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Thread: Ebay Morality

  1. #1
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    Ebay Morality

    I suppose that this fits under the topic of ethics.

    I am a very infrequent Ebay buyer. Bought a few items. Some good transactions one bad, no real nightmares, just hassles.

    I know that there are some real auction mavens here both on the buying and selling side so I wanted to ask what the general attitude is on sniping.

    It seems like a a dirty trick that tends primarily to hose the seller. I guess if all the buyers just bid what they are willing to spend, then a sniper will either lose or pay too much, but it kills the fair and thoughtful bidding aspects of the auction.

    On the other hand, there is no guarantee that you will ever get the opportunity to view and respond to other's bids since there is nothing to stop someone else from bidding at the last moment. I understand that there are even commercial sniping services available to sophisticated ebay buyers. I start to wonder if you are a sucker not to use the technique just to keep the playing field somewhat level. I can't see any alternative other than to play fair and watch prices spiral or watch items that you need get snapped from under your nose at the last second. If there were some way to prevent everyone from doing it, then it would be fair.

    As I say, I don't use Ebay more that once or twice a year and that is usually only to pick up something that is difficult or impossible to find in the stores. But I'm wondering, what is the consensus on Ebay ethics?
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Sniping is an artifact of the way that eBay runs auctions. In traditional auctions, the bidding stops when there are no more bids, and not at a set time. Right or wrong, it's part of the whole eBay phenomenon, so as a seller or buyer, one deals with it.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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    Neal, I have had a few items zapped by snipers in the last few seconds. I do not do the sniping thing myself because I consider it sleezy. Counter bidding is one thing, but bidding with 6 seconds to go just does not seem to be right. The last few times (if the price was fair) I bought items at the "Buy it now" price or at KEH.

    When I do bid, I tend to bid only what I think the item is worth. Some people consider it a personal fight to win the auction...usually the "Type A" behavor.. it's not for me.

    Just my opinion...

    regards,
    John

  4. #4
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    I know what you mean. I never have time to sit there and watch the auctions, and I don't really want to spend money on a sniping program because it seems underhanded. I try to bid what I am willing to pay and if someone goes over that, then so be it. I suppose that people that snipe get better deals, but I know what I am willing to pay and just let it go if I get outbid.

    Ebay is about as unethical as it gets, so I buy from KEH, or from people who are established community members on the few sites I watch regularly (if they have what I am looking for when I have the cash to spend) when I can, but I do seem to have to resort to ebay from time to time.

    - Randy

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    It seems like a a dirty trick that tends primarily to hose the seller. I guess if all the buyers just bid what they are willing to spend, then a sniper will either lose or pay too much, but it kills the fair and thoughtful bidding aspects of the auction.
    A thoughtful bidder can, in almost every case, determine what an item is worth to him and place a proxy bid for that amount at any time. If that proxy bid is higher than any snipe, the proxy bidder wins. If it isn't, the proxy bidder shouldn't care because the sniper was willing to pay more. I also can't see where something can be a "dirty trick" when everyone can choose the amount and the time of their bid.

    Some people complain that they can only determine an item's value if they've seen what value other people attach to it. Unless the item is unique (and I haven't seen one yet), I can't agree with that philosophy. Waiting to see other bids turns a process that should be thoughtful into a contest that can cause people to bid more than they should.

    As I say, I don't use Ebay more that once or twice a year and that is usually only to pick up something that is difficult or impossible to find in the stores. But I'm wondering, what is the consensus on Ebay ethics?
    eBay allows sniping; they've never done anything to try to prevent it (except in Germany, where they tried and failed to suppress automated sniping, but only due to the need to give login/password info to the sniping service; privacy is a much bigger issue there). There are also a number of other reasons to snipe besides the possibility of winning at a lower price. I don't think eBay would become a better buying environment (or a more profitable company) if they took steps to eliminate it.

  6. #6
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    Well, when I buy stuff there (less and less) I put a bid and go away
    I'm normally outbid by 0.50 or $1 at the last minute... it sucks i know
    Mama took my APX away.....

  7. #7
    MattCarey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    Sniping is an artifact of the way that eBay runs auctions. In traditional auctions, the bidding stops when there are no more bids, and not at a set time. Right or wrong, it's part of the whole eBay phenomenon, so as a seller or buyer, one deals with it.
    I would say that in "standard" auctions, rather than traditional auctions. One "traditional" type of auction is a "candle auction" or "by the inch of candle" auction. A candle was lit, bidding starts and is over when the candle goes out. Sorta like eBay, except that no one knows for sure when the auction is over.

    In the end it comes down to how much your time is worth, and how much money you have. If you have more time than money, sniping is a potentially good way to get something cheaper. However, you have to commit the time. Sometimes it might be better to bid an extra amount and walk away to find the results later.

    To me it is much like the tradeoff between eBay and some of the used equipment vendors. There are vendors out there that will charge $800 for a lens you can get on eBay for $300 (for example, an old Verito). Now, if you don't have the time and you have the money, buying the lens from someone rather than waiting for the right one to come up on eBay may be worth it.

    I was a student too long...I can't bring myself to do that.

    Matt

  8. #8
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    it depends...

    ...on how much I want the item.
    Usually,my initial maximum bid is what I'd PREFER to pay-wishful thinking,basically.
    However,I have been "sniped" on several occasions-including 2 weeks ago when I bid on a set of 250mm lenses for my C330.
    I had the winning bid...until about 15 seconds before the auction closed.
    A common mistake people made when designing something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

    Computers are incredibly stupid,but they are capable of being incredibly stupid many millions of times a second.

    Both said by Doug Adams

    Only put off until tomorrow that which you are prepared to die having not done-Pablo Picasso

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    Quote Originally Posted by titrisol
    Well, when I buy stuff there (less and less) I put a bid and go away
    I'm normally outbid by 0.50 or $1 at the last minute... it sucks i know
    There is no way for you to know, except in one rare circumstance, how much you were outbid by, because of the way the proxy bidding feature works.

  10. #10

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    I lose nearly everything I bid on to snipers. So, what? I bid as much as I wanted to bid and they bid more, for whatever reason. And the fact that the final price was 25 cents over your max does NOT mean that the winners max bid was only that much. It could have potentially been much higher.

    In my opinion, the snipers MIGHT have the right idea for Ebay purchases. If one bids early and to one's maximum, someone who is new to Ebay or a haphazard bidder might bid more than your bid, just to win. Also, people can see WHAT you've bid on, and could theoretically follow you around after letting you locate the desirable and underpriced items. Sniping eliminates both of those potential problems. But as Mr Goldfarb pointed out above, it is an artifact of the Ebay method, and you have to just deal with it. Cheers, Richard

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