Is it unethical to buy something and sell it for more?


Say I went to a dollar store and bought some goods for a dollar apiece, then sold each of them for two dollars apiece on or Ebay. Is this wrong? I don’t know whether it is okay or not. After all, that is how business works. What if I have old junk in my house that I used and am finished with? Can I sell that junk for more than I bought if for? Is it okay for me to make the price of my item the very most people will pay for it? For example, if nobody else is selling my item on a certain day, can I make the price crazily high as long as someone will buy it? Remember, I don’t want to sell life’s necessities, just some things people might want. Thanks for answering!


You are free to buy something for a small amount and sell it for more, but there are two concerns you should keep in mind:

1. If you know that the price of the item you’re considering buying is significantly underpriced and that buying the item at that price would deprive the owner of a rightful portion of his income, you should inform the seller that he should have his item appraised. For example, this means that it would be wrong to buy a collector’s piece for $1 when you know that it is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars more. Of course, if you believed you were paying a fair price and found out later that you “hit the jackpot,” you would not have done anything wrong.

2. You can sell something for more than its fair-market value, but you cannot deliberately gouge people or purposely take advantage of their naiveté. The price you ask should be within the reasonable boundaries of fair-market value. So, in this case, that means that you can’t take something you know to be worth only $50 and try to get someone else to unwittingly spend hundreds or thousands of dollars over its value. Of course, in an auction, if the bidders know what the fair-market value is and are so desperate to have the piece that they knowingly and willingly bid much more than that price in order to win it, you are free to let them do so.

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