Ebay question - ending an auction early

Yesterday, I had the winning bid on an auction that ended today.

However, i received an email indicating that The auction had ended and no other information was available.

Well, that was odd, I thought. This wasn’t for a vehicle or anything. It was for something that had a buy it now price of $250, an opening bid of $85, and a shipping charge of $25.

I was the only bidder, and I assume the only one watching the auction, since it said “1 watching” (i’m pretty smart, eh?). Anyway, i had only bid the minimum, but I wanted the item and was going to go and add some money to my bid just in case someone decided to try to snipe me at the last minute. That was my plan, anyway.

So, I wrote the guy that was running the auction, to see if someone had hit the “buy it now” or maybe he sold it locally. From what I understand with eBay, once a bid is placed, the “buy it now” option is supposed to disappear, but maybe this has changed. The guy writes back to me and says he just ended the auction because he didn’t like the bidding on it, and he has the ability to cancel an auction up to 24 hours before the end of an auction. That’s his right as the seller of the item.

Well, that seems kind of cheesy to me. Sure, if I was selling an item and didn’t like the price I was going to get for it, I’d like to pull the auction, but that seems like a bad rule. Seems to me that the seller could have (and should have) made the opening bid something that he could live with getting for the item if it was the only bid he received. He could have made that opening bid anything he wanted. That’s the way an auction works. He didn’t have a reserve on the item, other than the opening bid. It seems rather bogus that you can pull the plug on an auction just because you aren’t getting the action you wanted.

So, can anyone out there help me and tell me what eBay’s rules are regarding this kind of thing? I asked the seller a few questions, but he stopped answering them after a couple of emails, so I guess he thought I was trying to get him in trouble or something. I wasn’t. I was just interested in if eBay was actually ok with someone pulling an auction because the seller was going to lose money on it. That is exactly what the guy told me the reason was that he pulled it. He said “I’ve been losing money on eBay on most of my items, and I just didn’t want to lose money on this item.” He said “I was hoping for a bidding war, but when it didn’t happen, I had the right to close the auction if there was more than 24 hours left.”

Uh, yeah, that’s nice, but isn’t that the idea of a free market and supply and demand? You put something out there for folks to bid on, and no one does. Guess what? You don’t get a bidding war. And if one person bids on it, and you have no reserve, that person wins the item.

Or is he telling me the truth and eBay permits someone to pull the plug on an auction like that?

I can’t imagine eBay would be crazy about this practice, as they lost the percentage of whatever they would have received out of my $85. So, does eBay permit the auction cancellation if the seller pays a fee of some sort? Or did this guy buffalo me and screw me out of getting a great deal on his item because no one else seemed to want it?

Thanks for any info.

The ebay policy is to stop cancelling with 12 hours to go.


They also say they will investigate using cancellation as a means of having a reserve price, without actually setting a reserve price and hence paying the reserve price fee to ebay


So it appears that the seller was just fine and within his rights to shut down the auction, per ebay policy. Except this little nugget here.

I highly doubt that eBay will investigate this matter, especially if this guy is on the hook for a listing fee or some other fees. They will take what they can get, and hope he lists it again.

From my perspective, I really can’t benefit by pursuing it. What can they do, force him to sell it to me? How could they do that? They can’t send a person to his home and watch him physically put the item in a box and ship it to me.

This is just one of those “lesson learned” things, I guess.

I would report it. They won’t be able to force him to sell you the item, but they may ban him from selling on Ebay or at least give him a “strike” in case others report him in the future. Was your communication through Ebay, so that they can see that he did indeed say that he ended the auction because he didn’t like how it was going? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised if they banned him based on that statement. Ebay doesn’t want sellers like that because they drive away buyers.

Edit: They did change it so that you can do a Buy It Now even after there are bids on an item.

Yes, we did use the ebay email, and he DID say that.
I’ll look into reporting it, but i’m not exactly sure if I trust eBay to do anything, and I don’t get anything out of it it myself except causimg ill-will. I don’t like the idea that eBay permits the cancelling of an auction up to 12 hours before the end anyway. That seems to be a nice loophole they’ve put in to help the sellers. Unless you are selling something like a car, and you have a local buyer, the odds of you selling something locally would be pretty small. So, why give the seller that much time and wiggle room to get out of it?

