sellers market

From: Richard Erlacher <>
Date: Fri Mar 19 13:41:46 1999

Sam -

First of all - There's already a trading website for CP/M systems and
components, by the way. it's at

< >

It's new and hasn't much on it, but it's certainly available.

I don't think everyone is as "hard-over" on the eBay thing as you are. I
agree that many people ask far too much for the items they offer for
auction. The eBay people publish a transaction success rate of only 70%.
This means that while people are willing to bid unreasonable prices, they
aren't willing to pay them. Nevertheless, the eBay folks collect a fee
based on the price at which the auction closes. It's not a fee based on
whether or not a sale is made, but simply on a price, and a very
hypothetical one, based on the 70% success rate. That high failure rate of
30% is apparently a percentage of the completed auctions, not a percentage
of those started. If no one would bid on an item, the auction would not be
completed. Since it's possible, in fact, common for the seller to set a
minimum price, it's sure that a significant part of that 30% failure rate
that is a response to the all-too-high minimum set by the seller. That's a
penalty for being unreasonable.

If you were going to set up a site for hobbyists and collectors, which eBay
is not, then you'd have to collect earnest money in the amount of the fee to
be paid the auctioneer from each bidder, and return the funds paid by all
but the winning bidder to the losers after the auction ends. This would
ensure a higher completion rate, but would create a lot of work.

If you were to collect from the seller, which is certainly reasonable in
light of the fact the seller's the only one sure to have some money at the
end of the transaction, you'd still have to ensure that the buyer pays. In
return, however, you'd have to ensure that what's paid for is what's
received by the buyer. All of this gets complicated.

Facilitating barter, like facilitating sales, is difficult. Let me cite my
own example.

I listed a number of items which I know are of interest at least to the
people who asked for them, knowing that I didn't want any more than the
value of packaging and shipping, yet only one has actually come across with
funds to offset postage for the two boards, etc, he asked me to send. I got
lots of "I want all of it" without even a close-to-reasonable suggestion as
to how to manage packaging, hauling, and shipping. Having gotten rid of the
last of the terminals and printers that are going I have about 5 cubic yards
of powered chassis and unpowered cardcages in addition to a bunch of cards
which will easily fit into the cardcages if that's how I choose to package
them. However, I still have to search through a lot of documentation and
literally thousands of diskettes in order to put the media together with the

Everyone's happy to receive the stuff once it's found and packaged and
shipped, yet although I originally indicated I'd be happy to accept
"something I can use" (followed by some examples), and all the examples were
VERY widely distributed, probably in considerably greater quantity than
S-100 systems ever were, I've gotten no offers of these types of devices at
all, even though, in several cases, the things are still available and at
lower cost than what people seem willing to pay to buy the items I've

Hobbyists, you see, are the guys who want everything, want to pay/trade
nothing, and only get rid of an item when it's certain they won't have any
further use for it. I was once in that category. I did what I did for the
love of it, and made a fair amount of money besides. Now I love it a bit
less, and don't want all the paraphernalia taking up space if I can't use it
for something serious.

Now, multiply that by the number of transactions you anticipate
facilitating, and you'll see you're up against an enormous expense just in
aspirin, MAALOX, whiskey, and prune juice.

That's why eBay operates the way it does, still more or less isolated from
the transactions, yet able to bring in lots of dollars because they charge
the speculators money regardless of whether they sell their item or not.

Does this seem different to you?

-----Original Message-----
From: Sellam Ismail <>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Friday, March 19, 1999 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: sellers market


>>I think this is a VERY, VERY GOOD idea !

>It is a good idea but let me be the naysayer for a moment. Say someone
>does go through the trouble to create such a cool site. A bunch of guys
>sick of the ebay atrocity start posting want ads for stuff they want.
>And they wait. And wait. And wait. And...nothing ever comes of it.
>People who are selling this stuff come to the page, see someone wanting an
>Exidy Sorcerer for $15 and go "HAH! I can get 20 times that on ebay!"
>Then they go to ebay and get 20 times that.
>Now I would think that many on this list are more interested in trading
>computers in a sane manner with other like-minded hobbyists, and on the
>strength of that alone will this work.
>Now let's say that a trading board is added, where people can post stuff
>they have for sale or trade there. Let's say some really cool things are
>offered for sane prices, like S-100 systems and cards, interesting
>micro's from the 80s, PDP-8 hardware and software, etc. Good stuff. All
>being offered at reasonable prices because its offered by hobbyists
>intended for hobbyists.
>Now, along comes some jerk with a lot of money, he starts buying up
>everything that gets posted, and then even worse, a couple weeks later
>this stuff starts showing up on ebay and getting sold for the same old
>ridiculous prices!
>Now, what I'm trying to say is, while this sounds like a very cool idea,
>it has the potential to get destroyed by the very thing we're trying to
>avoid. A system needs to be designed to insure that there is a level of
>integrity maintained, otherwise you just have another ebay, and one ebay
>is bad enough.
>I don't have any ideas on this (yet) but I think it should be well thought
>out before anyone even bothers to set up the site.
>Sellam Alternate e-mail:
>Don't rub the lamp if you don't want the genie to come out.
>                  Coming in 1999: Vintage Computer Festival 3.0
>                   See for details!
>                        [Last web site update: 02/15/99]
Received on Fri Mar 19 1999 - 13:41:46 GMT

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