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  #1  
Old 12-06-2004, 05:22 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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eBay hacking: Can a shill bidder discover a legit bidder's max bid amount?

I had an eBay auction experience this morning that really raised my eyebrows.

Minutes before an auction was about to end the top bid was about $17. I knew this was grossly under the real value of the item so when I submitted my bid -- about 60 secs before the end -- I entered my true maximum bid amount, $42.50. This made me the leading bidder at around $18 -- but only for a few moments.

Just seconds before the auction ended someone else slipped in a bid -- one only pennies less than my $42.50. I still won the auction, but instead of paying the $18, I paid the $42.50.

Now I know that there are shill bidders -- third party false bidders who work on behalf of the seller to boost the bids of legit buyers. I've always assumed they worked on a trial and error process: the shill ups the bid in increments in the hope that he can get as close to a legit bidder's maximum without actually winning the auction. But has some hacker devised a way to discover another bidder's max bid so he can shill right up to the edge of that max in one grand jump -- what seemingly happened to me?

Of course, my experience this morning could be just a pure coincidence. After all, the alleged shill has a long history of clean eBay buying and selling. I just want to know if I have any reason to be suspicious.
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2004, 05:33 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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You can search on a bidder's history in eBay (you go to Advanced Search, then Search by Bidder. Look at the person's recent bidding history on completed auctions to see if there is a pattern. As you say, this one time might be a coincidence.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2004, 05:39 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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You were 'sniped'. You can have a company bid for you in the last few seconds of the auction. This usually occurs much faster than the human can bid, hit enter, re-bid again if too low. The program just keeps increasing the bid until your max is reached or you win. Simliar to proxy bidding, only you don't tip your hand or push the amount up.

www.esnipe.com is one such company.
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2004, 05:48 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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No, I wasn't sniped. The object of sniping is to win the auction. The object of shilling is to let the other guy win the auction -- for the maximum he is willing to pay. Reread my original post and you'll see the distinction.
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  #5  
Old 12-06-2004, 05:59 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuyguy
No, I wasn't sniped. The object of sniping is to win the auction. The object of shilling is to let the other guy win the auction -- for the maximum he is willing to pay. Reread my original post and you'll see the distinction.
Dude, take it down a notch. You still could've been sniped, only he didn't bid enough...i.e I tell esnipe to bid up to $42.48 a nice odd number. It bids, your proxy is $42.50. Time runs out, you were still sniped. I just didn't win.
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  #6  
Old 12-06-2004, 06:13 PM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holmes
You were 'sniped'. You can have a company bid for you in the last few seconds of the auction. This usually occurs much faster than the human can bid, hit enter, re-bid again if too low. The program just keeps increasing the bid until your max is reached or you win. Simliar to proxy bidding, only you don't tip your hand or push the amount up.

www.esnipe.com is one such company.
That is nothing like how it works.

What you are suggesting is no different to what ebay's proxy bidding would do for you anyway. All you are gaining from a sniping company is someone else (or their software) is doing the sniping for you. But it's no different from sitting in front of your own computer at the right time and entering, once and once only, your max bid at the last moment.

Continually incrementing and submitting is doing things the hard way to absolutely no advantage.

As to the OP; sounds like a coincidence. And in your case a lucky coincidence. You nearly lost it. I suspect that the other bidder has conspiracy theories of their own just now. How did you know to up your bid by just enough at the last minute to beat them?

Ebay at least assures buyers that no-one knows your max bid.
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  #7  
Old 12-06-2004, 06:19 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Holmes, my apologies if I came off snippy (snipey?) -- entirely not my intent, I assure you.

I realize that I was sniped, if by that you mean he posted a bid in the closing seconds. But to say someone has been sniped usually implies that they lost the auction; I did not. Furthermore, his bid does not show the signs of autosniping -- there were no rapidfire incremental bids at the last second. There was just one big last-second bid that came shy of mine by mere pennies.

Again, I apologize if you took the tone of my previous post the wrong way.
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  #8  
Old 12-06-2004, 06:23 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
How did you know to up your bid by just enough at the last minute to beat them?
Except the other bidder placed their bid after the OP. No conspiracy, just the vagaries of proxy bidding.
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  #9  
Old 12-06-2004, 06:48 PM
mouthbreather mouthbreather is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuyguy
Of course, my experience this morning could be just a pure coincidence. After all, the alleged shill has a long history of clean eBay buying and selling. I just want to know if I have any reason to be suspicious.
I think that if someone figured out how to hack through ebay's security that the millions of credit card numebrs on file would be of more value to them than raising the price on auctions they run.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2004, 09:03 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mouthbreather
I think that if someone figured out how to hack through ebay's security that the millions of credit card numebrs on file would be of more value to them than raising the price on auctions they run.
Not necessarily. There is no reason to assume that the two things are systemically related. (Indeed, if there are competent people working at eBay, they shouled not be.) It is conceivable that a person could discover a security flaw allowing him access to bid information, while still not having any particular access to credit card info.

