This food bank was going under. Then an Amazon infinite money glitch saved it

This food bank was going under. Then an Amazon infinite money glitch saved it

Together they launched a campaign asking people to donate their £150 council tax refunds.

Although thousands had been raised, by mid-November it wasn’t enough to save the panel. Barron-Woolford had decided to fire the landlord.

“In November I was completely exhausted. We had no money, we were technically bankrupt and insolvent, I couldn’t go on,” Barron-Woolford said.

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It wasn’t until Black Friday, when three friends noticed a discount on Amazon, that the plot to save the community hub took shape.

The Tripe Marketing Board, as they call themselves, doesn’t actually market tripe. Instead, it’s a trio based in Merseyside and Yorkshire who have used the name as an inventive way to promote their self-published books for the past decade.

One such book is Forgotten Yorkshire and parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside. It sells maybe 50 copies a year on Amazon, so the retailer probably figured a price drop from £10 to 99p for Black Friday could result in a modest increase in sales.

Cash for old tripe going to Yorkshire Food Banks. Image: Included

The gasp is as follows: When Amazon discounted the book to 99p, it was still paying the TMB its full royalties. The promoters of the parody offal donated £2 per book to a charity and the remainder of the royalties went to the author and publisher.

The result was like printing money at Amazon’s expense as long as they could convince people to part with their 99p. When it first happened in 2020, they successfully raised money to support the MS Society, but without the TMB realizing the full potential of the gap.

“We didn’t advertise it as such until all of a sudden we noticed we were getting a couple of sales for 99p and it was a full commission. So we thought, yeah, we need to do something with it,” said Paul Etherington of the Tripe Marketing Board.

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When Black Friday hit that year and the price of the book fell back to 99p, Etherington realized there was room for improvement in 2020’s efforts. An illness had since forced him to retire, but the opportunity was too good to turn down.

“I couldn’t turn my back on this opportunity when I saw it,” he said.

He used the group’s 21,000 Twitter followers as a sounding board to find a suitable partner. One suggested Ray and the food bank We Care.

At this point, We Care were still a long way from their goal and were staring in the face of completion. Etherington and Barron-Woolford struck a deal – £2 a copy went to We Care from 14 November to the end of the month. Etherington reckoned that maybe £2,000 or £3,000 would be donated at the end.

A never-ending cash streak in real life seems too good to be true, but there were limits. Amazon’s rules meant only three copies could be purchased at a time. So Etherington spread the net.

Facebook friends, Twitter followers, neighbors and friends all got involved in the effort and bought as many 99p copies as they could. And after about a week, Etherington found someone with a business account who could order as many as they wanted.

“That was the kind of lightbulb moment that made us think Amazon has a little problem here because there’s a little loophole in the system that we can exploit for the benefit of the charity,” Etherington said.

As friends and family were inundated with multiple copies of the same book, Etherington began giving spare parts to charity shops for sale – making the initial 99p even better.

By the end of November, the efforts of those influenced by the Tripe Marketing Board exceeded expectations. A total of 4,965 copies were sold and £10,150 sent to We Care.

“It’s a nice feeling because we didn’t expect to get anywhere near that,” said Etherington.

We Care saved this money and enabled them to pay their rent and bills for the next year, but also to buy groceries. You have now raised £30,000.

“It’s not a lot for Amazon, but it’s the principle, the little man goes up against the big man and actually uses a little bit of money to do something good this Christmas,” Barron-Woolford said.

“We never thought that we would end up having all the money we needed and then a little bit more, especially in the current situation. But we were just lucky.”

But soaring energy bills mean changes are afoot for the board.

“It would be obscene to give all the money we raised to the utilities. So next year we need to open fewer days and reconfigure the way we run our fridges and freezers,” said Barron-Woolford.

As for the Tripe Marketing Board, the fundraising isn’t over yet. The deal is still ongoing, and there are new causes that are benefiting.

First was a project in Glasgow, Pantry on Eaglesham Streetwith £1,000 raised for the community group.

And now, until the deal ends, the TMB is sending £2 a copy to two Yorkshire local food banks. Food conscious in South Yorkshire and the Welcome center in Huddersfield. Forgotten Yorkshire and parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside can be found here on Amazon if you’re interested in getting involved.

“Suddenly you are a fundraiser. It’s like Withnail and I, we accidentally became fundraisers,” Etherington said.

“It’s the little man trying to fight back.”

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