Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

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Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Elliot » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:56 pm

This has worried me some while, and then it dawned on me that ePlaya is full of good folks who are far more computer savvy than I.

Traditionally, shilling an auction is considered beyond the pale. But that was when people sat in rows of chairs and waved little cardboard bidding paddles. Oh, the occasional brother-in-law might shill up the price of a single lot, but a very different kind of hammer would soon come down on any habitual offender.

Then came eBay.

Not only can a seller conduct business in his underwear, but methinks he could shill up the prices of his own items with nothing more than a few fake e-mail addresses – which, if I understand it correctly, are readily obtained.

So my question is: Are there computer programs at work, somewhere, that continuously match up sellers and bidders and ferret out likely "socks" (and do something about it)? Or is eBay not really an auction in the traditional sense of determining the price, but more of “store” where sellers routinely hit me for the maximum I’m willing to pay?
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby moonrise » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:11 pm

Please don't beat around the bush. Just ask us if you need some help pumping up the price of your eBay stuff, we're here to help! ;)

Seriously, there have been cases of people getting in trouble for bidding thier own stuff up in price.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Elliot » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:31 pm

Perhaps I should spell out an example.

I’m bidding on a used mechanical component that would typically sell for $100,- -- in average used condition. But this item is damaged, and I figure its normal market value is $50,-.

But to my peculiar purpose the damage does no harm, and I might pay $100,- because a new one costs $200,-.

So I’m wondering if I can expect to pay market value of $50,-, or if the guy can easily squeeze me up to $100,-?

Yeah, I know, it’s irrelevant. I either choose to buy it or I don’t. :roll: :lol:
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Eric » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:51 am

Elliot wrote:So I’m wondering if I can expect to pay market value of $50,-, or if the guy can easily squeeze me up to $100,-?


Set your max bid and stick to it. If you think $50 is all you want to pay, set a bid for that and ignore the item until the auction is over. That way it doesn't matter if it's a shill or real bidders, you can't go over what you're willing to pay. I really suggest using a snipe tool (google it)- if you place your bid early in the auction anyone else can see & that might drive it up. With a snipe tool you don't have to worry about that.

Back in the early days of eBay, when I could find great 1960's sharkskin suits for $10-20 (and got someone's custom tailored silver suit from Hong Kong for $70) I used a snipe tool- I set it to bid 3 seconds before the auction ended, I set my max bid, I walked away. If I won, great, if not, oh well.

If I was outbid before the auction ended, the snipe would let me know in case I wanted to change my bid (which I only did once- for that silver suit)
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby BBadger » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:51 am

Don't ever bother with the "second chance" bullshit either. They're trying to max your bid with their shills.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Elliot » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:40 am

Set your max bid and stick to it.

That's what I generally do. In eight or nine years I've made 42 purchases and I'm happy with the arrangement. But I keep trying to analyze things.

So... is a snipe tool kind'a the standard way to bid now? Am I throwing away a dollar here and there by not using it? I suppose I could learn to use it. :D
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Drawingablank » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:45 am

Sniping reduces the chances others have to outbid you and is a pretty common strategy.

I didn't realize they had actual software that does it these days though, we used to just do it manually by watching the auction end.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby junglesmacks » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:52 am

Drawingablank wrote:Sniping reduces the chances others have to outbid you and is a pretty common strategy.

I didn't realize they had actual software that does it these days though, we used to just do it manually by watching the auction end.


www.gixen.com works great and is totally free. Sniping is the only way to do Ebay auctions anymore..
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby trilobyte » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:12 am

I'm sure there are 'shill apps' out there for the sneaky, but as others have mentioned it's against eBay's ToS. If your bids seem to be constantly getting outbid, it's probably not a shill so much as either a hoverer (or sniper) or someone who's as savvy as you are who has set their max bid to be somewhere close to the perceived value.

The way the site's set up, you don't actually see what the other bids really are. You set the highest price you're willing to pay for the item. For example, say you think it's worth $100, and you'd be willing to spend $80. The current price is $55. So you enter your max bid of $80, and off it goes. If nobody else is bidding on the auction, the bid will go to $56 with you as the highest bidder. If someone else has bid on the item, the site looks at their high bid price. The other bidder might have said he'd be willing to pay up to $75, in that case, the bid will go to $76 with you as the highest bidder (and he gets one of those "you've been outbid" emails, encouraging him to log back in and raise his offer). If the other had bid more than you (say, $90), then the bid would go to $81 (and you'd be getting that email).

A hoverer is someone who hasn't bid on the item, but flagged the item as one they want to watch. They let others duke it out, and don't generally make their own bids until within a day (or an hour) of the auction closing. Then they swoop in, bids blazing. Sometimes they come in only with a specific one-off price/bid, sometimes they come in with a bid that's significantly higher than the current high bid. The net effect is that some thing you thought you had in your clutches ends up jacking way up in price, then is grabbed by some apparent newcomer. As a bidder it's extremely frustrating, but as a seller it can be a really wonderful surprise.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Elliot » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:56 am

I'm sure there are 'shill apps' out there for the sneaky...

Oh wow. I hadn't even thought of that. There is evil on Earth! :evil:
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby Sham » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:21 am

I have been using esnipe for years with great success. (www.esnipe.com) You set your max bid, but it doesn't appear as a real bid until seconds before the auction ends. This also gives you the opportunity to delete your bid before the auction ends, should you change your mind, or find something cheaper and better.

If someone sees their item selling for $2.00, they might out bid so it doesn't get sold so cheap. With esnipe, they may see no bids at all until the last seconds. I think they are only a penny per bid point.

(wow, it's sounds like I'm shilling for esnipe!) :roll:
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby junglesmacks » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:35 am

Shambala wrote:I have been using esnipe for years with great success. (http://www.esnipe.com) You set your max bid, but it doesn't appear as a real bid until seconds before the auction ends. This also gives you the opportunity to delete your bid before the auction ends, should you change your mind, or find something cheaper and better.

If someone sees their item selling for $2.00, they might out bid so it doesn't get sold so cheap. With esnipe, they may see no bids at all until the last seconds. I think they are only a penny per bid point.

(wow, it's sounds like I'm shilling for esnipe!) :roll:


Gixen.com is totally and completely free with no strings attached and works perfect..

Dammit.. now it sounds like I'm trying to shill for Gixen! Just trying to keep anyone from paying for this service when it's available for free.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby gyre » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:29 pm

Now that ebay is anonymous, all sorts of stuff goes on.
I spotted people bidding up certain areas before that.

NEVER base a value on ebay sales.

I had to use a bidding program when I didn't have internet access and morons would set sales to end when access was difficult or impossible.
Bad move for a seller.

Contact me before you bid on a dutch auction on ebay.
Their own info is wrong.

There are books that cover most of the ebay stuff.

A friend of mine wrote his own sniping program, so not hard to do.

For specialized equipment, I suggest checking industrial auctions first.
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Re: Are there (many) shill bids on eBay?

Postby oneeyeddick » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:18 pm

Just for the record I am a hoverer.

Elliot, if you have been trying to get brass steam whistles, sorry about that, it was probably me.

I have set my alarm clock sometimes so I don't miss the moment, just call me old fashioned.
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