Fixing eBay

eBay is broken, sellers are not getting the best value they could for their item. I don’t feel I need to qualify that statement as the efficiency of snipping application is clear proof that a large portion of people bidding on eBay don’t get the concept of the auction style it uses.

Currently the following is true:

  • Ignorant people put in 20 bids on the same item, each time putting in a minimum raise.
  • Reasonably smart people place 1 bid which is the true highest bid and hope no one out bids them.
  • The smartest people use sniping software to place their true high bid in the last few seconds (I have mine set to 4 seconds).

The first group of people waste a lot of time bidding on things they are very unlikely to ever win. They will typically only win when they are sitting at the computer when the auction ends or when they horridly over bid for an item.

The second group will win items some of the time, but not more than the last group will. They will end up paying more though. As they will force the ignorant people to keep biding up to their true max bid.

The final group find eBay to be a great place to pick things up cheap.

Buyers dislike the snipers because they pick up items below market value, but the current rules will always encourage sniping as long as some people are stupid. eBay dislikes snipers because it degrades the new buyers experience. It doesn’t matter how much eBay tells people that they may be outbid later they wont bid their full bid for months.

So why doesn’t eBay do something to stop snipers? Probably because snipers are just abusing things that attract people to it. Options like making the auction end time slightly random remove some of the excitement of the end of an auction. eBay isn’t in the business of selling anything other than an experience. I even suspect that loosing your first few auctions to sniping makes that first purchase all the more exciting, encouraging many more bids.

I’m not sure I originally intended to have a great point, I have written this post over quite a long time, but I hope you’ve learned something.

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