Sunday, January 20, 2008

Online auctions: Ebay Madness

I have spent the last week trying to buy a second hand graphics card and it has not been an easy process. Pipped at the post three times. The fourth time I actually won the auction only to have the seller vanish into thin air when I suggested that we meet in person to exchange. Suspicious? I think so.

Having exhausted the possibilities of the local Irish second hand market - I headed off to Ebay to see what could be bought further afield. I am not an experienced Ebayer but I was aware of scams being perpetrated on Ebay not to mention the odd highly publicised sale of wine stains. I was perhaps less aware though of the madness that grips apparently sane people when bidding on Ebay. There are bargains to be had for sure but many second hand items sell for crazy prices - more than an equivalent new product , as buyers appear to get caught in a bidding frenzy.

Watching auctions for a few days I quickly realised that the current listed price of items is generally meaningless. For many sales the real price is determined by a period of frenetic bidding minutes before the auction closes. An item that languishes temptingly at £40 for several days will see its final price rise to £80 or more in the last few minutes.

Recognising my noobness I googled for some bidding advice and came across this excellent guide to Ebay bidding strategies by Tyler Jones. If you bid on Ebay it is worth reading. I won't re-iterate what Tyler says but I will second Tyler's opinion that sniping is the way to go. Sniping means bidding once and once only close to the very end of the auction for the maximum amount you are prepared to pay. This strategy beats lowball bidders hands down and protects you from getting caught up in a "nibbling" bidding frenzy.


JC said...

Most people tend to wait to the last minute to bid and often use "Snipe" tools to bid at the last second. I've used these techniques in the past to win but you may also want to do some research to see what items are selling for.

Terapeak is a tool that sellers use to determine what to sell an item for, but it can also benefit buyers to see what the average price is.

ALWAYS check feedback for the user.

I discuss other strategies on my blog as well.


mbp said...

Welcome to Mindbending puzzles Jeff. I am a once a year Ebayer and I can use any advice I can get.

I have noticed that for some people Ebaying can become an all consuming hobby or even a career. I think I'll stick to playing the Auction house in MMORPGs for the moment though.

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