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  #1  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:22 PM
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Peter_Spaeth Peter_Spaeth is online now
Peter Spaeth
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Default Is "market pushing" ethical or not?

My understanding is that there are some well-to-do individuals who wish to increase the value of their portfolios of high end cards (one could use the euphemism "protect their investment" but it's more than that), and more generally to foster an environment where at least at the high end cards are perceived as investment-quality goods. One of the ways they are trying to accomplish this is to try to “push” the prices of big ticket items both on ebay and in catalog auctions such as Heritage, etc. On ebay, at least, where one has some visibility into bidding histories, one can see that their M.O. is to very aggressively bid up ongoing auctions, trying to find the top and hoping to push others to bid higher. Thus, one sees many of these high ticket auctions where the bidding history reveals that the same underbidder has placed a very high number of bids, most of them consecutive, but stops short of taking the lead. Other times, of course, the "pusher" will take the lead and even win the item.

I have communicated with PWCC about this. Brent informs me that he has three rules in place to address what clearly is happening in today's market. One, a bidder cannot bid on items he has consigned. Two, a bidder cannot retract if he does cross the threshold and become the high bidder. Three, a winning bidder must pay.

So my question for the group is whether this activity by the "pushers" in the context of Brent's rules (I don't know what rules others may have) is an unethical variant of shill bidding, or just aggressive but ethical conduct. The argument for it being unethical of course is that the "pushers" are not bidding (at least in many cases) in an effort to win items but rather with the goal of increasing the price someone else pays, in order to protect their investments/drive the market higher. And almost certainly, people are paying higher prices than they would in the absence of these bids, which is the quintessential concern about shill bidding. Not to mention overall market and trickle down effects. (Yeah, I am not neutral here.) On the other hand, assuming Brent's rules are followed, people are not retracting to discover high bids, are paying if they win, and are not running up their own cards which of course is the more traditional shill bidding situation.

An interesting issue and one on which I suspect there will be a variety of opinions.

Last edited by Peter_Spaeth; 06-24-2016 at 03:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:26 PM
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Here is an example from a still-active auction to illustrate my point. It is anything but isolated, by the way.

Member Id: u***s( 513Feedback score is 500 to 999) US $45,000.00
Jun-23-16 20:05:44 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $44,905.00
Jun-23-16 20:11:01 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $44,550.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:52 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $44,250.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:49 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $43,950.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:46 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $43,550.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:40 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $43,250.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:35 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $42,950.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:31 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $42,550.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:26 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $42,250.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:23 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $41,950.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:20 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $41,550.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:10 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $41,250.00
Jun-23-16 20:10:03 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $40,950.00
Jun-23-16 20:09:58 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $40,550.00
Jun-23-16 20:09:52 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $39,950.00
Jun-23-16 20:07:28 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $39,000.00
Jun-23-16 20:07:23 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $38,000.00
Jun-23-16 20:07:18 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $37,000.00
Jun-23-16 20:07:14 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $36,000.00
Jun-23-16 20:07:09 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $35,100.00
Jun-23-16 18:27:46 PDT

Member Id: u***s( 513Feedback score is 500 to 999) US $35,000.00
Jun-17-16 16:09:12 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $34,950.00
Jun-17-16 16:11:46 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $34,000.00
Jun-17-16 16:11:41 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $33,000.00
Jun-17-16 16:11:36 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $32,000.00
Jun-17-16 16:11:31 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $31,000.00
Jun-17-16 16:11:23 PDT

Member Id: a***t( 1309Feedback score is 1000 to 4,999) US $29,900.00
Jun-17-16 14:52:54 PDT

Last edited by Peter_Spaeth; 06-24-2016 at 03:53 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:27 PM
1952boyntoncollector 1952boyntoncollector is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
My understanding is that there are some well-to-do individuals who wish to increase the value of their portfolios of high end cards (one could use the euphemism "protect their investment" but it's more than that), and more generally to foster an environment where at least at the high end cards are perceived as investment-quality goods. One of the ways they are trying to accomplish this is to try to “push” the prices of big ticket items both on ebay and in catalog auctions such as Heritage, etc. On ebay, at least, where one has some visibility into bidding histories, one can see that their M.O. is to very aggressively bid up ongoing auctions, trying to find the top and hoping to push others to bid higher. Thus, one sees many of these high ticket auctions where the bidding history reveals that the same underbidder has placed a very high number of bids, most of them consecutive, but stops short of taking the lead. Other times, of course, the "pusher" will take the lead and even win the item.

I have communicated with PWCC about this. Brent informs me that he has three rules in place to address what clearly is happening in today's market. One, a bidder cannot bid on items he has consigned. Two, a bidder cannot retract if he does cross the threshold and become the high bidder. Three, a winning bidder must pay.

So my question for the group is whether this activity by the "pushers" in the context of Brent's rules (I don't know what rules others may have) is an unethical variant of shill bidding, or just aggressive but ethical conduct. The argument for it being unethical of course is that the "pushers" are not bidding (at least in many cases) in an effort to win items but rather with the goal of increasing the price someone else pays, in order to protect their investments/drive the market higher. And almost certainly, people are paying higher prices than they would in the absence of these bids, which is the quintessential concern about shill bidding. Not to mention overall market and trickle down effects. (Yeah, I am not neutral here.) On the other hand, assuming Brent's rules are followed, people are not retracting to discover high bids, are paying if they win, and are not running up their own cards which of course is the more traditional shill bidding situation.

