eBay being sued over patent infringement

From: Jeffrey Sharp <jss_at_subatomix.com>
Date: Fri Apr 25 09:58:00 2003

On Thursday, April 24, 2003, J.C.Wren wrote:
> > My favorite idea is simply to have sealed bids. That is, you don't know
> > the high bid until the auction closes. Doing it that way prevents
> > last-minute psychology from causing bad decisions.
> Out of curiosity, why is it in my best interest as a seller to prevent
> people from making rash decisions?

As a seller, there are two advantages that I can identify. First, it
promotes customer satisfaction, which leads to a more profitable long-term
relationship with the customer. Second, people who make rash decisions are
less likely to pay, and nonpaying bidders are a real pain. It may be worth
it to reduce the probability of experiencing that pain.

As both a seller and a bidder, eBay is a great tool for discovering the
approximate values of things. Last-minute auction psychology, IMHO,
artificially inflates these prices (though generally not by much). A
sealed-bid system, by decreasing the last-minute effect, would make eBay's
market values for things more accurately reflect the market values outside
of eBay. Thus, eBay would become a better value estimation tool.

As a bidder, it's currently inconvenient. The way eBay works (and I'm not
really a big eBay basher; I have lots of fun with it), if you really want to
be competitive, you have to snipe. You have to be paying attention when the
auction ends (I wouldn't trust a sniping service IMHO). That's difficult to
do for a great many people and depends on work, weather, and a virtually
infinite number of other factors. A sealed-bid system would enable people
to bid -- competitively -- at their convenience and then go on about their

> It's not my moral or social responsibility to keep others from making
> stupid decisions.

I do not have the following view, but some may say that it is unethical to
take advantage of people by exploiting their psychology.

Jeffrey Sharp
Received on Fri Apr 25 2003 - 09:58:00 BST

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