Saturday, March 7, 2009

Counter Intelligence

In my continued quest to improve the EBay experience, I decided to tackle the elusive Counter Offer.

Some of you may have never experienced an actual counter offer. I weep for you.

Let me start with one example of how it is supposed to work:

You have a card that you feel should fetch $100, but you would take maybe $85. I see other auctions have gone for $80 so I offer you $75 hoping to open lines of communication. You counter at $90. I think, hey this guy might be reasonable, so I offer you $80 because I really like your card. After realizing you don’t have any other offers, you decide to offer me $85. I can either take it, or offer you back $80 with my last offer. For fun, let’s say you come down to $83 and I take it. Now we are both happy and we give each other positive feedback so good that it makes you question your sexuality.

Here are 2 examples of how it actually works:

Example A) I see a card I like listed at Feckett (not misspelled) Value for $225 with a best offer option. After seeing that similar cards go for $80, I offer the seller $75 to open lines of communication. I receive a decline notice with the added note that says, ‘Way too low. Books for $225.’ I wait a week to see if another option comes up. None does, so I offer the seller $80 with the note, ‘I think this is fair market value based on completed listings. Thanks for your consideration.’ I then wait 3 days until the offer finally expires. Then 6 months later, he sells the item for $75 and I pray that the buyer pays for it with hand-delivered pesos.

Example B) I see a card I like listed at $95 with a best offer option. After seeing that similar cards go for $80, I offer the seller $75 to open the lines of communication. I wait 3 days for my offer to expire. I then offer $75 again. Then I get decline notice without a note. Then I say screw it, and wish many an outbreak of scabies.

Why is this? It really doesn’t have to be this way.

If you are a seller, please realize that if you are 100% firm on what you need for a card, then just put the stinking thing up for sale with a BIN without a best offer option and save others the effort. Or put a higher BIN price on it than what you need, and then have a starting bid at what you have to have.

DO NOT put a best offer on a card if you are a) unwilling to communicate, or b) too sensitive to take a low offer without getting all pansified (my word) like TO after someone rips his QB.

One of my biggest peeves is when someone just doesn’t respond. I realize the some people like to wait the full 3 days before answering. And while you are totally within your right to do so, please be courteous about it. I for one am not a big fan of waiting that long or making someone wait that long for the simple fact that it locks up funds for the person bidding. But hey, to each his own in that respect. Just don’t let the offer expire. That is rude and petty. I don’t care if the offer is ridiculous. Respond. You might be surprised by the counter.

You see, in business, they teach you to start low to leave yourself some wiggle room. Somehow we have gotten in the mode of expecting a maximized bid from the get-go. That’s just bad business. This isn’t CarMax, it’s Ebay. The reason nobody feels like they got a deal from CarMax is because nobody likes to pay sticker price. Ideally you want to bring the price down some. People will throw a low bid out there to see the seller’s intent. What’s the harm in countering as you normally would? If the potential buyer isn’t serious they won’t reply. If they are, then they may come back with a more respectable bid. Either way it’s good customer service.

I would love to ask one of these girdle-lined sellers if they have ever offered less on a card than the asking price. I would looove it.

One more thing. If someone EVER counters my offer by quoting Feckett Value, then expect a decline accompanied with a lesson in beta males and links to your card and their sold listings. I may even Rick-Roll you.

Sorry for the rant. Believe it or not, it could have been longer. And this probably isn’t the last one on this topic. It’s just all I can muster at the moment. Now, talk amongst yourselves.


  1. It seems like more often than not, I'm pretty successful on my first go on best offer. However, I have had people who either don't ever respond or respond with something that's extremely close to their BIN price.

    I find this kind of behavior isn't limited to just ebay though. On a forums I frequent, there was a sweet card out of a box break that was listed as for sale. I contacted the seller and offered him nearly eBay price. He said that he wouldn't let it go for under X dollars, which was almost 50% more than the ebay price. I kindly explained to him that ebay price was generous, especially since there would be no ebay fees for him to deal with. He never replied.

  2. Great topic and dead on!!! Hat guys that act offended when the offer is fair!

  3. Damn! This post really speaks to me! I had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago. I kept sending offers to this guy for an Exquisite Lebron James auto and he just let them expire one after the other, no responses nothing. My last offer was within $10 of his BIN price, which he let expire as well. I spent 6-8 days with expired offers and no responses. Finally, I sent him a smart-ass e-mail explaining that I was interested in going ahead and buying it from him "now," but I wanted to first check to make sure he was not stuck in the hospital or dead since he never responded to my offers. He actually responded to my e-mail two days later, but I informed him that I had tired of waiting and took my business elsewhere.

    It's like this - don't allow people to make offers if you're never going to consider "best offers." I hate these guys, they just waste my time.