Too good to be true? A guide to no reserve auctions

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I have been using ebay for a number of years now and find it a fun and convenient way to find goods at an often unbeatable price.  It is the place to go to first for online bargains. I have purchased everything from jocks (new of course!) to CDs, and have even used ebay to help find a friend a car. I often search for cars and car parts on ebay to see what is around as I am quite the enthusiast.

One thing I have noticed though is that sometimes people who are new to ebay will list an item at an extremely low staring price and with no reserve. Some of these auctions seem too good to be true.  This is because they are.  Often these people are not aware of the rules and list the item without a reserve even though they have a minimum sell price in mind and are not prepared to accept anything less.  This is my experience...

I was searching through various car parts and came across a clever personalized number plate 'IXIIIX' (929 in roman numerals) and thought that these plates would look good on my Mazda.  Starting bid was about $5 and there was no reserve.  Seeing a brand new set of personalized plates retail for around the $500 mark, I was very keen and placed a proxy bid for $200.

Anyway, I returned from work one night, checked the auction and found I had won the plates for an unbelievable price of only $51 plus postage. An absolute bargain! I contacted the seller and asked for banking details so I could arrange payment. What happened next still sickens me!

The seller, strick929, replied to me by saying they were expecting the plates to sell for more so were relisting them on ebay starting at, wait for it, $200. I was furious! I had won the plates fair and square and regardless of what I was prepared to pay for them originally, they were rightfully mine.

I sent several emails with out reply.  Enough was enough.  I contacted ebay who put me on to square trade.  Unfortunately they were unable to resolve the issue as the seller did not reply to them either.  Thankfully no money changed hands, but this was still not acceptable.  This seller is no longer a registered user under the name strick929, but could still be using under a different name.

I have seen cars up for auction worth around $60,000 with ridiculously low starting bids, a 'buy it now' option for what the car is worth and no reserve.  Sellers, please understand the rules before placing items for sale.  Buyers, if an auction looks too good to be true, ask the question, don't assume.  It will save a lot of frustration later on.  I'm sure I wasn't the first and I doubt I will be the last!

Happy ebaying!


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