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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000066.txt from 2002/05

From: w7wright@-----.net (William Wright)
Subj: [kl] Bad behavior on eBay auctions
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 23:29:22 -0400

Psychology has always been part of auctions. In a 'real' auction, the
_auctioneer_ uses psychology to pressure higher bids out of the audience
--- just as much as the bidders strategize their bids in order to bluff
or discourage competitors.

While shills are illegal in most states, they have been part of auctions
since time immemorial also. One of my childhood traumas was when I was
bidding on a spectrometer. After the auction, I paid and collected
the instrument, and then I sat down in a cafe a few miles away to eat.
I saw my only competitor drinking coffee with the auctioneer. Should I
have told my parents? (I did, and my father said, "You've learned a
cheap lesson. You'll know better next time.")

I had calibrated the instrument a week earlier, and I knew what I was
getting. Usually it's impractical to inspect the merchandise in an
electronic auction. If you agree that you can't make a valid decision
on an instrument without playing it first, then you're gambling. I
gamble sometimes when the stakes are small, but at least you should
understand that this is what you are doing --- gambling. <my
apologies to Dee and Lelia!>

The other difference between electronic and physical auctions is that
the results are influenced partly by the speed of your computer
connection (modem, ISP's server, saturation of ISP's phone lines, and
even eBay's server and operating system).

==!!===!!== But even here, it happens occasionally that the auctioneer
doesn't see who signalled the higher bid first, and thereby you can be
frozen out even though (you feel) you made the highest bid first. This
is similar to being sniped out of a "fair opportunity" to bid. (I lost
a bid on 10,000 wire coat hangers this way once. Please don't ask why
I wanted the coat hangers.)

Cheers,
Bill <who doesn't even look at electronic auction items>

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