That unlikely hypothetical aside, I vote for eerie coincidence.
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2004, 10:47 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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To the OP, I say coincidence.

To credit cards vs. secret bidding info (reserves, high bids), I'd take knowing secret bidding information. Credit card nos by themselves aren't much good. You need safe houses for delivery or other information to use them for most illicit uses and its a risk everytime. Quietly reading secret bidding information can safely get you stuff for cheap.
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  #12  
Old 12-06-2004, 11:38 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
Continually incrementing and submitting is doing things the hard way to absolutely no advantage.
The psychology behind auctions can be complex. A big benefit to the seller is that the bidders get one another into a frenzy. I wonder how many people who, after they submit their proxy bid that is the highest they are willing to pay for an item, will increase their bid after they find out someone else is willing to bid more.

The other side of the coin is that if you keep your bid low, but snipe at the last second, the price you are willing to pay may be higher than that of others, but you don't want to tip your hand too early, inciting others to also raise their maximum bid (see previous paragraph).

I would say that OP was sniped but the sniper just didn't go quite high enough.
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:46 AM
edwino edwino is offline
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I am a relative eBay novice, but a quick question:

What if another bidder came in with 5 seconds left in the auction and bid exactly $42.50? Would the OP still win the auction having to pay $42.50? Or would the auction go to some kind of tie break auction? He was not outbid so I don't know the exact rules -- the OP would seem to have precedence from simply have entered that bid before the other bidder. Since $42.50 was both of their top bets, is it possible that a bug/feature of the eBay system is that the second bidder could not enter a $42.50 top bet and instead, since another bidder had precedence, it assigned second bidder to $42.48 and with a $0.02 bid increment then the OP won at $42.50?

Just wondering, you know.
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:55 AM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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edwino:

Quote:
What if another bidder came in with 5 seconds left in the auction and bid exactly $42.50? Would the OP still win the auction having to pay $42.50?
Yes, the first guy would win. In order to outbid someone, you need not only to go higher than the existing top bid, but you need to top it by a certain amount. A tie certainly would go to the first bidder.
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2004, 01:20 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller
Yes, the first guy would win. In order to outbid someone, you need not only to go higher than the existing top bid, but you need to top it by a certain amount. A tie certainly would go to the first bidder.
Actually, I think the ebay software would not accept the second guy's bid at all. That's what I recall happening when I entered a bid at the same time (actually, must have been a few seconds later) as someone else, and for the same amount. The ebay system told me that my bid had to be x amount over the current winning bid, and would not accept it.
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  #16  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:20 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller
edwino:
Yes, the first guy would win. In order to outbid someone, you need not only to go higher than the existing top bid, but you need to top it by a certain amount. A tie certainly would go to the first bidder.
Are you positive? Because I was pretty sure that the high bid always wins, even if tops the previous bid by less than the increment amount.

I was waiting to see if an expert on schill bidding posted, but it doesn't look like it, so I'm gonna go ahead and post my personal theory as to how this might have happened. I think there are certain "round" amounts for every auction where people think, "That's about the most I would pay for that." Maybe $40 just sort of seemed like the "right amount" for that item. Now most savvy eBayers will bid an odd amount, like $41.55 or whatever, in case it ends up in a tie. That way, if someone else bids $40, they still win. Like the OP, I usually go $2 and change over that "round" amount in order to beat the guys who are going $1 or $2 over the round amount. So maybe that's what happened. The other guy thought, "I'll bid a little over 40 bucks, and came in just under the OP, who bid just a little more over 40 bucks.

But I've definitely had that same feeling before, where you win by just a few cents, and it almost seems like too much of a coincidence.
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  #17  
Old 12-07-2004, 06:42 AM
KP KP is offline
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Re: discovering your high bid
Sure, anyone can do it -- they just can't do it very often without risking getting caught. When the bid is $18.00, they can simply bid $1850(.00). Due to eBay's proxy bidding system, they will be the hign bidder at just over your highest competing bid (e.g. 45.00) Then they can retract the bid, saying that they left out the decimal point. Lame, yes, but I'm sure enough people genuinely mistype without noticing that it'll seem plausible to eBay - if they don't do it very often (There's an eBay policy on bid retration, but the last time I saw it, it wasn't very specific on the threshold. I suspect it depends on how many people lodge a complaint about you retracting, and how energetic the employee handling each new complaint is feeling.)

