Shill bidding is a fact of life. As long as there are auction sites, there will be shill bidders. Shill bidding is the act of bidding on your own auction against other bidders in order to raise the price, hoping to achieve the desired ending price. It is a violation of every single auction site on the web, and a violation of federal law. Yup, it’s pretty serious folks. It’s so serious that anyone you know cannot bid on your auction, even if they genuinely stumble upon your auction without knowing you are the seller, they cannot bid on your auction otherwise they are in violation.
Anyone who has ever used eBay to purchase an item has fallen victim to shill bidding. The worse part about it is that the victim doesn’t even know they’ve succumbed to it. It’s very hard to notice an auction that has shill bidding in place. With eBay’s identity protection, one cannot see the name of their bid war partner, nor can they see the winner’s name unless of course you check the feedback of the seller within two to three weeks time (exchange of feedback).
Yahoo Japan Auction
I bring this topic up because shill bidding also happens on Yahoo Japan Auctions (YJA). I’ve been a user for many years and have started picking up on trends during auctions ends, all which have the same behavior. Now I was surprised that when I did a search in Google, I didn’t find one automated search string. Check out the picture below: left is eBay string, right is YJA string:
It’s very upsetting when it happens and one can only be very angry when they need to pay more for an item that wasn’t necessary. There is the whole conspiracy theory that your deputy service is aware of this, but couldn’t care about this issue since they are incurring more profit due to accumulated fees. The worst part is that once you place a bid through Japanese deputy services, you cannot ask the deputy service to cancel your bid or in other words, “retract” it. I’ve experienced firsthand plenty of shill bidding on items I’ve bid on, and the amount of money I lost is very frustrating.
The funny part about all of this is that anytime you place a bid through you’re deputy service; you are asking to get shill bided on. What do I mean by this? Well, there is literally thousands of international user’s bidding through your deputy service. People from North America, United Kingdom, Europe, etc… It’s a big list and what do you think happens eventually? Your deputy service user name under YJA accumulates large amounts of feedback. I’ve seen feedbacks surpass 30k! This ring’s the cow bells for shill bidders because they already got the entire scoop on the deputy service. They know that an account with 30k feedback isn’t a normal account; they also know all the policies associated with your service, especially the one that says you cannot “retract any bids – all bids are final”. YJA shill bidders exploit the faulty system and make you pay, hard.
I’ve also noticed certain patterns in the behavior of Yahoo Japan bidders which I will disclose below. Hopefully some of you who actually use YJA can take my advice and apply it when you’re bidding on that special item.
Behaviors of Shill Bidders
Unlike the eBay system where there is a designated final time for the auction, on Yahoo Japan Auctions if someone places a bid below the 5 minute mark, the auction gets pushed back another 5 minutes allowing others to make up their minds if they want to bid again. This is very frustrating to the users abroad since we are not accustomed to this type of practice. I believe it’s a great tactic for the company since they are conforming to their strategy; make more money!
Now how can you tell if you’ve fallen victim to shill bidding? Unlike the shill bidding done on eBay, YJA is much more different:
-Shilling starts below the 5 minute mark, predominantly within the last minute.
-Shill bidder raises the auctions price in increments of whatever setting they put at auction start (100 YEN, 1000 YEN, 1500 YEN etc…).
-When 5 minutes are added to the time, Shill bidder does what I like to call the “rinse & repeat” process. He waits in the last couple of minutes and places another bid, thus extending the time back another 5 minutes. Rinse & repeat.
-Shill bidder continues to place bids on his auctions till the incremental bid hits an odd number, or he is rejected by the system with a message “You need to place a higher bid”. This is the indication to the shill bidder that they have exhausted your funds and met your maximum bid.
After this you feel like the guy above, with his hands on his head because you couldn’t figure out how someone can place a bid boosting the auction to your exact max bid. Here, let me demonstrate.
EX: An interesting auction is put up on YJA with a starting bid of 1000 YEN (12.10 USD). I place a bid of 13589 YEN on an auction. The auction gets boosted by other interested parties in the natural process in which the bid is currently at 6150 YEN. Then, within the last minute of auctions end, someone places a bid of 7150. Then 5 minutes automatically gets added to the auction by the automated system. The auction goes down to last minute once again, and a bid is placed of 8150. This is an indicator that the “Rinse & repeat” process is taking place. Finally when the bid has reached its max, the shill bidder places their last bid in which the auction ends for 13589 YEN, coincidentally your exact maximum bid. Sometimes it won’t even be the exact bid, but a couple of 100’s YEN, or even 1000’s YEN(depending on price of auction) below your max bid, this means the system rejected the shill bidders bid. This tells the jerk that if he places another bid, he will outbid you.
This has happened to me about more than tweenty times; all items which I REALLY wanted. Every single time it happen, the above process took place.
How to beat Shill Bidders on YJA
Before I continue, I don’t want you to get paranoid of using Yahoo Japan Auctions. By no means should you stop after reading this article, but I doubt you will when you see that nice vintage Mario figure :). Traditionally shill bidding takes place on auctions that are unique, and rare. Yes that’s right, not ALL auctions on YJA are rare, and sellers in Japan are very aware of what item will be hot on auction, and worth a lot of money.
Now it’s very hard to tell on YJA when there will be a shill bidder until you are in the final moments of auctions end. The only way I have been able to beat these shill bidders is by:
1st – Checking the feedback of the seller. It’s a no brainer. All auction sites have the same template, and normally the “brackets” next to the sellers name is an indication that this is his feedback rating. Click on it. When you get to the next screen you’ll see two small pictures somewhere. One is a “sun”(positive feedback) while the other is a “rainy cloud”(bad feedback). If he has negatives, be attentive.
2nd – Do NOT place your maximum amount. I do this in increments. I normally place 2000 difference from current price to my max price, this way if I get pushed to my max bid, it’s not a lot. When there is one minute left in the auction and I am currently winning it, I wait to see if I get outbid. If I get outbid I place a couple 1000 YEN to go into a bidding war and see how that goes. If I am still winning the auction I stick it out through that extra 5 minutes and see if my bid gets pushed up again. If it does, I believe I’ve fallen victim to shill bidding simply because I wasn’t outbid on the first attempt, and secondly because of the increments of the bidding(100’s, 1000’s YEN).
3rd – I also check the bidding page to see who has bid against me. If the other person has high feedback, good chance is that you got another deputy service bidding against you. If the feedback is low, be attentive.
If I really want the auction, I wait to see if the shill bidder screws up and outbids me by accident, in which I go through a couple of 1000’s YEN just to assure myself that I could win this auction. If you get outbid I would leave at that point. I have received plenty of “second chance offers” from my deputy service in which I declined every single one. I then see the same auction put up a few days later. This is the way I go about it. I sometimes change my tactics during the showdown, but you can use this information and customize it however you want. Someone might be asking that perhaps it was a genuine user having a bid war with you. Well I don’t dispute that point, but normally when the auctions bid has been pushed up to your max bid (odd numbers such as 6547), this isn’t a coincident. A genuine user doesn’t systematically boost the auction to your max bid, traditionally an interested party places an amount that boosts the auction higher in one bid. Anyways, I made this article for all YJA users to be aware, and notice any suspicious acts such as the ones I mentioned above.
Good luck and thanks for reading!