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  1. Yuen, Actually, no. Shill bidding -- and billing by the seller -- is PROHIBITED on ebay (read their rules). Doing so is a violation on ebay pure and simple. It's not a question of "right or wrong" (I think it's wrong), it's also against ebay's laws and rules. Saying not to look at other bidders is like saying not to look at other cars as they speed past you at 90mph weaving from lane to lane. It doesn't change the fact that it's wrong to do, and also prohibited to do. Kind of like how I always wanted to go into an audition and play like a primary school student once just for the hell of it, I'm almost tempted to create a 2nd account for myself with a 2nd credit card, and start becoming the winning bidder on some of these sellers' auctions, then simply not pay. That's not wrong is it? (Yes, of course it is, the same way shill bidding is wrong). Don't worry though, it's not worth my time.
  2. You're absolutely right. Want to see an example? Someone emailed me a warning about a particular ID and they seem to be right. There's an ID called "plimouthrock" (note spelling, there are other similar IDs) that always seems to bid on one particular seller's auctions (and that seller just happens to live in Mass). I don't know if it's appropriate to post the seller's name here or not. There's no "proof" of course (at least from what someone not ebay can tell), but you look at it and it's quite obvious. There's always a "0" after the ID, with "plimouthrock" never actually buying anything, just bidding up the auction price for this one particular seller's items all the time. And it still continues today. Just now when I saw your post I looked online again to see if the seller was selling other items, and sure enough they are. And guess what, plimouthrock is there bidding up one of the items again, more than doubling it. I'm sure there are other such bidders. Before I got the email from this person I wouldn't have even thought about something like this going on, but I guess it does.. and the more you look at it the more it seems obvious. Apparently on almost all of this one particular seller's recent auctions there was "plimouthrock" upping the bids over and over but never buying, just moving up the prices. Well that's why I haven't bought anything violin related off ebay, just seems too much shenanagans (sp?) going on and too risky if there's fraud or a problem or misrepresentation. I guess some people have had good luck, but beware when you see a bidder with a 0 after it constantly bidding on items from the same seller without ever winning -- I'm sure many other sellers do this (after all, if discovered they can make another one and keep going). It's just such a shame because prices on ebay seem to be much lower than in the violin shops (at least in the midwest) but at least with a shop you have that shop to back it up (well, most of the time).
  3. thanks everyone for your comments and thoughts. I'm sorry, I have no agreement with those who support shill bidding on ebay. The way I see it, there's nothing wrong with a last minute bid. That's not against ebay's rules. Shill bidding is DEFINITELY against ebay's rules even though they don't seem to care. If a seller doesn't like the prospect of his item being bid on at the last minute, he can easily go to a violin shop and sell it on consignment or sell it another way. The auction process includes many who bid at the last minute. That's the way ebay works. Some people will bid early, some will bid last second. If a seller wants a guarantee they should not use ebay. Ebay should be about chance and seeing what the market will bear, not falsly raising the market (that's Enron's job). The prospect of a buyer getting a good deal is just as valid as the prospect of the seller getting tons of bids and some really high ones. If a seller has a $1000 violin and he's concerned because the bids are only at $400, to me the person is pretty low to create a second account and have himself (or friend or spouse) bid it up. If he's worried and wants that much, he shouldn't use an auction system. The chance of not getting enough is just like the chance of getting a jackpot in high bids. I've sold a total of two items on ebay -- one got a lot more than I thought it would and one got a lot less than I thought it would. That's ebay. I would never try to fraudulently send the price up. TO ME shill bidding is no different than bidders who don't pay. Non-paying bidders are simply the buyers version of seller shilling. Don't get me wrong, I've NEVER been a non-payer, but I'd have no sympathies towards a seller if some jerk bid on an auction then didn't pay if that seller was also bidding up his own stuff. It's exactly the same thing. When the other "account" has a zero after it, never actually completing a transaction, is in the same location as the seller, does nothing but bid on the seller's items but never to win, and makes sure the price jumps up by huge amounts (not just to the next level), as far as I'm concerned that's a shill account and I have no respect at all for sellers who do this. I suggest people watch out for -- and avoid bidding -- on sellers who keep their listings private, and for those who don't, have such a bidder on them all the time. Look for zeros after bids that substantially increase the amount. Of course if it's just once or twice it could be a coincidence, but when it happens multiple times it's a dead giveaway (especially if you know that the seller and the other account are in the same location). I would never buy an expensive violin on ebay (I found with humour posts here linking to auctions on ebay with this guy selling the Strad and del gesu talking about ghosts and Christ and such). But a lesser instrument or bow or accessory I would consider (since if you don't like the tone at least you're not out too much) but some sellers are really liars and cheats. And they seem to be players too. A real shame. Of course there are a tiny, tiny few that say things like "full refund if not satisfied, just pay for postage and listing fees" which seems really fair (assuming they keep their word as even with paypal there's only a 200 dollar guarantee in case of fraud).
  4. Questions on shill bidding, and protection with PayPal or other method in case fraud occurs. #1: Is there anything that can be done to stop shill bidding on ebay? Ebay doesn't seem to do anything about it (in their info about it, they stress how there can be mistakes, and might just give a warning, etc). Of course it's in their interest NOT to stop it because they make more money by having people go against their own rules. I've read what other people have written, how some real bidders might look like shill bidders. Fair enough. But if you have a seller where on every item that is publically listed (some are private) there's always another ID (the same one all the time) bumping it up a LOT higher -- and that ID has a "0" by it (meaning it never bought or sold anything even though it bids all the time on this guy's auction).. isn't that a pretty good indication that it's a shill bid? Especially when it's not just bidding up to the next available amount, but raising it double the price or by leaps? Can anything be done about this? If an auction has been won, there's no way to demand the seller lower the price back... if an auction is going on, the worst that can happen is that it gets relisted but ebay is so slow, by the time anyone reads it, it's usually too late (and I doubt ebay takes any such action -- maybe only on rare occasion). Any tips about this? Also, how do you know if a bad seller has just started with another ID? In reading a bunch of posts here over the last few hours, I noticed some mention of sellers having had shut down ebay accounts and opened up new ones. How do you guys know it's the same person? #2: if a seller allows you to pay with PayPal, what options are there for a seller to have to keep his word, or if there are problems? PayPal (I looked) has only a $200 guarantee against fraud (and a $25 fee). Most instruments sell for more than that obviously. Even when using a credit card for a backup, I remember being told once by my bank that they don't usually give refunds or fight PayPal themselves, because paypal isn't a credit card, they're a service, and the bank that issues the credit card has nothing to do with it (not like a normal credit card transaction where you're protected against fraud). They say you have to complain to PayPal, but PayPal only will give you back $200 max. What if you bid $2,800 or $1,300 or $950 or $4,200 or something? A cashier's check or money order or personal check aren't any safer. What have been some experiences with people here in the past? For instance, if a seller completely goes back on his word or lies in the listing (ie, not honoring a listed 7-day refund option if buyer wants to return, or the violin is full of cracks if advertised as perfect condition, or not at all what advertised as, or things such as this?) I don't know if this would apply to international buyers/sellers, but what about interstate fraud laws? Would that help any if PayPal won't refund the amount in obvious fraud? Because the mail system is being utilized for fraud? Finally, how can you find out what a generic violin might be worth? By this I mean, a violin with an unknown maker and lower profile (assuming it's in good condition). Such as a German violin from the WW2 era, or something like this. It's much easier to know what a Villaume's value is worth, but what about, say, a generic WW2 German or East European fiddle should be worth, assuming it's nicely made and in good shape? Thanks everyone!
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