Overpaying For The Fun Of It Is No Longer Cool

from the the-thrill-is-gone dept

Part of eBay's success can be translated into the fact that people seem to overpay for stuff when it's sold in an auction format. They get caught up in the "game" of winning -- and thus, will overbid on an item that might be available elsewhere for less. However, anecdotal stories are now appearing, suggesting that many people have figured this out, and overbidding for the sake of "winning" is becoming less common. Instead, a lot of sellers focus on eBay stores that offer fixed price "buy it now" offerings. As the article admits, there are no stats showing the splits, but there's enough anecdotal evidence to suggest a trend. Part of it has to do with the types of goods being offered. Auctions work well for more obscure items, so perhaps the growth of fixed price offerings just shows that eBay is successfully expanding what's being sold at the site. However, some are clearly worried that eBay may run into trouble if people aren't constantly overbidding any more. It may be an interesting trend to watch, but it seems likely that "the thrill of the hunt" for online goods doesn't go away overnight. It's unlikely that auctions are on the verge of going away any time soon.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Muse, 6 Dec 2004 @ 7:44pm

    Ebay will be fine till a competitor comes along.

    AMD's value was it pushed Intel to lower prices and improve the technology.
    Ebay will grow; the value to the customer huge.
    But until a competitor comes with similiar appeal then eBay has no incentive to share more "profit" with the customer.
    Who will be Ebay's AMD?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2004 @ 10:35am

      Re: Ebay will be fine till a competitor comes alo

      No one: eBay patented the whole online auction idea, or most of the components of it, in a bunch of stupid IP patents.
      Yay! eBay can weild the USPTO like a club!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Kohne, 7 Dec 2004 @ 4:19am

    Ebay making money...

    As long as goods change hands, Ebay makes money - regardless of how much the items sell for. Ebay is a middleman, they connect seller to buyer and take a little off the top. They don't care how much changes hands, as long as they make a little on every transaction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Boilerbob, 7 Dec 2004 @ 6:15am

      Re: Ebay making money...

      It's true that ebay is a middle-man so they want listings and sales first and foremost, but they charge a percentage of the final price. A $1 or $2 more on a million auctions can add up very quickly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Frank, 7 Dec 2004 @ 8:18am

    agree

    I've always thought the whole process was unwieldy at Ebay. You have to continually keep bidding and hoping that someone doesn't outbid you at the last moment. Then if you win you find out the over-inflated shipping charge. If you don't use Paypal, you have to go get a cashier's check. Then you send the money to a complete stranger and pray that you get your item. If the the stranger doesn't send it, your only recourse is to leave "feedback" on the site. I've used Ebay maybe 2 or 3 times to buy a few cheap posters I couldn't find anywhere else. It definitely isn't an experience I'd go for on a regular basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Oliver Wendell Jones, 7 Dec 2004 @ 10:41am

      Re: agree

      You obviously never bothered to read the helpful help information on the ebay site.

      You can place one single bid for the maximum amount you are willing to pay. ebay's proxy bidding system will keep bidding for you up to your maximum amount. You never need to check back until the auction is over.

      This system is in place to keep you from overspending by getting caught up in a last minute bidding war. If an item is worth $10 to you and no more, than bid $10 and walk away. If you get upset because you lose it at $10.50 and think "Heck, I'd have gone $11 or $12" then you should have bid that amount in the first place.

      Also, the shipping price should be clearly displayed in auction and if not, then it's really your fault for not asking the seller before you bid.*

      *On that note, I agree with you that way too many sellers are screwing us all with excessive S&H charges and it has honestly impacted my ebay purchase habits.

      If the seller offers a fixed S&H price, it should be included as part of the original bid amount (which is how I run my auctions) and should never exceed the final sale price of any item by a factor of greater than 5x (i.e., you shouldn't be able to sell an item for $1.00 and then charge $7.99 S&H). Numerous times I've bought small, light weight items for low prices and then paid $7 or $8 for S&H only to have it shipped in a USPO Priority Mail envelope with $3 postage on it.

      What's worse are the people who list one S&H price in their auction description and then list a different S&H price in the Shipping information section. When all is said and done, I'm not sure which value is legally valid, but PayPal will invoice you for the amount listed in the Shipping information section, so be careful and double-check!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2004 @ 2:32pm

        Re: agree

        "If the seller offers a fixed S&H price, it should be included as part of the original bid amount (which is how I run my auctions) and should never exceed the final sale price of any item by a factor of greater than 5x"
        What? Are you nuts? Everyone knows it should be 6.5x.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    acousticiris, 7 Dec 2004 @ 3:43pm

    EBay is Perfect Capitalism

    EBay is Capitalism in nearly its purest form (except for the Government of EBay taxing the seller...though some might consider that part of the necessary evils of a capitalist society).
    Regardless...Let nobody forget Caveat Emptor. When I'm going to purchase something, I generally check ebay, but I don't stop there. I'm still amazed, however, at my friends who have just "discovered" online auctions. They seem to think that everything on EBay is cheaper than you could find it anywhere else.
    The sad reality is that for "popular" items, even used products can sometimes go for higher prices than new elsewhere. And in the case with EBay, you're stuck with much more limited buyer protection than you receive from a typical online vendor.
    There have been several times I've visited sites for computer products and found that I could save more money going with an online vendor, rather than an online auction.
    But EBay provides an essential service. I no longer have garage sales, I have auctions.
    I rarely throw anything out that might be worth more than 30 bucks because there's such a large audience with EBay that I know I might be able to get something...*anything*...for my junk. Generally I get less than I paid, but it was headed for the garbage anyway, so why not? It's not all that much work to setup an auction and ship a product. Heavens knows, I have empty boxes lying around from all of the junk I've purchased from other people. A little bit of shreaded paper, packing tape, a sharpie and a quick drive to the post office and I've got some extra money.
    I think there may be a bit of "ebb and flow" (or Binge and Purge?) to EBay as people realize that the prices aren't always good, but it won't stop people like me trying to sell junk they were going to throw out anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.