Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

EBay Bidder Tricks

Today I'm going to look at ways bidders use questions to influence sellers.

Like you I get a lot of questions from eBay shoppers. Some questions ask for clarification, some are stupid, and some are traps.

Questions asking for clarification can be simple. They usually point out areas we neglected when writing our description.

Questions like:

  • "Does your shipping charge include insurance?"
  • "What's the size of this item?"
  • "Does this work?"

These clarification questions help us improve our auctions. By anticipating and addressing them when we write our listings, we provide enough information to the highest possible prices. We write better auctions.

I define a stupid question as one that could be answered by reading the auction description and looking at the pictures.

Here's an example:

"Does this have a cord on it?"

This question came from an eBay listing for an electrical appliance described as working with photos showing the cord. There is no need to ask this question.

Questions are also a common way for eBay shoppers to take advantage of unwary sellers.

Here's an example:

"Private:Attn:Terry, I can use your 3 lots of makernameremoved locos and cars for my train layout. I will be gone next week! Will do a Buy Now Sale for all 3 items listed. No bids posted over.99cent. Will do 150.00 for( 3) items# incl.ship to Midwest; Pay Your Fair Price this AM/Send M.O.Email"

This was sent to me 10 hours after the auctions were started. This generous gentleman wanted me to end three auctions, and sell him the items for $150. Plus he wants me to pay shipping.

He's telling me none of the items have been bid over 99 cents. Which is true. I started these three auctions with 99 cent opening bids.

I expected the three auctions to bring $600-700. He's being really generous offering me 25% of the real value.

Note: the total selling price was $833.64 meaning I would have lost over $675 if I'd taken his offer.

These bottom sucking leaches are trying to steal items at a fraction of the price.

Every time I've gotten one of these requests to end my auctions early the items have sold for at least 4 and sometimes as much as 10 times the offer.

Just ignore them. You'd be stupid to take them up on their "generous" offers.

Here's another question by someone with an agenda:

"Hi just a note to let you know the toyauto is not the original. It should be othertoyauto."

This appears to be a helpful piece of advice about a toy train car with a toy automobile on it as a load.

In the case of the auction above the train car is worth about $10. The toy auto is worth about $75. Together they might bring $90.

By telling me the load is not correct this seller is hoping I'll post this information into the auction and scare off other bidders.

I know the load is correct so I can just ignore him.

But you might not know if this "helpful" advice is correct or not.

What can you do?


Look at similar items on eBay. Check Google to see what is available online. Post the question on a discussion board with a link to your eBay auction.

If you are unable to confirm or deny statements made by questioners ignore them.

If it is something that has a material effect cancel the auction and seek expert advice.

I am sure there are other ways eBay users try to take advantage of sellers by asking questions while the auction is running. If you know of any, let me know.


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