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  1. #1
    Junior Member PhilipCohen's Avatar
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    Shill Bidding on eBay: A Case Study

    For anyone that is interested, a detailed case study of an instance of blatant shill bidding on eBay, and a detailed comment on eBay’s disingenuous attitude thereto, at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/ph...ic.php?t=24033

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    This is why I always snipe whenever I bid on Ebay. Takes more time, but its pretty effective.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Here's the thing about eBay, or any other auction for that matter. Decide what you want to pay for an item. Bid that amount. If you get it for less, good for you.

    Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    Here's the thing about eBay, or any other auction for that matter. Decide what you want to pay for an item. Bid that amount. If you get it for less, good for you.

    Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.
    True enough, but try to place that one bid as late as possible. Early bids can stimulate more bids. That IS part of what shill bidding is all about, anyway, getting the bidding stimulated. I watch an item. If it goes higher than what I want to pay, well, it goes. If it is still within my price range, near the end, I snipe, and I don't do it with any special hardware or software. I enter my bid as late as practicable with my schedule, and if I have the free time, I wait until less than 20 seconds remain.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  5. #5
    Surf Bum
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    Here's the thing about eBay, or any other auction for that matter. Decide what you want to pay for an item. Bid that amount. If you get it for less, good for you.
    Sure, but one way to decide what I want to pay for an item is to see how much others want to pay for the item. That way, assuming it was an item that garnered lots of interest and spirited bidding, I'm confident that if I decide to resell the item, I can sell it for close to what I paid for it. So it doesn't really matter what I paid the first time around. So I wait and watch and then make my decision at the end on how much I'll pay and then it becomes a strategy of simply not provoking the current bidders to up their bids - i.e. put your bid in at the last second where they can't respond.

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    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Shilling is common practice, especially on bike parts. I estimate half of all auctions are shilled. On popular items, like Thomson seatposts, for example, it's more like 90%.

    Ebay is a big part of the problem. They don't really try to stop shilling, and in fact they profit significantly from the practice (higher price yields higher fee).

  7. #7
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    I'm moving this from Advocacy & Safety to General cycling (since bike parts were mentioned). Carry on...

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  8. #8
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    Here's the thing about eBay, or any other auction for that matter. Decide what you want to pay for an item. Bid that amount. If you get it for less, good for you.

    Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

    True, there is an amount of money you won't go over, but it is still true that you would prefer to spend less than that amount if possible. If you bid your max before the end, then you run the very possible chance that your bid will prompt others to push it up. These others may be shills. Or they may be newbs who bid like fools. In any case, it is just naive to think that Ebay is like a normal auction with the normal strategies.

    Decide what you the item is worth to you, and then make that bid in the last 1 second of the auction.

    jim
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    FWIW, I have bid multiple stuff in small increments on stuff I was lukewarm about. My thinking that's worth 30, ok 31, ok 32, ok 33, up to 45, then I say wow I 'm glad I did not win that.

    BTW, you can cancel a bid, see their rules page for exact details.
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  10. #10
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    This "shill" stuff is simply irrelevant. Never bid with more than 5 seconds left. Any earlier than that simply invites people to bid against you and drive the price up for everyone. Wait until the 5 second window and bid your limit. If you lose, move on. There are only two exceptions that I know of: a) if you think an early minimum bid can scare other lurkers off and don't plant to bid above the minimum in any case or b) to prevent a buy-it-now option.
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  11. #11
    Junior Member PhilipCohen's Avatar
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    Hi bkrownd

    Of course your comment is spot on; I use a sniping program to protect myself from shill bidding.

    The point of my case study, however, is to simply make it clear to anyone who may believe eBay's spin, that eBay is protecting buyers from shill bidding. In respect to such protection, if you use eBay the way eBay wants you to use eBay, then there is effectively no protection at all, and eBay knows it ...

    My case study was simply a way of, in detail, peeling away the eBay spin and exposing them as the unprincipled, unscrupulous, disingenuous organisation that they in reality are.

