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The Science of eBay 136

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the on-the-auction-block dept.
PreacherTom writes "Professors of marketing, economics, management, and psychology have published dozens of papers to try to explain how and why eBay users buy and sell online. At the same time, there is no shortage of people offering helpful hints online. Kerry Miller takes a novel approach, offering 10 tips to maximize your profit that are based on a summary of these scientific analyses, rather than just 'educated' guessing."
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The Science of eBay

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  • by Funkcikle (630170) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @12:44PM (#16071815)
    ...and describing it as such is just yet more "puffery" intended to get people to look at THAT guide instead of others, thus driving up ad revenue.

    Most of the tips are common sense or obvious to people who have used eBay a few times, to both buy and sell.

    • You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.
      • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:04PM (#16071861) Homepage
        It probably lies in the difference between knowing and doing. You can know something, but not act on that knowledge, and then after the fact say "oh, I knew I should have done XYZ". Of course, humans tend to forget the times that we were wrong about these guesses.

        Most economics proffessors know that there is no sure-fire way to make money apart from saving and investing carefully. They know that just as many people lose money in the market as make it. But then again, you have some people that go to business school that don't teach, like Warren Buffet...

        Just a like between action and knowledge. Most economics profs I would guess have a large amount of money in savings, bonds and blue chip stocks.
        • by Eivind (15695)
          Most economics proffessors know that there is no sure-fire way to make money apart from saving and investing carefully. They know that just as many people lose money in the market as make it.

          You hear this terribly misguided claim again and again on slashdot. Are Americans really in general that clueless about investments?

          If losing and gaining money was equally likely, if the stock-market was a zero-sum game then there'd be no reason to play it. Indeed, on the average you'd lose your brokerage-fees.

          Lu

      • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:12PM (#16071877) Homepage

        You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are just happier in academia than in the "real world". If your needs are simple and you're going to make more money than you know what to do with either way, the person who delights in research is going to be content with a university position.

        • your needs are simple and you're going to make more money than you know what to do with either way, the person who delights in research is going to be content with a university position.

          I'm sorry, but you seem to have used the phrases "university position" and "more money than you know what to do with" in the same sentence. We are forced to view your comment through special Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field Effect Glasses to check for credibility. These glasses will be available at Mac stores soon, pac
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by CRCulver (715279)
            Do you know how much a professor with just a few years behind him makes at a good American university? At least in the upper five figures, often in the six-figure range. Yes, that is more money than I would know what to do with. Plus, you can't beat the amount of vacation time you get, travel expenses if you go to conferences, etc. Sure, competition for such positions is stiff, but if you've got what it takes, why not go for it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by chris_eineke (634570)
        Compare to Slashdotters who are out there making a fort... oh shit.
      • by hackstraw (262471) *
        You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        Those Who Can't Do... Teach!

        There is more to it than that, actually a lot more, but there is a BIG difference between knowing and doing.

        I'm frequently astounded how many PhDs in computer science or something like human factors engineering teach this stuff for a living and do research in the fields, but they don't or can't do basic s
      • by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:30PM (#16071920) Homepage Journal
        i know parent is meant to be funny BUT IF a professor of economics isn't already wealthy and trading, etc. as a result of having worked private for many years before going to education... then the reason would be that they have no cash reserves with which to invest. Lots of people have what it takes mentally to be good traders, few people have what it takes financially. This is why most people are in 401k mutual funds, etc.... cause they just can't pull enough together at one time to invest independently.

        • Well, a) I was only semi-joking, as some business professors teach things that don't imply entrepreneurial ability, and b) I was talking about business, not economic professors. Most economics professors readily admit they can't come up with a strategy to consistently beat the market.

          And the fact that they have no reserves saved up is a stupid reason, to be frank. The median age of business professors is, what, 50? And they don't have enough saved by then? Plus, they can find investors. So no, it's a n
          • a) is there such a thing as a 'business' professor? business isn't academic... it's charm, savvy, legal and illegal deals.. how do you teach that? b) you don't have to 'beat' the market to make money, people do it every day.

            c) err your next statement: median, right so there are economics profs who are 30 and still paying off their school loans and of course the luck few who have bad habits and drank, snorted, gambled, f@cked away their money shamelessly. Then there are the idiots who are smart enough to get
            • Is that a serious response?
              • Uh yeah... MBA 'profs' are just Businessmen who are passing along experience and networking connections and of course looking for young blood to do their dirty work for them. I woudn't really call that teaching so much as mentoring which is why these courses are typically referred to as 'mentoring programs'.

