can't shake the guilt...


I was poking around ebay yesterday and ran across this... which I thought was pretty cool - it would nicely complement the HP Corvallis boxer shorts that I picked up about 6 months prior ;). The only problem was that the high bidder's handle was wlodekmj. First I thought it was some very enthusiastic HP collector paying homage to the esteemed M. J. Wlodek, but I looked at the email address ( and it appears to indeed be "the man". To make a long story short, I sniped (I bid 11 min before auction close - not a ruthless snipe, but snipe nevertheless) him, and now I feel stupid/guilty/etc. So you think what I did was wrong? Please help me earn absolution (if justified)!


Excuse me,

who is this Mr Wlodek ? I think I've heard about him before. Isn't he the "inventor" of RPN ?

This question because he contacted me about calcs I am currently selling...


unless he thinks it's a reference to his age! :-)

Wlodek has written many great books on HP calcs and organized clubs and meetings etc. However, I think you may have him confused with Jan Lukasiewicz who would be around 120 years old now.


Thanks for "getting" my intention was NOT to open the sniping debate again. I guess it was just a bad stab at humor.


1. Well, I've followed this thread with interest - and amusement! Amazement too, that anyone could have thought RPN was invented this recently. Actually, an uncle of mine, when he was at university, attended lectures by Jan Lukasiewicz, so it was not _that_ long ago.
2. Michael Hyche's was not a ruthless snipe - you won it fair - don't worry :-) I would have liked it, but if I had _really_ wanted it, I would have bid more.
3. One point I would like to add - when an HP calculator book/brochure is offered on eBay and I do not have it, nor is it on the Museum's CD-ROM collection, I bid on it, and if I get it I offer copies/scans to the other bidders, and to Dave Hicks for the Museum. It would be nice if those of us who visit here could make an agreement to do this. But I don't want this to result in only one person bidding on brochures, and denying sellers a good price! Comments?


I hope this does not touch off another "snipe" thread but I find nothing wrong with sniping.

1) It is done at live auctions all the time. Often people don't bid until the low bidders are through.

2) The only people that complain are the ones that are ticked because they tried to get something cheap and did not.

3) If you snipe and don't bid more than an item is worth, the low bidder would not have gotten it anyway, even if you bid early.

4) What sniping does is keep the price from skyrocketing out of sight. NO MATTER what bid you put, withing reason, it will NEVER win, if you place it early. There is always someone out there in the world that says "if it's worth that to him, it's worth that + $2, to me". So, sniping is the ONLY way to ever get an item without bidding a ridiculous bid.


I keep losing to sniping, and it kind of makes me grumble, but what the heck.

I always try to make my initial bid the maximum I'm willing to pay. If I get outbid 3 days or 3 seconds before the end of the auction, it doesn't matter.

It's just that sometimes, I think I'm gonna get it and... well, I would have rather known 3 days ago.

Although the other day, I did bid too low on something, and didn't realize it until I got hit by a 10-second snipe. Grrrr.


Well... sniping is bad, but as Tom said, it's the only way to get something you really want on ebay that other people may want too.

Last time I did put a bid on an item that I really wanted, I put it very high to systematically outbit overbidders. Beleive me or not, someone did bid on this item above my max and it sold for 2x the retail price....

This is one limit of ebay (not for them though...)...

What I have always done in to first propose for 10 days my stuff for sale on this site and if unsuccessful to list them on ebay.

As a buyer, If a fellow collector wants the same item, I drop him a mail asking him if he's really interested...


Your strategy:
"Last time I did put a bid on an item that I really wanted, I put it very high to systematically outbit overbidders. Beleive me or not, someone did bid on this
item above my max and it sold for 2x the retail price...."

That is because he did the same thing as you did. He did not realize that you overbid and was just using "your tactic"

This may sound good when you believe that people will simply bid a few dollars above you and you are protecting against a $2 or $3 loss. But it is a POOR strategy. I saw you bid $200 on something once that was only worth less than $100.

Why is that a problem? Because it leads to a lot of no-pays. You may pay but many don't when they get caught. What's worse is that people identify you as such a person and know that you will bid $200 on something that is worth $100. So they bid $199 to force you to take it in the shorts.

The ONLY sound strategy is to bid only what you think the maximum value is to YOU, and NO MORE.


Yes, indeed, I know this is a poor strategy, but the problem is always the same : scarcity.

Now I'm far more reasonnable, and mostly bid the maximum worth to me. I always bid once at a low price, so that the listing appears in my "bidding" section and try to bid at the latest moment.... even if most of the time I'm sleeping when auctions end.

In addition, I try not to bid rounded numbers, so that the chance to guess my bid becomes smaller.

Now I understand why sometimes I had to pay exactly my bid.

I totally agree with your strategy, but often you have to leave some items you really wanted to other people... so the rule is often "money talks"...