  12. #12
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    ah, gotcha
    --
    -=- '05 Jamis Nova -=- '04 Fuji Absolute -=- '94 Trek 820 -=- '77 Schwinn Scrambler 36/36 -=-
    Friends don't let friends use brifters.

  13. #13
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    This "shill" stuff is simply irrelevant. Never bid with more than 5 seconds left. Any earlier than that simply invites people to bid against you and drive the price up for everyone. Wait until the 5 second window and bid your limit. If you lose, move on. There are only two exceptions that I know of: a) if you think an early minimum bid can scare other lurkers off and don't plant to bid above the minimum in any case or b) to prevent a buy-it-now option.
    You're terribly mistaken.

    Shilling drives the price of the item way up above where it would normally sell. If you buy the item with a snipe bid or otherwise, then you've paid too much.

    Clearly the item could have been sniped for less is the seller wasn't constantly raising his asking price through shilling.

    Shilling is thus totally relevant to the fairness of the deal - it is the snipe bid at the end that's irrelevant. Sniping only helps you if it's a fair, un-shilled auction.

  14. #14
    Junior Member PhilipCohen's Avatar
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    Hi seeker333,

    Of course, the presumption is that you only lodge your "snipe" bid if the price looks like being in the range that you are prepared to pay. And, one cannot reasonably hope to snipe every 99c-start item for only 99c regardless that the item may well be worth tens or hundreds or dollars.

    One of the points that I make in my case study is that if you use eBay's so-called “proxy” system (aka "eBay’s shillers' aid") to lodge a maximum bid early in the life of the auction then you are indeed asking to be shill bid up to that maximum if you are unlucky enough to be dealing with an unscrupulous seller.

  15. #15
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Did anyone ever take eBay seriously?
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

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    I agree with the PO that ebay is complicit. Unfortunately, I have been shilled (blatant and agreed as such by ebay investigator) and seen first hand how little ebay does to the shilling seller. They go on happily shilling.

  17. #17
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipCohen View Post
    Hi seeker333,
    One of the points that I make in my case study is that if you use eBay's so-called “proxy” system (aka "eBay’s shillers' aid") to lodge a maximum bid early in the life of the auction then you are indeed asking to be shill bid up to that maximum if you are unlucky enough to be dealing with an unscrupulous seller.
    I've never used the proxy bid system for that exact reason.

    I snipe my bids with <30secs remaining. Obviously there's no reason to bid earlier and potentially drive up your price.

    You're exactly right - the proxy bid system invites unscrupulous sellers to shill. IMO unscrupulous sellers on ebay are approaching a majority. The only ones you can trust are high volume sellers who list their items as BIN, which isn't an auction and largely precludes the chance of "getting a deal" in the first place. Most of the BIN sellers list their goods at prices higher than those you can find from normal etailers by googling for 2 minutes. They have to to recover Ebay's fees.

    Unregulated shill bidding basically forces a lot of otherwise honest sellers to "join the game". You can't get buyers to look at your $65 NIB Thomson seatpost (an example of a fair deal) when most all their competition is listing them at 99 cents. So, one bad apple ruins the whole online auction apple barrel.

    The only improvement I've seen in years at Ebay are changes to feedback, some of which have probably improved the accuracy of buyers' ratings. Feedback from sellers is unneccesary - either the seller gets paid or he doesn't. If a buyer doesn't pay he should be suspended or banned from that point forward. I've noticed many sellers have stopped giving feedback altogether.

    The buyer takes all the risk in this process, and ebay reaps most of the rewards.

    Wordbiker - Unfortunately a great number of folks lack the savvy to know when they're being ripped off. Youth and seniors are especially susceptible to these schemes. You can't depend on "gubberment" to regulate any of these large corps for the most part. The only thing that keeps them in line is major litigation, which is economically prohibitive for the common man.