If a bid is retracted, the high bid *should* go back to what it was before. I've seen a few cases where it didn't seem to, but that was years ago, and I assume that bug was fixed. It didn't go back down due to a quirk of eBay proxy bidding: you couldn't just raise your existing proxy bid, you could only enter a higher proxy bid that competed with your earlier proxy bid (a bad idea in most cases).

If the bidding returns to the pre-retraction state as it should, a retracted ludicrous bid would discover your high bid, and could bid just under it (e.g. $44.99) forcing you to your highest approved proxy bid. It is actually *expected* that you will place a "real" bid after you retract; not doing so makes your retracted bid look suspicious.

In the few auctions where I've seen retrations (I've never actually retracted a bid myself), it seemed to be a manual practice that required eBay intervention, and probably takes more time to process. However, if you weren't watching the auction "live" but came back an hour later, after the retraction was processed, the "bid history" transcript might have been "fixed" as part of the manual resolution process, and you might be looking at what looks like a miraculous guess

Or the bid history might show the retration. It depends on how their CSR's "retraction screen is currently set up, and how diligent the CSR is about policy.

However, it is still more likely that the other bidder's estimation of the item's value was very close to yours. In that case, one of you will edge the other out by a hair.

RE: bidding increments
Though you can only outbid the CURRENT high bid by the minimum bid increment, you can outbid the FINAL bid by less, if you set your maximum proxy bid to an irregular amount, or if some other bidder does.

e.g. if the current bid is $50.00, you can't bid $50.01, but if you set your proxy to $50.01 when the current bid was $45, you'll beat someone who bid $50. Also if there was a bidder whose LOSING maximum was 48.01, all subsequent bids will increment from that maximum (i.e. 47.00 ... 47.50 ... 48.00 ... 48.01 ... 48.51 ....).

You might expect the "high bid" to leapfrog over the irregular amount, since your next minimum bid is higher than it anyway, but if you think about it, the most computationally efficient method to match two proxy bids is to compare them once, and se the high bid accordingly, rather than enact the step-by-step incrementation -- that made even more sense with the slower, less powerful servers of the 90s, but it still sensible with today's servers, since millions of bids are made every day, and most of the heavy action is in the final minute or so.
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  #18  
Old 12-07-2004, 07:45 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas
The psychology behind auctions can be complex. A big benefit to the seller is that the bidders get one another into a frenzy. I wonder how many people who, after they submit their proxy bid that is the highest they are willing to pay for an item, will increase their bid after they find out someone else is willing to bid more.
Probably quite a few. Bidding would be so much easier if people didn't get emotionally involved with the process and just bid what they were prepared to pay.

The only advantage to sniping is that it gives other bidders less time to talk themselves into upping their bid beyond what they first decided. If everyone just bid their absolute maximum in the first place there would be absolutely no point to it.

But I guess this is why ebay works the way it does, the sellers rely on the buyers getting carried away by other's bids to increase the selling price. Otherwise the sensible way of conducting the auction would be to make it completely blind. No-one sees what anyone else has bid, everyone bids their max, no-one knows who's won until the end, the selling price is a fraction over the top of the second highest bid. Thus there would be no point or way to snipe.

Quote:
The other side of the coin is that if you keep your bid low, but snipe at the last second, the price you are willing to pay may be higher than that of others, but you don't want to tip your hand too early, inciting others to also raise their maximum bid (see previous paragraph).
The only advantage I can see to putting in a low bid, and then upping it in a last minute snipe, is that if you forget the auction end date, or miss it, there's still a slight chance you might get a bargain at your initially low bid. Otherwise you're as well completely sitting out the bidding until the last minute.
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  #19  
Old 12-07-2004, 08:16 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KP
Re: discovering your high bid
Sure, anyone can do it -- they just can't do it very often without risking getting caught. When the bid is $18.00, they can simply bid $1850(.00). Due to eBay's proxy bidding system, they will be the hign bidder at just over your highest competing bid (e.g. 45.00) Then they can retract the bid, saying that they left out the decimal point.
This is possible, but it is easy to confirm if it happened in this case. Go to the auction and click on the number of bids to access the bid history. Any bid retractions will be listed there.
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  #20  
Old 12-07-2004, 10:14 AM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
But I guess this is why ebay works the way it does, the sellers rely on the buyers getting carried away by other's bids to increase the selling price. Otherwise the sensible way of conducting the auction would be to make it completely blind. No-one sees what anyone else has bid, everyone bids their max, no-one knows who's won until the end, the selling price is a fraction over the top of the second highest bid. Thus there would be no point or way to snipe.
Yeah, but one of the appeals of the auction system is that it also accurately conveys price information. *I* may not know what a 1965 Beanie Babie with a slightly frayed cuff might be worth, but everyone else bidding gives me a reasonable idea.

