Shill bidding on eBay

A case study

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PhilipCohen
For anyone that is interested, a detailed case study of another instance of blatant shill bidding on eBay, and a detailed comment on eBay’s apparent attitude thereto, at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/vi...pic.php?t=24033
Small Town Boy
I'm sure it's a fascinating read, but sadly much too long to bother with. However the fact that one person made lots of bids does not prove shill bidding, for the simple reason that if you keep nibbling away then eventually you will become the highest bidder, which would clearly not be the intention if you were shilling. At the end of the day, every item has its market value and no amount of shill bidding will make a €30 item sell for €50.

As a genuine buyer, bidding early leaves you highly vulnerable to a) shill bidders and b) idiots, which is why you should always bid in the dying seconds of an auction. This effectively turns the sale into a sealed-bids auction, which would have been the fairer – but less exciting – approach in the first place.
interplanetjanet
However the fact that one person made lots of bids does not prove shill bidding, for the simple reason that if you keep nibbling away then eventually you will become the highest bidder, which would clearly not be the intention if you were shilling.
This is not necessarily true. Read the article.
Small Town Boy
I'd love to, but sadly I don't have three hours to spare. Perhaps you could just tell everyone why you think it isn't true.
llees
The alleged shill bidder has a record of over 100 bids, on about 10% the number of items, all of which are different types of items (so an argument can't be made that the buyer is just interested in a specific item) and only from that one seller.

It's clear shill bidding in this case. Some buyers look like shill bidders and aren't. Some are flagrant offenders, and ebay's new system makes it harder to spot them.

The only alternative is to bid once, bid the maximum you're prepared to pay and bid as late as you can. That way you might lose out to someone who's max bid is higher than yours, but the shill bidder doesn't have time to eat away at your bid and artificially inflate the price.
interplanetjanet
STB, the article is not that long. If you scroll down you'll see that the article itself is only about 1/3 the length of the page. The rest of the page is images of bid histories and comments.

Anyway, here's the point:

Further, you may notice that this underbidder stopped his “nibble” bidding at the point when he equaled the maximum proxy bid value of the ultimate buyer (we know that because the genuine bidder’s bid did not automatically advance any further, and so the shill did not even need to withdraw an “overbid” to reinstate the genuine bidder as the winner).

The underbidder would also have understood that only one more incremental bid was required for him to win the item; but he did not make that one more bid.
perdido
Good lord IPJ shouldnt you be in bed right now?
Small Town Boy
Nibbling only works if you eventually bid precisely the same amount as the high bidder – i.e. a round figure like €30. A much faster and more effective method is to bid €10,000 to find out what the highest bid is and then withdraw that bid. A shill bidder who knows what he's doing therefore wouldn't nibble, and in most instances of nibbling it's nothing more than a simpleton who understands neither how eBay is intended to work nor how it can best work for you as a buyer.

Where shill bidding is this clear-cut, you're better off going straight to the police rather than wasting time with eBay. It is a criminal offence. The most that eBay can do is block the user's account, and it's a simple enough process to register another one.
interplanetjanet
Good lord IPJ shouldnt you be in bed right now?
It's just after 10pm! My hubby usually lets me stay up until at least 11pm.
PhilipCohen
Hi everybody,

Small Town Boy did read at least some of the linked article, how else could he know that there was mention “that one person made lots of bids”.

Human nature being what it is I don't expect the response to the matter of shill bidding from sellers who employ such tactics and buyers who are deceived by such tactics to be the same. But, honest sellers should be concerned, because it is such disingenuous machinations by the arrogant, unscrupulous people currently in control of eBay that are continuing to drive away both the buyers and sellers, or have none of you noticed?

I chose this auction for this case study precisely because the underbidder in this case can be shown to be a shill not “beyond reasonable doubt” but “beyond any doubt”; and the rest of the comment, exposing eBay’s total lack of any effective action, logically flows therefrom …

The real question then is, can the “turkey”, Donahoe, survive yet another Xmas?
Crawlie
The only alternative is to bid once, bid the maximum you're prepared to pay and bid as late as you can.
That's pretty much it there. Give them as little a chance as possible to practice their trade.
Small Town Boy
Small Town Boy did read at least some of the linked article, how else could he know that there was mention “that one person made lots of bids”.
Because IPJ eventually quoted the relevant passage in this thread. I did however skim-read it last night, trying to skip over the line after line of angry diatribe and find the actual meat of the story, of which there turned out to be very little. I may have missed it, but I didn't even see any mention of you reporting it to eBay or what their response was.

I can only really repeat what I said above: bidding early leaves you vulnerable under any circumstances. Bidding $200 on an item at $49 with three days of the auction left leaves you wide open not only to shill bidders but – vastly more frequently – newbies, simpletons and jokers, all of whom bid predominately for fun. Bid in the dying seconds and you don't have to worry about this. I'm not saying that shill bidding isn't a problem, but there are thousands of different scams on eBay and it's up to buyers to exercise their own judgement.

At the end of the day, what do you actually expect eBay to do about it? Block the user's account? What exactly will that achieve when they can immediately register a new one? If you want criminal proceedings, then print out the relevant pages and take them to the police station yourself, rather than getting angry at home and spamming God-knows how many different forums with your diatribe.
PhilipCohen
Hi Small Town Boy,

I don’t bother to report shill bidders: my early experience in doing so was not encouraging. If the primary Bid History page looks suss, I simply move on. I don’t have the inclination to ferret through all the clumsy Bid History Details pages, hunting for potential shills; and, in any case, why should we users have to do, manually, the work that it is quite clear that eBay could (and should) be doing by proactively analysing their auction data via a truly sophisticated process—not that I would trust them to do it unless I could actually see that they were doing it.

Some of us may well be experienced enough to know how to defeat the shiller on most occasions; many eBay users are not so experienced, otherwise there would never be any bids placed on any item until the last moment (the alternative is that all the early bidders must be shills); nor should we have to be constantly on our guard for such activity when truly sophisticated programs exist for such analysis. Remember that third parties such as Goofbay used to offer such a service, before eBay totally anonymised the bidders, that is.

What do I expect eBay to do about it? What I expect them to do is to stop knowingly, in effect, “aiding and abetting” unscrupulous sellers to defraud buyers.

I have since added more pertinent comment to the linked OP if you would care to skim over it again and offer a further critique.
Binaural
Hmmm. The OP has 6 posts in 2 years, all regarding on eBay, location isn't even in Germany. Agenda?
MrNosey
Still, it's an interesting topic for many people here. I'm not too bothered if he does have an agenda. I guess we all do.

I was bidding on an item only this week. I put a first bid in, another bidder put a low bid in which didn't beat mine but raised my bid of course. 10 minutes later he bid again higher which raised my bid again. A couple of minutes later his bid was withdrawn because he had put in a 'wrong bid'. He never bid again so I got the article for €1 but what the hell was the guy thinking??? In the end it wasn't shilling but still some weird actions.
The next day I was bidding again and lost out. I was the second highest bidder. About 5 minutes after auction close I get the message that I have been offered the article because the first bidder has refused it. Though his last bid was seconds before the end of the auction... That looks like a form of shilling. I declined the offer.
Of course, you avoid all those issues by bidding what the article is worth to you and sticking to your limit. The same thing will come up again another day, so you'll get more chances to buy at your max price.
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