I have lost eleven straight auctions on eBay. That’s over twice as many as I’ve lost in my life, though as an irregular eBay user that’s not too remarkable. What is remarkable is that of those eleven auctions, in nine I was the runner-up. I bid $75.01 and the item went for $77.51. It doesn’t matter if I bid the item up from $25 or $69. The item had gone for as low as $54 dollars before, though I have to wonder if I had bid on that one if it, too, would have sold for $77.51. I can’t help but think that my one bid is putting me outside my own price range. I would, in all honestly, gladly pay $77.51, though I suspect that if I bid that much, it would sell for $80.01 (there’s no way of knowing what their cap was). And on and on.

There isn’t a whole lot of backstory here. Basically, there is an item I want and there are a whopping three outlets selling said item. Auctions have been streaming for three days now with this particular product. I want the product though I don’t need it. Shipping is $24.99 and I refuse to pay more than $100. Really, it’s worth more than that. Two weeks ago, if asked, I would have probably expressed a willingness to pay $150 or maybe even $200. Hypothetically, anyway. But as I watch one after another go for a little over or a little under $100, I don’t want to pay any more than I have to. The curse of capitalism is the fear of getting ripped off. Pay no more than you have to.

That got me wondering… is there some guy out there collecting as many of this thing as he can, wondering why it is that this guy – every time! – keeps pushing units up to $77.51 when he could otherwise get it for less. The answer is no. All eleven were, it turned out, purchased by different people. Each outbidding me by the cost of a hamburger. Sometimes at the last second sometimes a couple minutes before the last second.

I kept wondering each time if this was the unit that was going to be different. In one case, it was the first order of the morning. Would that one go for more or for less? It could go for more because it’s the first (of the day, at any rate). Or it could go for less because they figure “Why bid on this one when that next one down is so much cheaper?” Then I’ll run across two items that expire minutes from one another. Should I bid on the first because there might be a last minute rush on the second by everyone that didn’t win on the first? Or should I bid on the second because there isn’t enough time for everybody to scramble? How does that equation change if it’s half an hour between them? If they’re the exact same time, should I go for the one that’s priced a bit higher because the last minute rush is going to gravitate towards the lower one… or is the lower one better because there’s less a chance that whoever bid on that one has a max bid higher than my bid?

Turns out that all of this gaming does not matter in this ruthless market.


Every time.

Category: Market, Server Room

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3 Responses to $77.51 (or “eBay Psychology”)

  1. Free Millionaire Maker DVD says:

    -{Trumwill notes: If I haven’t expressly mentioned a policy about comments trying to sell something, I want to express now that it’s not kosher}-

  2. jacksonharris says:

    Try buying it anywhere BUT ebay!!!

    Other sites are FAR cheaper to list on and those savings are frequently passed on to the customers! Other sites also offer much fairer and safer trading practices! ebay’s hidden IDs make it much too easy for sellers to bid on their own items, forcing the prices up on their own customers. That may be what is happening here. Also the other sites offer a wide variety of Payment options to suit the customers needs.

    Ex ebay CEO, Whitman, & current CEO, Donahoe’s, “Disruptive Innovation” scheme is KILLING the site and destroying honest, hardworking individual’s businesses at an alarming rate!

    ebay has raised users fees twice in 2008, WHILE handing free listings to mega retailers! ebay is also BANNING the use of all paper payments and is suspending multitudes of sellers with 100% feedback ratings! ebay Inc. owns Paypal and ebay is currently FORCING the majority of it’s users to pay thru Paypal only, causing a huge uproar within those sites. Ebay’s new CEO has also implemented a huge number of other detrimental policies upon ebay & Paypal users. Share prices have dropped over 50%, sales are down and morale is at an all time low. Analysts have downgraded ebay Inc.

    For security reasons, I would NEVER promote ebay or Paypal to anyone I care about. Both are full of glitches! Search the word “Glitch” on ebay’s own discussion boards.

    Also, READ the amended Paypal User Agreement THOROUGHLY! Paypal, at it’s “SOLE DISCRETION” can withhold users funds for 21-180 days!

    Want to fight the holds? Fat chance! There is NO arbitration process, other than Paypal. They are the judge, jury and executioner!

    Search the internet for “A Paypal Security Hole and Poor Customer Service Judgement that Made it Worse”.

    To learn more, search the internet for “Ebay Stockholders and Sellers Calling For Immediate Termination of John Donohoe CEO” at petitiononline.

  3. trumwill says:


    I’m sorry you’ve had such difficulty with eBay. Thus far I haven’t had any problems with them, thankfully. Except for things here and there, I rarely use it, though. I use PayPal a little more frequently, but I think I will perhaps be a little more cautious about doing so if there are alternatives available.

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