What's the point of auction with reserved price?

Tothwolf tothwolf at concentric.net
Mon Nov 20 09:24:46 CST 2006

On Mon, 20 Nov 2006, William Donzelli wrote:

> There are plenty of times, especially with something that is either 
> really obscure (low demand due to not many potential buyers) or fairly 
> common (commodity items) when starting an auction too low ends up in 
> failure. Sure, two people can get into a bidding war, but often the 
> bidding war is just a bunch of smoke if one or more of the players are 
> bottom feeders. There are plenty of bottom feeders at any auction, live 
> or online.

True. This is why I tend to prefer a realistic starting bid for my items.

Take the M100 cables I made. They cost me about $12 to make, just in 
parts. I started one at $15, so even if it sells for the starting amount, 
I'm not going to be at a loss, even after eBay and Paypal both deduct 
their fees. Now that doesn't really cover the labor, and the tools to make 
it were also expensive (I can't afford cheap tools...), but in this 
*particular* case, I'm just making them as a hobby and as a service to 
other M100 owners. (And on that note, if anyone on the list needs a longer 
cable or a different ribbon cable made, drop me an email.)

>> With a reserve, many will quite early, even if they are only a few 
>> dollors away from the reserve.
> When reserves are not met, no harm done to the seller. A reserve makes a 
> lot of sense when an item does have a market, and it is known that there 
> are people willing to pay a good price, but are not always in the 
> market. If the seller can stand having things not reach auction, but 
> eventually will at a good price - all the better. It is something that 
> many people have to learn when selling - that a string of failures will 
> often end up all the better.

After awhile though, the seller should get tired of paying the listing and 
reserve fees if the item isn't selling :)

>> They just get frustrated.
> But the item sticks in their minds. Collectors tend to forget about many 
> human emotions when the desire to have something overtakes the rest. 
> Often the frustration dies out, and a seller starts to lust for the 
> thing that caused all the problems in the first place. When it comes to 
> higher ticket items, it is often wise to set a high reserve, expecting 
> it not to get hit, just to let people know the item is in the market. 
> This will give many more sellers time to scrape money together for the 
> more realistic sale.

...or the buyer will move on to the next one, possibly paying more for one 
that doesn't have a reserve. I've seen it go down both ways.

>> Sellers also should not start there titles with things like "vintage" 
>> or "rare". The people that will most likely pay a good price already 
>> know how rare an item is and what they should bid for it.
> Some of these words make sense (not the variations on LOOK - this I do 
> not understand). Sure, all the jaded Ebay buyers ignore or filter out 
> such words, but the new potential buyers often do not. Capturing the 
> attention to these new buyers, often people just getting into 
> collecting, is very important for the long term health of a seller. They 
> often become very loyal customers.

I tend to filter and exclude some of the silly keywords myself as I find 
the majority of those listings are generally not worth my time. I'd say 9 
times our of 10 or better, the seller is just trying to hype something up 
for various reasons.

>> I doubt anyone bids on an iten because someone said it was rare.
> People do indeed search for some of these common words if they are new 
> to Ebay or a specific field of collecting.
> There is a point to many of the apparently wasteful or silly things that 
> Ebay sellers do. Those things get positive results. If the results were 
> insignificant or negative, then experienced sellers would not do them.

I've experimented with different techniques over the years myself. For 
some items, the title in all caps does get more attention. For others, it 
just annoys bidders. Offering free shipping can also help sell items, 
especially the small stuff that can go USPS.


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