eBay auction madness and how to avoid it

CityhopperOver the weekend I spotted something I really wanted on eBay. These aircraft are very familiar to me and I see them often, KLM likes to deploy a variety depending on demand and time of day to BHX and they regularly fly overhead.  A Fokker 70 was just what I’d been looking for.

The auction started easily enough, and frankly I expected it to top out at around £30 ($44)which was what I was prepared to pay, bearing in mind it was a 2008 Gemini and not without several small flaws not untypical of Gemini at the time.

Well the bidding soon shot up to £21, then £25, then £27. At this point I spotted no less than two others suddenly appear in the UK from different sellers in different locations, both priced at £44.95 on buy it now. I decided that I’d spring for £45 for the one I was bidding on and that would be that. If I lost it, I’d buy one of the others.

The bidding shot past to £46. I gave up. Then it went to £47, £52, £56, and finally sold for £62 ($91.17 US).

The finishing price
The finishing price £62

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen. I bought my much sought after (if horribly inaccurate colour wise) Gemini labelled but Phoenix built Thomson 788 for just £24. It was poorly scheduled by the seller for a 10:13am finish and wasn’t listed brilliantly either. At the same time another one got caught in a frenzy of bidding and sold for £68 – $100US the same night.  They regularly get caught in these bidding frenzies where two or three bidders just refuse to give up no matter the cost – or real value.

You could use the much quoted Keynesian phrase “something is only worth what someone will pay for it”. That may be true if you’re talking about massed produced commercial goods – like an iPhone or iPad, but it’s not true when these bidding frenzies get under way. They’re more about pride and gamesmanship. The chances of you ever getting that money back are minimal if you tried to sell it anytime in the next 12 months and probably longer.

And you could have bought it for so much less
And you could have bought it for so much less


These bids are frankly an insult to your own intelligence. The only winner is the seller and I can tell you I’ve spoken to more than a few people who have suffered a sharp attack of buyers remorse once they’ve had time to realise what they’ve done.

So how do you avoid it?

Three key ways to improve keeping the price real and your wallet not cheated out of money by your own weakness!

1) Only watch the item – never bid on it until the last possible moment – you need 15 seconds to ending and if you haven’t pressed the final confirmation by then it’s probably too late, so be ready. Try and be there to bid “live” – only bid your highest bid before hand if you really cannot be online when the auction ends. If you bid early you’ve played your hand and others will creep up the price until they pass you, then you go back and bid again and your caught up in a bidding war – where does it end?

2) ONLY bid what you would actually pay, no more, no less. Stick to this principle like glue and you won’t go wrong. There will be another, another time. In the words of the Klingon’s, “patience, vigilance”. Everything comes to he who waits, plans and pays attention.

3) Look out for the postage charges and read the model description. Sellers get really ticked off by lazy people who don’t read the description then e-mail questions that are already answered. Postal services globally differ, I refuse to send outside of the US/Canada and European Union because it can often be so unreliable, so don’t bid on something the seller won’t post to you.

So keep to those rules, pay promptly, and enjoy, don’t suffer from buyers remorse and wish you’d never paid twice what you could have got it for by searching properly. Simples.

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