December 11, 2007

I Should Not Start an eBay Business

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:22 pm by Ian

I’m selling off some magic cards on eBay.

Not all of them; just a few that fall in the intersection of “I don’t use” and “worth money.” So I should be low-stress about this. Really, I don’t much care what I get, since I wasn’t using the cards anyway. And, deep down somewhere, I know that the market for such things on eBay is quite efficient. That knowledge is stored alongside the knowledge that 50% of the final price of an eBay item comes in the last 3 minutes of the auction.

Yet it’s all I can do to keep from continually refreshing the listing page. I’ll think of reasons to go visit the site (maybe I’ll find a Christmas present) and—just while I’m there—I’ll quickly check my listings.

Yes! Up $1.56!



  1. Kyle said,

    I’ve never understood the logic behind everyone bidding in the last 3 minutes on ebay auctions. The entire ebay auction system is based on inputting your maximum preferred bid, and then ebay automatically outbidding anyone who doesn’t go higher than you. So if you’re willing to pay up to and including $10 for a magic card, why wait until it has 1 minute left and then bid? Just bid $10 from the get-go, and if someone wants it more, they’ll bid more.

    I remember at one point, my friend Dusten wanted me to buy a dragonball-Z shirt on ebay, or something like that, and since it was only at $5 or so I bid $10 or $15 or something with a few days to go. The next day he calls me “did you see the item you bid on you got outbidded. You should go bid more!”

    Me: “Why? I was willing to pay 15 bucks. Someone outbidded me. I’m still only willing to pay 15 bucks. So that’s that.”

    But I guess most people don’t think the same way I do.

  2. Ian said,

    I used to say the same thing, but after doing a considerable amount of buying and selling on eBay, it’s quite clear why people don’t.

    It’s because other people don’t.

    There’s a lot of psychology that goes into it, but it mostly boils down to

    1. Someone else bidding on an item increases the perceived value of the item.

    2. Most people don’t have an absolutely rigid price that they’re willing to pay. If you say you’re willing to pay $15 for something. Would you really outright refuse if you had a chance to buy it for $15.12? Most people wouldn’t.

    3. Because other people don’t necessarily put their best bid in immediately, bidding at the last second gives you a better chance to beat a buyer who is actually willing to pay more, or to get something for a much lower price than you are willing to pay.

    For an example, my Bazaar went for $130, which is really low. I bet that there were people out there willing to pay more, but they hoped they could get it for less, and someone did.

    I still like the way that some other auction sites run things: They end the auction 10 minutes after the last bid was made (after some deadline). There’s much less incentive to game the system in those auctions.

  3. logtar said,

    I have been considering selling my old cell phone there, but I have never had much luck selling stuff… just buying.

  4. Ian said,

    I sold my broken phone a while ago and got like $35 for it. I was amazed. But, I guess two broken phones for $35 for parts is cheaper than $100-200 for a new phone.

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