Shill bidding on eBay is, anecdotally at least, a big problem. eBay’s recent decision to hide the ID’s of other bidders has not helped the community policing. Slashdot has some interesting comments on the issue – including one chap that has the following advice:
1) Never bid on camcorders, computers, automobiles, or any other high dollar item.
2) Always do an extensive check of the seller’s feedback.
3) Don’t bid early or get involved in bidding wars. Snipe instead.
#2 is good advice, but #1 will result in you playing much more at the stores, and #3 is an anomoly of eBay that Trade Me just does not have.
High tech electronics (camcorders, gaming machines, cell phones) may attract more than ther fair share of fraudsters, but the Trade Me community is excellent at sniffing these out and dealing justice. Cars, at least in NZ, are an especially safe purchase, as the physical transfer of the vehicle is typically face to face.
Sniping (last second bidding) is big on eBay, as they do not have the auto-extend feature which is on all Trade Me auctions. If you want to be sure to buy the item you want on eBay (without buy-now) then you’ll need to enlist a sniping tool. Those tools really subtract fun from the buying experience.
One aspect of the problem, it seems, is shill bidders placing bids until the auto-bid of the next highest bidder is exceeded, then removing the highest bid. It’s not so easy to get away with high-bid removing behavior on Trade Me – the relatively small size of the site, the trust and safety measures in place and the Kiwi ethic of being treated fairly all contribute to a much more honest playing field than that of eBay USA.