eBay vrs42?

From: vrs <vrs_at_msn.com>
Date: Fri Feb 11 21:51:31 2005

I guess I have already been outed, so I will comment here.

> Jim wrote:
> > Maybe I'm old fashioned, but isn't this as ethically lacking as shill
> > bidding?
> Shill bidding is the seller (or one of the seller's associates) putting
> in fraudulent bids to jack up the price, with no intent of actually
> transacting a sale if the shill bid wins. I think everyone can see
> why this is unethical.

Actually, if the seller wanted, he could have placed the item with a higher
minimum bid. So mostly it has defrauded eBay of the proper listing fee. It
also generates some hype about the item being popular, I suppose. But a
bidder should only be bidding what he's willing to pay, regardless.

> But if two bidders choose to cooperate rather than getting in a bidding
> war, how is that unethical? Not in the seller's interest, certainly,
> but the seller's interest isn't what dictates ethics. The bidders
> choosing to cooperate doesn't make any of the bids fraudulent.

Actually, it technically makes both parties in violation of their user
agreement with eBay. At the very least, that would be ethically marginal
(since they lied to eBay).

> And this isn't a sealed-bid auction, and I don't see any reason why it
> would be unethical even if it were.

Except it would presumably break the rules you had claimed to agree to.

> If this were an in-person art auction, and I noticed that Nathan
> Myrvold (just to pick a random wealthy and famous person arbitrarily)
> was really keen to get an item that I wanted, would it be unethical for
> me to avoid bidding on it?

I have yielded on items that I saw people I knew bidding on. And I
frequently place token bids just to let people know I am interested.
Whether they choose to act on the information is up to them.

I do consider collusion to keep the price down to be slightly unethical,
even if I hadn't already agreed to refrain from it. I understand the need
of the sellers to get fair compensation for their items. They have agreed
to sell their items to a community of buyers who have agreed to certain
rules, and the restrictions of that agreement on me are part of the context
in which they decide to list their stuff.

> If I saw Nathan Myrvold before the auction and asked him if he was
> going to bid on the item, would that be unethical? (Nathan might choose
> not to answer, might lie, or he might change his mind later.)

Asking and lieing would be pushing the margins of "proper" behavior, IMHO.

I'm old enough and mature enough to understand that there are also proper
contexts in which rules shouldn't apply. David hasn't contacted me,
however, so I have no idea whether he could make a case for this being one
of those times.

Received on Fri Feb 11 2005 - 21:51:31 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:37:37 BST