Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Can't Bid Against Stupid

There's a familiar adage which states, "You can't fix stupid." True that. And when it comes to bidding for used photography items on eBay, I've decided a new observation, one in a similar vein, is appropriate: "You can't bid against stupid."

I've bought a number of items from eBay sellers lately. Most of them have been computer related. But since I was already perusing eBay for those items, I also looked around for some photography gear that might interest me. None of it has been things I really need. Instead, they've been items I might want for various reasons. There is, of course, a big difference between "need" and "want" and I kept that in mind while bidding.

It didn't take long before I noticed that, when it comes to used photography gear, some people get really stupid with their bidding. How do I define stupid? Stupid is when people bid for a used item and their bids exceed the brand-new, retail purchase price for the exact same item.

You may be thinking that some bidders I've labeled "stupid" might live in geographic areas where there are few retail outlets for those sorts of items. I agree. But since those bidders have web access (as evidenced by their ability to bid for things on eBay) it means they also have web access to online photography retailers like B&H, Adorama, Calumet, Samy's, Midwest Photo Exchange and more. How hard is it for someone bidding on a used item on eBay to check the retail price for the same item, new, from any of the online retailers I just mentioned? Easier still, all they have to do is copy-and-paste the name of the product item into a search engine like Google and the results will immediately enlighten them on what the item typically costs, brand new with a warranty and all that, from various retailers.

It's really frustrating bidding against stupid. It happens way more often than I would have believed. I don't know if the same sort of stupid bidding holds true for many other types of products -- it does, BTW, for high-tech devices like computers, tablets, and more -- and it certainly happens way too often with photo equipment.

It's true you can't fix stupid. Apparently, it's also true you can't bid against it either.

The pretty girl at the top is Brittany.


Anonymous said...

Hi, you are up against 'shills'. There are areas on ebay that are worse than others, photo gear is bad but try the collectibles like comic books, it is insane. The shill is usually the originator of the listing using a throw-away ebay account. This way the originator can try to drive the price up as high as possible. If the shill wins, the auction is relisted with the lame' the buyer never paid' or some other BS. Look for accounts with one or two purchases, these are the most likely shills.


Bill Giles said...

It may be shilling or maybe not. I've seen some items that I've bid on sell for better than new price, but I've also seen that at real live in person auctions. It really doesn't matter whether it's shills or not because I won't bid that high.
By the way, "Can't Fix Stupid" is our Punkin' Chunkin' team's motto.

Lawrence said...

Hey Jimmy,

You are assuming that the "Land of the free" lets people from outside purchase from them.

As a non-US resident, I have encountered a LOT of problems purchasing from the established stores. Even with a US skybox address, American companies have issues with accepting non-US credit cards, even if from major credit card companies like Mastercard and Visa.

You take it for granted that once we have internet, we can just as easily purchase from the other online stores, but that isn't always the case.

While I don't buy many things from ebay, it does allow much more freedom in non-US persons to purchase items which otherwise would be inaccessible.

Just an FYI to your rant, that sometimes you don't know the whole story.

jimmyd said...


Thanks for the 411 on that. I had no idea that might sometimes be the case.