Duh? You say. Of course. That is shill bidding and eBay will shut you down.
Well it happened to a large PowerSeller of fishing equipment earlier this week. He received an email from one of his buyers complaining that his automated checkout system wasn’t working. In all innocence, he decided to check out his system using an alternate eBay account. Here is what he said happened:
"I put a ten count Dutch reel auction a couple weeks ago. I had a bidder email me that my check-out was not working. This bidder had a perfect feedback of a few hundred so I figured he knew how to check out and I took the email seriously. I went in with my other ebay id and bought one of the reels. I was going to see if the check out was on the fritz. Big Big mistake!!!! Ebay just shut down all my listings, over 1000 fix price store items!! Months of work down the drain. They said I was shill bidding. No warning, just a total shut down. I can be so dumb sometimes. I just thought you might want to pass a note on to your newsletter members so they won’t forget ebay takes this very seriously. "
Obviously eBay will shut you down if you try and place a bid on one of your own auctions, but most people do not realize that eBay also tracks accounts owned by the same person or even by another family member with the same address.
So how do you test your auctions and eBay listing tools for functionality? Of course you could use a friend –but even this can get you in trouble if eBay sees lots of activity between one account and another, especially if they are geographically located near each other. eBay’s automated shill bidding program is VERY AGGRESSIVE and is designed to shoot first and ask questions later.
The answer is to list an item in the Test Auction Category. If you look in eBay’s category list it is listed as Everything Else > Test Auctions.
It is not enough just to use this category, you have to be very explicit. Put the words: Test Auction Do Not Bid in both the title and the description. Be sure and use some type of generic image as well –in fact you might even want to put the word test in your image file name or URL. If you are really paranoid, you can go as far as to setting up a separate eBay User ID with the word test in it. For example, my username is McGrrrrr. I could set up an user ID such as mcgrrrrr_test.
Speaking of listing tools, earlier this week I announced a new eBay research and listing tool combined with a website builder from a company that I am involved with (I serve on their advisory board) called Magniphy.
The web site builder is easy to use and comes with personal phone, email and chat support. The research tool is powered by HammerTap and the listing tool is very-very cool; easy to use, powerful and the whole package will save you money on subscriptions and eBay listing fees. Check out Magniphy. If you sign up don’t be surprised to see me appear occasionally in videos and webinars we use to provide training and support to our customers.
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