Deadbeat Bidders

    March 19, 2004

A lot of hype recently in the Online Auction world has surrounded the problem of so-called “deadbeat bidders” on eBay and similar auction services. A recent article on covered the issue, but focused mainly on Cisco Routers – a piece of computer hardware that has a high demand and a high selling price.

While this is clearly a problem for this particular item – with theories as to why stretching sometimes into the world of conspiracy theories – overall on eBay, deadbeat bidders are fewer than the article would make you think.

While there is no easy way to avoid deadbeats all together, it is possible to minimize your risk. If you are not selling high-value or high-demand items, you have little to fear. By watching for a few warning signs, you can save yourself a lot of hassle.

The biggest indication of a deadbeat bidder is a high bid or a bidding war that suddenly takes the price of the item outside of its retail or real-world value. If you’re selling an item that would routinely sell in a store for, say, $10 and the bids suddenly get into the $15-$20 range, you may want to investigate the backgrounds of your bidders to ensure that they are not planning to stiff you when the auction ends. Most deadbeat bidders are people who are new to the system and are unaware of the rules – especially after getting caught up in the excitement of a bidding war.

If you watch your auctions, as you should be, you’ll be able to see potential deadbeat bidders soon after they throw off the warning signal. Dealing with them is another matter, but since the price of the auction’s listing is up to you – not them – when dealing with them, try to take care of it before the auction ends. Generally, you can send them an email asking them if they plan to close the auction (be polite) and wait for a reply. If you have a day or two left, this is ideal. If they fail to reply, you can simply remove their bids from the auction and it will continue to proceed as before.

Deadbeat bidders are hyped up to be more of a problem than they really are. This is mostly done by those who don’t really understand the system and are targeting the internal fear all auction users have that they will be the victim of some sort of fraud. Using logic and sound practices, you can avoid the stress and have deadbeat-free auctions!

Aaron Turpen is the author of “The eBay PowerSeller’s Book of
Knowledge” and the editor/publisher of two successful newsletters, in
their fourth year of publication, The Aaronz WebWorkz Weekly
Newsletter and Aaronz Auction Newsletter. You can find out more about
these and other great resources from Aaron at his website