|Mon Apr 7 2014 20:52:10|
eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids
By: Ina Steiner
An EcommerceBytes reader says eBay is exposing buyers' maximum bids in emails it sends him (a seller) and forwarded an example. It's a bungle, since eBay is supposed to keep that information private. As eBay explains on its help page explaining "automatic bidding":
- When you place a bid, you enter the maximum amount you're willing to pay for the item. The seller and other bidders don't know your maximum bid.
- We'll place bids on your behalf using the automatic bid increment amount, which is based on the current high bid. We'll bid only as much as necessary to make sure that you remain the high bidder, or to meet the reserve price, up to your maximum amount.
- If another bidder places the same maximum bid or higher, we'll notify you so you can place another bid. Your maximum bid is kept confidential until it is exceeded by another bidder.
The reader, an eBay seller since the 1990s, said he receives emails titled "You Won" that are supposed to be sent only to the buyer. He said he only receives such emails once in a while.
"These emails have the price the buyer left for their top bid. I have never seen anything like this where the seller finds out what the buyer was willing to pay for an straight 7-day auction item... talk about breaking all rules of confidentiality."
If a buyer never bids again from that seller, it may not present much of a disadvantage to the buyer, though it's disconcerting. But in a niche area of collecting where buyers may regularly bid on items from the same seller, it puts them at a disadvantage, since knowing past maximum bids could help the seller strategize on how to raise the ending price for those buyers (higher starting price, reserve price, shill bidding,...).
The eBay emails show the bidder's winning price, the number of bids, the number of competing bids, "Your max bid," and the savings. For example, in the email the seller forwarded, eBay informed the bidder that the price at which they won the auction was "94.29% under your max."
Let us know what you think and whether eBay ever revealed to you your winning bidder's maximum bid amount.