On Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM, John Hurley <JHurley@jdabrams.com> wrote:
> Garth, and List,
> Sorry I'm late to the dance. Thanks to Dale for bending the rules to
> allow the off-topic discussion of eBay sniping. You have all provided
> the perspective I've been looking for, and much food for thought.
> If it's not too late, I have some (hopefully) different thoughts to add.
> As others have noted, an eBay auction is neither fish nor fowl. It has
> open bidding like an auction, but a fixed deadline like a sealed bid.
> This pits the buyer's reasonable desire to get a really good deal
> against his equally reasonable desire to get the item even if it means
> paying a little more. Contrary to what some have said, I think this
> approach tends to depress prices. It definitely produces frustration
> for those who would have been willing to bid higher had they not run out
> of time. While it is true the bidder can turn in his best offer early
> on and let the chips fall where they may, this runs counter to the
> instinct to feign lack of interest and bid low in hopes of getting a
> good deal, and counter to the instinct to act as if this was really an
> auction in the traditional sense.
> What eBay is doing just doesn't seem to make sense. Why would they want
> to depress prices?
Like you suggest below, Ebay seems to have an interest in keeping the process attractive to buyers. And when you compare Ebay to an auction, remember that traditional auctions take place at specific locations at a certain time and a buyer has to be there personally (or by representative). Considered demographically very few people ever take part in traditional auctions, so if you want a lot of potential buyers like Ebay needs, you may need to make it attractive to buyers in different ways than auctions. Ebay's advertising never seems to stress getting stuff cheap but stressed competitive winning and acheivement instead. But I suspect the main motivation of Ebay buyers is getting a bargain and that Ebay knows that. If their auction method leads to depressed prices it would still be in their interests if it keeps buyer interest high and attracts wide participation. Their recent policy changes are all about favoring buyers over sellers.
Why would they want to reduce the
> sporting/entertainment aspect of an auction? For this is surely where
> the whole business must end, with everyone pretending to ignore the
> offering during the listing period, and then let their sniping software
> slug it out in the last nanosecond. Where's the fun in that?
> Incidentally, this just turns the auction into a sealed bid, with the
> advantage for the buyer that he doesn't necessarily have to pay his full
> bid price.
> The only angle I can figure is that eBay must be thinking the buyer's
> need to walk away with a bargain is the key factor driving the eBay
> economy. If the buyer feels he is wasting his time in a game that
> inevitably ends in being clobbered by people with deeper pockets, maybe
> he would lose interest. But if bargains are the lifeblood of eBay, then
> the system depends on the willingness of sellers to continue knocking
> themselves out to find, clean up, photo, list, pack and ship rare items
> at cut-rate prices, prices that would not be profitable if you had to
> pay someone to do all the legwork. Hence they urge sellers to stick
> with the auction format and start out low, which we do in hopes the
> prices will come right at the end, which they don't because of sniping.
But the alternative to Ebay is not an auction for the vast majority of merchandise. The alternative is the yard sale and swap meet. They seem to know they have the sellers as captives because few may want to go back to hauling their stuff to the flea market and relying on the much more limited buyer traffic there.
Little Rock Canyon, UT
> I wonder if it would be feasible to put up an auction stating very
> clearly that the auction would be ended by the seller, as allowed under
> eBay rules, about 24 hours prior to the deadline. The seller would act
> as his own auctioneer, and after a reasonable time (as determined by
> seller) if no one countered the high bidder, the auction would be ended
> and the item awarded. Would this be a viable alternative for sellers
> who just don't like sniping? I can already anticipate one problem: If
> the seller didn't like the numbers he might be tempted to hold the
> auction open. He would then have to contend with the wrath of the
> unsuccessful bidders.
> John Hurley
> Austin, Texas USA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bianca Pratorius [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 4:48 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [CR]Ebay ethics, last minute bidding, sniping etc....
> After losing three auctions in a row, being outbid in the last five
> seconds each time, I've had it. I joined the crowd but I must say, I
> really don't like it. Ebay has changed so much over the last two years.
> About that time, I noticed that people would bid up the item mostly
> during the last hour. The next year it seemed that items were getting
> bid up during the last fifteen minutes. This year it's gotten worse -
> much worse. Even newbies to ebay are using special software which
> enables them to get an advantage over guys that played by the rules
> (like me). Today I became an card carrying sniper. My bids will be
> placed electronically and it will be my guy's computer software against
> theirs. So what's changed? Nothing, we just upped the ante like
> countries building up nuclear arsenals to combat the other guy's
> arsenals. And by the way this business about late winter being the
> season where people buy items to get ready for spring therefore the
> prices rise. They do, but my experience is that they don't go down
> again. They just rise. Bah! $800 for a cracked (possibly irreparably)
> seat lugged Masi 3V with Dura Ace? Thank goodness there are list
> members like Charles Nighbor who are still willing to give a guy a good
> deal on an old bike. Thanks to him but I'm ready to give up on ebay ...
> until I need something badly ... again.
> Garth Libre in Miami Fl USA