February 23, 2005

eBay accused of Shill Bidding

A class action suit filed in California last week alleges fraud and unconscionability in eBay's bidding system. The suit focuses on the manner in which eBay handles proxy bids, and characterizes eBay's actions as tantamount to "shill bidding." The plaintiffs' firm has issued a press release; Reuters [alternate link] and InternetNews.com have more.

The plaintiffs may have a point, but the impact of eBay's practices isn't particularly significant (less than one bid increment) except on an aggregate level. I'm guessing this one will settle for substantial attorney's fees for the named plaintiff's firm, a thousand dollars or so for the lead plaintiff, worthless coupons for all of the other class members, and a promise by eBay to do a better job of explaining how proxy bids work.

EBay's bidding system is inherently broken -- a timed auction makes sense only where bids are sealed until the auction closes (hence the existence of eSnipe and similar services that exploit this design flaw) -- but that problem has little to do with this case.

UPDATES: Commentary on the case from Eric Goldman and Slashdot. And a printable copy of the complaint.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who so I contact about people bidding up the price of other auctions to get their items to meet the reserve price? I keep seeing the same bidders doing this over and over again.

Anonymous said...

I have sent emails to ebay about so many of them, and they actually did cancel one of the sellers account for allowing shill bidding, but the same seller was back on ebay after 30 days. I guess they were suspended and not booted off as I had thought in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

I have gathered so much evidence against these sellers, and I need to know who to turn it into!

JiveBay Girl said...

ebay really needs on the ball about this

Anonymous said...

I have developed a method to detect shill bidding in online auctions as part of my PhD studies.
If anyone is interested, just send me the bid history for the suspicious auctions (as well as the seller) and I will be happy to share the results with you. Email to sci-jat@jcu.edu.au

Anonymous said...

Ebay seem to have fixed this problem - they now conceal the names of the other bidders!

So whatever happens no user can gather any evidence in future...

Ebays problems are no more -- however for their users it is just more of the same...

Anonymous said...

yahooooooooooooo
they (ebay) lost the law-suit. jump on the band wagon before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

EBay has fixed this problem??
ARE YOU shitting ME!!

Ebay has now made it so Shillers can easily shill by making it so you CANT SEE WHO YOUR BIDDING AGAINST and THEIR FEEDBACK!

I do hope GOOGLE Auctions are taking notice as this is going to hurt their profit margin,. I will go there as I no longer feel safe bidding or selling on Ebay.

Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is Kim and I was a powerseller on eBay. My account was canceled for no apparent reason give, then an eBay representative wrote to me and instructed me to fax certain documentation in then my account would be reinstated. I did so but my account was not reinstated. Now I have no income and it is due to eBay's unfair policies and business practices. They cancel your account and don't even explain why --- meanwhile I have lost, no doubt just like many others and owe Fed Ex fees, DHL fees which are due at the end of the month--of which I could have paid had my bids and account not been canceled. They, eBay gave no reason why but just exerted their "No ask..no tell why your account is being suspended".

Also, when I click on the above link to see a "printable copy" of the lawsuit, a blank screen comes up. I would like to see a copy of that lawsuit.

I have also been contacted by at least 9 - 10 others who need an attorney along with myself, to sue eBay for the unfair business practices. I was referred to Suzanna Gal from the San Jose District Attorney's Office, but only after sending all my relevant paperwork and evidence to her, did she not even respond and has done absolutely nothing on the case. She is a foreigner and I have trouble understanding her English. I have nothing against foreigners but I simply cannot understand her...only that she did nothing on my case as well as many others, and she closed the case not explaining to me what she did at all on my case. She only said "I cannot force eBay into mediation"??? I wanted to see her office take much needed prosecution and swift, harsh legal action against eBay..What a total waste of time her office was. I even wrote to her supervisor and he sent me a dear-john letter....nothing was ever done on my case. These people from the DA's office are just as lazy and illegal in their conduct as eBay is.

We---myself and at least 10 others need a great attorney in that area or whomever in the correction jurisdication has the know-how and much needed follow-thru to sue eBay.

They have hurt me and damaged me for the last time! I have outstanding bills and monetary obligations and I was doing great on eBay.

The other matter regarding eBay's outrageous feedback & shill-bidding policies need to be filed within this same lawsuit.

Someone contact me for serious legal action against eBay. We (all 10 of us) need a diligent, ethical attorney who will give eBay what they need most---a kick in their legally constipated ass!