My guess is that eBay feels that a seller would pay whatever posting fees that are required, and then re-list the item down the road, thereby collecting twice. In the world of ebay, thst is just more money for them for doing absolutely nothing. I can see thst being exactly why they put the rule in. It makes the seller happy, and makes them more money too.

ebay has taken away negative feedback I’ve left for a few people because the sellers complained (I assume) and eBay just pulled it. I’ve been an ebay member for 10 years ahd have left a total of 3 negative feedbacks. So I don’t do it lightly, and I only do it when it is warranted (i got a box full of broken pieces once, for example… And the seller refused to issue a refund. Guess what? Negative feedback. He wrapped a fragile item in one of those 12-pack soda boxes for your refrigerator, and just taped a piece of paper over the hole where the cans came out! Yes, a moron. He claimed that he packed the item well and had no idea how the item broke. I guess ebay believed him, because they took down my negative feedback within a day.

I can see ebay ignoring this as well. There is quite a bit of wiggle room in their language, and it all helps the seller.

Currently a huge percentage of bidding takes place in the last few seconds (via a process called sniping) so a lack of early bids may not be an indication of what the final result will be.

You always have the option of emailing the guy an offer.

I know that (I snipe myself). However, this item had zero watchers (aside from me), so I think he guessed that he wouldn’t be seeing many snipes, and he wasn’t willing to chance it.

I did send him a note, and the price he wanted was over double the opening bid.

No, I didn’t want it THAT badly. Especially since I thought I was winning it at the original bid (and probably would have won it had the auction run its course). So to think I’d be willing to give him twice the amount I bid for an auction he stopped before it was over was not going to happen.

He has yet to re-list it, though. Maybe he has decided to stop for a while. At least this one product, anyway…

Or perhaps something happened to the item and he couldn’t deliver the goods. Like maybe someone stole it or he discovered damage. Perhaps he went into the hospital and wouldn’t be able to complete the transactions in a timely manner. This actually happened to me when I was stabbed and nearly died. I canceled auctions from my iPad while in my hospital bed. There are a lot of legitimate reasons to unlist something.

Right, but according to the seller, that’s not what happened here.

My ebay knowledge is out of date, but it used to be that in situations like this you reported the seller for reserve fee avoidance (if he didn’t want to sell the item below $x, he’s supposed to set a reserve of $x, but instead of paying ebay for that he simply pulled the auction when he didn’t like the way it was going). Ebay took that at least a bit seriously because it cost them money.

I thought the ‘end a auction early’ option meant accept the current highest bid, didn’t know it was the ‘take your ball and go home’ option.

In my experience as both a buyer and a seller, Ebay won’t do anything on the basis of one complaint, but if makes a habit out of it, Ebay will take action.

Read the OP. The issue isn’t being debated. He told me why he pulled it.

The “buy it now” option permits someone to buy an item at the price specified by the seller, so if you hit that button, I believe the seller is obligated to ship the item to you. However, ending the auction early seems to be something that can be done with little hassle from eBay if you do it within 12 hours of the auction end. I got this from the link provided by someone upthread.

The link mentions that eBay doesn’t want people to use this because they didn’t get the bid they wanted, and calls it “reserve fee avoidance” (or something like that). However there really isn’t any instructions for someone to report this behavior. It only states that if they think someone is abusing this, they could come under review.

I don’t know what constitutes “abuse”. However, I would think that someone ending an auction with one bid on it is clearly doing it because he doesn’t like how the auction is shaping up.

As a seller, you can see how many people are watching your auction (I don’t know if you can actually see their names). However, you also have the ability to cancel bids for any posted reason, like if you don’t notify the seller if you are bidding on their item without contacting them first if you have less than a 10 item rating.

This is also bogus, but I can also see the flip side as to why eBay put this control in. Someone could conceivably go after a seller by putting crazy amounts in and never paying, thereby sabotaging the auction.

However, it also has the consequence of giving the seller information they shouldn’t have. For instance, if I was a seller, there is nothing stopping me from creating multiple accounts and bidding on my own auctions.

This is called “shilling” and it is frowned upon (supposedly) by eBay, but they don’t really care that much. Because shilling ultimately makes them more money, so to them, it’s a relatively low priority crime.

