Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recent ebay successes: The Shotgun Technique

On most days, I'd rather take my chances on Craigslist and run the risk of being kidnapped and brutally murdered inside a van off the side of a highway somewhere in West Virginia than venture into the price gouging, fake shilling world of ebay.  But recently, I don't know what's gotten into me.

You already know how ebay works because you've been alive for more than a day but just in case you need a recap, people post their wares/goods/collectibles (what have you) on ebay and idiots throw money at it until it sticks.  It only sticks when time runs out and it is determined that you were the idiot that lost the most money on it.  You do gain the item but you probably paid more than you should have had to.  This is evident because no other idiot offered to pay as much money as you did. You stupid sucker.


As a collector of video games, I already know all about throwing money down a black hole for shit I seriously don't need.  That said, my collection still has plenty of holes to fill and there's no absolute single game that I HAVE TO HAVE.  But I need ALL of them.  You get me?

So, I opt for the shotgun technique.

Allow me to explain.

Since I'm not on ebay looking for any particular game to buy or bid on, I bid on all of them with the hopes that I don't win but maybe two or three of my bids.  I promise to pay about $400 with the hopes of only spending about $15 of that over a given auction span of typically six or less days. Most recently, I've gone through my N64 needs list and narrowed the list down to all games between $10 and $20 (I'll explain why shortly).

I use Video Game Price Chart Guide to reference the recent values for games to narrow down that list.  The guide references recently sold items on ebay and averages that price over the last 30 days. Once I have my games in that range, I go through and low bid all of them.  I purposely come up plenty short, including shipping.  For a game that recently sold for $15 (not counting shipping), that has $3 shipping listed, I would probably bid $9.  That's just over half price for a game that will cost me $12 to own.  Most times the bid will reach around $15 but sometimes.... it won't.  With a shotgun, sometimes is all you need.

Here are my recent bids (all N64) that I didn't win.  Notice my max bid in relation to the red price of what it sold for and the shipping usually included beneath.  Sometimes I was close, other times I was fairly short.

As you can see, there's some variation there.  The same game sold once for $12.51 and another time for $26.99 plus shipping.  But it's that variability that also helps me get it on the cheap end.  Here's the one's I've recently won:

I picked up Battle Tanx: Global Assault for $10 including shipping when on average it goes for about $10.99 without shipping.  I got Road Rash for $14 including shipping when on average it goes for about $17 without shipping.  I picked up Duke Nukem for $10.50 with shipping and it goes for about $13 without shipping.  I picked up Magical Tetric Challenge and The New Tetris together for $9.85 with shipping when they go for about $18 without shipping.  All in all, pretty decent.

The last one is interesting.  The package deal made this auction less appealing to buyers because they either had one game or the other or it was hard to search for because the title included more than one game.  Luckily I found it and needed both... thanks bballplya91.

Why is the $10-20 price range best, though?  Games cheaper than $10 will be over 50% shipping and ebayers love to gouge you for shipping costs.  Buying a $2 game and having it shipped for $4 seems stupid and even if you got a deal, it wouldn't be good enough to warrant your time.  Games over $20 are typically more competitive to land.  You'll rarely have a game in that range squeak by collectors on a popular site like ebay.  I occasionally bid on games in that range but I have a 0% hit rate there so far, so I'm clearly bidding way too low.  That's okay though, that's the point.  I don't WANT to win them all or else I would be out of money.  The ability to land about 5% of these low ball bids helps my collection grow at a steady rate and I'm still saving money.  I'm saving even more money than I would if I bought these games in stores because how do many shops price their games?  They look at ebay prices, the same prices I'm lowballing by x dollars.  Shipping is really the only stinker but if you bid low enough to account for that, then you still win.

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