EBay - What am I missing?

March 10, 2004

J has been bidding on EBay looking for a basic electronic keyboard she can use to practice for her choral society. She does not want much - 4 voices, touch sensitive keys, and a sound that is not too horrible.

What she has found is that she will figure out her walk-away price for the item, bid it, and the auction will go into the last few minutes. Then someone will come along and place a last minute bid and win.

They are using software to watch the auctions and bid at the last minute.

I find it annoying, and I can not figure out what is the advantage of using a macro to bid at the very last moment. It does not help you get any given item any cheaper, unless people are bidding their hoped-for price and not their walk-away price. About the only advantage I can imagine for the practice is that it lets you watch a mess of auctions without making any contracts, and then bid only at the last minute so as to keep your options open.

But that also seems a little silly.

So why do people do it? I have started using the Buy it Now feature for EBay auctions as soon as someone has a Buy it Now for less than my walk-away price, because I get tired of waiting for an auction to end before discovering that a last minute feeder has topped my price. I would rather have the item than spend weeks on end bidding and losing at the last minute in an attempt to save a buck or three.

What am I missing?

Posted by Red Ted at March 10, 2004 08:30 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I love Ebay. But share your frustration about the bidding process. So now if I'm really interested in something, I won't bid on it until the last 5 to 10 minutes. Primarily because I don't want to get into a bidding war with someone else that is drawn out over several hours or even days. It might seem sneaky to come in and bid at the last minute, but it's really not. I'm not using any software. I'm just sitting there hoping and praying that my internet connection doesn't fail me. Bidding close to the end of the auction has helped me to keep the price down on items I've purchased. Sure the price increases, but it doesn't increase as much if it would have gone on for hours or days. If you've ever been to a live auction, you'll see that this tactic is used quite often. Two people are going at it, then a third person will jump in at the last minute to claim the prize. At bit sneaky, but totally legit.

Posted by: Ursula at March 10, 2004 09:04 AM

We do quite a bit of our business these days through eBay, and we love snipers. :-)

More seriously, what's behind it is simple competetiveness. People who do this aren't thinking in terms of buying at their price or economy or such...they just Want To Win. This is why auctions, online or not, are so attractive to sellers: it's quite possible to sell items for much more than they're worth if one of these jokers gets into the deck.

Posted by: DFH at March 11, 2004 01:02 AM

That might be the difference. Having gotten into some stupid bidding wars as a teenager, I now do not bid in an auction until I have a notion of what the item is worth to me.

I might re-evaluate to see if I have named a desired price rather than a walk-away price, but I try not to get caught up in winning - especially on relatively fungible objects like electric pianos, music CDs, or copies of Neverwinter Nights.

Then again, I don't do collectible. I reserve that hoarding instinct for my books.

Posted by: Red Ted at March 11, 2004 11:11 AM
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