Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Dec 22 2012 19:46:54

eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay relaxed a provision of its shill bidding policy - friends, family and acquaintances are now allowed to bid on a seller's auctions in certain circumstances. eBay's new shill-bidding policy states, "Shill bidding happens when anyone - including family, friends, roommates, employees, or online connections - bids on an item with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability."



The old policy prohibited friends, family and acquaintances from bidding on your auctions at all: "If people you know want to buy your item, they should do so in a way that doesn't involve bidding." That's because, according to eBay, "people the seller knows might have information about the item that other members don't, which might give them an unfair advantage."



This is a major shift in how eBay treats shill bidding, which is a crime in many states. In fact, last year, eBay briefly banned "online friends" from bidding on a seller's auctions, leaving sellers with large followings on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in a quandary.

Also surprising is the fact that eBay never announced the change in its shill bidding policy. We researched the issue after an EcommerceBytes reader noticed the change on the eBay policy pages. A search on a major search-engine reveals that blogger "cappnonymous" noticed the change in June. He noted that the timing of eBay's policy change seemed to coincide with an incident involving the owner of an eBay drop-off store who participates in a reality TV program.

On the surface, eBay's new policy makes sense - just because someone knows a seller doesn't mean they're in cahoots with that seller to raise the bidding on his or her auctions. But as with everything related to eBay, it's how the policy will be enforced that's the sticking point. Sellers remain just as susceptible to accusations of shill bidding - how will eBay be able to determine the intent of the bidder?

In fact, the new policy makes no mention of how it will determine intent.

Further muddying the issue is the fact that eBay's help pages serve up a contradictory message about shill bidding: "Shill bidding means bidding for an item while holding more information about it than other members could - for example, if you're a family member, roommate, or the seller's employee. We don't allow shill bidding because it can falsely increase an item's price or desirability. Make sure your listing follows our guidelines. If it doesn't, it may be removed, and your buying and selling privileges could be restricted."

Many people are bound to see the policy shift as a negative, since actual shill bidding drives prices up. But others will see it as a positive, assuming eBay enforces it consistently.

The EcommerceBytes reader who informed us of the policy change wrote, "This is a good change for our business, because we have had several instances where we suspended from eBay for 10 days or even 30 days because some competitor would report us, knowing that many of our sucessful bidders KNOW me because I ran a retail store for 10 years, and are from the same city thus violating the rule against friends bidding. Or look at an item at a coin show in person, and thus become "someone with more knowledge than the general public has.""

We asked eBay for comment on Friday, they did not get back to us by press time.

Comments (51) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 24 14:22:10 2012

We all know who the true shills are AT eBay.  Just sayin'.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: kbk This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 14:22:13 2012

To add to Philip's comments:

One has only to look at the relists after a 'buyer' has won them, as in the case with ''she who must not be mentioned''.  The same bidder who WON the first auction bids on the relists.  Who/what/why/how? There is no reasonable explanation for this except to drive up the price.  And there are hundreds (probably more in the thousands/tens of thousands) of these relists/bidders in that seller's history.  Also worth noting are the number of bid cancellations then the item is relisted.  At the same amount, no change in listing and yes, the same bidders. Completely blatant shilling, IMO.  

Yes, some innocent sellers are getting hit with accusations of shilling when it's not. Those situations do not number in the hundreds. Nor do they involve repeated relists with the same IDs bidding.  I have observed  thousands (yes, *thousands*) of these auctions with the same loyal bidders.

This latest move by ebay is nothing more than an attempt to corrupt an already corrupted system.  The almighty dollar rules.  Corporations are NOT people, they are money makers.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Dec 24 15:20:49 2012

@erratic*attic,

If indeed eBay’s Best Match default search gives precedence to auctions that receive early bids (who bids early—other than the seller’s shills or other sellers’ shills diluting their “% with” statistic—and the utterly naïve buyer, of course?), that is simply one more demonstration of the utter corruption and/or simple incompetence of eBay’s management/programmers …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 18:07:38 2012

They are SO DESPERATE FOR BIDS that they will even accept bids from SHILLS.
NOW dishonest sellers will go CRAZY. Smart DISHONEST SELLERS can now have FRIENDS MAKE OFFERS- Which BOOSTS the item in search- every DISHONEST seller will now feel EMBOLDENED to have their friends and family to do low ''Offers'' to get a BOOST and they will let the offer LAY for a few days to increase exposure on THAT item- do it will ALL OF YOUR ITEMS and POOF- YOU ARE AT THE TOP OF BEST MATCH.
Hold on folks......
Mass Howler

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: erratic*attic This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 19:06:50 2012

@Phil

Yes, that is what is happening. Shill bidding has always been a problem for honest sellers...lower views, less bids, less money for new stock. You just can't compete.

Anyway, enough fretting for now.
Happy Holidays Phil and everyone! Let's hope for a better 2013.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: tc This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 23:06:51 2012

Shill bidding not only has the potential increase auction prices, it has the potential to increase ALL prices. When doing researching for product pricing, it doesn't matter whether the completed item data came from auctions or fixed price listings.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: tc This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 23:11:58 2012

If shill bidding over the Internet is Felony Wire Fraud, shouldn't the Feds be knocking on Ebay's doors instead of the little seller trying to sue Ebay?