But what you can now do, even if you aren’t exactly bidding to win, you can increase the amount you would otherwise gain from an auction by signing in as a user with zero wins, go to your auction, and bid until your bid was in the lead. Then, you can figure out what the person who is in the lead has bid for his proxy. Therefore, as the seller (and the shill bidder), you can bid until you are in the lead, and then the seller can “delete the bid”, claiming the person never notified them before bidding and therefore the bid was cancelled by the seller.

What many people fail to realize is that now the seller knows what the high bid on the board is. If he can live with that price, he can use his shill account to bid right under the top bid, making the proxy bid go to the highest dollar amount the legit bidder was willing to pay. The high bidder can win the auction, but he will be surprised to see thst he is paying the top amount that he bid.

This has happened to me three times already, so i know it is happening. I don’t have any proof, since the bidders are now anonymous, but the odds that someone would bid right up to but not over my amounts are next to zero. I always bid a strange amount, like $10.64. When i look at the bids on an auction I won and the last bid before mine was $10.62, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on.
I will snipe an auction when I can or if it is something expensive. But for something cheap (in the $20 range), I will usually just place a bid and let eBay’s proxy do the work. I often lose those auctions, but I NEVER win one with my lowest bid. I’m sure some of them are legit bidders who decided to stop before reaching my highest bid. But others are strangely accurate as to my maximum bid, and bid me up to the full amount of my proxy before stopping.

The reason I posted was to point out that sellers can for legitimate reasons end an auction without the threat of a buyer taking revenge on them for doing so. If eBay were to investigate and he told them that the item was broken or stolen they would do nothing. How’s that review working out for you? It’s a rhetorical questions because I’ve had issues with buyers and sellers and eBay generally does squat to make either party upset.

I’ve had buyers refuse to pay. They did nothing. I’ve had buyers return perfectly good product and claim it was damaged when it wasn’t. They did nothing. What really pissed me off was that once you went into their arbitration process you lose the ability to give the other person negative feedback. Next time someone buys something off of me and doesn’t pay up I’m just going wait 29 days and 23 hours and 58 minutes and leave them negative feedback.

I do feel your frustration, believe me.

I’m not sure what your snarky reply about “how my review is working for me” is supposed to mean. I have never “threatened” a seller. I have mentioned that I’ve left 3 negative feedbacks in 10+ years of ebaying, and even with my stellar record of perfect feedback from ebayers, corporate eBay has removed each one of my negative feedbacks to sellers who complained that they didn’t deserve it. :dubious: (that new rolling eye smilie sucks!)

This thread is not intended to be a pissing contest between bad sellers and bad buyers. FTR, I have no doubt honest sellers have just as many complaints about sketchy buyers.

However, this is GQ, not IHMO, so injecting your ideas about why an auction my be cancelled, regardless of how informative your post might have been, didn’t belong here. You were posing possibilities that simply didn’t exist. That is why I posted this question to GQ in the first place. I didn’t want to get speculation on this. Your post would have been fine if this was a different thread in a different forum.

I wanted to see if the seller was within his rights to pull the auction based on what I was told. Based on the info given in this thread, the technical answer is “probably not”, but eBay doesn’t spell out exactly what they mean when they say there “may” be a violation and they “may” take action.

What I’ve been able to find on eBay’s site is that they do permit a seller to pull an auction before the last 12 hours. That’s an amazingly absurd policy if you ask me, but it’s not my site, so I can’t change it. It is clear, though, (at least to me) that having a rule like this is to give the seller a chance to 1) re-list the item, thereby making more listing fees for eBay (ka-ching!) and hopefully a bigger selling price, thereby generating more revenue for eBay (ka-ching!)

eBay doesn’t care WHEN the item is finally sold. They know that the odds are very favorable that the seller will start another auction on their site and whenever it does sell, they will get their cut.

Any decision that eBay makes is in the best interests of eBay, buyers and sellers be dammed. Because sadly, there is really no other place of significance to go. I know there are a few sites here and there, but nothing brings you the volume of eyeballs to your products like eBay does.

My snark is towards eBay. Not you. They continually ride the fence between buyer and seller. Afraid to offend either one either one. Bastages. …

Here’s the link to the page on reserve prices, with a link to report reserve fee avoidance.