eBay vrs42?

From: Doc Shipley <doc_at_mdrconsult.com>
Date: Sat Feb 12 15:15:50 2005

Jim Battle wrote:

> In the original case that spawned this thread, it was by a party who was
> interested enough that he feared a bidding war. Bidding wars are the
> sellers wet dream. Claiming that avoiding this won't affect the end
> price is silly; the market in question isn't the perfect information
> flow, continuous elasticity model that people use in the abstract when
> talking economics. There often isn't someone else to fill the role of
> the interested buyer who drops out because of collusion.

   OK, here's my take.

   The fact that DW was asking "in-house", so to speak, about the other
bidder seems perfectly acceptable to me. Maybe I'm rationalizing, but
in my estimation there's a huge difference between these two actions:

A) looking up an unknown opposing bidder and emailing a complete
stranger with an offer to negotiate out of a bidding war.

B) Realizing that an opposing bidder is or may be someone with whom I
already have correspondence or contact, and using *that previous avenue*
of contact to negotiate a reduction of collateral damage.

   The first is distasteful, if not unethical, and certainly would be
interpreted by eBay as a AUP violation.

   The second is simply common sense. If I'm the seller, even, and
someone contacts me and says "I just realized I'm bidding against an
associate, and I'd like to retract all my bids", I'd be seriously
unhappy about that, because a bidding war *is* a wet dream. However, as
an ethical seller, I would feel obliged to allow the retraction without

   I subscribe to a private mailing list of Unix administrators, and we
commonly collaborate on lot auctions, so that one of us bids on and
receives the lot, and we all pay the receiver a share and shipping. We
also commonly use the mailing list to negotiate disputed eBay items -
single items two or several members want - so that we don't bid against
each other.

   The first practice obviously benefits both the seller and us. Some
of the lots we've bought would otherwise not sell at all, due to niche
interest and a high initial investment. The second practice is bona
fide collusion, but it is simply the other side of the same coin. As I
said before, the collusion is explicitly and directly a result of an
ongoing association, and is not only natural but ethical and desirable.

   It's irrelevant, I suppose, but it's also my observation that while a
single seller of a single item may lose a higher price because of our
association, none of us spend less overall because of it. We all have
monthly "toy budgets", and none of us have much trouble keeping it
zeroed. ;)

Received on Sat Feb 12 2005 - 15:15:50 GMT

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