This weekend I placed a bid on an old cassette-format multitrack recorder at ShopGoodwill.com. I was beaten by exactly one dollar. It feels fishy to me. I understand how bid sniping works, I guess, but it feels like the person who won had insider knowledge:
Notice that I bid 43 bucks near the end of the auction, then I got nervous and bid something kind of odd – 107.35. This way, I thought I would be sure to win. It looked like I was going to win and then a bunch of other people put in last-minute bids up to 41.00. And then the winning guy bid exactly one more dollar than my bid – notice above that the “bid amount” and “item price” are the same. He didn’t bid 200 bucks just to ensure a victory, he beat me by one dollar and got it at that price. Now, how on earth did he know to bid 108.35?
Either the Goodwill log above incorrectly states the price of his bid or he actually bid that amount. If it’s the former, they need to fix their website to maintain the appearance of propriety. If it’s the latter, somebody is either a really good guesser or they have insider knowledge. If they are bidding at the last minute based on insider knowledge, then I think that’s probably illegal.
By the way, the device was a Tascam 424. It’s a famous multitrack recorder that was immortalized in the amazing song “Me and My 424” by John Vanderslice. Check out a live performance of it here.
I suppose it goes without saying that if any of you dear readers have a working cassette-format multitrack recorder, I would love to rent it from you. I have some old masters that I recorded on a VestaFire MR-10 and I’d like to convert them to digital before they die. The VestaFire had dbx, so if your player has dbx, that’s a perfect fit for me.
The same guy beat me on an auction for another four track a few days ago – that time it looked more honest:
Update 3/7/2019: Hey, I managed to win a 424 at shopgoodwill.com at a great low price. I just had to wait ’til the last few seconds to put my bid in. Also, my nemesis wasn’t bidding on this one, so…
5 thoughts on “Fishy Auctioneering”
Take a look at other auction logs. I wonder if the winning bid doesn’t show the max. The max bid may only show up when it is outbid, so the winner’s max bid would never show.
I haven’t used that site, so I don’t know. I’m just guessing.
I think the sniper apps bid just enough over the highest bid to win.
True, but the sniper apps need to bid to see the price go up to the highest bid; somehow this bidder knew what the highest price would be without having to place a series of seed bids. It would only have known to go bigger than 41; it wouldn’t have known to go bigger than 107.35.
I don’t think eBay shows all the interim bids, though. So there would have been a back-and-forth till it hit somebody’s limit.
It’s the way online auctions at Goodwill works. It confused me for few first times too, then I read the rules and learned about their proxy bidding system that tries to prevent last minute bidding anxiety. If there’s anyone else who has bid more than you, he/she will win the auction, with the amount equal to “second highest bidder + minimum bid increment”.