Maybe it’s because the holidays are just around the corner, but it seems like (unoffocial/unaffiliated) Disney personal shoppers are everywhere I turn on social media lately.
Personal shoppers, or re-sellers as the world outside of the Disney fandom may know them, are one of the worst pitfalls of selling great products. These personal shoppers are essentially the Disney fan version of the same sort of shopper who would purchase as many new iPhones or new Nintendo products as he or she possibly can the second they come out only to turn around and sell them on eBay for much more than they paid, often to customers who will happily buy them because they are no longer available for purchase from their actual retailer at that point.
Disney personal shoppers often take this problem a step further. While they are known for scooping up nearly all of the available limited edition event-specific merchandise in the parks (thereby leaving it out of stock for other guests) they also shop as a “job” offering their “services” by going to the parks and purchasing items to ship to guests at home who cannot physically go to the parks themselves. So not only do they stock up on limited edition pieces to re-sell for a higher price, they also stock up on ordinary, everyday, and plentifully available products that they also sell to their customers at a ridiculous markup.
The most unfortunate part of this whole problem is that it works. There are actually plenty of individua– err.. “companies” who have careers built out of visiting a Disney park, buying a piece of merchandise and selling it for more than it actually costs. (Don’t believe me? Just try searching “Disney Personal Shopper” on Facebook and see what comes up).
Having spoken to a couple of these “business owners” in an effort to understand why this practice is such a regular occurrence, I’ve only been told that the upcharge is basically a fee for their services. An item that may cost you $25 to purchase yourself at the Magic Kingdom may cost $35 or more to purchase it from a personal shopper. And the “or more” truly varies. I have seen items that cost only slightly more to the point where I understand why someone might buy it from the personal shopper, but others where the cost is up to double or triple what the item costs directly from Disney.
My best guess is that the people who are paying for these items do not realize they can usually be purchased directly from Disney. If you don’t already have it, I highly suggest downloading the Shop Disney Parks mobile app. Many of the items you’ll find on personal shopping pages can be purchased directly from Disney (more often than not at a much lower price) by using the app. Disney has recently been great about adding lots of new merchandise to the app regularly, and we’ve even been seeing more and more event-specific merchandise available on the app– something that was always a sort of stronghold for the personal shopper scams. The app also offers free shipping for purchases of $75 or more, which is something you’ll probably never find by using a personal shopper. (If you purchase items valued at $75 from a personal shopper, you’ll likely also pay an upcharge that the shopper may claim is for shipping, but is honestly a waste of your money when Disney offers free shipping at that price point).
Legalities aside, I urge you as a part of the Disney fandom to avoid making purchases from personal shoppers. I know some fans have commented that Disney gets the money for their product in the end anyways so it really doesn’t matter, but buying things from a person who I know is ripping off members of a community I value so deeply just doesn’t sit well with me. Logically speaking, I can’t think of any reason why you would want to purchase an item from a personal shopper that is otherwise available from Disney directly.
Doing business with a personal shopper means settling your payment with a random person through the internet (I know, I know, one could argue that eBay or Etsy is the same, but on the whole the majority of eBay and Etsy shops are not intentionally ripping people off). When you settle a payment by ordering directly from Disney, you know exactly what you’re getting into. If there is any kind of discrepancy, Disney’s merchandise guest services cast members will be able to remedy the situation. If you need to make a return, or the product is defective, they’ll be there for you. The same cannot necessarily be said when using a personal shopping service.
Like some eBay transactions, using a personal shopping service can also mean not knowing exactly what you’re getting. It might say “new” but actually be used, or it might even turn out to be a knock-off of the product you were actually hoping to receive. While reviews and testimonials can be helpful when discerning these problems, I’m still not sure why you’d risk dealing with this at all if the item is available direct from Disney.
Lastly, working with a personal shopper means you are supporting a scam artist. I know this sounds harsh, but at the end of the day you’re putting extra money in some random person’s pocket so they can continue to sell overpriced goods that are often readily available elsewhere. I’ve interacted with people on personal shopping pages who were surprised to learn about the Shop Disney Parks app, thinking the only way they could order that item they missed during their trip was from a personal shopper.
Supporting these kinds of scams also means that you’re in some way contributing to the lack of availability for limited edition and event-specific products (and this really goes for all forms of re-selling, not just Disney). People wouldn’t be in the business of stocking up on limited edition goods and re-selling them if there wasn’t a demand for it. The only way that demand will ever stop, and we’ll ever potentially find ourselves at a level playing field again would be to stop supporting the re-sellers. If you weren’t there on Epcot’s 35th anniversary in the first place, do you really need to buy an overpriced shirt from a re-seller saying you were there on it? Why not save your money for something else you can purchase on the app or during your next trip, and try to save the event-specific merchandise for the people who are actually at the event?
As with any fan community, I honestly care about other Disney guests and fans and I really hate to see them being ripped off. Change won’t happen overnight, and I forsee the personal shopper scams to continue long into the future unfortunately. Even if Disney decides to take action by limiting transaction amounts or tracking sales on Magic Bands, all a personal shopper needs to do is bring along some friends and family.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you used a Disney personal shopper before? Would you in the future? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!