Buyers Can Be Reported for Invalid and Excessive eBay Bid Retractions

Posted on August 8, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

On eBay, a bid on an auction is supposed to be binding.  However, eBay recognizes that honest mistakes can sometimes occur so they allow bidders to cancel or retract a bid.  In their Help pages, eBay defines three very specific conditions where bid retractions are allowed:

  • You accidentally entered the wrong bid amount due to a typographical error. For instance, you bid $99.50 instead of $9.95. If this occurs, you must reenter the correct bid amount immediately after you retract your bid. Changing your mind is not a typographical error.

  • The item’s description changed significantly after you entered your last bid. For instance, the seller updated details about the item’s features or condition.

  • You can’t reach the seller by telephone or email.

  • Some eBay buyers enter bids and retract them for reasons other than those listed above.  Other than the allowable reasons above, why would a buyer possibly place a bid and then retract?

    1. An eBay buyer may place a bid on 2 or 3 or more similiar items in hopes that they will win at least one of them for the price they are willing to pay.  They only want to purchase a quantity of one, though, so whenever they win one of the items, they cancel their bids on all the remaining items which have not ended. 

    2. An eBay buyer places a large bid amount, higher than they expect the auction to go, so that they can see what the top amount the current high bidder is willing to pay.  And then that bid is retracted.  Because the bidding is done by proxy, any bidder can enter a maximum bid but can actually win the auction at a much lower amount if no one outbids them.  By finding out the current top bidder’s maximum bid (by entering a very high amount which, by proxy, pushes up the bid to the highest amount the current bidder is willing to pay), the potential bidder then decides whether he wants to place a bid and wait around for the auction to end. 

    3. Sometimes a bidder places a huge bid, much more than they are willing to pay, to discover the seller’s reserve price.  When there are no other bidders and a bid in excess of the reserve price is placed, by proxy the amount of the high bid goes up only to the seller’s reserve price.  By knowing the seller’s reserve price, the eBay member can then decide if they want to really bid on the item or perhaps they might email the seller directly with an offer to end the listing.

    Whenever a buyer retracts their eBay bid, it often affects other eBay members directly.  A member who placed a valid bid and was outbid may then go on to a different auction from another seller and place a bid or perhaps will find the same item with an acceptable Buy Now price and may purchase the item.  After the bid retraction on the first item, the eBay member who was previously outbid is now the high bidder once again which may not be what the member wants anymore.  And eBay members who do not understand proxy bidding may be suspicious of the seller if they are the high bidder one day, get outbid the next day, and then are the high bidder once again the following day.

    So, an eBay seller would want to report an eBay member who they suspect is violating the rules.  A bidder who retracted their bid because of a typographical error MUST re-enter a bid.  If the bidder does not then they are breaking the rules.  This type of behavior would be considered an invalid eBay bid retraction.    

    Even if a buyer always retracts their bid for a valid reason, they cannot retract bids excessively.  For example, this past week a bidder with 0 feedback bid on one of my auctions and then retracted their bid yesterday.  The bidder had retracted 17 bids in the short time they had been registered.  That was yesterday.  Today, they racked up another 5 bid retractions for a total of 22 bid retractions in just over 2 months with no completed transactions where the sellers left feedback (zero feedback).  And the week before that, I had a bidder retract a bid and when I viewed the buyer’s history, I saw that they had retracted 75 bids in the last 12 months.  This type of behavior would be considered excessive bid retractions.

    You can review the number of times a bidder has retracted bids by clicking on the Tab labelled “Feedback as a Buyer” from a member’s feedback page.



    On the far right hand side, you will see the total number of feedback retractions for the member.



    If you are a seller who has been a victim of an eBay member who has retracted their bid for an invalid reason or who has excessive bid retractions, you can report the member by clicking Here (NOTE: You must be signed into eBay for this link to work)

    If the link doesn’t work for you, then just search the eBay help pages for “Invalid Bid Retraction” and click on the arrow labelled “Additional Details” and then click on the “Contact Us” link.  Be sure to include the auction number and the bidder’s ID.  Don’t assume eBay Trust & Safety will spend a lot of time investigating to find out why you are reporting the buyer.  Instead, be very specific in your report.  State “Bidder retracted bid because of typographical error but did not re-enter another bid” or “Bidder has excessive bid retractions – 75 in a 12 month period”.

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    One Response to “Buyers Can Be Reported for Invalid and Excessive eBay Bid Retractions”

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    I have a buyer and we have mutually agreed that sh
    she made a mistake puchasing two items. How do
    I send her an invoice for just one of the items
    ebay is not allowing her pay now to go through
    and is still charging her for both items! Help!
    she wants to pay for one of the items but I as a
    a seller do not know how to fix this?

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