Kim
first-rate@charter.net
(541) 705-2856

Anonymous said...

Where do I sign up. I was just shill bid by rookiecards.com by private listings i.e. rookiecards.com.

Anonymous said...

Do you know that Ebay is behind scammers and many other dirty thinks.
OK my girlfriend was work for Ebay that is all I can say.

Ebay love scammers, after each sale ebay getting listing %, you sell or not.

Thing about

Anonymous said...

I found 3 clear instances if shill bidding on ebay this week alone. The fact that they don't have analytics in place to identify this exposes the lack of concern that ebay has about this topic. I've been keeping examples and their responses in a file. Sooner or later this will result in legal action and I want to be one to contribute to the Plaintiff. I would suggest everyone does the same.

psst its me said...

I was shill bidded on a salvage title HIGH dollar auto on ebay .I found AMPLE evidence .EBAY tried to say that I had to have more proof . LOL - EBAY did not know that I had already had a comfession in hand .EBAY had no choice then but to punish the parties , their punishment was to suspend the parties for 10 days! MEANWHILE it cost me 12500.00 , now I see ebay has further protected their shill bidders by making the OTHER bidders info unviewable to the other bidders. This is directly a move to ENABLE fraudulent auctions , what can I do about any of this ...anyone know a specific attorney ..I have all proof needed and available upon request , this is not a small amount ,were talking 12500.00 here. Please help.

Anonymous said...

I have discovered a major shill bidder on Ebay. The seller is teamssportswarehouse, the bidder is Dyker60. Dyker60 has bid upon hundreds of teamsportswarehouse items over the past several weeks. They have won hundreds of them. Dyker60 has only 3 feedback. 1 from teamsportswarehouse another from fitid-hats. teamsportswarehouse IS fitid-hats. how do i know? If you view teamspostswarehouse items they have hats for sale with a little sign in the picture saying that they are Fitid hats. Furthermore, teamsportswarehouse promotes fitid hats IN THEIR FEEDBACK. By contacting buyers I have found out that, while registered in VT, teamsportswarehouse ships its items from CT. Guess who is registered in CT. That's correct Dyker60. I have gone as far as to google fitid hats along with sporting goods companies in the zip code that teamsportswarehouse items ship from. Both companies are run by people with the same last name. I sent this info to Ebay 1 week ago. There policy is not to respond to me. That's fine. But, the accounts are still up. is that their policy? The biggest problem I have with this is that since then there have been dozens of buyers who overpaid for items because of this scam. I gave Ebay all the info they needed on top of the obvious stuff. This seems like a perfect example of a case that would bring about a class-action suit against Ebay. They are not doing their job to protect their users. I highly encourage everyone to go to Ebay and check this out for themselves if they want to see what shill bidders look like.

Anonymous said...

I just found out about the ANONYMOUS bidding - ALL BIDDERS virtually or totally anonymous on bidding history... this ONLY PROTECTS THE BAD GUY and no way helps the regular bidders - LET'S THE crooks GET AWAY WITH SHILL BIDDING and whatever may be FAR WORSE... WHAT CAN anyone DO ???

Anonymous said...

Yeah, just checkout the NCAA tournament ticket sellers. Ebay is still alowing the shills to up the price of the tickets. The shill bidders are obvious by using a alpha numeric "***" alphanumeric ID.

Like

Item # 230230469572
shill bidders:
t**w
n**i

Item #190206719905

shill bidders
e**u
4**a
s**y
i**1
8**j
b**n
t**t
p**7
r**c

Anonymous said...

Hiding the bidders info helps in other ways. I have had competitors block my bidding by emailing bidders and offering them the same thing for less then not following through or lying about my products and me to scare them off. Elimination the second chance offers makes sense to protect the buyers but hiding bidders info is mandatory in this fare trade world we are trying to live in.

DES said...

The printable copy of the complaint in Block v EBay is here:
http://www.lawblog.com/docs/block-complaint.html. (The link broke when the blog posting was archived; sorry about the confusion.)

I believe that the Block lawsuit was settled last year, although I do not have any information about the terms of the settlement.

Anonymous said...

My ebay account was recently suspended because they accuse me of being affiliated with another ebay account member whos account has been suspended. The name of the other persons account is: "kennicon". I have no idea who this person is! Please help! It's a false accusation! My e-mail address is: carnut_92503@yahoo.com
Thanks!!