Personally, I think the way to stop sniping would be to adopt the amazon style system where an auction closes only when its past X date and there has not been a bid for Y minutes. It's impossible to snipe since every bid keeps the auction going.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2004, 10:42 AM
micco micco is offline
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Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Personally, I think the way to stop sniping would be to adopt the amazon style system where an auction closes only when its past X date and there has not been a bid for Y minutes. It's impossible to snipe since every bid keeps the auction going.
This is the way the old onsale.com auctions used to work(before they got bought out and became a retail site), and it seemed very reasonable. From the seller's standpoint, it meant that the auction stayed open until the market set the best price. From the buyer's perspective, you couldn't get sniped and had an opportunity to place your highest bid. Win-win. I never understood why eBay used a time limit.
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2004, 10:54 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Personally, I think the way to stop sniping would be to adopt the amazon style system where an auction closes only when its past X date and there has not been a bid for Y minutes. It's impossible to snipe since every bid keeps the auction going.
Interesting idea. But wouldn't that just result in a bidding system where those with the most time, rather than the most money, won? Bidders would just sit there, out bidding each other in carefully timed and tiny increments, until one got fed up or had to log off. Meanwhile the seller's not making any money.
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  #23  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:03 AM
micco micco is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
Interesting idea. But wouldn't that just result in a bidding system where those with the most time, rather than the most money, won? Bidders would just sit there, out bidding each other in carefully timed and tiny increments, until one got fed up or had to log off. Meanwhile the seller's not making any money.
I think onsale.com had a minimum increment. I don't think they let you bid cents, only dollars, but it may have depended on the current bid (i.e. allow increments of 5, 10, or 20 cents for low price items, increments of 1, 5, or even 10 dollars for very high priced items). Onsale.com had a number of rules like this which seemed completely fair but also make it clear this was a business, not a game. I imagine any loophole that allowed silliness like you describe would have been closed in short order.
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  #24  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:16 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
Interesting idea. But wouldn't that just result in a bidding system where those with the most time, rather than the most money, won? Bidders would just sit there, out bidding each other in carefully timed and tiny increments, until one got fed up or had to log off. Meanwhile the seller's not making any money.
Still have proxy bidding to fall back on; enter your absolute, drop-dead, not-a-penny-more bid, and if someone else keeps bidding, yours moves up accordingly.
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  #25  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:23 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net
Actually, I think the ebay software would not accept the second guy's bid at all. That's what I recall happening when I entered a bid at the same time (actually, must have been a few seconds later) as someone else, and for the same amount. The ebay system told me that my bid had to be x amount over the current winning bid, and would not accept it.
Except in this case, the 'current winning bid" was shown to be $18. The "other guy" tried to 'snipe"- and apparently coinidentall-, entered a snipe bid that was just below our OPs max. That of course raised our OP's open bid to his max, but at no time was our OP outbid and at no time was our 'sniper" the high bidder. In other words, all his "snipe" did was raise the bid up. He 'sniped" but missed!


Shill bidders usually appear as "nibblers'- something many new eBay bidders do anyway. They look at the "high bid"- and bid $1 over it- find out they are out bid, then keep on going. This is a bad bidding practice, but dudes still do it, even after they should know better. Thus, it is very hard to see if you have been "shilled" unless the "nibbler" has done that on several of that sellers auctions.

In stuyguy's case here, I vote "pure coincidence" especially as the possible 'shill" has a clean bidding record.