                Now if you're talking about management schools or something like that then you're talking about something completely different.

                I'm pretty sure most people who responded to you assumed you were talking ab
                • Okay, so it was serious ... it's just that when you said "you don't have to 'beat' the market to make money, people do it every day.", it was clear you had no clue what the fuck you were talking about, since the opposite of "trying to beat the market" is investing in an index, in which people obviously do make money, and which I obviously wasn't contradicting.

                  I'm sure there's something worthwhile in what you said, I just don't have the time to look for it.
                  • I was quoting you and refuting in the same breath... ie; people make money every day WITHOUT having to beat the market. You just misread or I misspoke. Assumptions eh. especially about what, someone you don't know thinks, is obvious.
                    • I *know* you said people make money every day WITHOUT having to beat the market. I never said anything that even implied contraction with that. I don't know why you deemed that statement relevant. Yes, people can invest in an index (not try to beat the market) and make money. Great. Let me know when you can relate that back to the subject matter.
      • by Metex (302736)
        Stress, it is a huge reason why a professor doesnt. I rember a joke a doctor told me about lawyers when I went in for stress related heartburn:

        "Anti-acid and prozac medication? It is the lawyer prescription."

        Sadly he said that if my heartburn gets any worse he would suggest this presciption for me. This is probably the number one reason why a proffesor doesnt make tons of $$ in the real world since academics is no where near as stressfull and bodily distroying as running your own buissness
      • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:32PM (#16071929)

        Some are. My undergrad econ professor was a millionaire who consulted for major companies, but taught freshman-level econ anyway because he enjoyed it.

        That may not be representative, but just because they're in academia doesn't mean there's no substance to what they're teaching. Some people just like teaching, or like the academic environment, or aren't interested in the sacrifices they'd have to make to really do well in business. Or have already done very well in business and are teaching from quasi-retirement, or whatever. You get the idea.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Funkcikle (630170)
          My undergrad econ professor was a millionaire who consulted for major companies, but taught freshman-level econ anyway because he enjoyed it.

          Or did that so he could teach incorrect economics in order to keep all the money for himself, muahahahaha.
        • I took a personal finance class at a local community college and the professor (who also teaches two investing classes) is a professional financial consustant, both for individuals and for companies or other organizations (pension funds, etc). He seems to be very well off. He said he taught these classes (only a couple of nights a week) because he would always learn something new from the students (cool new websites or whatever), and because he got a great deal on health insurance for doing it! He's a total
      • by CmdrPorno (115048) *
        At the undergraduate university I attended, professors in the management and MIS departments were among the highest paid, and many of them own successful businesses or do consulting work on the side.
      • Hence our reference to them as PhD-retards....

        Size of human brain = x

        Knowledge of PhD in his field = x

        Brain Power required for body functions (breathing, digestion, etc.) = 1

        x x+1 this leaves no room for anything else.....

        2 cents,

        QueenB
      • You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        Business programs are very different than scientific and engineering programs. I have BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. The MS degree was from a school near JPL, lots of part-time consulting gigs for profs and students. Now I'm working on an MBA. The relationship with industry is far more intimate with the business school.
      • by GoofyBoy (44399)

        I always thought it was because the economics and benefits of becoming a professor with tenure was risk/work vs. rewards out there.

        Employement effectively for life with a great pension at a large orgainzation with a stable customer-base and very little compitition. Sounds like a good deal.
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        Why do some engineers work at companies instead of inventing things on their own? Why do some programmers become overworked code monkeys for someone else instead of on their own? Etcetera.

        To branch out on your own takes some initiative, willingless to take hassles of entreprenuership that a 9-5 job doesn't have, and some guts.

        Also

      • You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        A followup to my previous comment:

        Economics professors also know that market timing is dangerous, and not often sucessful. For example, I knew that the housing market was headed for a downturn over 2 years ago, and Warren Buffet said the same thing when he sold his beach house. So, you can know that something WILL happen, but you ma
      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

        Business thrives on buzzwords and the latest management meme/theory, that's why. It gives the masses of "managers" something to believe in while they toil away being unproductive and demonstrating their authority. Not all companies or managers function this way though.

        Not everyone works for yet more money, some people have en
      • 1. Contrary to what they would like you to believe, Ebay is not the place to make fast, easy money. Not unless you have a stable of minimum wage lackeys doing everything for you. If you have a PhD, you're much better off doing something in your field. Perhaps the professor has bankrolled a CD resale business and has his students work it as a 'learning' experience. I'm sure he has nothing to do with listing, packing and shipping.
        2. The writer is only knowledgeable enough to speak on this matter because
    • by ergo98 (9391)
      ...and describing it as such is just yet more "puffery" intended to get people to look at THAT guide instead of others, thus driving up ad revenue.

