EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 898 - November 27, 2004     1 of 4

eBay User Goes on Malicious-Bidding Rampage Saturday

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A newly registered eBay user went on a bidding rampage on Saturday, putting $10,000 bids on auctions for Jeeps, Fords, Hondas and other vehicles. The Singapore bidder won 80 of the 81 auctions he bid on over the course of several hours, including a $10,000 Suzuki motorcycle.

Last week, eBay announced that they were putting a new system in place to limit buying activity by newly registered users But the new system did not prevent a zero-feedback user from making the 80 purchases in rapid-fire succession. By Saturday afternoon, the user ID of "newtonfred200" was suspended after receiving 4 negative feedback from sellers.

The problem of malicious bidding on eBay has been worsening in the past few months. One frustrated seller created a page on to begin to document the problem.

The people behind the malicious bidding activity are often attempting to perpetrate scams against the eBay sellers. They send letters to the sellers asking them to accept cashiers' checks in an amount thousands of dollars over the winning price. The scam, known as the Counterfeit Cashier's check scheme, attempts to get unsuspecting sellers to wire-transfer thousands of dollars overseas, only to have to refund the entire amount to their bank when the forgery is discovered weeks later.

Several eBay sellers say they are outraged that eBay earns listing fees from sellers on these listings. AuctionBytes is awaiting eBay's answer as to what, if anything, sellers can do to be refunded for listing fees for listings ended by malicious bidders. (eBay does not refund listing fees for items purchased by "regular" Non-Paying Bidders.)

eBay does allow sellers to file Non-Paying Bidder reports (now called "Unpaid Items") to receive credits for eBay's Final Value Fees when buyers don't pay for their items. But one seller was upset last week when she claimed she received a letter from eBay warning her she had filed too many requests for credits ( eBay's policy does not say there is a limit to the number of credits sellers can file. But users say eBay could and should do more to prevent non-paying bidders and malicious bidding in the first place.

Last week, a prominent eBay PowerSeller posted an auction to protest eBay's lack of bidder-qualification requirements. Bruce Hershenson of is hoping eBay will do more to ban bad users (both buyers and sellers) from its site. He posted an auction for a pizza with the words, "eBay Qualify your bidders" on November 17 ( (eBay has since removed the auction from its database.)

The auction description read in part, "I (and many of the other major sellers on eBay) constantly beg eBay to consider qualifying their bidders, asking for verifiable contact information (like a driver's license) and requiring all bidders to have credit card or bank account on file."

Hershenson says he has rung up $2,174,162.88 in sales on eBay in 2004. He told AuctionBytes in an email, "I am just about ready to quit selling there," citing eBay's refusal to qualify bidders as one of the main reasons.

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

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