# Bought a book off ebay

#### Physics is Phun

ok, so i just bought this book off of ebay. this guy had $42 on it, and during the last minute i put in my high bid.$60.01 i was imediately outbid. so i decided to bump it one more time and make it 61.50 and to my surprise, I won!
now. I'm trying to figure out if I did this right or not. first of all, i thought that ebay would automatically do a bidding war for you up to your limit, but it seemed to have just taken my max limit right off the bat and then someone outbid that...i'm not too sure how that works.
second. it seems kinda odd that when i put in my 60.01 bid that I didn't win, but when i upped it to 61.50 I was the highest bidder. now, when I put my 61.50 in, there was only 10 seconds left in the auction, so i'm trying to figure whether I was actually the highest bidder or if I just got in at the right time.
I'm leaning towards the latter. and if that's true, could I have been able to get it for cheaper if I started lower?
Please share you're ebay purchasing stories/tactics, so maybe next time I can get what I want for the lowest price possible.
thanks all

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#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Physics is Phun said:
first of all, i thought that ebay would automatically do a bidding war for you up to your limit, but it seemed to have just taken my max limit right off the bat and then someone outbid that...i'm not too sure how that works.
I think that means the other person had their max bid just a bit higher than yours, so as soon as you put your bid in, it was as if you had an instantaneous bidding war, and his slightly higher bid stuck. You were probably bidding close to his maximum, so beat him by a few cents at the end. It's one of the features that I don't like about eBay (I've never bought anything off the site, because their bidding rules seem odd...that and because I don't have patience to sift through garage sale junk looking for the occassional treasure). If you're going to bid, you should have to be there in person, otherwise, the first person to find something can still win without ever returning to the auction. Where's the fun in that?

#### Pengwuino

Gold Member
Well it would help to know what price you were outbidded at. If someone put in a bid at $61, they would have had a bid at$60.00 or whatever, your crappy $0.01 bid came in, and ebay would have automatically seen the other person had a$61 limit and thrown that in as hte highest bid, outbidding you.

Simple.

What I can't figure out is they'll have a minimum bid listed, but then some "reserve" amount that's not listed, so if you bid, you get some message that the reserve is not met. If the minimum isn't really the minimum, why even bother starting there? Why keep it a mystery what the person selling the item is willing to start considering a reasonable offer? (Yes, I think I did try bidding the minimum $1 on a china set once, just to see what would happen). On thing I have always wondered about e-bay, As far as I know there is nothing to prevent a seller from having a shill bidder. This could be for instance a friend who ups the bids. They have a policy against it, but I don't know how they'd enforce it, unless the same friend bids on all their auctions and someone notices the pattern and reports it. #### Cyrus Because they do not want people to wait until the last minute and bid just above the reserve when there is no time left. #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member cyrusabdollahi said: Because they do not want people to wait until the last minute and bid just above the reserve when there is no time left. Wouldn't that still end up happening, but more because everyone is just wasting time bidding too low? If you just made the reserve the minimum bid, then the bidding could start there instead of end there. #### Cyrus No, because then no one would bid until there was one minute left and try to win with a few dollars over the reserve. The way Ebay works is that you make a bid of so many dollars you are willing to go up to. If you bid more than the reserve, it will place a bid for you. If someone comes along and places a higher bid than your present bid, (but lower than your maximum), it will automatically increase your bid to beat his. In this way, you will pass the reserve, but you wont know by how much. I suppose you could try to keep increasing your bid by$1 until you pass the reserve, but that would require so many bids that Ebay would probably smell something wrong and boot you.

It's less competitive if I know the reserve, because I will hold off on my bid until the last minute.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
cyrusabdollahi said:
It's less competitive if I know the reserve, because I will hold off on my bid until the last minute.
I guess I'm just missing something. I'd think that might just result in a last-minute bidding war. If nobody else is bidding, then why would you bid more than the reserve amount anyway? It's just more of a pain to figure out what it is. With any auction, the amount you can sell something for depends on how much demand there is for it. If there's just one bidder, you're not going to get much no matter what, and if there are multiple bidders who really want it, then better to start off bidding where you want to start and let them go after it. Don't set your minimum bid lower than what you're really willing to accept for it.

#### Cyrus

Because Ebay does not put your full bid when you enter it in. It increments it automatically according to who has the highest bid.

If I bid a max of 200 bucks, and you bid a max of 150, it will automatically bid 151 for me, not 200.

So, you, my competitor, have NO CLUE what my max bid is. The only way to find out is to bid more than my max amount, and you'll have to pay to find that out.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
cyrusabdollahi said:
Because Ebay does not put your full bid when you enter it in. It increments it automatically according to who has the highest bid.

If I bid a max of 200 bucks, and you bid a max of 150, it will automatically bid 151 for me, not 200.

So, you, my competitor, have NO CLUE what my max bid is. The only way to find out is to bid more than my max amount, and you'll have to pay to find that out.
And what happens if you bid 200 and your competitor bids 150, and the reserve is still 250 with 10 min left? If you knew the reserve was 250, neither of you would be wasting time with 150 and 200 dollar bids, you'd start with 250 and work up from there.

