eBay sued for allowing automatic bidding

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eBay have been sued in the US for allowing buyers make use of Automatic Bidding or Proxy bidding. Auctionbytes explains that when you make a bid on an eBay Auction-Style listing you can bid more than the minimum bid increment and eBay will automatically bid as much as is needed to outbid the next highest interested buyer.

This is how eBay has worked for years, but the complainant asserts that the buyer’s highest bid should be placed immediately and not to do so is stealing from the seller. They think that the seller should automatically have a bid placed for as much as a buyer is willing to pay, not as much as they need to pay to be the highest bidder.

To me this is daft, the chances are that without automatic bidding buyers would bid the minimum bid increment and auctions would end up with much lower final selling prices. Buyers would also have to be sat at their computer screens in the dying seconds of an auction to place their bid and would then have no time to increase their bid before the auction ended.

Perhaps buyers would place higher bids, but I don’t believe many would be willing to bid the maximum they’re willing to pay in the knowledge that they might be able to secure the item at a lower price.

Apart from the culture of litigation in the US I see little merit in this case. Sellers and buyers alike know the rules by which eBay auctions are run, so to participate in them and then sue eBay because you don’t like the rules is bizarre. If you don’t like the way eBay run the site and the rules for bidders why would you offer items for sale in the first place?

2 Responses

  1. Over the years I have attended numerous “conventional” Auctions. Surely this form of incremental bidding is exactly what happens, and indeed has happened for many years. A bidder leaves a bid with the Auctioneer giving details of how much he would be willing to go up to.

    If this form of bidding was deemed to be illegal in regard to ebay it would be illegal as well for “conventional” auctions and would make life very difficult all round.

    All I can say is that if the Courts in the US did decide that this form of bidding was indeed illegal it would be totally bonkers.

    Can I ask tamebay to keep up informed on this.

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