      Most of the tips are common sense or obvious to people who have used eBay a few times, to both buy and sell.

      Indeed. The slashdot submission sounds like it was written by the author himself. That's the sort of thing that all of those "IBM Whitepaper" authors do.
    • Only professors could publish dozens of articles on something this damn simple. I'm so glad I left academia and got a life and spend my career doing something useful.
      • And what might that be, posting a comment on a Slashdot story about an article written praising the things these professors are doing? I'd say they are on the higher end of the "useful" scale than you in this case.
  • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @12:45PM (#16071818) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about anyone else, but I've about had it with eBay. It hasn't improved in the last five years and they slowly nickle and dime you to death. I'd love an article on The Science of Leaving eBay: ten reasonable alternatives.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • I take it you didn't actually go to ebay in the last five years either. Ebay Express is a huge advancement - I wish more sites used the same search interface.
    • The reason people don't leave ebay is because there are no visible alternatives. eBay works because it is the ONLY option you have. If the market had a competitor with even 10% of the users it would probably be enough to turn the tides against eBay. You just need to fracture the audience enough and eBay's main selling feature will vanish. They're probably the most exposed company out there.
  • THE TIPS - ad free (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @12:47PM (#16071825) Homepage
    1. Set the starting price low (except for items you expect little interest in). Low starting prices stimulate auction traffic and get early bidders psychologically invested in the auction, leading to more completed sales and higher final prices. Professor Gillian Ku from London Business School and professors Adam Galinsky and J. Keith Murnighan from Northwestern found that Nikon cameras with starting prices of $0.01 resulted in significantly higher final prices than the average price for completed camera auctions.

    An auction for a kitchen sink with a starting price of $225 ended without a single bidder. When re-auctioned with a starting price of $75, the sink sold for $275. The exception to the start-low rule: If you're selling an idiosyncratic item you don't think a lot of people will bid on, set a price closer to the item's actual value.

    2. Use reserve prices with caution, especially for low-priced items. When using a low minimum bid, nervous sellers sometimes set secret reserve prices to make sure their item doesn't sell for less than the item's true value. Using reserves is a risky strategy for sellers, say professors at Stanford and the University of Arizona, because it reduces the probability that the auction will end in a sale.

    In an experiment using Pokémon trading cards, they found that secret-reserve auctions on average resulted in fewer serious bidders per auction and lower final sale prices. However, other research suggests that for auctions of higher-priced goods (over $25), secret reserves might actually push revenues higher when the auctions end in a successful sale.

    3. Use photos in your listings. Listings with photos receive much more traffic than listings without photos. Generally speaking, more traffic to your listing--especially on the first day of an auction--results in more active bidders, and the more bidders competing for an item, the higher the sale price. In one study at Stanford, researchers found that an extra bidder results in an 11.4% increase in auction revenue among all auctions, and a 5.5% increase for auctions in which there are least two bidders.

    4. Don't flood the market. If you're selling multiples of an item, space them out, rather then selling them all at once, says Ku--that's simple supply and demand at work.

    5. Spell-check. Misspellings decrease the amount of traffic an auction receives. Ku, Galinsky, and Murnighan found that Michael Jordan shirts listed "Micheal" went unsold almost twice as often as those that were spelled correctly. When sold, the misspelled brand names resulted in lower final sale prices.

    6. Hype it up. Ku and Murnighan suggest that inserting blatant puffery like "This shirt is hot!! A must-have for the summer!!" into low-starting-price auctions could stimulate interest better than more straightforward listings, and possibly even raise final sale prices. Researchers at Stanford found that auctions which mention the high retail price in an item description sell for 7% more on average.

    7. Hold longer auctions. Researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan found that longer auctions tend to fetch higher prices. While three-day and five-day auctions yield approximately the same prices, seven-day auctions are about 24% higher, and 10-day auctions 42% higher on average.

    8. Don't end auctions during "eBay happy hour." Though it might seem counterintuitive, a University of Pennsylvania researcher found that auctions ending during peak hours on eBay are actually 9.6% less likely to result in a sale. The reason? More competition. About 35% of auctions end between 5 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., when 25% of bids are placed.

