Some mystery boxes now available online have been allegedly bought from Internet auction sites for large sums of money. Media reports suggest that a listing for a ‘High Value £40,000 Mystery XXL Box’ has already received over 50 bids from interested buyers trying to secure this odd box. Elsewhere, mystery box auctions have become a growing trend on platforms such as eBay, with some boxes purchased for sums of up to £50,000.
Products from the dark web
When posting these items for sale, often through eBay or a similar online auction site, many sellers imply the contents are obtained from the ‘dark web’ – a deliberately vague term which can be interpreted as having mysterious, sinister and sometimes maybe criminal overtones. And if YouTube videos which claim to show successful bidders opening their boxes are anything to go by, some contain an extremely strange collection of items. YouTuber DerekDeso, for instance, who has registered more than 1.4 million subscribers, posted a video in which he opened a box that supposedly cost him £37,410 ($50,000). Inside, there were some electronic devices (including an Apple laptop) plus more bizarre items such as sweets and handcuffs. Delving further into the box revealed a wedding ring along with a letter written by the seller which claimed the goods were being sold because the owner had fallen on hard times.
You never know your luck
Another mystery box incident, which later became the subject of a complaint, concerned a ‘lucky’ auction winner in the US whose box of mystery goodies included a tightly sealed jar with some slips of paper visible inside. Opening the jar, the new owner found a note saying: “By opening this jar you are now responsible for its contents.”
The remaining six notes informed her she had now gained a bad luck penny. Within a month, her air conditioning had failed. Then, her partner became embroiled in a dispute with her boss, and shortly after, her car suddenly gave up the ghost. And on that same day, her feet were bitten by a swarm of fire ants. Not unnaturally, she soon began to believe these events were all connected to the ‘curse’ of acquiring a bad luck penny.
The mystery box phenomenonF
These boxes are sold for different prices with the average generally being around $100 – though, as mentioned, some can be much more expensive. The catch is no one sees the contents beforehand, so it’s just not possible to know in advance whether the goods placed inside are really of similar value to the eventual price you pay. That makes the whole thing a bit of a gamble, which in many ways is similar to the thrill of gambling in an online casino.
Many YouTubers buy these boxes and then release a video showing off the contents. Some boxes turn out to be filled with trash, while others may have some random items that may or may not prove to be useful. (Books, clothes, make-up, kitchen tools and whatnot.) A few YouTubers are claiming that their mystery box had some really creepy content, like a bloody knife, a lock of someone’s hair or something else equally disturbing. But it’s always hard to tell whether these YouTubers are faking it or not; because it would be just so easy to put anything in a cardboard box, then pretend it’s a mystery box you’ve received and open it in front of a camera.
Why sell mystery boxes?
Yet although buyers might not benefit from mystery boxes, sellers certainly do. Chris, a 31-year-old from the UK, began selling the boxes because he planned to move abroad and wanted to shift some of his own stuff, as well as some stock from his gift shop business. Not keen on early morning car boot sales, he puts anything he can’t sell, doesn’t want or need, into his boxes. This tack includes clothes, mugs, used CDs and DVDs, plus some stationery. He did receive a critical comment on eBay about one box, but Chris thinks it’s the buyer’s fault for not understanding this is a new trend.
And there is evidence to support the idea this is a growing trend. At first, Chris had only managed to sell a couple of boxes. But once YouTubers started posting videos, and AmazingPhil, a prominent member of that community, posted feedback about a box from Chris – rating it with four stars, just one below the max – the number of boxes he could sell jumped to 20 in just seven days.
Has the bandwagon rolled on?
Even though interest in mystery boxes has been strong, it seems to be already declining. For Chris, sales have now dropped back to zero. He believes all the hype encouraged a lot of people to de-clutter, which then swamped the market. So for one mystery box entrepreneur at least, it looks like it’s back to early mornings at the local car boot sale after all!