Well, the question is, how do you identify the person as a "fellow collector?"

It seems to me that if someone is bidding significant $$ on a 20-30 year old calculator, it's probably a collector, "fellow" or otherwise.


I meant any member of this community, I guess that 95% of the collectors have been browsing this very site form time to time.


Atleast sniping is honest, unless you don't pay. I have a bigger problem when someone makes a high opening bid then never bids again or makes a low bid on a "buy it now" and does the same. I would suspect shilling but I don't think they could know that many different people, I really think it is someone trying to manipulate the price whenever he sees an item that is below his "market price". I have seen one person do this many times. It doesn't take a genius to know your not going to get a pristine 41cx for $5, either get in or stay out and leave it to the serious bidders. Snipe if you want to, if only one person could bid it wouldn't be an auction.


Would somebody explain what does the expression "buy it now" mean in terms of E-bay? Thanks


"Buy It Now" is a new eBay feature. A seller may specify a "Buy It Now" price for an auction; a buyer then has the opportunity to buy the item right away at this price instead of going through the bidding process. Unfortunately, as soon as a single bid is submitted, the "Buy It Now" option disappears.



I don't buy too much from the classifieds because people generally ask for "offers".

I don't want to pay too much, and I don't want to insult people by offering too little.

When I buy at auction, I know that my bid cannot be an insult, and the final price (if I win) represents an amount I am willing to pay.

Sure, I may have paid more than necessary for some things, but at the time the price seemed reasonable. There is no point complaining if you get an HPxx at auction for $100 and the next day pick up 10 for $20 from a thrift shop.

I must say that I far prefer dealing with other collectors if at all possible. But many ebay sellers (as opposed to other collectors) seem to be nice guys (and gals) too.


To me:

"best offer" = "auction"

"offer" = "bid"

How can one be more offensive than the other?

The only distinction I see is that some "best offers" are run like sealed bid auctions which have plusses and minuses. For example, you may pay a greater increment over the 2nd highest bidder, but the final price may still be lower because you don't get the "I'll pay $5 more than him" effect.


Put it this way. If someone asks $20 for an HP16C and I accept that price, and later they find they could have sold it for much more, then tough.

But if someone has an HP16C in their hand and they ask me what I'll pay for it, I would feel very uncomfortable offering $20.

They might just laugh and go away (because they wanted *at least* $40, or maybe they knew it's true worth). And if they gladly accept, they might go away hapy until they find out that a collector who *knew* what the calculator was worth just offered them peanuts.

My ethics are that I would far prefer to pay a fair price and have the seller remain happy with me than scam a really good deal and leave potentially bitter feelings.

My method of dealing with "best offer" and the like is to ask the seller what they were expecting (or wanting) to get for the item. If I'm prepared to pay that, then that's what I offer. If not I walk away. I suppose the only time I haggle is if I've bought a whole stack of things, but then many sellers have offered that to me anyway (if you buy this and this I'll throw in that).

Maybe that means I have paid more than some others when buying directly from people, but I feel good about the purchases, and for me that counts for a lot too.

An auction allows me to bid low without ethical concerns, because the seller has placed the item in an open market, and others are free to bid higher if they please.

On another topic, the simple answer to the "why do people bid low and never bid again", e.g. $4 on an HP41 (knowing they'll never get it for that) is simply so that they can have ebay "remember" the item for them. If they come back near the end of the auction and find the price is too high for them they don't bid again. I find that the number of low and/or early bids is a good indication of how much excitement there will be at the end of an auction. I tend to keep away from items that were listed for 1c and now have 10 bids on them after 1 day, but the price is only $20, and I would expect the price to be far higher. Typically nothing much happens for 8 days, then on the last day/hour/minute the price spirals upward to unimaginable heights as 2 or 3 of these bidders come back.


Steve, I agree with you not wanting to insult someone or feeling like you've pulled something over on them. I have bid low on a item so I can keep track on it too. The one I dont understand is bidding high first and then dispearing? I have seen one person do this several times and then disappear like they are trying to set a high price, looks like shilling to me but I've seen this person do it so many times that I have a hard time believing they have that many aliases or know that many different people around the country. If it was someone new to ebay I would think they don't understand the maximum bid but this person has bought hundreds of items.


"An auction allows me to bid low without ethical concerns, because the seller has placed the item in an open market,
and others are free to bid higher if they please."

Sorry Steve, I thought you were talking about someone placing a "Make Offer" ad in the classifieds here, rather than a private sale.

I can understand your concern when dealing with someone in private, but then I feel you should just offer what it's worth *to you* unless you plan to resell it in which case I could see some ethical concerns there.

I've made offers out of the blue to total strangers. Some people thought I was goofy but I don't remember anyone acting offended. :-)

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