eBay Shill Bidding Advice
This is NOT a guide on How To Shill on eBay. While you may be able to read between the lines to discover how to shill bid on eBay, I recommend avoiding any unethical behavior.
Shill Bidding Defined
Shill bidding is bidding on your own items or having friends bid on your items with the intention of driving up the final prices. This is not as common on eBay as believed, but is more common than it should be.
How Does Shill Bidding Hurt Buyers?
Shill bidding raises the buyer's ending price. It causes buyers to pay more for items than they had too. This extra cost defeats the auction format.
The idea of an eBay auction is to allow the bidders to set the final price. When a seller bids on his own items in order to drive up the price, it's not an auction. It's a criminal offense.
eBay allows sellers the option of using reserve prices and lets the seller set the opening bid amount. Any other influence on the final price by the seller is interference with the auction. (The seller can, and SHOULD, influence the ending price by including great pictures and setting the auction up correctly during the listing process. These listing techniques are explained in other articles on IWantCollectibles and in my Auction Revolution package.)
Should I Shill Bid On My eBay Auctions?
No. When you engage in shill bidding, you risk your reputation, and eBay account. Your buyers are not idiots. They will see common bidders and when you relist items your shills purchased, buyers will notice.
Many Shill bidders spend a lot of extra time trying to squeeze their buyers for a few extra dollars. This time would be better spent on other activities.
Rather than shill bidding, you should spend time writing your descriptions and researching your items to get them into the correct categories. This is fully explained in the Auction Revolution.
Many shill bidders also end up losing money. (Most eBayer's who engage in bid shilling actually lose money. Sure they might capture additional profits on some items, but over the course of hundreds of items, these unethical sellers lose money due to increased eBay fees and higher holding costs.)
Remember, I advocate using eBay as a cash flow tool. You sell on eBay to replenish your cash reserves so you can buy other items for resale.
With bid shilling, you might end up with higher prices on a few auctions, but you will damage your cash flow. This happens because the shill ends up buying items you would have sold to others. Forcing you to list the items on eBay again.
The Penalty for eBay Shill Bidding.
If you are caught shill bidding your eBay auctions, your eBay account will be suspended. eBay tracks bids on completed auctions and captures your ISP number. If someone complains to eBay about suspected bid shilling in your auctions, eBay will investigate and may suspend your account if if you have been guilty of shill bidding. This penalty is not worth the hassle.
How Can eBay Buyers Avoid Shill Bidding?
The easiest way to avoid being a victim of shill bidding is to snipe bid items you want to buy. When you snipe, you bid in the last minute of the auction. There is a complete review of snipe bidding at: eBay Snipe Program Review .
Another way to avoid falling victim to eBay bid shilling is to check the seller's other auctions. Look for bidders who bid only on the seller's items. Look at the seller's completed auctions for items bought by common bidders that have been relisted.
You should always check the seller's other auctions anyway. You might miss something else you would find interesting. See the Free eBay Buying Guide for more tips about buying on eBay. The eBay Buyer's Guide will show you how to search on eBay. There is a link below this article, where you can download the guide free.
Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.