Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting Auctions Closed Early

Recently, a copy of the Nancy Drew book, The Bungalow Mystery, with a first printing dust jacket was listed in an eBay auction. This dust jacket is the one that lists to Bungalow Mystery on the front flap and is very scarce. Refer to this old blog post for more information.


I immediately bid on the auction as soon as I saw it. Someone else bid on the auction the next morning. I did not warn the seller about the possibility of buyers tricking him or her into closing the auction early. I thought that the early bids might be enough to give the seller a clue that people were interested in the auction. I was wrong.

The auction was ended and relisted with a Buy It Now of $300.

The book was purchased within just of few minutes of the relist by a new user ID, thus making it impossible to identify the buyer by the feedback number.

Several of us have been communicating back and forth about this book. Apparently, the seller thought that the book wouldn't sell for much, which is why the offer was accepted. The seller suggested that people bid early if they are interested. Well...

I thought that was what two of us did. In my experience, most eBay auctions currently get very few or no early bids. Any auction that immediately gets two bids must be of interest to buyers. It makes no difference whether the bid stays low; at least two people are already interested.

Many of us have had bad experiences when bidding early. I used to bid my maximum early in cases when I was unable to be home to snipe, before I began using eSnipe. One time a knowledgeable collector spent an hour picking at my bid and finally gave up at just under my maximum. I would have saved a lot on that book by not bidding until the end. I never understood why he spent an hour bidding on the auction.

Back years ago when IDs were not hidden and before I sniped, I had a stalker who would bid on items I had found. That person would "grudge bid" by bidding an outrageous amount just to make me pay a high price for the item. I got tired of it and decided to bid lower than usual on purpose to catch him at it. He won the auction. I received a second chance offer from the seller, since apparently my stalker was unwilling to pay what he had bid. I refused the second chance offer, even though the price was within what I was willing to pay.

For those reasons and others, I always bid my maximum at the very end of an auction. I usually do not place early bids, except for books like the first printing of Bungalow Mystery. In those cases, sellers need to know that the people who make private offers are not the only interested buyers.

eBay hides the user IDs of winning bidders on the bidding history page, but the user IDs do display when feedback is left. If you take a look at the feedback of the seller of the Bungalow Mystery book and view the feedback left for others, you will be able to find the buyer's user ID.

Coincidentally, this person also bought the first printing Old Clock that a seller was trying to sell for $8,500. The seller accepted the buyer's offer of $4,000. For reference, the book was the one mentioned here, and the seller was the person who bought the book for just under $4,500. He sold it at a loss.

Whoever the buyer is, this person knows what these books are worth, since he or she paid $4,000 for Old Clock. The buyer purchased this first printing of Bungalow Mystery at a huge bargain and at the seller's expense. Even though the dust jacket is in bad condition, the auction probably would have closed at $1,000 or higher.

This is why sellers should always refuse a private offer and should instead tell the buyer to bid that amount. After all, if the private offer were such a good offer, then surely it would be enough to win the auction. The reason people make private offers is to get the seller to sell the item for less than what the auction will bring.


Paula said...

I can relate, Jennifer! It's upsetting and frustrating when you have your eye on an auction and it's sold out from under you like this. I guess most of us know the feeling from experience, unfortunately. Many times the auction is simply cancelled and I think the book is probably sold off-ebay, so we don't even have a chance to identify the schemer.

To me, this practice creates a sad situation for several reasons:

1) the inexperienced seller is conned into selling his or her book for a small fraction of its real worth

2) honest buyers / collectors are deprived of the opportunity of bidding on and possibly winning a desirable book, fair and square

3) the behind-the-scenes buyer is subverting the system, certainly refusing to participate in fair play, and IMO, acting in an unethical manner.

Not nice! :(

Celine S. said...

Hi, I have a question for you. I have a copy of The Bungalow Mystery that is a 1930 print edition. Do you know how much it would be worth by any chance?

Celine S. said...

Hi, sorry to bug you again lol. I think the book I have may not be as old after all. I did a little more research. The book I have has the black silhouette figure on the front of Nancy and the title. On the inside pages there are blue and white pictures (a lot of little ones). From what I read, these books were made from the 50's-70's. Do you know any more about it? Thanks!

Jennifer White said...

It sounds like one of the tweed books from the later 1950s. The book is probably worth around $5.00.