  18. #18
    CAT5 joe_5700's Avatar
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    Years ago I noticed a video game seller on Ebay who had a repeat customer (hundreds of auction wins) by looking at their feedback. The hundreds of "wins" were very obviously the result of shilling too high and the shill winning the auction. I reported it to Ebay and the shilling seemed to have stopped with that ID. Of course another could have been created to do the very same thing.

  19. #19
    Junior Member PhilipCohen's Avatar
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    For anyone that is interested that case study at
    http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=24033
    has had a major update.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipCohen View Post
    For anyone that is interested that case study at
    http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=24033

    has had a major update.
    Do you have an executive summery of the major update?

  21. #21
    Junior Member PhilipCohen's Avatar
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    Sorry, no, and I do appreciate it is a bit long winded but I do try to dot every "i" and cross every "t"; otherwise people come back as tell me "but that is not what eBay says ..."

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipCohen View Post
    Sorry, no, and I do appreciate it is a bit long winded but I do try to dot every "i" and cross every "t"; otherwise people come back as tell me "but that is not what eBay says ..."
    Well considering that you just post here to flog your 'I hate e-bay' page maybe you should consider it....

  23. #23
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    I snipe everything on eBay. I rarely lose too. I have gotten a truck bed cover that sells BIN for about 585 for 384 delivered. Got some obselete floor mats that had gone as high as 250.00 for 70 bucks delivered. Got a truck bed extender NIB retail of 350.00 for 90.00. Latest was a set of new old stock obselete headlights. Easily worth 300 dollars each. I paid 120 each.

    eBay is great if you know how to use it. Bidding early on with your max price is foolish. An auction is won in the last 30 seconds. Entering your max bid with 3 days of bidding left is asking to pay more. Let it sit and bid late.

  24. #24
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Sniping doesn't really protect you against shill bids. But it's still certainly the right way to do things -- if you bid early, your bid itself will prompt others to bid more, which ultimately leads either you to paying more (if you win) or losing (if somebody ultimately bids more than you.)

    If you're serious about bidding on eBay, get a sniper program. You don't want to bid in the literal last second, but the last 5-10 seconds works nicely. But without a program, it's too easy to forget to bid, and really, they aren't hard to use.

    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    The only improvement I've seen in years at Ebay are changes to feedback, some of which have probably improved the accuracy of buyers' ratings. Feedback from sellers is unneccesary - either the seller gets paid or he doesn't.
    I don't completely agree. Buyers can pay, then claim the item was never shipped or never arrived (if it's not properly tracked), or wasn't what was advertised, or swap it with their already owned broken one and say it arrived broken. Sometimes scammers will even take advantage of loopholes in Paypals or eBay's policies to charge back the seller's account with little recourse because the seller did something that the buyer asked them to do that seemed reasonable but violated Paypal's/eBay's policies. I've heard of several cases where that happened -- the seller knew exactly what they were doing, but Paypal wouldn't do anything about it.

    Though in most cases, when sellers give negative feedback to a buyer it's bogus, so removing that probably made sense. It's not perfect, however.

    Ultimately, I prefer not to do eBay much. The local monthly bike swap meet -- THAT's where the deals are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex G View Post
    as practicable
    Heh. The thread isn't in A&S anymore I don't think that word gets much use outside of traffic laws and A&S ...
    Last edited by dougmc; 06-29-09 at 09:38 AM.

  25. #25
    I will drop you...
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    Sniping is optimal, but go to your max with your last bid. E.g. if you are willing to pay $1,500 for an '09 Scott Addict frame set, don't bid $1,350 with 5 seconds left and lose the auction at $1,375. Also, if the auction starts high, for example $799 for a set of Bontrager XXX tubulars and $799 seems reasonable, but you don't want to go any higher, be the first bidder and just hang-out. Some people might be scared away at the initial high bid and you end up getting the wheel set.
    "It never gets easier, you just go faster."
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