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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3068 - May 20, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065    4 of 5

Bid for eBay Coke Formula Not the Real Thing

By Ina Steiner
May 20, 2013

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If you've searched for news about eBay over the past week or so, chances are you've seen the headlines about an eBay listing for the original formula for Coca Cola. An antiques dealer listed the formula with a starting bid of $5 million and a Buy It Now price of $15 million.

The auction ended on May 15 with a Buy It Now purchase, but the listing shows that the bidder has been NARU'ed (Not a Registered User). That's bad news for the seller, though not unexpected - high-profile listings often attract bogus bids. But with all the publicity his auction generated, he may find interested buyers reaching out to him directly.

Was the 1943 formula real? The seller stated in his auction that he didn't guarantee or claim it was the actual formula for Coca Cola. "Even if this formula was 100% accurate in every aspect - as mentioned above - there are only two people in the world that can verify it's (sic) accuracy, and I doubt they will be willing to compromise Coca Cola to acknowledge our exactness. That is why we are selling this as a historic artifact."

Lots of sellers on eBay list collectibles and antiques that they have not authenticated, and that's a double-edged sword. You might be misleading buyers, whether it's intentional or not, but you might end up short-changing yourself if you don't know the item's authenticity and details.

How do you authenticate an item? Hire an appraiser. Here's an article about how to hire an appraiser, and here's an article about finding an appraiser.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the winning buyer of the Coke formula was a teenager, and the seller plans to list the auction again.

There are always people who capitalize on news headlines by posting their own related items on eBay. This happened when Hostess was going out of business and headlines lamented the possible demise of its Twinkies snack cake. Terapeak documented the eBay-Twinkies phenomenon, showing the number of listings shot up as the news picked up steam - but sell-through rates of Twinkie items also rose.

While it may be harder to find a coke formula than Twinkie-related items to list on eBay, the fact that there's a new formula ("new Coke") gives sellers the opportunity to legitimately use the term "original formula" in their listings in the hopes of attracting looky-loos in search of the prized formula.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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