IMHO- there is no real advantage to be gained by sniping anyway. It does prevent "nibblers" but they are rare. Best way is to input your high bid then don't worry about it until the auction has ended.
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  #26  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:56 PM
audiobottle audiobottle is online now
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As far as retractions go, I once accidentally made a mistake (not quite like the one somebody else mentioned with a forgotten decimal, but a similar typoish thing) and retracted it. They retracted it immediately. This was about three years ago, though, so I don't know if they've changed how long it takes now. But a retraction then was instantaneous. I'd imagine it still is, or else they'd run into problems with an overly excited bidder with large fingers and no "dialing wand" making a mistake in their bid in the last seconds and screwing everything up.
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  #27  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:57 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
Shill bidders usually appear as "nibblers'- something many new eBay bidders do anyway. They look at the "high bid"- and bid $1 over it- find out they are out bid, then keep on going. This is a bad bidding practice, but dudes still do it, even after they should know better. Thus, it is very hard to see if you have been "shilled" unless the "nibbler" has done that on several of that sellers auctions.
What's wrong with nibbling? That is, why is it a bad bidding process? I don't actually do this, but I don't think I would care if someone else did - if I've entered my maximum, then that's what I'm willing to pay - if the price jumps up or creeps up, it makes no difference, no?
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  #28  
Old 12-07-2004, 03:35 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
the way to stop sniping would be to adopt the amazon style system where an auction closes only when its past X date and there has not been a bid for Y minutes.
Agreed (with Y rather small - say 5 minutes). Note that this is how live auctions work (but there, Y = a few seconds).
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  #29  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:31 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
The only advantage to sniping is that it gives other bidders less time to talk themselves into upping their bid beyond what they first decided. If everyone just bid their absolute maximum in the first place there would be absolutely no point to it.
That would be true if each auction occurred in a vacuum. But for a variety of reasons, it is not always reasonable to bid your absolute maximum in the first place. Often, there are numerous similar items up for auction. If I am willing to pay $x for one of them, I can't just enter $x as my maximum bid on multiple auctions, because I might win more than one. Furthermore, I know that other people are likely using similar bidding strategies, which makes sniping a more attractive strategy.
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  #30  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:51 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
Often, there are numerous similar items up for auction. If I am willing to pay $x for one of them, I can't just enter $x as my maximum bid on multiple auctions, because I might win more than one.
If you are bidding on multiple auctions for the same item at the same time, the possibility always remains that you will win more than one.
Quote:
Furthermore, I know that other people are likely using similar bidding strategies, which makes sniping a more attractive strategy.
The drawback to last minute sniping is that, if you do it right, you only get one chance; if the high bidder is using proxy bidding, your snipe falls short, and you don't have time to bid again. Snipers may get lower prices on the auctions they win, but they end up losing more auctions than proxy bidders. YMMV
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  #31  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:51 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
Often, there are numerous similar items up for auction. If I am willing to pay $x for one of them, I can't just enter $x as my maximum bid on multiple auctions, because I might win more than one.
If your intention is not to win, then why bid at all?
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  #32  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:56 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself
If you are bidding on multiple auctions for the same item at the same time, the possibility always remains that you will win more than one.The drawback to last minute sniping is that, if you do it right, you only get one chance; if the high bidder is using proxy bidding, your snipe falls short, and you don't have time to bid again.
That shouldn't be an issue, because there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't bid the absolute highest amount you would be willing to pay in one single bid. The proxy bidding will take care of the rest. If you lose the auction, that just means that the bidding went higher than the absolute maximum you would be willing to pay. It's best to decide your maximum when you are cool-headed. If you get caught up in a frenzy and start to second-guess yourself, you're gonna end up overpaying.
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  #33  
Old 12-07-2004, 05:07 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Originally Posted by blowero
That shouldn't be an issue, because there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't bid the absolute highest amount you would be willing to pay in one single bid. The proxy bidding will take care of the rest. If you lose the auction, that just means that the bidding went higher than the absolute maximum you would be willing to pay. It's best to decide your maximum when you are cool-headed. If you get caught up in a frenzy and start to second-guess yourself, you're gonna end up overpaying.
I agree, I was just trying to frame the argument in terms of iamthewalrus(:3's previous point.
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  #34  
Old 12-07-2004, 06:38 PM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
Often, there are numerous similar items up for auction. If I am willing to pay $x for one of them, I can't just enter $x as my maximum bid on multiple auctions, because I might win more than one.
What possible point is there to bidding in an auction that you don't hope or intend to win?
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  #35  
Old 12-07-2004, 06:40 PM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
What possible point is there to bidding in an auction that you don't hope or intend to win?
Other than shilling, of course.


Kind of like what blowero said. Now I bother to look.
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  #36  
Old 12-07-2004, 10:17 PM
Manduck Manduck is offline
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I think what walrus is saying is that, for example, you might be willing to spend $30 on a widget, and you might like to have as many as 4 widgets, but you don't want to spend more than $100. So, if you entered 4 widget auctions and put in $30 as your max bid, you could end up on the hook for $120, which you want to avoid. So maybe instead you bid $30 in two auctions, and $20 in two others. That way, you couldn't spend more than $100 total. But if you win those first two auctions at $25, you now have 10 extract dollars to allocate to the other two, so you can change your bids there.
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  #37  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:19 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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I did this once when an opposing bidder pissed me off by outbidding me on a bunch of different car parts auctions.

The high bid was showing $50.00. As it turned out the high bidder had put in a proxy of $75.00. From $25.00 to $99.00, the bids are done in increments of $1.00.