    9. Charge for shipping--but not too much. Bidders don't pay much attention to shipping costs when placing bids, say professors at UC Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. CDs listed with a starting price of one cent with $3.99 shipping averaged 21% higher final sale prices than CDs set with an opening price of $4 and no shipping charge. B
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ancil (622971)
      Ad free?

      Looks to me like you've simply replaced Business Week ads with Slashdot ads.

      Business Week had to pay the author who wrote this story, out of its ad revenues. What right does Slashdot have to those revenues?
      • by owlnation (858981)
        Business Week had to pay the author who wrote this story, out of its ad revenues. What right does Slashdot have to those revenues?
        What right does the author have to the payment? I ask since some of ther points are common sense, some are actually posted on the eBay site itself as selling advice.

        There's nothing, nothing at all, in this article I haven't seen in many other places on the web.
        • What right does the author have to the payment?

          Because he wrote it, and you didn't. Regardless of the effort you think went into the article, he at least did something instead of sitting on his ass steling other people's work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by macaddict (91085)
      I won't click on auctions that have "hype" in the listing. My first thought is "What's wrong with it? Why are they having trouble selling it that they need to hype it?" Hype on the description page will also make me go look elsewhere. A clear, concise and detailed description, that looks like somebody put some thought into it, is what will get me to consider the item. I mostly buy books, so pictures are a big plus--I can see what edition is for sale and get a basic idea of the condition. I don't bother with
      • by nursegirl (914509)
        I pretty much always use Amazon and Alibris for my used books. Only occassionally do I see a first edition signed piece of goodness that makes it worth my time to put up with the royal inconvenience that is Ebay.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      2. Use reserve prices with caution, especially for low-priced items. When using a low minimum bid, nervous sellers sometimes set secret reserve prices to make sure their item doesn't sell for less than the item's true value. Using reserves is a risky strategy for sellers, say professors at Stanford and the University of Arizona, because it reduces the probability that the auction will end in a sale.

      I can comment on that one. I generally avoid auctions with reserve prices. Usually the reserve is too high, an

      • I call bullshit on that.

        You call bullshit on something someone observed and documented? They weren't pulling stuff out of their butts. It was a study.

        Regardless, I'm with you -- I always pay attention to shipping, especially for international orders.
        • by phyrra (986093)
          I will often refrain from bidding on things from the UK these days because of the inflated shipping costs. (I'm located in the USA) I definitely pay attention to shipping because I'm not willing to get screwed by inflated shipping costs. Some things from the UK are fine, but I've seen different sellers who list shipping at 12 GPB for one shirt, and another who lists it for 3 GPB for the same service, so I just stay away from the high ones. Again, this is just a common sense thing.
    • 11. Make sure the legalese on your auction is at least 10 to 20 times longer than the actual description of your item...
    • I pay a lot of attention to shipping prices. I'm sick of seeing "powersellers" who claim that it costs $95 to ship a USB thumb drive via the lowest and cheapest possible method, and then have the gall to charge $5 "required insurance" for a shipping method that includes insurance, or for a method where the actual insurance for the value of the item is only $1. I often send these people nasty comments. They're pricks and more of what ruins ebay. Ebay when asked about their policies which these types of listi
  • From the article... (Score:2, Informative)

    by theheff (894014)
    7. Hold longer auctions. Researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan found that longer auctions tend to fetch higher prices. While three-day and five-day auctions yield approximately the same prices, seven-day auctions are about 24% higher, and 10-day auctions 42% higher on average.

    I disagree with this statement. In my experience, the length of the auction, especially when the item is widespread, makes little difference in final sale price. This is easy to tell if you're a s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730)
      Did you collect and analyze data from ebay, like the researchers? No, you say? Then what makes you think your opinion matters?
      • You don't consider collected data from personal experiece as collecting data?
        • The human brain collects and remembers data in insanely selective, limited, and warped ways. It's not exactly like theheff has a list of auction times and final prices in a sorted list in his head.
          • So you're saying that his brain is defective :) Sometimes you don't need a research study to affirm a phenomenon that occurs so regularly it is easy to predict. You should be questioning the methodology of the research study no less than questioning the state of that particular human brain. At least with the research study, you can have the evidence right in front of you, whereas with that guy's brain, you have no info at all. Maybe your brain is the problem? :) (a joke, please don't take offense)
  • I hate ebay (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Eightyford (893696)
    For most items it is cheaper to get them elsewhere. Especially once the shipping and customs charges are added. Ebay is only worthwhile for hard to find items, IMHO.
  • My 2 cents (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 09, 2006 @12:59PM (#16071848)
    Buy low. Sell high.

