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Verbiage: Ebay: Anti-Snipe / Early Bidders Rewards.

Chacham (981) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 11

Continuing from here, i have once again decided to try the ebay anti-snipe rules. However, as pointed out there, there may be issues. Reserve pricing can be expensive, and used against the seller, since the buyer is under no obligation to buy, they can just jack up the price for no reason as long as they know the reserve price. And, that would be integral to this scheme, so that's out.

Continuing from here, i have once again decided to try the ebay anti-snipe rules. However, as pointed out there, there may be issues. Reserve pricing can be expensive, and used against the seller, since the buyer is under no obligation to buy, they can just jack up the price for no reason as long as they know the reserve price. And, that would be integral to this scheme, so that's out.

Also, to state it clearly. I would rather lose money than honor a snipe.

I was thinking of using high "handling" prices, but i realized that will not work for anyone, as those who see it might not understand, those who don't will just complain. Further, the entire idea of anti-snipe may alienate many. This was pointed out to me here. As such, i no longer want to call it anti-snipe. Intead, i am thinking of calling it "Early Bidder Rewards", or simply EBR.

The way EBR could work would be to have extra costs that the user gets discounted. I was thinking of free shipping instead, but that isn't significant enough. So, I started off thinking about a thirty dollar item, and figured the extra costs could be thirty dollars as well. The price would not be inflated by the seller, rather the buyer who understands EBR can inflate the price another $30 with no consequence, and protect himself from snipers.

But wait, there's more.

There are two things i would like to encourage. One, an early initial bid, two, a non-sniped final bid. For the first-bid, i am willing to give up on shipping. Considering shipping for standard items is $3.50 Priority Mail, fifty cents a day can be discounted for each bid. Thus, anyone who bids on the first day (of a seven-day auction) would get free shipping. For the first day, as long as it was before the final hour.

So total discounts would be bidding before (not cumulative):

Last Hour:$0.50
1 Day(s):$1.00
2 Days: $1.50
3 Days: $2.00
4 Days: $2.50
5 Days: $3.00
6 Days: $3.50

Or, total paid:

Day 1 - $0.00
Day 2 - $0.50
Day 3 - $1.00
Day 4 - $1.50
Day 5 - $2.00
Day 6 - $2.50
Day 7 - $3.00
Final hour - $3.50

This, of course, is regardless of the final bid. Though, heavier items and international shippping would get the same discount, but the rest of the costs would be theirs to pay.

For the final-bid, however, up to thirty dollars would be rewarded depending on when it was placed. If within the last ten seconds (the quintessential snipe), there would be no reward. Anything before that, is encouraged with rewards off the final price. This lists the total (not cummulative) price off when bid before:

30 seconds: $5
1 minute: $10
10 minutes: $15
1 hour: $20
3 hours: $25
1 day: $30


I think this would be very nice. There would be nothing hidden, as shipping is a normal price, and the price will reflect people adding to the price themselves. As, because of the reward, i would not have to add anything myself. Though, i may have to say that it must sell for over $30 for anything to be discounted, though shipping rewards would still apply. And then, over thirty dollars, the rewards would only apply in as far as it is over $30. So, a bid of $1 and $31 would be equivalent, as would be $30 and $60.

To notify people of this, besides the description, the title would say (EBR) on the end, or possibly (EBR: $30). The subtitle (a fifty-cent cost) could then explain, "Early Bidder Rewards: Up to $30 and Free Shipping!".

The only major issue would be the final bids. People should be able to re-bid as they get outbid, without incurring the loss of their rewards. The question is, how to detect when a bid is an original high-bid, as opposed to a re-bid, or if not caring for that, how to encourage people not to bid on the first day some miniscule bid, and then snipe.

Basically, if there is a high-bid on the first day, and ebay bids for the person, it can be noticed when the bid was placed. As such, even if another person snipes and ebay bids the final bid for the first person, it may look like another snipe, but the bid history will show it to be an early bid, based on the less then one-second response to the snipe. However, if the person put in a low bid, and then responded to a 30-second snipe, this would look like another snipe. Basically, how can it be told when a person bids twice, using the first to make the second a winner, and still be elligible for the rewards?

I still need to dwell on that one.

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Distinguishing Behavior (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118064)

This looks like an interesting system. It would certainly motivate me to bid earlier. However, you do come to the nub of the problem at the end. How do you distinguish between a legitimate early bidder who files a very late bid to protect his earlier bid, and a sniper who files an early bid to legitimize later sniping behavior? I comes down to motive. If it were an item that I really wanted, I would bid early, but I would also watch for late bidding. Even if I were the high bidder, I would likely put in a bid of $10 (at least) more at the last minute just to protect my earlier bid. If there were active late bidding, I would be bidding right up to the end.

So the question is how you distinguish motive. Which I don't think is possible. Under your plan, you do get the early bids that you want, and you punish those who engage in only sniping.

I do know that you can end an auction early. You might consider adding "This auction may be ended one to two days before the posted end time" to your auction description. You don't have to always do that, but it would add some uncertainty to the sniper's assessment. I'm not sure how eBay feels about early ends, though. Particularly as I would guess that it negatively impacts their revenue. Your discount plan would not (you would have to pay their percentage on the total amount before discount), but early ends would cut off the late bidding which tends to drive up prices. Ending five minutes early would cut off the snipers fairly effectively, but I'm not sure how practical it would be.

Anyway, I'm interested to see how this works out.

