Man Sues eBay After Misunderstanding The Bidding Process

from the how-hard-is-it-to-put-in-your-highest-bid? dept

It doesn’t take much effort to figure out that the way to get suckered on eBay is to get into a bidding war. People get caught up in “winning” over getting a good deal and will go beyond what’s reasonable. If you don’t want to get into that situation, the best thing to do is to go, bid the maximum you’re really willing to pay, and leave it alone. If someone goes over that maximum, then forget it. It’s too expensive. If it never gets to that maximum, you’ll get the bid at the highest price bid by someone else, plus a small increment. It’s pretty straightforward. However, it appears that someone who didn’t quite understand the process is claiming that eBay cheated him out of $1.50. The details aren’t entirely clear of what really happened here, but it certainly looks like someone didn’t understand how the bidding process works. He received some sort of email telling him he would be outbid if he didn’t raise his bid — so he did. His claim is that he would have won at the lower bid, which is false. eBay wouldn’t have emailed him otherwise, and even if he did raise his bid and no one else outbid his earlier bid, he would have won it at the lower price. So, on the face of it, this lawsuit (which he’s seeking to turn into a class action) appears to have little merit. It’s likely that it won’t go very far. Update: InternetNews has more details about what’s happening. Basically, there are some situations where eBay may force your bid to be slightly higher than your previous bid, by forcing you to go to the next increment allowed. It’s a pretty minor point, though.

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Comments on “Man Sues eBay After Misunderstanding The Bidding Process”

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Raymond Chen (user link) says:

Actually that's not what the email said

The email didn’t say that he had been outbid. It said that he could be outbid. There was no higher bidder – he already was the highest bidder.

“eBay raised his bid from $111 to $112.50 after he responded to an e-mail from auction site that said he was the highest bidder for an item.”

It is somewhat misleading to send the current auction winner a warning that they might lose the auction if something that hasn’t actually happened happens.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Actually that's not what the email said

Yeah, I posted an update. The details are a little different than originally described.

Basically, the way it works is that bid increments are $2.50 between $100 and $200. However, you can place a high bid that’s at any direct amount. In this case, he put in a high bid at $111. Someone else bid it up to $110, and so his high bid of $111 kicked in… despite not being a full increment higher ($112.50).

The email, however, did warn him that he was “one bid away” from losing the high bid… which is accurate. It also *suggested* that he might want to bid higher to protect his lead. In doing so, his bid was automatically shifted to the next increment $112.50. Of course, almost all of this money goes to the seller, not to eBay.

So… first of all, eBay never tells him he’s been outbid. However, it does suggest that he’s close to being outbid. Knocking him up $1.50 is annoying, but not ridiculously out of line. First of all, it’s a tiny amount, especially on a bid over $100. Second, it’s exactly where he would have been had he originally bid the higher amount that he did eventually bid anyway. While this may annoy him, it actually encourages people to put in their *REAL* high bid at the beginning and not to game the system, which should SAVE people money in the long run.

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