Buying/Selling/Trading/Auction - PART V TRADING
For Toy-related Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions & Posting Guide
Developed and Maintained by Eric G. Myers & Scott J. Gordon
Version 2.0 - 6/98
This document may be reproduced in whole or in part as long as no
modifications are made and the maintainer information and all
acknowledgments are kept in tact as appropriate. For corrections,
additions or questions, please contact [email protected].
FAQ Index | General | Buying | Selling | Trading | Auctions
FAQ Index | General | Buying | Selling | Trading | Auctions
Q4.1: Do people want to trade? How does it work? How can I get people
to trade with me?
Q5.1: Why should I hold an auction?
A5.1: An auction might be a good idea if you aren't really sure of an
item's worth or you are not sure what people might be interested in
paying for an item. Auctions do require a significant amount of time and
organization to be run effectively. As an unusual, but verifiable plus,
some items have been noted to fetch significantly higher prices when
auctioned than when offered for straight sale. There are numerous
examples of someone bidding more for an item even when there may be
a cheaper straight sale post for the same item right below the auction
post. Auctions bring out people's competitive natures.
Auctions may also alienate some buyers who prefer to complete
transactions faster, who don't trust that there's not a "ringer" driving
up the price, or who don't like the "god" rule. You have to weigh this
against your potential for gain.
Additionally, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that auctions pose a
greater risk of non-payment than straight sales. Some people get caught
up in auction-fever without really having the money to back up their
bids. Its important to keep good records during an auction so you can
contact previous bidders should the winning bidder fail to send payment.
Q5.2: What is the preferred format for an auction?
A5.2: There are really two main auction methods:
1) The Once, Twice, Sold method (sometimes referred to as the
Going, Going, Gone Method)
2) The Time Limited Method.
For the Once, Twice, Sold (OTS) method, bids are accepted on items
and updated at regular intervals. A new bid that is posted at the first
update or supersedes a lower bid is listed as NEW. A bid that remains
unchallenged after one update period is listed as ONCE (or GOING
ONCE). A bid that remains unchallenged after two update periods is
listed as TWICE (or GOING TWICE). And a bid that lasts a full three
update periods without being replaced with a higher bid is then listed as
For the Time Limited Method (TL), the auctioneer announces a closing
date prior to accepting any bids. The highest bid received by the
specified closing date is the winning bid.
If you have the time and patience, the OTS method is vastly preferable.
With the TL method, you often end up extending the closing date
anyway and may have angry bidders who might have actually been
willing to outbid the winning bid on the closing date. OTS auctions
avoid some of those problems.
Q5.3: What are the standard rules for an auction?
A5.3: Rules may vary from auction to auction. Its really up to you, but
try to make sure you cover everything that is important to you before you
even begin. Changing the rules in the middle of an auction is a sure way
to lose bidders.
Todd Lehman, author of the LEGO (r) Auction and Shipping FAQ
suggests these categories:
"This is a Once, Twice, Sold auction."
"This is a fixed-length auction."
"Auction ends when all items have
been marked Sold."
"Auction ends on such-and-such a
date at midnight."
"All bids must be in US$."
Minimum Bid Increments
"Bid in $1 increments."
"Minimum bid increments go by the
following sliding scale: ..."
"You may send a personal check,
money order, cashier's check, or
other non-cash form of payment.
There will be a one week waiting
period for personal checks to
"Free shipping if you live in the
U.S. Otherwise, you pay shipping."
"Free shipping if your total is $50
"Fixed $3 shipping fee if you live in
"Buyer pays shipping."
In general, put the rules at the end of your auction post. Place a note
at the top stating that the rules are attached, but there is no need to
have everyone read all the rules if they aren't interested in what you
have to offer. Plus, you probably want to put the most exciting or
desirable part of your auction post first anyway to entice people to
read on. Don't bore people with the rules, captivate them with your
cool stuff! Then post the rules.
Q5.4: What is a "lot?"
A5.4: A "lot" is a term used to describe an item or items for sale in an
auction. A lot can be a single item but is often used to describe several
items being sold or auctioned as a group.
Q5.5: What's the best way to give updates or let bidders know when there
is a new bid or a change in bids?
A5.5: Far and away, the best method is to e-mail all your bidders
directly. This is the fastest, most direct method of updating. However,
it is probably not enough just to e-mail updates since you'll want to
attract new bidders as well. Therefore, you will probably need to post
updates to the newsgroup at some interval as well. Daily updates (or
more frequent) are unnecessary and poor netiquette. it is considered
fairly standard to post public updates at two or three day intervals
at minimum. This allows you previous post to propagate reasonably well
before sending out updates. Posting updates more frequently may
actually hurt your auction since it can become confusing to bidders if
updates arrive out of sequence or are delayed by a slow newsfeed.
The best possible solution is a combination of both methods. Post public
updates every three or more days. Send e-mail directly to bidders (or
other interested parties) for more frequent updates.
Q5.6: How should I format my auction posting and updates?
A5.6: Again, this is personal preference. Your primary concern should be
readability though. If your post is sloppy or hard to read, you will lose
potential bidders right there. Put the rules at the bottom of the post.
Only people interested in bidding will read the rules anyway, so its best
to start your post off with the good stuff (i.e., what you have on the
You might want to consider numbering your items (or lots).
Q5.7: What is a "Buyout price" or a "Quick-sale price?"
A5.7: This is an amount that allows you to purchase an item or a lot
outright (like a straight sale, no bidding). Generally, buyout prices
are higher than the final bid price. This allows individuals to purchase
items without having to wait through the auction process, though they
usually end up spending more for the item.
Q5.8: How should I decide on minimum bid prices?
A5.8: Again, this is a matter of personal preference. A good rule of
thumb is to set minimum bids at the lowest possible price that you would
sell the item for. If you set the minimum bid too high, you may scare
off potential bidders. If you set the minimum bid too low, then you might
end up selling the item for less than you had hoped.
Q5.9: What should I do if the winning bidder doesn't send their payment?
A5.9: As noted, this is a risk with auctions. The best thing to do is to
contact the next highest bidder. This assumes that you have been
keeping good records at every stage of the auction (a prudent
suggestion in any case).
Q5.10: What is E-bay (Auction Universe, etc.)? How should I announce my auctions at these web sites?
A5.10: There are a number of web based auction sites. These sites allow you to run
nearly automated auctions. All have different features and fee structures. Be sure to
research your choice well before placing an item for auction or placing a bid.
Here is a list of some of the more popular sites. More are starting up all the time.
E-Bay Auction Web
Up 4 Sale
If you are going to post an announcement of an auction being conducted
on a web site please observe a few rules of common courtesy. First, make
sure your subject line says "AUCTION" or "AUC" and NOT "FS." The
abbreviation "FS" is inappropriate for these types of posts. Also, be sure
you give a complete URL for the specific item you are auctioning. If you just
ask the reader to search the site for your auction, you will reduce your
audience tremendously. Finally, be sure to post your notice only every
few days. Do not post your ad every day. There isn't enough turnover in
readership to justify posting your ad daily.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, CONTRIBUTORS & THANKS:
Marcia Bednarcyk - for general comments, suggestions and general
John Gersten - for editing help, numerous comments and suggestions,
and a really good Einstein quote. :)
Pam Green - for the Toy Shop info, International deals info and other
numerous comments and suggestions
Todd Lehman - for permission to use parts of his LEGO(r) Auction &
Gus Lopez - for permission to use parts of the
rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting FAQ along with numerous
comments and suggestions.