*UPDATED AGAIN - 4-15-2008 - Please vote YES at the end of this guide, if you felt that it was valuable information....thank you!
Well, eBay has now made ALL auctions, regardless of amount being bid, "private", from the very first bid, making it that much easier for dishonest sellers to manipulate their auctions, by either bidding on their own auctions, or by having their friends/family do the same. I mean, who can tell, since you cannot see the IDs for those bidding.
Keep in mind, however, that many HONEST and LEGITIMATE sellers, especially those selling expensive items, routinely make their auctions PRIVATE (different than what eBay does for auctions automatically), in order to PROTECT you, the BIDDER, from unscrupulous individuals, who either try to contact you for the purpose of selling you a similar or the same item, outside of eBay (Extremely RISKY), or for the purpose of pretending to be the SELLER, making say, a BOGUS second chance offer. These sellers make their auctions private for YOUR safety, and you can tell by their feedback, whether or not you wish to do business with them. I have personally dealt with many such HONEST sellers, and have had excellent results with all!
AGAIN, I strongly suggest that before bidding seriously for any potentially expensive item, YOU WRITE TO THE SELLER, before you bid, and ASK THE SELLER IF THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO SEND YOU THE FULL LIST OF BIDDERS, IF YOU WIN THE ITEM.
That way, you have both the benefit of seeing that you were not manipulated, and furthermore, you now know who the next higher bidders were, should you decide to sell, in the future. If the seller refuses, consider their feedback, and how the communication went, with them, and decide of YOU feel comfortable bidding....if not, simply don't bid, and if you do feel comfortable, by all means go for it!! - End of Update **
I have recently seen an auction where an item that had been bid up rather high, was totally manipulated by a bidder. That bidder WITHDREW their bid, stating something like "cannot contact seller". This bid withdrawal prompted TWO (2) other bidders to withdraw thier bids. The price on the item dropped substantially.
Most likely, others thinking about bidding on this item did not bid, becoming nervous, after seeing this initial bidder withdraw their bid, as this bidder is rather well known.
At the last minute, this bidder jumped back in, with another eBay ID and placed a winning bid - how interesting!
In the end, this bidder won the item for hundreds less than it appears the item would have sold for, had they not played their little BID WITHDRAWAL game.
I spoke with the seller, and was told that he had been contacted by MANY eBay'rs, who all told him that he had been manipulated by this individual, and what was most interesting to me was that the seller told me that THIS BIDDER had been in contact with him during the auction (hence the statement that the bid was withdrawn due to being unable to contact the buyer was untrue, evidently), and equally as interesting (and rather disturbing), was the fact that the contact this bidder had with the seller was for the purpose of offering to buy the item outside of eBay (for about $100.00 more than what he actually paid after bidding and winning under his second eBay name).
So, I guess he could have stated as his reason for withdrawing his bid "the seller refused to sell me the item for $350.00 outside of eBay, so I am withdrawing my bid, to manipulate the auction".
The end result: This eBay'r won the item for potentially $100s less than he would have paid, had the auction not been manipulated. The seller got screwed. The rest of the bidders (and those who might have bid) also got screwed.
BAD FOR YOU, BAD FOR ME, AND BAD FOR A HOBBY!
WHAT TO DO???
If you suspect someone is manipulating an auction, abusing the bid withdrawal process, like this, tell the seller, and tell eBay. If you are the seller, let eBay Trust and Safety know.
Not all bid withdrawals are done for bad purposes........many are quite legitimate. Correcting typographical errors, realizing there is misrepresentation in an auction, really not being able to contact the seller, and the like.
When, however, a bidder does what I saw done, just recently, that bidder is stealing from all of us! BEWARE!
VERY IMPORTANT: Please click the YES button below, if you felt this GUIDE was valuable....so that more eBay'rs will be able to see it, and be aware that this type of activity can happen. Thank you!