Now THIS is nuts!


Okay, so we all giggle about some unusually high prices for calcs on that auction site from time to time, but this one is crazy.

I was looking for a particular calc and there was this banner ad at the bottom of the page. Clearly targeting my needs, I thought I'd peak at it, and then I saw the price. I almost couldn't believe it!

HP Paper

So if my math is correct, that's only six rolls of paper. Are these guys for real? Don't they know I can get a 24-pack of new paper from Office Depot for like $15.00?

Truly amazing.


Hi Bruce,

I find things like this quite common on Amazon. Don't really understand how the vender comes up with their high price point.

Maybe they figue the Box adds value :)

You know $6 for 6 rolls of paper and $545 for the official HP box.

What's really interesting is there are TWO venders with exactly the same high price.

Thanks for the chuckle.



Don't they know I can get a 24-pack of new paper from Office Depot for like $15.00?

Truly amazing.

THEY probably know that, they might even be buying up OD rolls and
repackaging them.

But what about some bureaucrat's assistant who was ordered,
"Buy more paper for the HP calc's!!!" And when she/he called up
GSA (Government Services Administration ( a US Gov't TLA) ) Helpdesk, she/he couldn't get a definite answer that the OD paper will work, so they
go with what they know...

Or maybe a similar situation in the military, only here it is an E-3 (Enlisted, level 3 pay scale) who is also working on getting there GED (High School Equivalency Diploma) and the OD paper does have a
MIL-SPEC number...

dona nobis pacem


Hmm I have the box with only 5 rolls in it. Should I sell the box only as I have no use for it?


It's been a while since we had an eBay dogpile. While I know it's not of interest to some here, once in a while you just gotta laugh at how stupid some of the auctions are. This one just screams SHILL SHILL SHILL. It's sad that eBay doesn't have better controls on this kind of nonsense. After all, how hard is it to compare IP addresses?

A nice HP48G+ for $250

PS: I put eBay in the subject line so those who wish to skip the post may do so - for fear they might waste some time or whatever it is about eBay posts that is offensive or whatever.

Edited: 29 Aug 2007, 5:38 p.m.


Definitely some interesting bidding going on. It's quite a coincidence that several of the bidders have such similar names.


Yeah, sometimes I wonder if eBay is used for laundering money.

What if...

I put a RARE! MINT! NIB! watchamacallit up for auction, that typically sells for 1 Ducat. I notify my friend, Euclid, in Kanuckistan of the auction, (eh?). He in turn notifies his friend, Kwazymodo, of the auction.
The two of them get in a bidding war and Euclid buys my trinket for 998 Samoluskies. I get the money, and along with the watchamacallit he receives a kilo or so of fine Afghani snow.

What if I do it daily with dozens of "friends" around the world under
dozens of seller accounts?


The scary thing is that this idea has as much credibility as the idiot-buyer theory. We don't really have proof that the market for all these HP calculators hasn't been inflated.


It's quite a coincidence that several of the bidders have such similar names.

I thought that, too - at first.

I have since seen such similar names on several other ebay auctions - i.e. names with a first and last letter or number and a bunch of asterisks inbetween. I think this is ebay's new bidder naming convention, replacing the "bidder1" "bidder2" etc. that they had recently begun using when the bid price got high enough (somewhere between $100 and $200, it appears).


Yes, you are correct. I just found this: To protect bidder privacy, when the price or highest bid on an item reaches or exceeds a certain level, User IDs will be displayed as anonymous names... Note: Anonymous names may appear more than once and may represent different bidders.

Anyway, eBay is not consistent on this policy, as I just saw a $1000 bid on an item i was watching, and bidder names were still displayed. At the same time I saw two items at less than $100, with anonymous bidders. So, whatever.


Hi Randy,

that is really insane. For two weeks ago I got hold of an mint HP48GX with original box, blister, manuals, HP-connectivity kit incl. floppy disc and an additional 128 kB Calculus I ROM card for 43 USD (bought the set on internet, but not ebay!)

the calc is a 1994 Singapore made.


> After all, how hard is it to compare IP addresses?

Unfortunately this wouldn't work. Comparing IP addresses would create heaps of false positives, as there are many, many major providers that represent thousands of users with a single IP address, because of their router/firewall topology.

I would be quite upset if I placed a last-second bid on a beloved item, only to have eBay's shill-bot reject the bid, simply because the seller (or another bidder) and I shared the same ISP.

While I haven't given this much thought, the only meaningful way I can envision to sniff out shill bidders would be to (data-mining style) run some comprehensive queries on all the auction data, perhaps via machine-learning algorithm. For each auction, note the seller, the bidders, and probably some other behavior (like the bid increment amount, and time before auction close), and do a full comparison. The shilling IDs would (hopefully) be visible through bids on multiple auctions by the same seller.

Even so, this still wouldn't be perfect ... in an eBay niche like vintage calculators, people bid on multiple auctions by the same seller all the time, so you'd still get false positives, even if you use a smart-ish distinguishing criteria. I expect that there would be some obvious true positives, possibly by bid volume or other behavior, and perhaps public enforcement of these cases would scare everyone else straight.

Alas, this type of analysis isn't free, and since eBay stands to benefit from shill bids, I can't imagine they'd bother with something like this, unless the reputation of their marketplace was seriously at stake.

Still, it's a fun mental exercise.



Actually, ebay *does* some analysis to identify shill bidding. I was "caught" by ebay's safe harbor team, because a co-worker purchased an item on ebay from me. The same person purchased maybe 3-4 items from me over the course of the last two years, and never paid through PayPal (why would she, cash is king). Ebay made me go through a 30 minute online shill bidding tutorial, and my account was blocked from selling for 14 days.

Here is the thing, though: I always tell people at work when I am selling something. Sometimes they are interested, and they are likely to pay a bit more because there is no shipping involved, and I like it because they are no PayPal fees, but ebay does *not* allow you to sell to co-workers. Even that is considered shill-bidding.

Ebay's suggestion: Cancel the bids and end the auction early - even if it's just minutes, then sell it off-line. Exactly what I am going to do from now on...


It just gets crazier and crazier



Wow! US$177 for a Classic (e.g., HP-35) batery charger. The fair-market "right price" should be around $35 w/o box.

-- KS


If this kind of bidding holds up, counterfeiters will enter the market. It would be easy to counterfeit a charger and box and still make plenty of profit.

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