I put in a bid of $60.00, which was the maximum amount I wanted to pay and the other guy's proxy bid kicked in making the high bid $61.00. I decided to try and make the other guy pay the maximum amount. I put in a bid for $61.48 (or some other odd 'cents' amount like that). The max bid went up to $62.48. I went in 50 cent incremements until I put in $73.48. The maximum bid went to $74.48. When I put in $74.98, the maximum bid went to $75.00 even. Because the max bid only went to $75.00, I knew I'd hit his proxy bid because the max bid didn't go up to $75.98.

This didn't benefit me in any way except for getting the satisfaction of making the guy pay $75.00 for something he could've had for $61.00. After I did that, there were no more bidding wars from that guy.
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  #38  
Old 12-08-2004, 12:20 AM
Roland Deschain Roland Deschain is offline
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I used Ebay on two occassions to buy software and felt that I was "bid up" somehow. In both cases I made bids in the last minute or so on items which had very few bids, and which were stable at around $20.00. In the first case I bid $50.00 with a maximum bid of about $125.00 on a Microsoft Office program. Somehow, I was bid up to 124.90 in the last seconds of the auction. The second instance involved a contact manager program and the experience was similiar. The bid "stable bid" amount had been around $30.00 throughout most of the auction (and indeed I saw a number of closed auctions where the program had sold from around $40 to $70.00 dollars). I bid $40.00 with a maximum bid of $150.00 and left to make some phone calls (with about three minutes left in the auction). When I returned I learned that I had won the auction with a bid of 149.00 (still cheaper than the $200.00 retail, but on second thought I probably would have waited to buy the program if I really felt the auction would have gone that high).

The bottom line is that I think many really experienced Ebay, professional sellers have methods of discovering your high bid and exploiting it to their benefit. Of course I cannot prove this, but it has definitely made me less likely to use Ebay. Also, I had an instance where I legitimately made a decimal error and bid $250.00 for program that I intended to bid only $25.00 dollars for. Unfortunately, the auction ended seconds later before I was able to retract and bid (It was my second time using Ebay, and I was still unfamiliar with the program). Somehow the bid was almost instantly bid up to $249.00 even before I could retract my bid (obviously or it would not have mattered). I sent an email to the seller immediately that I didn't want to purchase the item and to the Ebay staff. The seller was insistent that I purchase the product and said that if I didn't he would complain to Ebay, and pursue aggressive legal action against me and would place it against my credit. In the end I ended up "giving" him $50.00 dollars (and not getting the program) to make him go away (I wouldn't have done this but for the fact that my wife insisted that it wasn't worth the risk of hurting our credit).

I realize that Ebay is a good service, but these experiences have contributed to my not wanting to use this service on a regular basis. I simply don't "trust" that good will is present by a significant percentage of the sellers in the marketplace. In addition, I feel that those who are relatively uninformed (as compared with the pros) are at a huge disadvantage in this marketplace (of course this is true in any marketplace, but I feel the effect is greater in this online environment) By contrast, I have purchased items out of The Trader for many years and have seldom (if ever) had a bad experience.
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  #39  
Old 12-08-2004, 02:56 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manduck
I think what walrus is saying is that, for example, you might be willing to spend $30 on a widget, and you might like to have as many as 4 widgets, but you don't want to spend more than $100. So, if you entered 4 widget auctions and put in $30 as your max bid, you could end up on the hook for $120, which you want to avoid. So maybe instead you bid $30 in two auctions, and $20 in two others. That way, you couldn't spend more than $100 total. But if you win those first two auctions at $25, you now have 10 extract dollars to allocate to the other two, so you can change your bids there.
If you have time after the first two auctions to re-bid in the second two auctions, why bother to place those first $20 bids? Why not just place your initial bid at that time? What does that first redundant $20 bid do, other than drive up the price?
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  #40  
Old 12-08-2004, 03:19 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Deschain
The bottom line is that I think many really experienced Ebay, professional sellers have methods of discovering your high bid and exploiting it to their benefit.
Perhaps they do it the way jasonh300 just described. I would think it would be possible to write an automated bidding program that would repeatedly bid the minimum increment, each time checking the high bid, until the high bid returns an even number (or a different number of cents after the decimal point). It makes sense that if people are doing that, they're not gonna admit it here on a public message board. That sure would be an obnoxious thing to do, by the way.
Quote:
Of course I cannot prove this, but it has definitely made me less likely to use Ebay. Also, I had an instance where I legitimately made a decimal error and bid $250.00 for program that I intended to bid only $25.00 dollars for. Unfortunately, the auction ended seconds later before I was able to retract and bid (It was my second time using Ebay, and I was still unfamiliar with the program). Somehow the bid was almost instantly bid up to $249.00 even before I could retract my bid (obviously or it would not have mattered). I sent an email to the seller immediately that I didn't want to purchase the item and to the Ebay staff. The seller was insistent that I purchase the product and said that if I didn't he would complain to Ebay, and pursue aggressive legal action against me and would place it against my credit.
Wow, can you really put a mark on someone's credit report for that? I'd sure like to know how to do that, because I'm sick to death of deadbeats who place winning bids on my auctions and then don't pay. Ebay doesn't do jack shit about it, either. I file complaints, and get absolutely no response from eBay. Their FAQ says that non-paying bidders might get a "strike", and if they get enough "strikes", they might get banned. And even with that incredibly weak system of enforcement, the strikes go away after time. Non-paying bidders know that there will be absolutely no consequences for their behavior, because eBay's got no balls. So they just keep doing it. I would love to have some sort of recourse against these people.

