No funny subtitle, no witty quote... I'm here to give my two cents on the beast that is... eBay.
Sure, in the beginning it was fun. I got lots of comics for less than cover price, videos for way under retail price and some rare collectibles. But I'm getting to the point where its not good clean fun anymore.
For those of you that have never used eBay (all two of you), proxy bidding is where a bidder will bid the maximum amount they are willing to pay for the item.
Say item X is currently at $5.
If bidder Y is willing to pay $10 for X, they enter $10 and Y is the high bidder with the bid at $6.
Say bidder Z comes along. He decides he wants to buy X. Z takes one look at the current bid, $6, and says ,"Hey I can beat that!" So he bids $7. Oops! He's been outbid! "Outbid already?," says Z.
So he bids $8. Outbid.
$11. Finally! Z is the high bidder.
Content that he is the high bidder, Z stops and waits for the e-mail notice that he is the winner of the auction. Except Z forgets one thing... there's 9 days left in the auction.
Y gets an e-mail notice that he's been outbid on X. Y gets angry and says, "Screw Z! I'm gonna win that item no matter how much it costs me!" So he goes to eBay and sets his high bid at $20 and the cycle starts over again...
Now proxy bidding works great in theory. If you can't be online at the last minute, you can rest assured that your bid will be accounted for. But for an online auction, it only serves to drive up the price of an item that would only be worth half of the final bid. Now that's great for the seller but for the guy who's just looking for a deal (namely me), it sucks big fat monkey balls.
Now I'm sure none of you know what this is (even I had to look it up). Shilling is, according to eBay, "The practice of a seller bidding up their own item or asking a friend or other associate to do so."
I can't tell you how many times I've been the first bidder on the item only to be outbid a few hours later by a new guy with zero feedback. Now in some instances, these guys are legit. They actually want the item and they're willing to pay more than I am. But most of the time, its the guy who listed the item and they want to jack up the price. Because, God forbid, if they don't make a 1000% profit on their item.
Ebay says shilling is illegal and "shills can be permanently suspended from eBay." Unfortunately a smart shill can hide his identity and eBay is left twiddling their respective thumbs. Again... it sucks big fat monkey balls.
Now, I'm all for online auctions. There are really only two types of auction items. Rare collectible items and readily available items. Now, I'm not that upset that I get outbid on rare items. If you're willing to pay $150 for that limited edition 2 disc set of Army of Darkness, I salute you.
On the other hand if you're bidding on readily available items, I can only assume you're looking for a deal. So say I wanted to buy the G.I. Joe movie DVD. Its readily available at any movie story for $20 or under. I see one on eBay and the opening bid is $1. I bid. I'm the high bidder. Hooray for me.
But, I get outbid. The bid is now at $10. I figure I could bid $11 for the dvd and with shipping, I would still get it for about $15 or $5 less than retail.
The bid jumps to $15. At this price (with shipping) I figure I could save myself the trouble and go to Best Buy and get it for $20.
Finally after the auction ends, I check to see what the final price was. $30.
With shipping, that's $15 above retail! It's not like these items are rare, unless somebody's not telling me something. Why would anyone pay more for something that's readily available? Are these bidders in Antarctica where there's not a store for hundreds of miles? If so, do they think G.I. Joe will keep them warm at night?
Winning an Auction Accidentally
When you bid on rarer items, you pretty much know how much they go for. Miracleman #15 goes for anywhere from $65 to $75. Hard Boiled and The Killer Critierion edition DVDs go for about $50 a piece. The Anchor Bay Army of Darkness 2 Disc set goes for anywhere above $125.
Of course you get anomalies. Miracleman #15 might go for $100. Hard Boiled and The Killer... $75. Army of Darkness... upwards of $200.
Most people are unaware that the pendulum swings the other way too. For example, it was about 5 hours away from the end of an Army of Darkness auction. The bid is at $100. I figure I'll never win by bidding $102.50. Guess what? The next day I check my e-mail, lo and behold, who wins the auction? Me.
Wha?? But?? What happened to??
Now this has only happened to me twice in my eBay career. Once with Army of Darkness and the other with the Star Wars Trilogy Widescreen VHS ($33).
Now, will I stop using eBay because it annoys the piss out of me? No. It's sill the best way to get rare and unusual items. But that still doesn't stop me from hating every other bastard who outbids me.