What Not To Do When Selling on eBay...
I recently won a bulk lot set on eBay and was quite pleased with myself. Reviewing the auction afterwards I noted that a number of other bidders had been "shaken" out by one particular bidder earlier on in the auction.
This other eBayer had bid each opposing bidder up to their maximum and in some cases even cancelled his/her bid once it was in a winning position, leaving the opposing bidder on their maximum bid.
Looking at this bidder's history, he/she seemed to only ever bid on this particular seller's items, a sure sign that there was more going on than met the eye.
This technique is known as shill bidding and is against eBay rules - indeed it is classed as fraud.
If you are found to be doing this it is very probable that your eBay account will be suspended.
An old work colleague used to use this particular method to get higher prices. He would bid up his auctions until he went over the previous high bidder's price.
When this was achieved he then cancelled his last bid, leaving the high bidder at their maximum price. His explanation was that he didn't want to lose
money on any of his auctions and that he wouldn't sell them for less than they were worth.
Suggesting he used a reserve instead didn't work as he didn't want to have to put reserves on any of his auctions as they put potential bidders off.
So, how can you find out if you are a victim of shill bidding?
eBay provides a search function which will allow you to see all of the items a particular user has bid on in the last 30 days.
To do this, click on Advanced Search towards the top right-hand side of the eBay home page.
Now click on Items by Bidder to the left of the page.
Enter the username of the person you wish to investigate and tick the Include Completed Listings box.
When the results come up you should be able to see whether or not the bidder has a bias for one particular seller. Of course, this isn't concrete evidence
but if you suspect there is foul play afoot you can challenge the seller.
Also, look at all the completed items in detail. The bidder may actually be genuine. A tell-tale sign that they are not is when certain items which have been
"won" are quickly relisted.
A good rule to use is to avoid sellers who you think are shill bidders. At the end of the day it is fraud.
There is a particularly interesting article about shill bidding and the consequences at the following website:
eBay's take on insincere bidders can be found here:
You can avoid shill bidding completely by only bidding at the very end of an auction. See the Bidding section of this site for more
As a seller, you should always make sure that your items are listed correctly. If a potential buyer can find your item and it is described well, you will get the fair market price for it.
It does seem like eBay is fighting against shill bidding but I doubt we will ever see the end of it.