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How to Win at eBay:
Auction Fever

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July 2011      top of How to Win at eBay     Index of detail pages

 

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Auctions and auctioneers love to confuse people into thinking that winning an auction is winning.

If you win an auction but paid too much, you lost.

If you paid the right price, you won. If you paid the wrong price, you lost.

You never lose if some other idiot pays too much. Just like elevators, there is always a similar item coming along in a few more minutes. If the bid level gets above what you're willing to pay, wait for the next item.

Avoid pile-ons, which are listings that get too popular for no reason other than everyone saw a bunch of bids, and decided to check it out. People naturally want to see what the commotion is about, so when a listing gets a lot of bids (even if they are the usual sucker bids from just a couple of early bidders), even more people bid.

Just like elevators, don't try to crowd into the one that's already too crowded. Stay out of these listings. Better, empty ones will come along soon enough.

In the live auctions I've attended, as well as on eBay, I've often seen too many people get so hung up in wanting to win the auction that they forget, keep raising their paddle, and wind up bidding far more than the item could be bought for brand new! This is auction fever; don't let it happen to you.

I am very, very serious. It is common to see used, current items sell at auction for more than their new price, especially when it's an inexpensive item, like the Nikon 70-300mm AF-G. The 70-300mm AF-G sells brand-new for under $110. People confuse it with the identical 70-300 AF ED or superior 70-300mm VR, which sell for far more, and often pay $200 for the cheap AF-G model.

eBay spends lots of money trying to incite auction fever, which is confusing people into thinking that winning an auction is winning, even at the wrong price. eBay has paid millions of dollars placing their "better when you win it" TV ads. They are trying to spark competition for no particular reason: is it really better when you "win" against other bidders, even if you paid more than you could have paid buying it new from a regular store?

eBay paid one of the world's best and most expensive ad agencies, CAA, to create their "Shop Victoriously" campaign. This again tries to pervert the concept of winning as winning a bid at an auction to actually winning for real.

Now that I've explained why not to pay too much, let me let you in on eBay's biggest secret, which is that if you bid properly (at the last second), you can bid almost any amount and usually pay much less. This is the next page.

 

Next: How to Pay Less Than You Bid

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