I'm sorry you got caught up in that though, Roland, because yours sounds like a legitimate mistake. I've had it happen several times when it was obviously no mistake, and not only did they not fess up (which at least you did right away), they just stopped responding, so I ended up wasting a bunch of time waiting for them to respond to my emails when they had no intention of ever paying. One guy even promised to pay and then started ignoring me, just to drag the process out even further. Sounds like you paid the price for these deadbeats who have caused everyone to just be fed up with non-payers.

I just had a thought: Maybe this rash of non-paying winning bidders are actually schills who accidentally won the auction while trying to discover what the high bid was
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  #41  
Old 12-08-2004, 03:34 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Deschain
I sent an email to the seller immediately that I didn't want to purchase the item and to the Ebay staff. The seller was insistent that I purchase the product and said that if I didn't he would complain to Ebay, and pursue aggressive legal action against me and would place it against my credit. In the end I ended up "giving" him $50.00 dollars to make him go away (I wouldn't have done this but for the fact that my wife insisted that it wasn't worth the risk of hurting our credit).

.
He couldn't hurt your credit report at all. If you have more than a couple of "NPB" (non-paying bidder) complaints then yes, eBay will "NARU" (Not a registered user) you. But it won't show up on Experian, etc. Yes, ebay does do this to buyers- but honestly people also make mistakes, so eBay doesn't want to ban dudes for making a mistake.

There is simply no way that sellers -in general- have of discovering what your high proxy bid is/was. Yes, they could try shills, but then there is a bid history that shows the bids and the amount of each bid- and you can check on each bidder and their history of past bids.
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  #42  
Old 12-08-2004, 05:34 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Originally Posted by DrDeth
He couldn't hurt your credit report at all. If you have more than a couple of "NPB" (non-paying bidder) complaints then yes, eBay will "NARU" (Not a registered user) you.
I couldn't find anywhere in eBay's posted policies where it mentioned any specific number of strikes that would result in being banned. Where are you getting that it's 3? (assuming that "a couple" means 2).
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  #43  
Old 12-08-2004, 07:01 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Well, it used to say 3, but maybe they changed the wording. It all depends, after a couple in a short period, they will definately review your status.

But remember- NPB's don't really cost the seller all that much. He can offer the item to the next highest bidder, and he gets most of his fees back or gets to relist if that doesn't work. And most importantly- he still has the item. He's out maybe a buck or so. However, of course it is VERY annoying.
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  #44  
Old 12-08-2004, 07:58 PM
Shaolinrabbit Shaolinrabbit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
What you are suggesting is no different to what ebay's proxy bidding would do for you anyway.
I just wanted to say that I do something similar myself, but without the outside program, and it typically works better than the ebay proxy system.

The problem with the proxy bid as I see it is simply that it works instantaneously, so someone can keep bidding up until they take the item. I'll bid significantly less than my max at first, and let the auction run down a bit in case I get outbid in the final minutes, then should that occur, snipe the item right back without having to go too high on the bid.

People seem to try a couple of bids just to see if they can take the item, and this keeps it from getting 'nibbled' up to the max amount I want to pay. It also seems that a lot of people edge up slowly until their bid is just above yours, so I can typically return and seize the item for about a buck more than their bid.
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  #45  
Old 12-08-2004, 08:07 PM
Roland Deschain Roland Deschain is offline
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If there wasn't something fishy going on I don't see how when I made my error of bidding $250.00 (rather than my intended $25.00) that the bids could have gone up so rapidly in the final couple of minutes. This is especially the case given that the program I was bidding on only sold for something like $150.00 at Best Buy!

