From my perspective, eBay is rapidly losing its relevance.
I just lost an auction - in the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of the auction. By $1.00. Until that last minute I was winning.
Boo Hoo... yeah, I know... so what?
I'm pretty sure I lost the auction to a "sniping bot" (my term, I think). There weren't any new bids on the item for several days. If I understand the concept correctly, someone who really wants to be assured of winning a particular auction uses a "sniping bot service" and directs it at a particular eBay auction. The "bot" then passively monitors that auction. In the (literally!) last minute of the auction, the bot swings into action, bidding (within the pre-assigned price range) whatever it takes to win the auction by $1.00.
I won't argue that it's not fair - apparently eBay has no problems with this "sniping bots" or whatever they're really called.
But it's a sucker's game that I'm increasingly reluctant to play. There's literally no way you can win auctions against a "bot" (unless you bid a ridiculous amount to similarly be assured of winnings that eBay can bid up on your behalf)... unless you too use a "bot".
And that's a point I'm not willing to concede. I think it's ultimately destructive to eBay's (and the sellers using eBay) business in the long term that eBay tolerates the activity of external "sniping bots".
Ordinary people, like me, that just want to buy something occasionally, lose confidence in the overall fairness... and the utility in general... of online auctions. The result of that is fewer bidders, and overall lower bids, as the "bot" users increasingly have eBay to themselves.
For eBay to get rid of the "sniping bots" is going to have to be driven by the eBay sellers.
By Steve Stroh
This article is Copyright © 2008 by Steve Stroh except for specifically-marked excerpts. Excerpts and links are expressly permitted (and encouraged).
This article was written and posted via Broadband Wireless Internet Access (BWIA); Sprint Mobile Broadband service using a Sierra Wireless 595U USB modem - 1xEV-DO Rev. A.