    That'll be $1 for the advice and $11.95 for shipping.

    No C.O.D's
    • You're selling 2 cents for $12.95? I realise that the metal content makes them worth more than face value, but this is ridiculous.
      • by fm6 (162816)
        No, he's selling 2 cents for $1 plus shipping. About par for eBay!
  • by cjkeeme (980951) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:05PM (#16071863) Homepage
    It's funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      Its funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.

      Its a known and studied phenomenon. What happens is that under "normal" economic transactions, people are trying to optimize bang for buck with little variables like convenience (eg, paying more at a convenience store), supply/demand (eg, movie theater soda prices), paying slightly more for the illusion or reality of support vs buying it second hand, etc.

      But, many of these rules go
    • by Shanep (68243)
      It's funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.

      Yes, I've been amazed to also see this happen. I tend to use Google to find the lowest prices if I'm looking to buy something and Google normally comes back with the same few local (30min drive max) vendors I buy from anyway. It seems that eBay items typically go for cheaper than the RRP you'd pay at $BIGNAME_MERCHANT_AT_THE_MALL, but often more expensive than the brand new item fro
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:18PM (#16071892) Homepage Journal
    In bad times, people sell stuff. In good times they buy. Either way eBay is making $$$.

    Same reason alcohol is great: drink to forget (bad times), drink to celebrate (good times).
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      Same reason alcohol is great: drink to forget (bad times), drink to celebrate (good times).

      Simpsons did it!

      Alcohol: The cause of and solution to all of life's problems!

  • Not exactly rocket science there. People use Ebay because auctions are fun. Only those who use it a lot realize just how poorly it is executed.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot&stango,org> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:30PM (#16071922) Homepage Journal
    Originally from this Usenet posting. [google.com]

    Updated:

    Don't post stuff in lots. Auction stuff off separately because you'll have a hard time finding someone who wants all of it, but you will get bombarded with annoying emails from people interested only in one or two items who want you to break up the lot. Instead, list everything the same day, mention in each item description that you've got other items that complement this item, and create a link to all your current auctions (assume people won't think to click on the official eBay "View seller's other auctions" link).

    Having nice, large photos of everything will encourage a higher final value. People like to know what they're buying.

    Having detailed descriptions will cut down on having to answer the same question a hundred times from prospective bidders.

    Make the auctions run for at least 5 days, so patient people who like to search and zero in on low-priced items they need will be able to put you in their watch list-- more watchers in the beginning means more people competing with each other and driving up the price at the end.

    Time the start of the auctions so they end on a Sunday evening, but before 8pm-- when people are almost certain to be home but aren't yet glued to the TV. (But definitely don't end it the night of the Super Bowl!)

    I have used the above tips for years, with great success.

    ~Philly
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by boingo82 (932244)
      I disagree completely on the lots. I just plain don't bid on things unless they're in a lot. Not worth my time and money to find 10 separate auctions and try to win them all and then have to dick around with the shipping arrangements. eBay is only cost-effective when you're buying in quantity. Likewise as a seller, once you factor in the listing fee, photo fee, bolding fee, BIN fee, overall fee scale, etc etc you can easily save $20 by putting like items together. Let alone the time involved in listing sepa
      • in your posts you mention that it costs too much as a buyer, to buy things seperately. That means, that the seller is taking more of your money.

        There are quite a few people who make a living buying lots, breaking them up, and flipping them on ebay. It's similar to buying a brand new car, vs. paying $200 for a washer fluid bottle, $80 for a badge, $50 for the mounting bracket for the badge, etc.. when the car is in an accident, and needs to be repaired.
        • by boingo82 (932244)
          It doesn't mean the SELLER is taking more of my money. It means eBay / UPS is taking more. This is good for neither seller nor buyer.
    • As an Ebay seller with lots of experience, I agree with everything you said and just want to add a bunch of things:
      no lots... I've won several auctions where the seller bundled in some other crap I didn't want. They have always ended at the lowest price I saw all month for just the item I wanted. The corrolary to the no-lots rule is that you should auction stuff in large batches if they are related items. Each auction is an ad for all of your others. I've found that I get about 15% less for items that
  • I can scientifically predict that another book on how to be an eBay mega-seller will be hitting local bookstores in the near future.
  • Tip Number 11 - Have a friend shill for you to drive up the price.
    • by owlnation (858981)
      Tip Number 12 - Steal a user id with high feedback -> List lots of items you don't have -> Run away -> Profit!

