Auction sites drive me crazy

Is it just me or are auction sites (one in particular) designed by devious minds with unquestionable Machiavellian leanings?

This last year, I have been doing a lot of lathe work and my stash of wood, accumulated over the last 20 years, does not offer much in the way of turning stock. So I have been turning over every rock in sight looking for suitable pieces. I found what appeared to be a veritable treasure trove of fine exotically figured turning stock on a well known online auction site. So I excitedly began bidding on some. Before I knew it, my e-mail inbox was flooded with “you have been outbid notices” and messages telling me, “Sorry, you didn’t win ….” And they seemed to arrive within seconds after I made my offers. At first I started getting sucked into the bid raising thing but the original bids I had made were actually pretty much what I was willing to pay for the offered pieces.

Finally I tried to contact the sellers to ask them if they would just send me some pictures of wood they had for sale and tell me the prices. After all, there’s no law that says they have to sell everything they have on the auction site, is there? Well, evidently there is and it’s policed because I immediately got “wrist slap” e-mails from the site informing me that this violated the terms of use.

It’s not that I don’t understand the concept of an auction or that I am a technophobe. I just don’t have the patience for these kinds of gamy business dealings. So for now, I’m back to finding my wood the good old fashioned way by calling dealers and asking them what they have.



  • PutnamEco says:

    Patience is the name of the game with auction sites. You did well to stick with your price. There is a certain amount of “auction fever” that many contract, that compells them to bid over a reasonable price, just so that they can get the win. If you want to get the good deals just keep bidding and know when to walk away, and eventually you’ll find you will get the occasional bargain.Some times it would seem things go through cycles with items going for very high prices one month and than the next they are selling cheap, some items are always in demand though, and will alway command a high price. I do get a kick out of it when they bid currently produced items up over what you could buy them for new. Sometimes trolling through pages of seemingly irrelevant auctions will turn up overlooked treasures,(like a generic search for wood vs turning blanks) as will buying larger lots than most are willing to bother with.
    I agree that most auction site are VERY protetive of their racket.
    There is a list started by this Craig fellow where you may have some better luck just by asking for what you want.

  • Bob Hunt says:

    I remember my first winning bid of $7.99 for a box of sycamore cutoffs for turning small items. What was a great bargain, for someone with no idea the street curbs were full of beautiful turning stock, turned out otherwise. The bargain box of wood cost me $27 in shipping costs.

    You learn.

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