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 23:44:20 2012

I grew up in brick and mortar auctions houses---actually one was an old white clapboard church but lets not get too technical here!

In our little world "Shill" bidding was when some person either working for the "House" or for a competitor bid --usually from a position in the back of the house---and then dropped out at the last possible second after they helped drive the price UP.  We also call this "Selling to the walls" if the unscrupulous auctioneer is "taking bids" from an invisible source.  

This is considered EXTREMELY BAD FORM in the auction world and if you are caught in an honest House you WILL be escorted into the willing hands of the police.  

Scrupulous consigners will NOT use an auctioneer who uses these sorts of tactics and savvy buyers won't go to these type places either.

I have however sat right next to people I KNOW and have been engaged in BIDDING WARS with them---of course since any parties bidding EXPECT to PAY when they WIN this is NOT "shill" bidding.  

And I have SOLD items right out of my auction SEAT to competition--and I have sold items on ebay that have been picked up at my house or delivered to local people---this is ALSO NOT SHILL BIDDING.

I just purchased a snow suit from some one who happened to be fairly local to me--which I did notice when I found her listings--and after I ASKED if she would agree to a LOCAL PICK UP I bid on her items.  Is THIS inside info?   If we ask a question and the seller CHOOSES to NOT post it under the questions for seller section---do WE now have INSIDE INFO?  

I think that it is not what info we might think we have about an item it is what we DO with that info that seperates the sheep from the goats here.  

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Tue Dec 25 10:24:23 2012

Meh - auctions are dead anyways.  I completely ignore them - and haven't bid on one in over 5 years.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Tue Dec 25 11:16:55 2012

I can understand that neighbors, friends, co-workers, even your pets can bid in a fund raising auction, but in this eBay policy isn't anywhere that exception.

@erratic*attic agree both sellers and buyers will be affected.

It will be interesting how this new liberal policy will affect feedback.

Never to forget:

eBay seller faces £50,000 fine for auction fixing (20 April 2010)
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/05/ebay_shill/

Do
es
eBay Effectively Fight Shill Biddin (July 6 2010)
http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/abblog/blog.pl?/pl/2010/7/127
8465003.html

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 25 15:00:16 2012

This whole thing STINKS and Phil Cohen is correct (he always has been).
Ebay is the worlds biggest facilitator of retail FRAUD on the planet.
The integrity of auctions must be preserved or ebay will fail- this is a FACT.
Integrity, transparancy, Honesty.
These are OUR attributes and they are the OPPOSITE of our masters.
Mass Howler- Cars to core is going to prop them up for ANOTHER YEAR- WHEN WILL THIS END??

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: AC_in_Mich This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 25 20:27:17 2012

What I see as the most telling point is Philip talking in his shill bidding expose about a buyer with ebay user name of juliebeanyz  - guess what, she is STILL buying 100 % from eDropoff, months after the fact.  If that isn't a big ''thumb in the nose'' at us, I don't know what is!!!

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: Green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 26 02:34:14 2012

This the EBAY Corri McFadden Rule?

Her cases remain active, and she's fighting the antiSLAPP motions.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Dec 26 04:19:47 2012

@Green,

Good, I can't see how she can win that case. I only hope that her attorney's fees bankrupt her; this blatant fraudster and her criminal facilitator, eBay, should both be in prison ... and soon I hope ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Dec 26 04:39:55 2012

Now, why would a James Foster from PayPal, San Jose, California, want to be a "friend" of mine on facebook?

What could he possibly learn by being a friend of mine on facebook that he has not already leant from my criticism of PreyPal at http://bit.ly/NFqjmp

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Wed Dec 26 08:30:46 2012

@Philip Cohen, I'm sure isn't for a date.  

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 26 14:51:54 2012

Very INTERESTING Phil- You be sure to COME BACK and tell us what he wants????
Notouchycorriemcfadden?
Ina, PLEASE DO A STORY on Edrop off corrie mcfadden- it would be most APPRECIATED.
Lets dig into this.
Mass Howler

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Dec 26 17:04:18 2012

@Massachusets,

I think that I will just leave him on the outside as there really is little of value or even of interest to strangers on the inside ...

Regardless, what a strange request; maybe he simply forgot that his request indicates that he is a PreyPal employee ... Then, that would probably be par for the course for anyone working for the eBafia ...

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Wed Dec 26 21:08:22 2012

I'm still waiting for some examples of people here crying about being suspended because a "neighbor" bid in an auction.  

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift   eBay Relaxes Shill Bidding Provision in Major Policy Shift

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Dec 26 21:24:33 2012

@elpereles,

I think that you are going to wait a long time, so don’t hold your breath … I suspect the simple fact is that they have suspended for bidding on their own stuff and are now trying to put forward one of these absurd reasons to explain same; McFadden tried it too; and it had nothing to do with driving up the price; her staff really, truly, really, honestly, … did genuinely want to buy all those items ... LOL

I suppose that if by some remote coincidence a seller and bidder had the same IP address (working out of the same internet café, or business network), a misjudgment could occur; but how likely is that? Frankly, if some of these excuses where not so pathetic, they could be considered comical …

Click to view more comments
1 2 3  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.