By the way another reason that I no longer buy software at Ebay is that a friend in my nursing class who is a cop told me that a high percentage of their software are either illegal copies or obtained in less than honorable means (he said often by company insiders who sell it on the side for extra money). He said that it would be very unlikely that any buyer would ever be prosecuted for conversion (or anything else), but that it could come up if I ever ran for political office.
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  #46  
Old 12-09-2004, 04:21 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Originally Posted by DrDeth
But remember- NPB's don't really cost the seller all that much. He can offer the item to the next highest bidder,
2 problems with that. The next highest bid is lower than the winning bid, so that's already a loss right there. And it's been my experience that the second-place bidders for some reason usually have no interest in buying the item after the first-place bidder flakes. Or in the case of this one item I sold, the jerk used "Buy It Now" and ended the auction early, so there was no way to know what the next highest bid would have been, because the bids most likely hadn't all come in yet.
Quote:
and he gets most of his fees back or gets to relist if that doesn't work. And most importantly- he still has the item. He's out maybe a buck or so. However, of course it is VERY annoying.
Yeah, you can get a fee refund. It's mainly the time and effort spent. And then there was the fact that flake actually did the "Buy It Now" on my item, which ended the auction early. I had already gotten some pretty juicy bids, and if the auction had completed, it most likely would have fetched a pretty good price. The guy emailed me the day after he bid, and said he would pay the following day. I waited one more day for him to pay, so that's 3 days already. Then I emailed him to find out why he didn't pay, and waited one more day for a response, which never came. 4 days. Then I tried to file a complaint, but eBay forces you to wait 10 days before you can do that. Then there's a further mandatory waiting period where eBay waits for the deadbeat buyer to respond. I wanted to get that out of the way and make sure I got my fee refund before I relisted the item. All told, it took an extra 3 weeks, plus the 10 day auction duration times 2. So I ended up with a very large item sitting in my living room for a good month and a half, waiting to get rid of it, and just hoping I got as good a bid the second time around. Not a lot of fun. Then I checked the guy's feedback a couple weeks later, and he did the same thing to someone else. But he's still not banned.
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  #47  
Old 12-09-2004, 04:29 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Originally Posted by Shaolinrabbit
I just wanted to say that I do something similar myself, but without the outside program, and it typically works better than the ebay proxy system.

The problem with the proxy bid as I see it is simply that it works instantaneously, so someone can keep bidding up until they take the item. I'll bid significantly less than my max at first, and let the auction run down a bit in case I get outbid in the final minutes, then should that occur, snipe the item right back without having to go too high on the bid.

People seem to try a couple of bids just to see if they can take the item, and this keeps it from getting 'nibbled' up to the max amount I want to pay. It also seems that a lot of people edge up slowly until their bid is just above yours, so I can typically return and seize the item for about a buck more than their bid.
Sorry to belabor the point, but it seems to me that this strategy would work a lot better if you just eliminated that initial early low bid, and only do the part where you "return and seize the item". Again I have to ask, what does that early bid do other than run up the price? Sounds great for the seller, but how does it help you?
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  #48  
Old 12-09-2004, 05:50 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Originally Posted by Shaolinrabbit
I just wanted to say that I do something similar myself, but without the outside program, and it typically works better than the ebay proxy system.
But that's not how the outside program works. If it did, all you'd be doing is using a system to proxy bid by degrees into a system that proxy bids by degrees. The second level of complexity is completely redundant and just slows the process up.

Quote:
The problem with the proxy bid as I see it is simply that it works instantaneously, so someone can keep bidding up until they take the item. I'll bid significantly less than my max at first, and let the auction run down a bit in case I get outbid in the final minutes, then should that occur, snipe the item right back without having to go too high on the bid
If you want to snipe and hide your intentions from others the best course of action is not to bid at all until the last moment. That way no-one knows you even have intentions, never mind what they are. It's not as if you're to be seen hanging around looking interested, and so have to put in a diversionary bid.
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  #49  
Old 12-09-2004, 08:23 AM
Shaolinrabbit Shaolinrabbit is offline
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Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
But that's not how the outside program works. If it did, all you'd be doing is using a system to proxy bid by degrees into a system that proxy bids by degrees. The second level of complexity is completely redundant and just slows the process up.
Ah, I see. As for not bidding at all until the last minute, I'm willing to admit a level of laziness I always hope that the item will simply be carried by my original low bid...
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  #50  
Old 12-09-2004, 08:25 AM
Shaolinrabbit Shaolinrabbit is offline
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Originally Posted by blowero
Sorry to belabor the point, but it seems to me that this strategy would work a lot better if you just eliminated that initial early low bid, and only do the part where you "return and seize the item". Again I have to ask, what does that early bid do other than run up the price? Sounds great for the seller, but how does it help you?
Also, I admit to a certain level of thrill in the process.
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