Saturday, March 10, 2007

A little lesson on eBay

Our kids have an exciting couple of days watching us try to procure a computer game on eBay. The game in question is the now 'out of print' Pikmin 2 for the Nintendo GameCube/Wii. You may recall from an earlier post that Pikmin itself became a household obsession for us over the summer holiday. The Thirty-Six year old finally finished it yesterday. But the Six year old had been using his new found 'finder' (i.e., Google) on the computer to discover that there was a Pikmin 2. He also believed that it could be purchased from Target. Sadly, this appeared to be in the US and so out of our reach.

A hunt for Pikmin 2 ensued with the Thirty-Six year old favouring a new version but discovering that one we found would cost $100. I suggested eBay as an alternative where Pikmin 2 seemed to be selling for about $50.

This seemed like a good opportunity for some learning about how auctions and bidding worked for the kids. There was a mild budget constraint (the price of the new one) so that was an issue. Nonetheless, the notion of eBay as an alternative to bricks and mortar stores was a novelty.

The first auction closing was from someone who had some red flags in reputation. So we avoided that. The second, however, looked good (here is the link for as long as it lasts). You will notice that we were the highest bidder (at $37) until about an hour before the auction closed. The Eight year old was still up and so we deliberated over whether to up our bid above $50. I didn't want to as there was another auction closing the next day. It seemed to me that we could go for that with one fewer bidders and surely do better. That was the economist speaking.

The Eight year old was concerned we wouldn't get that one. So I decided to make a deal. I told her that we could bid on that auction. If we won, then we would look at the price tomorrow's auction closed at. My daughter would agree to pay the difference. I pointed out that there might not be any difference or tomorrow' might close for more. However, she didn't want to take the risk of forking out her own money and was now happy to wait a day. That auction closed at $55.

So today was a day spent in constant refreshing of the auction page. We had to go out so we put in a maximum bid of $60. For most of the day we were the highest bidder (at $41). We got home with 10 minutes to spare and were still winning. My daughter refreshed the page every five seconds as the tension built. Then, one minute before the end, the price started to rise. Someone was bidding against us. 30 seconds before the end we were trumped. The next bid was $61.

At that point I did something I probably shouldn't have. I decided not to let it go. I put in a bid at $65 (not enough) and then $66 (it was). That last bid was at one second. We had sniped the sniper. (You can see the bid history here for as long as the link is open).

To say there was much rejoicing is an understatement. The Eight year old has her own blog (it is open to family and friends only) but here is what she wrote:
Yay We Won Pikmin 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday there was an auction on ebay, we didn't win, because Dad didn't want us to.
But today there was another one, it was soooo...... close, but we just won!!!!
Me, my younger brother, and my younger sister were so excited!!!!!! Well my younger sister wasn't really excited she just pretended to. [Because we were].
You will notice that there was a little re-writing of history there (you just can't trust those bloggers!) but the sense of the day is conveyed well.

Actually, the rejoicing did not include me. Had we gone for it yesterday we may well have been $10 better off. (It has hard to tell what some more competition would have pushed the price to). Suffice it to say, I should have got it for a little less today but didn't. Economic theory failed me this time around.

Now, of course, came the news they would have to wait some days for the item to be shipped from Tasmania. A clear disadvantage to eBay.

But this all brought the realisation that we could sell stuff on eBay and get money. The Eight year old, however, is currently reluctant to part with any of her stuff.