Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ebay Annoyances

I buy stuff on ebay occasionally. My annoyance is not with ebay itself but rather with people who I shall call micro-bidders. Micro-bidders are those people who make bids on items that are only a few dollars above the current winning bid. I have to admit that this is what I did when I first used ebay. Micro-bidding is time consuming and I believe it inflates the price of the item too high, mostly through petty bidding wars that develop from a win at any cost attitude. Great if you are selling, but annoying to other bidders.

Fortunately, as I'm sure most people realise, ebay will bid on your behalf. All you need to do is pick a price and as other bidders make bids under your maximum bid ebay will automatically bid for you. Once the maximum bidding goes above your maximum bid you are out of the race. If you wish to go on, enter a new bid, otherwise give up. Ebay has made the function available, use it.

To get the most out of this function you should do your homework first to see what similar items are going for and use that as your benchmark (indeed shop around elsewhere as sometimes the prices people pay on ebay are too high). When the item comes up again, bid early and make it your maximum bid. If I'm a bit desperate I will add a bit to my maximum bid, say 5 - 10%. If you get outbid so be it, but there is also the chance that you will win the item at a much lower price.

A trick I use to fool the micro-bidders is if they are really active for a particular item is to make a bid of an unusual amount. By unusual amount I mean instead of bidding a flat bid of $56, bid $56.37. I have won a few auctions by the skin of my teeth using this tactic. It is funny to look at the bidding history after the auction and seeing that the last bidder that tried to outbid you made a bid of $56, if they had gone $1 higher they would have won. The best bit is that you still get the item for a $56.

Moral of the story, micro bidding is annoying and can drive the bidding too high. Know your limit, stick too it, and bid smart.

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