|Shills, thrills and spills|
Message #27 Posted by glynn on 1 Nov 2002, 7:13 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Mike
While I understand the logic, I don't really agree with the remedy proposed.
If a seller has someone colluding with him to run up the price, am I any less stupid for following him up that ramp?
Mostly, when asked about when to bid (early or late), whether or not to use "bots", and in response to grouses about "snipers stealing an item away from me", you correctly state that the HIGH bid gets the item: you bid what you sincerely are willing to pay. If that is more than enough, the item is yours; if not, better luck next time.
But it IS possible that the seller is using a "shill". There are two potential uses for that shill. One is to run up the price to flush out a pigeon... perhaps someone like me, who must have that item even at a price I might have balked at initially, in the absence of aggressive competition. The other use for a shill is to run up the price beyond anyone else, ending the auction "successfully", thereby setting a price precedent for some future auction or to hype up the market in general for that and/or related items.
If a bidder is finding he is in higher cotton than he sincerely desires to pay, the LAST thing he should do is act upon his competitive instinct (this advice from a reformed ebay "angry young man"). He should instead realize that NEARLY ANYTHING on eBay once will be followed by another soon enough, and Fate is telling him to sit this one out. Then he should do his research and assure himself that he is realistic about his price target and can beat 99.9% of the competition to get what he wants. If he is sure that no shilling is involved and that the auction actually constitutes a new price target, then he may be willing to bid that high. So be it. But he should NEVER bid something that he, in good faith, is not full willing to pay.
Now if I bid on something and come in #2, and the seller says, hey Glynn, the high bidder defaulted, would you like it at your high bid? I shall say, oh yes-- provided that you FIRST post a negative feedback on bidder #1, and copy (cc) me on a note to eBay about the defaulter. Anything LESS than that is to be regarded as an "off-eBay" solicitation, don't you agree?
Now if I bid on something and come in #2, and the seller says, "auction completed", I have no reason to believe that a shill was used... but if I have used SENSE in establishing MY price, the shiller raised that price by no more than one bid increment, therefore did not accomplish a precedent as he might have hoped.
If I bid on something and come in #3, and the two high-flying birds above me raised the price substantially, I STILL have no proof that a shill was involved. I therefore have to decide whether the auctions end was a "fluke", perhaps driven by newbies with little sense. If I doubt the SELLER's integrity IN THE LEAST, I should be filled with a sense of relief at not having to deal with HIM. Another auction and an honest non-shilling dealer is my best remedy.
Maybe my buddies, however, get caught in the giddy fever of advancing prices and allow precedents to be set. "The last few of these sold on eBay for $XXX" say the next auctions. Well, IF they get that for their items, so be it-- it's the market of fools at work. But chances are better than average that the bubble will work itself out; sellers won't get what they expected out of their auctions, and the averages will come back down to a level supportable by the market for REAL; and sooner or later, those holding bogus shilled auctions have to REALLY sell their items at the peak of the speculative boom, or they wasted their "education" efforts towards their prospects. In the meantime, buyers should look askance at a seller offering two or more of the same item within a few months of each other in an inflated market. As a bidder, asking questions of the seller is worthwhile, including the serial number of the item you are bidding on.
Finally, if you see what APPEARS to be shilling by a seller and his buddy, you COULD ask eBay to investigate. Maybe a look by eBay security at the established facts of two individuals will result in a nulled auction, or maybe they will feel the heat and drop their ploy.
Anyway, if shilling is driving ANYONE to insane heights, it is, in the main, the responsibility of the sincere bidder to take a grip on himself, not be led to that insanity.
We in MoHPC should be looking out for bad auctions and NOT letting them set us up for future slaughter. To act, however, as if nothing is wrong when a high bidder defaults, as long as we get the item at some percentage above the last "reasonable" bid, is to let the unscrupulous seller off the hook, encourage people to "chase" the shill, and ultimately allow our emotional involvement in one particular auction get the better of our common sense. We DO need to combat shilling. The best way I can think of is to refuse to be that "pigeon", report strange anomalies to those in authority, be an informed and patient buyer, and ask the seller to give us the information we need to be informed, serious buyers.
As a seller, one should take pains to answer our questions in the auction copy, including serial #s, have original pictures, and not allow frivolity, stating in your rules that, in the case of a default, you will handle the dispensation of your item this way (i.e., another auction, going to 2nd bidder, etc.) A jerk defaulting-buyer should be treated as scum and the feedback should be mercilessly applied.
Anyone approaching you the seller with a whiny "but the price should be set back to..." should be aware that you, too, can be the victim of a scam-- where an auction is made murky by an alter-ego or two of low feedback and poor traceability-- and the seller is then asked to honor a price set in a time when the dynamic duo were scaring off all other competition.
Remember, if I want to pay $20 more than anybody else prior to the work of some misfit(s), but they've already begun their work, I can't even offer my bid-- why, it's "too low"... so when one later says, well, the devil (his buddy) made him do it, so the price OUGHTA be, hehheh, well, you get the picture.
So, anyway, that's just my advice. Y'all, be cautious, try not to get caught up in fever. And for goodness sake, do NOT EVER bid what you can't justify later, when your fever subsides!!!