eBay vrs42?

From: vrs <vrs_at_msn.com>
Date: Tue Feb 15 05:52:24 2005

> col-lu-sion n. a dishonest, secret agreement; a fraudulent, secret
> agreement between litigating parties.
> co-op-er-a-tion n. cooperating, working together to a common end.
> Dishonest? Fraudulent? Shilling, yes, but what we're talking about here?

I believe, if you review the discussion, we were talking about situations in
which buyers "cooperated" in such a way that they no longer needed to offer
what they were actually willing to pay. I was saying, that, IMO, that was
sleazy, and a violation of eBay policy to boot. Clearly many disagreed. A
couple of them tried hard to convince me, and I tried hard to convince them.
Hence, the long discussion.

> On the M100 forum there exists a list of eBay names (how come you haven't
> brought that up, Merch?) so that, if they choose, members can refrain
> from bidding against fellow members (and, presumably, correspond
> with each other). Different list, different interpretation of
> fellowship and cooperation; haven't read any of these arguments there.

I might feel that such a list is short-sighted, but it is much harder to
argue that is "collusion", since there isn't any communication about prices,
and each individual makes their own decision in private. Fortunately, there
is also at most very indirect pressure to participate.

> I suppose the way things are going it's just a matter of time before
> we allow _that_ to become illegal and the eBay police to seize our
> computers...

I think I was quite clear that I was talking about what I thought was
appropriate behavior, and not attempting to create regulation. As it
happens, I have a very low opinion of regulation.

> BTW, it might even work the other way; I might want to know if the
> _seller_ is a member of my group so that I'd bid a higher, more
> fair price than I might otherwise.
> I always thought that the idea of an auction was for a)the seller to try
> to get as much as possible _and_ b)the buyer to pay as little as possible,
> not just a)...

I thought the idea of an auction was to attempt to discover a price that was
best for the seller *and* best for a buyer, given market conditions at a
particular moment.

I believe certain kinds of secret agreements between groups of buyers
potentially undermine the auctions ability to do that. And if this
discourages sellers from appearing, it leads to a "tragedy of the commons"
effect where people are getting killer prices for stuff, but less and less
stuff appears, as potential sellers find they can get as good or better
prices elsewhere (including, ultimately, as scrap) than at auction.

Since a buyer immediately gains by minimizing his expense on any particular
transaction, it is easy to agree to behavior that helps today's pocketbook
at the expense of tomorrow. Bringing that back to the eBay situation, any
time an individual or group of individuals is proxy bidding (as measured by
their last proxy bid, if they are foolish enough to enter more than one)
less than they are willing to pay, I'd say something isn't quite right.

Of course, the amount we are willing to pay depends on our values,
including, potentially, non-competition with our colleagues (however we
decide that). But, IMO, the tragedy of the commons effect is still out

Anyway, I hope that helps, without restarting a hot and heavy discussion of
issues that have already been beaten to death.

Received on Tue Feb 15 2005 - 05:52:24 GMT

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