[FoRK] eBay has a broken auction model

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Fri Mar 11 09:08:27 PST 2005

Well, I've let my best domain go for a reasonable, but probably not true 
market value.
I had three problems with eBay and its (!) users, one of which is a 
severe deficiency in their model.

First, someone used an apparently bogus account to bid up the auction to 
find out what my reserve price was.  This, in the end, limited my take 
to just over the reserve, even though I canceled the bids (which were 
still visible).

Secondly, someone created a listing of similar domain names fraudulently 
concocted so that it looked at first glance as if the domain I was 
selling was also being sold in a package.  (They registered 
"seeDOMAIN.com" and listed it as: "See Domain.com, bla.com, blu.com".)  
I complained by eBay email and their real-time customer service but 
nothing was done.

The biggest issue that I've been burned on a couple times is the flaw in 
eBay's model.  I can't see any reason they haven't fixed it:
Auctions should not end until some reasonable time period after the last 
bid.  This should be at least 1 minute and possibly tunable between 1 
and 5.  The first guy who bid over my reserve was sniped by another guy 
with 6 seconds to go and emailed me that he would have bid much more.  
No real auction operates this way: bidding continues until no one is 
willing to bid any more.  This probably cost me tens of thousands of 
dollars and will drastically limit what I put on eBay in the future.

I know some past Internet auctions have worked this way, but nothing has 
overcome the network effects of eBay, so hopefully they will fix this.


swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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