An interesting issue and one on which I suspect there will be a variety of opinions.
As long as whoever bids is prepared to pay for the item with their bid and pay and the seller will have to pay the fee...i dont care...the issue of unethical to me is when the seller doesnt have to pay the fee for the 'win'.

people will stop bidding or have people stop bidding on their items real fast when they have to pay a $500 fee for example on winning their own card for $5000......so now they would need $5500 just to break even on it

Last edited by 1952boyntoncollector; 06-24-2016 at 03:28 PM.
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  #4  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:28 PM
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As long as there is no shilling is going on, and the prices are "real," then I have no problem with market pushing. By "real," I am saying that the winning bidder did pay for the item (including BP, if there was one), and it wasn't some sort of fake scenario where one friend "bought" a card from another friend and "paid" him that winning bid, and then that card was "bought" back (e.g., shenanigans like that). If the market prices are genuine, then I have no problems with this market pushing. Sooner or later, those people who are trying to "protect" their investment will find out there are too many cards to buy, and then when they try to unload their investment, find out there are no buyers at the prices they want.
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  #5  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by glchen View Post
As long as there is no shilling is going on, and the prices are "real," then I have no problem with market pushing. By "real," I am saying that the winning bidder did pay for the item (including BP, if there was one), and it wasn't some sort of fake scenario where one friend "bought" a card from another friend and "paid" him that winning bid, and then that card was "bought" back (e.g., shenanigans like that). If the market prices are genuine, then I have no problems with this market pushing. Sooner or later, those people who are trying to "protect" their investment will find out there are too many cards to buy, and then when they try to unload their investment, find out there are no buyers at the prices they want.
Define a "genuine" market price. In Mastro the government defined it as the price that would have prevailed in the absence of bids made for a purpose other than winning. Not the price one guy was willing to pay. At least that's my understanding.

Last edited by Peter_Spaeth; 06-24-2016 at 03:32 PM.
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  #6  
Old 06-24-2016, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
Define a "genuine" market price. In Mastro the government defined it as the price that would have prevailed in the absence of bids made for a purpose other than winning. Not the price one guy was willing to pay. At least that's my understanding.
This seems like a great point. Its still shilling if your intention is to just drive up a price, even if it is not your specific card.

I'm assuming in the example provided, that the bid increment was $100 at that level so the underbidder knew he had pushed it to a max.

I'm also curious as to how PWCC can disallow bid retractions. Isn't that governed by ebay? Can a seller set up a listing that doesn't allow bid retractions?
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Old 06-24-2016, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PM770 View Post
This seems like a great point. Its still shilling if your intention is to just drive up a price, even if it is not your specific card.

I'm assuming in the example provided, that the bid increment was $100 at that level so the underbidder knew he had pushed it to a max.

I'm also curious as to how PWCC can disallow bid retractions. Isn't that governed by ebay? Can a seller set up a listing that doesn't allow bid retractions?
I don't speak for Brent, but my understanding is that he will suspend bidders who retract without a good explanation.
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Old 06-24-2016, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post

I have communicated with PWCC about this. Brent informs me that he has three rules in place to address what clearly is happening in today's market. One, a bidder cannot bid on items he has consigned. Two, a bidder cannot retract if he does cross the threshold and become the high bidder. Three, a winning bidder must pay.
Brent needs to define what he means by a bidder cannot bid on items he has consigned. How is he able to discourage that or even stop it? What about a bidder's BFF? So I have my doubts id rule one is adhered to. As to rule 2 only he would know if the massive volume of retractions are being done by the consignor (see question as to rule #1). As to rule 3, only Brent would know if items are all actually being paid for.

With that said, the government made their whole case against Mastro Auctions based on the sheer volume of shill bids permitted to be placed by consignors or consignors friends and families. It was not so much that the house was doing it but that they permitted "artificial" bids to be placed. Bill is in prison for this. Doug is going shortly and possibly Mark and countless others dropped considerable amount of cash having to lawyer up so they did not end up in the same place.

I would say Brent is in a pretty dangerous spot should the feds read this and decide to take a look around. This might be a great time to lose one's hard drives and back ups.
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Old 06-24-2016, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
Define a "genuine" market price. In Mastro the government defined it as the price that would have prevailed in the absence of bids made for a purpose other than winning. Not the price one guy was willing to pay. At least that's my understanding.
Peter, for my definition, a "genuine" market price was obtain in the absence of any shill bids. So as in the government's definition, even if the high bidder's max bid was legitimate, that is not a genuine market price if he were shilled up.
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Old 06-24-2016, 04:29 PM
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Peter, for my definition, a "genuine" market price was obtain in the absence of any shill bids. So as in the government's definition, even if the high bidder's max bid was legitimate, that is not a genuine market price if he were shilled up.
So why is it legitimate here, where bids are placed with the intent only of driving up the price? I am missing your point. In both situations the price seems manipulated to me, in one case by the consignor, in the other case by someone trying to protect their investments/push prices higher but not with the goal of winning the auction at the lowest possible price. which is of course what legitimate bidders do.

Last edited by Peter_Spaeth; 06-24-2016 at 04:32 PM.
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