      Tip Number 12a - A variant on the above. Buy 50 hot items (latest cell phones, etc) -> List all 50 for 25% of their retail price -> Get fantastic feedback -> Then list 10000 of the same item which you do not have -> Run away -> Serious profit!

      There's no ???.
      • 12: You have to steal it and keep the owner from noticing it. Someone with a valuable account will notice when the password gets changed or $100k worth of items get listed.

        12a: 50 is nowhere near enough to run this scam. 50 means you're a mediocre buyer, not a good seller. People who have run this scam have 2k-10k feedback and have typically been running as a legit business for a year or more. They wake up one day and realize they can probably make it to Mexico with $500k. Unfortunately, it harder
    • by Plug (14127)
      Be careful with that.

      On Trade Me, which is New Zealand's primary online auction site, they'll pull auctions where your friends have legitimately bid on them [dubculture.co.nz].
  • Corollaries (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CmdrPorno (115048) *
    Many of the tips have corollaries for buyers. For example, if you're a buyer, search for misspellings, as the closing prices tend to be lower. I can see the big caveat to bidding on an auction with a reserve--you could end up the high bidder, but not a winner. Bidding on reserve auctions might work better for a buyer who needs a large quantity of a particular product--so losing one individual auction wouldn't be terribly frustrating.
    • by Tsiangkun (746511)
      And look, there's a Magnetbox and Sorny!
    • I think you are drawing the wrong conclusion here. If you see a misspelling, it is a sign that it might be a bad deal, or that you have a disinterested or misinformed seller, or that the seller might be trying to rip you off. Thus, misspellings signal a risky transaction! But, as part of assuming that risk, there will be a lower price.

      My 2 cents + 6 dollar shipping :-)
      • by CmdrPorno (115048) *
        Like any other eBay transaction, you have to be careful, but I can see how someone would make a slight spelling error and not realize it. It wouldn't turn me off from placing a bid if their feedback score was up to snuff.
        • I agree...a slight misspelling isn't going to turn me off either. But I would never buy a product if the product name was spelled wrong...or if there were multiple horrendous misspellings...
  • 9. Charge for shipping--but not too much. Bidders don't pay much attention to shipping costs when placing bids, say professors at UC Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. CDs listed with a starting price of one cent with $3.99 shipping averaged 21% higher final sale prices than CDs set with an opening price of $4 and no shipping charge. But when the professors listed CDs with a $2 starting price and a $6 shipping cost, five of the 20 CDs went unsold.

    That really should be obvious. But

    • it's because ebays fee structure, charges a percentage of the closing price, not the total bill (including shipping).

      so if you sold an item for $100 with $5 shipping, ebay would bill you for their share of $100.

      If you sold the same item for $1 with $104 shipping, ebay would bill you for their share of $1.

      Buying electronics on ebay is more trouble than it's worth, because of this. The margins in that category are so slim, that the only people who can make any money, are the ones who have excessive shipping.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stuartkahler (569400)
      Ebay's policies specifically prohibit inboarding outrageously inflated shipping rates. Eg. BiN price of $1 for an iPod plus $300 'shipping'. People do this because Ebay just charges a percentage of the final price without shipping, and they want to keep the extra 5% for themself. Ebay tends to ignore this because it's very difficult to police, and there's a gray area like when someone charges $4 to ship a CD, and mails it for 75 cents via media mail. If you're the iPod guy charging $300 shipping, ebay w
      • by fm6 (162816)
        Ebay's policies specifically prohibit inboarding outrageously inflated shipping rates.
        Not what they told me when I complained about this transaction.
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:09PM (#16072267)
    I'm not sure why there's any need to overcomplicate this. eBay works *because* there are morons out there with way too much money.

    Just make any ordinary item something *sound* special in some way, and start the pricing out with a number ending in ".95", and they jump on it like fleas. I've managed to sell numerous used items time and time again at above retail prices, because of this.

    Remember kids, it's not lying if it can't be proven wrong.
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      I'd like to buy your used Monstercable, where do I send the cheque?

      This assumes that you haven't used it all up yet.
  • 6. Hype It Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#16072401)

    I'll think about it next time I have something to sell

    "This PowerMac 6500 power supply unit is hot!! A must-have for the summer!!"

    Besides that, everything listed there is pretty obvious, except maybe the 8, which says not to make the auction end during the peak hour.

  • Looks like they just read my post [slashdot.org] from the previous EBay thread.

    -M

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