Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Apr 7 2014 20:52:10

eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

By: Ina Steiner

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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.




Comments (22) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Apr 7 21:57:58 2014

What else would one expect from the largest apparently untouchable criminal enterprise on the face of the earth?

Transparency when and where there's supposed to be confidentiality/secrecy.

Confidentiality/secrecy when and where there's supposed to be transparency.

Ebafia: where the incompetent co mingles with the with malevolent.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

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

Mon Apr 7 22:01:12 2014

How strange; still nothing eBay does surprises me and this is simply another dose of the usual unprofessionalism from the cretins at eBay; absolutely nothing they do is properly considered before it is launched. Clunkity, clunk, clunk, clunk …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Apr 7 22:57:43 2014

Ming, don't give up. Have faith. EBAYGATE is coming to a news channel near you very, very soon...

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Tue Apr 8 05:26:34 2014

Does their software just "break down" all the time, or is there someone messing it up on purpose.

eBay holds their operation to a lower standard of quality then they expect of their sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: flatlander This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 08:11:27 2014

I get the "You won:" emails for everything sold on auction its a setting somewhere in "My account"... I lost track of where long ago.

At the moment my ebay searches and various other pages are coming back "couldn't connect".

I second "eBay holds their operation to a lower standard of quality then they expect of their sellers". For such a wealthy computer-based organisation they should be ashamed of their systems development procedures. Of course they can just issue an apology for crap service (or not even bother with that) and carry on the just same, no one holds them to account.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: charcorvet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 08:27:10 2014

In all the years my husband has been using my other account to bid, we have NEVER gotten one of these. Don't know whether to be glad or insulted that eBay didn't think we deserved it. LOL

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: RichieC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 09:45:01 2014

Charcorvet,
check your settings ???
could be set to "not receive!"

so their throwing a bone , after instituting the new seller update,

Neutrals == 20% corporate bonuses!

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Apr 8 10:14:05 2014

Other than one auction several months ago, I haven't bought or sold on ebay in years. Now lately they are sending me emails every week about auctions that closed. Do I care? Not in the least, so I delete whatever they are unread, but perhaps I'll read the next one to see what they are sending to a disinterested buyer/seller like myself. Perhaps I too am getting some inside scoop.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 10:24:26 2014

"talk about breaking all rules of confidentiality"
We are surprised?

It sounds like a good way to punish sellers for not getting the maximum possible for their items! (and therefore not giving eBay the maximum FSFs.)  Just wait, they'll start "accidentally" charging us FSFs on the highest bid, NOT what it actually sold for!  Think they won't?  Why not?  They've proved they can screw the seller sideways on every other issue...

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 11:20:39 2014

I have a slow but steady turnover of auction sales, but I have never received someone else's ''You won!'' email intended for the buyer, only the ''Your eBay item sold!'' email intended for the seller. eBay developers do not appear to have any formalized troubleshooting process or peer-review of coding, leading to blunders getting released and then hastily patched later. Hopefully that will get fixed sooner rather than later.

Over in my buying account, I did notice their adding the ''percentage under maximum'' calculation in my ''You won!'' notifications, which struck me as rather pointless, since of course I know darn well what I bid, and I have no way of knowing that percentage ahead of time since I don't know my competitors' maximum bids.

The only purpose I can think of here is to try to nudge bidders into bidding higher, by essentially scaring them via a message saying, for example, ''You only won this by 8% under your maximum.'' Joe Bidder will then resolve to use a higher maximum next time, and if he happens to butt heads with another bidder who's planning the same thing, the price goes up, and eBay's share of the profits goes up too.

As a seller, I want to see higher sales, of course, but a better strategy for that might be to dump the stupid nibble-bidding functionality that's been introduced to the auction pages via the 1-click rebidding mechanism. Too often I'll watch an auction coming down to the final seconds, and here's some numbskull banging away on his 1-click button, wasting valuable seconds in pointless 1-dollar increments while his competitor is twenty bucks higher up the scale.

That's not competitive bidding; it's hobbling the newbies. They need to be taught how to bid a real price and mean it, as opposed to plinking away on a button until he comes out 27¢ higher than his rival, if we all live so long.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: trader_chris This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 11:25:18 2014

Weird... I got probably 30 of these e-mails with the last round of items I sold this past weekend. I didn't even bother looking at them until this article. Interesting to see some of the high bid marks... too bad not everything sold for the max!

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: Eric Saeger This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 13:10:38 2014

@a_c_green:
Nice one.  
I get the sense that the whole place is like 1997, with managers who couldn't program a "Hello World" in any language.  Probably kooshball fights and lots of meetings, like lots and lots of meetings, while Rome burns.  
Probably the only UAT testing that goes on revolves around speeding up deposits to "partner" accounts.

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

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

Tue Apr 8 15:18:23 2014

eBay: where the incompetent mingle with the malevolent.—“Ming”

Beautiful ...

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 8 15:50:00 2014

That may explain lately why I either get outbid or I win for my max bid to the penny.  

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

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

Tue Apr 8 16:48:45 2014

Well, it does save the shill bidding sellers the time and risk of trying to suss out the max bid amount of any genuine bidder, assuming there are amongst all the shills any genuine bidders ...

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Tue Apr 8 17:37:45 2014

As I see it this will show sellers their items could have been purchased at a higher fixed price rather than in the auction format. Selling low or at the opening bid will cause auctions to dwindle to where ebay will no longer have auctions. Seeing item's sell for .99 or 9.99 as opposed to what a seller was hoping to get will discourage listing in the auction format. Auctions have always been a thorn in JD's side. Anyone else see this as one of ebay's end game goals?

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 9 00:47:48 2014

Oh, it's one of those mysterious policy-changing glitches again, and this one automatically writes and sends formatted emails! Wow.

Think of the time we could saved back when I was programming if we had had that cool glitch-generating software that wrote its own code.  

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 9 09:31:07 2014

I got the first one of those ''You Won'' email copies on March 3, this year.  When I got about 1/2 of them vs 1/2 of the ''Enjoy your...'' emails from the batch of about 50 items sold that night, I thought they were changing over to a newer format.  I did notice that the ''You Won'' email were all HTML, whereas I had the ''Enjoy your...'' email copies set as Text only.

What I didn't notice was the fact of the max bid amount buried in the gobbledegook.  Looking now at the very first one I got, I see the bidder won at $52.50, his max bid was $100, and this was on an item that REGULARLY sells similar ones for $15.99, IF I'm lucky - fully 70% of similars go unsold.

I also checked, and found that his bid was a 1st day, one-time bid that stood up to two other bidders eventually nibbling away at the high bid.

Unfortunately, this doesn't give me any useful info on how to get the other similar items to sell in even half that price range.

Interesting to see, and if I would see that particular Buyer back again (maybe they come back twice a year), and IF I was inclined, I could shill bid against what I might guess him to be at.  But, I don't do that kind of crap.  I'll leave the dishonesty for others who have honed it to a fine art (right, Philip?).

Dan

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 9 11:20:20 2014

@flatlander:

> I get the ''You won:'' emails for everything
> sold on auction its a setting somewhere
> in ''My account''... I lost track of where
> long ago.

Are you sure that you have a setting for receiving copies of emails sent to the _buyer_? I know you can tailor what kinds of confirmation emails go to your own account, but I have not seen any setting that lets you see what your buyer is receiving (but stranger things have happened).

Ina, if you're reading this: Any means of getting a comment from eBay about it?

Perminate Link for eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids   eBay Exposes Auction Bidders' Maximum Bids

by: Frank Rockwell This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Apr 10 13:29:17 2014

This would never happen at onlineauction.com.

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