebay.

    (2) The principles of Lego - the derivation of the word being 'play - well'. Lego, should be a toy to be played with and not traded like stocks on a stock market. To be honest, I only started purchasing lego for the purpose of saving for a few years and then selling on for a profit. Then one fateful day, I opened a box - which then became two boxes....and so on ....the Lego obsession had begun. Lego should be fun. It shouldn't be about pushing and shoving to get your toy. It shouldn't be about parents arguing over the last toy at the counter in front of their children. Unfortunately, these promos can bring out the worst in people.

    My comment about 1 per person was just in line with other freebie promotions that run which entitle a household to have access to the freebie once. This allows some degree of equity.

    The one advantage of an AFOL getting lots of sets is that they can bin the rag as soon as they've ripped the voucher out and save the trash contained within being perpetuated amongst the masses....

  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    @johnsbricks, You're welcome to disagree, that is what makes the free world great, we can disagree on stuff! :)

    Morals are similar to ethics and opinions, one person's morals are not always the same as the next person's morals. The fact that you disagree with the actions of someone else and you call them "immoral" doesn't make it so.

    1. The example you give of the jar of sweets is a good one, and I think most people would agree with your view (including myself) of the fact that the first two approaches are ok, the last is not.

    However, it is a common mistake to assume that because you feel the person doing it is "wrong", actually makes it so.

    To give you another example, I'm quite sure most people feel that suicide bombings by Palestinians is morally reprehensible, however I doubt the people actually doing it feel that way. They probably feel very morally justified in doing what they do.

    Consider for a minute that the founders of America were considered traitors by many, including their fellow citizens, until they won the war, then they became heroes.

    2. The second point you made, about what Lego "should be", is another example of an opinion. Why should it be for "play" and not for trading like stocks? Because you think so? Says who? To quote my mother oh so many years ago, "who died and made you King? :)

    I say that with all due kindness, sometimes words can be harsh on the Internet, so don't take it the wrong way. But your opinion that they should be for play is just that, an opinion. You're entitled to it, but I'm quite sure The Lego Group is in it for the money, if they were not, they would go out of business in short order, they HAVE to be in it for the money, that is how the world works.

    I don't invest in Lego sets to get rich, but I do buy and sell to support the habit, otherwise I couldn't afford as many Lego sets to enjoy with my kids. So do I feel bad when I buy a set for $100 and later sell it for $300? Nope, not in the least, because no one forced that buyer to pay 3 times the old retail price for it, it was a transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller, and there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with that.

    In my opinion. :)
  • DuchessaDuchessa Member Posts: 287
    Interesting topic! Since I was very much involved in the Jack Sparrow promo deal, I really want to add something to the discussion.

    The heart of the problem is that exclusives exist. If they didn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But TLG is a company, and companies are in it for the profit. Alas, we have exclusives. So how should we handle them?

    I totally agree with @dougts about kids and promos. Your average kid out there isn't going to be harmed for life if he/she doesn't get all the different promos out there. It's the AFOL community that are obsessed with having complete collections, including rare promos. And no, I don't have a problem with people buying multiples and selling them for profit. No one is forcing your to buy expensive sets.

    The promos in The Sun or (in my case) the Donald Duck weekly comic are available to everyone. Personally, I can say that I've never experienced having access to an exclusive during my AFOL-period (we're talking more than 10 years). When I ran across town to pick up the magazines, I never totally cleaned out the shelves. I left one or two in the store.

    I didn't make a profit on the majority of the sets either. I distributed them (with good help from flump) to people here on the Brickset forum. I have a few ones left that I picked up the last day the magazine was on the shelves, and I have no problem admitting that I'm going to keep them for a few years and then sell them for profit.

    My biggest problem is the sets that aren't available to everyone. I'm thinking about the Brickmaster sets, but also other similar items. I really don't want to pay $80 for a SW-polybag.
  • higginshiggins Member Posts: 8
    @everyone_reading_this_thread: Please remember that not everyone in the U.S. thinks ethics are just random personal opinions to be downplayed and trod upon when it is beneficial to our pocketbooks or current material desires or just fodder for debate.

    That being said, IMO ethics do NOT pertain at all to this situation, that is to some really weak LEGO sets that nobody would be talking about at all if they weren't given away free. It's not like someone lied and cheated and skipped in the food line and took all the rice and now their neighbors are starving. If the first person didn't grab a bunch of the sets in a specific store it's more than likely the next person would. That is the rationalization most people use to justify greed. I know I have done it but usually more with some free stickers at a convention or beer coasters in the weekly.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    edited October 2011
    @everyone_reading_this_thread: Please remember that not everyone in the U.S. thinks ethics are just random personal opinions
    You are very correct.

    However, the people who think that fail to understand that it is STILL just their opinion.

    People of all strips who believe they have "THE ANSWER" that MUST BE TRUE for everyone, regardless of anything or anyone, are very dangerous.

  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
    I have recently decided to buy a few extra sets for potential future sale and profit. Not to finance my kids' college expenses, but to minimize how much I spend "out of pocket" on sets for my family. Along with that, I am taking advantage of sales to stock up on smaller sets that I will donate to a holiday toy drive.

    I know this does not completely address the original issue of the promotions that was brought up. For me, though, it is a way to share the greatest toy in the world, while not feeling too selfish about the investment side of my purchases.
  • AScaryOctopusAScaryOctopus Member Posts: 57
    Eh, it's not as bad as those guys who rip stuff out of kids hands when there's a sale because it's the last one. I, for one, don't hoard all the polybags I can hold. I did know of someone who pre-ordered a TON of LEGO PoTC, took the Jack's, and then returned all the games with his receipt, which must stink for a kid who preordered it to play but there weren't enough games/jacks left.

    Also once I wanted to get stuff from the Ninajgo things around the beginning of the year where if you spent 20 or more on a Ninjago set, you would get a card and a case, but some guy bought a ton and got them all (This was an hour after the TRU opened on the first day of the promotion, by the way).
  • skherbeckskherbeck Member Posts: 33
    When it comes to the idea that buying up multiple lego sets or promos is "stealing from kids", I think the idea is ridiculous. First of all, I'm sure more money is spent on Lego by AFOLs than kids, so you can't really classify Lego as kid-exclusive. Secondly, if it wasn't for people buying multiple sets to make a profit, I wouldn't have been able to purchase my "Town Plan" or other discontinued sets. Lego is a commodity like any other and subject to Supply and Demand as such. I say get as many Promos/Sets as you want. Who cares! (And I have never sold any Lego for profit or otherwise!)
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Totally agree, I have no problem with Murdoch subsidising my hobby.

    Also, there seems to be enough stock this time. By going in and buying 'yesterday's' sets from various places in london (with tokens), Ive managed to break the 100 mark already on this promo's polys. And no one legged orphans were deprived of their next meal as a result, although I did club a few baby seals while I was there.
  • pantboypantboy EnglandMember Posts: 211
    Supply seems to be outstripping demand this time round, my local WHS were still handing out Saturdays Star Wars sets this morning (with the appropriate voucher) and the staff could barely move for boxes of LEGO behind the counter.
  • jb15jb15 Member Posts: 53
    Frankly, if you're so worried about the kids, why don't you save up some money, go buy a ton of the promos, and hand them out to the kids?

    :) Just encouraging conversation. No (too) hard feelings.
  • veritas313veritas313 Member Posts: 80
    Well I'm clearly going to hell for this one - my WHS let's you buy 10 and gives you the Lego - then I rip out the tokens and go to another till and get 10 more Lego sets. No seals were harmed during this process.
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