Re:Distinguishing Behavior (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118361)

Cutting off early is nice, though it makes a flurry of bids impossible, which is something I would encourage. You mentioned the "open bid", and i am for allowing that.

Plus, as closing the auction early break the rules, per se, it may not bode well for many bidders who take comfort in the normal running of things. Plus, ebay may mind.

Anyway, I'm interested to see how this works out.

I ought to post any outcomes. BTW, posted this [] in in Ebay's Seller Central.

Defeat of system (1)

GoRK (10018) | more than 10 years ago | (#9121077)

johndiii points out the obvious flaw in this system is that in order to easily defeat it, you just make 2 (or 3) bids..

First of all, a sniper will determine what he is absolutely willing to pay. Let's say for an item you are selling, this is $100 ($3.50 shipping charge inclusive).

Sniping works because early bidders become complacent when they are the high bidder, and they do not use the proxy bidding system to win the auctions. The mentality is "Well the high bid is 10 and i have a proxy of 20 and nobody else has bid, so there is no need to increase my proxy -- even though I am willing to pay 30"

Here is how to snipe your auction rules:

The "sniper" places the opening bid on the first day of the sale, discounting his purchase by $33.50. ($30 discount plus shipping discount)

The "sniper" then waits until the end of the auction and places a "snipe" at $133.50. Due to your 'discounts' the sniper can afford a much larger snipe.

If you only get the $30 discount if you bid on the day before the auction closes, it'd be a simple matter to add a 3rd bid to attain the proper discount. All of these bids can be programatic "snipes" made at the last instant to obtain your discounts.

Not only is the system fairly easy to defeat, it actually would make intelligent snipe bidders more likely to beat the 'recreational' bidding that you want to occur. The complxity of the rules you set forth would probably also discourage 'legitimate' bidding. It is a big turn-off for bidders to participate in an auction where the seller is changing the rules.

The bottom line, again, is that the only way to win an auction is to place a proxy bid for the absolute maximum amount you are willing to pay. It stands to reason that later bids will have less of a chance to motivate people to outbid them. Bidders generally are not out there to have fun. They are out there to get the best deal they can.

All the Anti-Sniping you need (1)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118208)

Is in the auto-bidding that Ebay happens.

I can't say this enough folks, Ebay is not like a regular auction where you bid and have to rebid for yourself. There is a system where Ebay will bid for you up to a certain amount already, but won't charge you more than just enough to beat out the next highest bid.

I've looked with shock and dismay at snipers. Often times I see them bidding three or four times in the last five minutes. And I think to myself, "why go through all that work?". If they were willing to pay $50 for the item, why not say so in the first place?

Whenever I bid, I bid exactly as much as I am willing to pay once, and I put it in early. For starters, it discourages snipers. People will not put an item on their watch list if it is already going for a bit of money. And even better, I might lose! And then pick it up cheaper the next time around.

Ever since I implimented that strategy I've saved money on Ebay. And I've seen litterally dozens of so-called snipers lose, and the sense that they *thought* they had outsmarted the system but were outsmarted by the system gives me an added smile to my purchase.

Re:All the Anti-Sniping you need (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118428)

Many snipers do it because other people don't bid total price. Also, if noone bids on an auction, it doesn't encourage even more bidding.

As a seller, though, i have more power over the auction, and i would rather promote what i consider to be more social and fun bidding behavior.

Re:All the Anti-Sniping you need (1)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118636)

Yeah, I'm thinking of posting a sig on my ebay auctions that says...

"Anyone who tells you to wait until the end just wants to beat you and still pay less for this item."

if noone bids on an auction, it doesn't encourage even more bidding.

Correct. But a low price on an item encourages people to put it on their watch list, and thus encourages even more bidding.

Re:All the Anti-Sniping you need (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118668)

That is the one drawback of this idea.

Though, remembering that the user gets $30 off the final price is also exciting.

Why is it a problem? (1)

turg (19864) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118316)

On eBay, the best strategy is to use the proxy bidding -- bid once, your maximum acceptable price. This is pretty easy to figure out and I think almost everybody gets it. Sniping only works if (all of) the other bidders don't understand this. If the other bidders know how to use eBay (i.e. understand proxy bidding), then sniping provides no advantage and is in fact a disadvantage (as snipers tend to lowball rather than bid the maximum they are willing to pay -- and they don't have time to bid again).

In any case, if one loses an auction, it's because someone else was willing to pay more. If the loser didn't bid the maximum they were willing to pay, then it's their own fault that they lost. If they did bid the maximum and still lost, then they would have lost regardless of the timing of the winner's bid.

Re:Why is it a problem? (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118477)

I think it is anti-social and simply not fun. Regardless of it being a marketplace, i think it is also a social arena and should be fun. Or at least if i sell i can try to promote those feelings.

Re:Why is it a problem? (1)

turg (19864) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118624)

To tell you the truth, I think fun is exactly the reason that most people do it. There's not much other reason.

I have on occasion used sniping software. Not because I wanted to place a last-minute bid but to make use of the batch feature that most of them offer. e.g. I want a widget and I am willing to pay at most $5.00. There are four identical widgets currently for sale on eBay. I give the software the auction numbers and my bid and it will bid on the one that ends first and if I loose that one it will bid on the second, etc. This is especially useful when the items are all from the same seller and were uploaded at about the same time so they each end a minute or so after the previous one. When bidding manually it's tricky if not impossible to bid, check the results, and find and bid on the next auction in time.

Re:Why is it a problem? (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9118701)

Well, we must define "fun" differently. :)
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