Risks of buying with Best Offer Private Auctions

  1. I recently sent a Best Offer on a Balenciaga for $830 fully expecting a counteroffer which I got for $880. I already knew about the higher shipping cost but had neglected to consider the added cost of insurance, customs fees, and declared amounts. The seller offered to send it to me marked as "gift" and NOT insured, that way, I would not have to pay customs. Well, I did a bit of research and wasn't sure marking it as a "gift" to avoid customs was such a good idea if I wasn't going to have insurance. I counteroffered her counteroffer to make it include express international delivery of an additional $40. At the same time we were communicating by private email regarding the risks of going without insurance and which carrier would be used.

    Then the seller got an offer from another would-be buyer and she emailed me that this person offered her $950 which was much higher than mine. She added if I sent in another offer for $960 + $50 shipping, she'd let me have the bag. Well, from my offer of $920 ($880 + $40 shipping), this was a big jump and there was also the risk of being hit with a customs fee so I declined the $1010 offer because it was way above the average completed auctions price for this type of bag though it was still below new retail. I did it politely and thanked her for giving me an opportunity to send in another best offer and she said she understood.

    Then I checked the final Best Offer price given by my competition. It was for $900, not $950 as I had been led to believe. I also noticed that she had received 2 offers since mine and my guess is that both were from the same buyer being told how much was needed to beat my offer though I can't tell because it was a private auction and buyer ID's were hidden. Bottom line, at worst case scenario, I could have paid $1010 plus possible $100 customs instead of my original hope of getting it for about $920 total had I taken the bait.

    I now assume by going with a Private Listing with ID's hidden and Best Offers set up to not reveal the actual offer amounts, this seller was just playing buyers against each other with inflated offer prices to get both of us to go higher and higher. While I believe a seller is entitled to get the best offer she can, I think buyers should be very wary that this format unlike a regular auction allows the seller to lie to tempt us to offer more. And if a seller is willing to lie about one thing, they may lie about other things as well such as the condition of the bag, or not having to worry about customs fees.

    Let me reiterate to all sellers, I'm not saying that there is anything illegal about this practice because its obviously part of the Best Offer game, but it does add to bad feeling when a potential buyer finds out they've nearly been played the fool. And buyers should be extra cautious when a seller says that another buyer is offering such-and-such amount because it may not be true. I say, stick to your researched fair amounts and don't be swayed by the desire to beat the competition, there will always be other good bags.

    Sad to add, in my case, this seller was a fellow tPFer and as a result, making that claim in a listing means nothing more to me than another advertising gimmick.
  2. Thanks for the warning, this practice of lying etc, IMO is unethical. Sorry you lose the bag but glad you didn't agree to pay more, I'm sure another one will pop up soon.
  3. Wow - So much for me to learn still - Thanks for the warning and very sad to hear it was a fellow tPFer.
  4. This have nothing to do with the auction been private. I also list some of my items private to protect my buyers from unsolicitated mail (like the sellers of fake items in China) And sometimes I just don't use private listing. Either way you can't see the other offers. You can go to any item that is not private, check the offers page and you will never see the $$$ amount just the list of buyers.
  5. My auctions are always set up to be private. I set it up once and I forgot to undo it! I din't know it woud make people not want to bid.
  6. I am purely a buyer on eBay too - this is good informtion to know for the future. Thanks for posting it.
  7. Excellent advice! :tup: Researching your prices beforehand saves a lot of heartache. If someone else makes a better offer than you, you can reassure yourself they paid too much, and you'll just sit tight and wait for another one at a better price.

    And yes, sad to hear it was a PFer doing that ... :sad:
  8. That's why I always go in an extensive search in completed listings to see around how much others are spending. Is sad that they are tricky sellers like that.
  9. True, I knew when I made my title that "Best Offer" and "Private Auctions" were separate issues. Since I've already talked about the Best Offer, let me go into problems for the buyer with Private Auctions. First, my reason for mentioning the latter was that in this case, by having the 2 methods together it prevented me from knowing for sure if the 2 offers made after mine were coming from the same person. If it was the same person, I would know with certainty (instead of just guessing), that the seller told the person what it would take to beat my bid. And then after that person's 2nd offer, when the seller came around to me to increase my offer - I'd know this person was really playing us against each other.

    Another thing which even though eBay doesn't allow and is unavailable during a Private Auction but can be helpful to the buyer is that other eBayers can warn a bidder when they have unknowingly bid on a fake or there's something not quite right about an auction. Again, yes, this does open the bidder to unsolicited offers but I've been on the receiving end of some well timed advice too. And if a seller feels they've lost a customer to a criminal, if the price and the item is really good, there will be other buyers, if not, you've miscalculated the market value for the time being. Also, its this type of newbie that may later haunt you by buyer's remorse and non-paying bidder issues so you might be lucky to lose them. eBay may like to advertise they are protecting bidders but IMHO a fool will be tricked one way or another. I think this is eBay's way of preventing outside sales that deprive them of fees. Intelligent bidders can always double check with the seller if they are warned about an auction.

    Now you might say reporting to eBay about the problem is good enough but since eBay doesn't tell the bidders why an auction is pulled, the bidder can go right on making the same mistake on another listing. Another way of looking at it is to say that Private Auctions makes it hard for eBayers to educate each other. Yes there are Reviews and Guides but only if you know that you don't know. Besides, who has the time to go through all of this. I don't want to read pages of info just to get to the one sentence that is relevant to my bid. With bags, fortunately, there is this site :tpfrox:for authentication but there are plenty of newbie eBayers who don't know until someone tells them and in a Private Auction, you can't advise them.

    Here's a touchy subject...But what if it wasn't an authenticity issue, like a cheaper price by a legitimate seller such as a physical store like TJ Maxx or online sites like Amazon and Nordstrom? What if a fellow eBayer was able to contact you and tell you about it? Again, an intelligent bidder will first take full precaution that the message is not a scam, but if their own research satisfies them that the outside info is helpful, then they will welcome the info. I repeat, a fool will trip up on their own regardless of Private Auction or not until they learn better, I did. :sweatdrop: I remember being really upset when i bought a lamp for $125 + $30 shipping (lamps are heavy) when it was being sold at Walmart for $39 (I was such a newbie to eBay at the time, the fool needing intervention:push:smile:. Most sellers do offer better prices than stores or have hard to find items for collectors so they shouldn't really have to worry unless they are bent on getting way above the market price and use the Private Auction to prevent such warnings from getting through.

    Private Auctions (especially in regular auctions) also prevent buyers from recognizing shill bidders and may just help a seller to boost feedback illegally since its much easier when the hidden ID's allow them to not have to open false accounts.

    Private Auctions prevent buyers from researching their competition to guess how high they might go or more important if they tend to snipe at the last minute. I think, for the buyer, transparency is more beneficial than not.

    So is there a time when Private Auction would really benefit the buyer? What comes to mind is very expensive investment purchases like real estate, fine art, anything over $10,000. Scam artists operating at this level would be serious criminals and their methods would be so sophisticated you'd really want to stay hidden.