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Explain this Constant eBay Anomaly


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You almost have to buy certain items through eBay.  Saving 50% with free shipping can add up to thousands
of dollars over several months.

There is something strange about a few eBay sellers.  They're not "the bad guys" but they do list new and
used items at sky high prices.

For example, you'll see 50 listings for an item available in local brick and mortar stores.  Most will be below
store prices.  One or two listings will be double or triple store prices!  The thing is, you see this kind of
listing all the time on eBay.

I actually contacted a guy selling a printer double the msrp.  In a very polite way, I asked what kind of fool
would pay double the msrp.  He actually replied!  The idea is eBay has millions of members.  All he needs is
one extremely uninformed person to pay his price.  Again, these sellers are not breaking any laws.  

I've always wondered, do these eBay sellers really find totally ignorant buyers who will purchase an item
double or triple above the msrp?

Edited by HoppaLong
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Sometimes it is not the case of actually trying to sell an item at an enlarged price on Ebay, but to increased the perceived value of an item. Even though Ebay has been around for so long, and many people use it to determine the value of things, most people still use it wrong. For determining value on an item you must still take an average of a range period of sold listings. This is done by the smart people but many still go about and look at listing prices to determine value. You can see this in click-bait articles (even from actual news sources) when they say "you won't believe how much this thing you own is worth" and show a VHS tape for $1,000 or something. Or that case of Amazon price matching algorithm gone wrong that resulted in common items with prices more than new car on them.

The result of this is you end up with items that are over priced in the secondary market. And it is possible to sell on Ebay or other online sites at prices that do not follow the market because the cost of using those services are low enough that you can just let stock sit there for months. That is not something you can get away with in the primary or IRL market because if you are running a business, you can't stay in business unless you make money. So in the secondary market you end up with 3 tiers:

- unknown value, low value/high demand, low perceived value/unknown demand (rare items with unknown market)
- market value
- overinflated value/place holder/value manipulation

There are cases where the value manipulation takes over and sets a new market value, but it isn't done when one guy buys a printer at double MSRP. When using Ebay value calculations on sold items, you can eliminate these from the pool if there is only 1 or a low percentage if you want and if that one or two outrageous sales does not match the rest of the average price, because if it is included it would increase the average value where it isn't warranted. Plus there is the consideration that on completed listings that you cannot tell if the item was actually sold. You can see that Ebay or the seller marked it sold, meaning some buttons were pressed. But you cannot know if the item was paid for, or the result of the transaction, if the buyer left good feedback. If it was a legitimate purchase, or if the feedback was good but then the money refunded or item returned later, if an item was actually shipped, if there was a partial payment/refund, or any other type of outcome on a completed payment.

It is all fairly complicated, but the easiest is to just stay away from things that appear to be more expensive than there is reason for it to be that way.

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I remember about a year ago, I was looking on eBay and found a seller that was selling new Fiamm disc horns, both the high note and low note, for $25,000! Who in their right mind would pay such an absurd amount for some crappy disc horns that you could easily pick up at your local auto store for about $25 which sometimes even includes the relay. But if I remember correctly, it had that these were for a BMW. Well, anyone like me who has experience with car horns knows that almost all horns, especially Fiamm branded horns are pretty well universal and can work on any car as long as it is rated for the correct voltage. Makes me wonder if anyone was stupid enough to pay that price for them.

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A large part of the "crazy" prices come - I believe - from automatic/automagic price adjustments (gone bad).

It is not at all uncommon to find a given item priced with a multiplier of 10, 100,  1000 or 10000, and this cannot but be the result of a badly made algorithm or some really lousy  typing.

If you want some fun, check here:


Of course some of the stuff prices are legit or at least *possible* (think antiquities. collector items, etc.) but what about - say - a (Cisco 1700) 16 Mb MFC for a mere US$ 478,000?


or a lot of 400 1Tb Seagate HDD's at a bulk price of 437.5 US$ apiece?


A steal when compared to a $1,164,057.99 (+ $2.95 Shipping, BTW ;) ) for some VARISCITE BARREL BEADS (not even a "proper" necklace)?




Edited by jaclaz
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