#### Cyrus

No!! That's the LAST thing you want to do! if I knew it was 250, I would bet 260 or 270 when it was down to one minute, and he would too. We would not bid before the time was almost up not to raise the price of the item. If I bid 251 with ten seconds, he cant get a bid of 252 before me, and I win and the seller looses.

If we bid 200 and 150 and the reserve was 250, we would have to increase our max bid until the reserve was met. (it would say, reserve met).

Also, sometimes you can "buy now." The "buy now" price may be a small amount above the reserve. If the reserve has already been passed, you might buy it now, or you might take your chances and hope no one bids more than the buy now price later after it expires.

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Moonbear said:
What I can't figure out is they'll have a minimum bid listed, but then some "reserve" amount that's not listed, so if you bid, you get some message that the reserve is not met. If the minimum isn't really the minimum, why even bother starting there? Why keep it a mystery what the person selling the item is willing to start considering a reasonable offer? (Yes, I think I did try bidding the minimum $1 on a china set once, just to see what would happen). Having a reserve is an option that is available in "real world" auctions. It's not just an Ebay thing. The purpose of the reserve is so the the seller can gaurantee themselves getting a certain amount for their item. Even real life auctions do not tell you the reserve limit that has been set. You can get lucky at auctions and pay really low amounts for things if the circumstances are right, i.e. few bidders. Usually the auction house will select the starting price. The initial bid is usually started somewhat low to entice bidders to begin bidding. I have seen reserves used (properly) in two circumstances: 1. The seller knows the value of the item via an appraisal and therefore does not want to sell the item for anything less than what it is worth. 2. The item for sale has some kind of sentimental valur to the seller. #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member cyrusabdollahi said: If we bid 200 and 150 and the reserve was 250, we would have to increase our max bid until the reserve was met. (it would say, reserve met). Sorry, I know I must be sounding really dense about this. But...if you're bidding at the last minute, and you're coming in under the reserve, you're not going to meet the reserve at all. The seller could have sold it for$251 if they posted the reserve price, but without that, everyone is bidding under and instead of selling for close to what they wanted for it, they don't sell it at all, or they have to decide if they're desperate enough to unload the item to sell it under the reserve price.

When they leave the minimum bid at $1, and the reserve is something like$250, you have no clue where to start bidding. Why not just say outright, I'm not going to sell the thing for less than $250, so start bidding there? You can take your chances waiting until the last minute to bid$251, but if someone else gets in and has their maximum bid set at $300, you're still not going to get it. If nobody is willing to bid more than$251 for it, then why would it matter if you bid on it a week ahead or in the last 30 seconds? And if someone really wants it and is willing to pay more for it, then why would they wait until the last minute to give someone else a chance to beat them to it? Waiting until the last minute also means you don't have time to make a counter-offer if the other bidder set their maximum higher than yours.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
FredGarvin said:
Having a reserve is an option that is available in "real world" auctions. It's not just an Ebay thing. The purpose of the reserve is so the the seller can gaurantee themselves getting a certain amount for their item. Even real life auctions do not tell you the reserve limit that has been set. You can get lucky at auctions and pay really low amounts for things if the circumstances are right, i.e. few bidders. Usually the auction house will select the starting price. The initial bid is usually started somewhat low to entice bidders to begin bidding. I have seen reserves used (properly) in two circumstances:

1. The seller knows the value of the item via an appraisal and therefore does not want to sell the item for anything less than what it is worth.

2. The item for sale has some kind of sentimental valur to the seller.
I think it makes more sense in a real auction, because the auctioneer can get the momentum going, and you don't stop bidding by the time on a clock, but when there are no higher bids. On eBay, it seems pointless.

The other proper use would be if you are reselling something you bought, and don't want to sell it for less than you paid for it. You might decide you want to ideally make a $25 profit reselling it, but might settle for a little less, and are hoping it'll resell much higher than that, so you set the reserve for$25 over what you paid. That way, if someone comes in with a bid less than $25 over, you can decide if it's close enough, such as if there was very little interest shown in it that you don't expect to do better if you put it back up again, or you might try again if there was a last minute bidding war. But, then, set the minimum bid somewhere close to what you paid for the item, maybe$50 under to get the ball rolling, so bidders have a ballpark idea of where to start. If you won't sell something for less than $250, and you start bidding at$1, you're just wasting everyone's time, especially with something like eBay, where you're bidding on things you can't fully inspect in advance, so may not be completely sure of the value. In a real auction, the auctioneer would never start so far from a realistic selling price.

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Honestly, I like the way eBay works. My best online buying experiences are on there. You can ask the seller anything and get a direct answer. You can't get that at Amazon.com or anywhere else and if they did, the answers would be so vague that it is pointless.

eBay does have things in place to avoid Shill Bidding and catch it.

#### z-component

I am a seller and buyer and I've never used a reserve price because 1) I know certain people get discouraged from participating in my auction if there is a reserve and 2) I instead use a higher starting bid to substitute a reserve and with which I can still ensure a minimum bidding price. A lower starting price encourages more people to bid, but you may not get a desirable final price; however, while a higher starting may mean a higher final price, it can keep away a lot of potential buyers.

As a seller you need to know what tools you have, like the starting price, reserve, Buy It Now, Get It Fast, and when/how to use them, or you can be unsuccessful. I think the way eBay works is great. I have to agree with the others who've already said: eBay works differently than traditional auctions but I think it's very efficient.

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