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Using the Reserve Price Option in an Ebay Auction

Updated on November 7, 2010

How many times have you been on Ebay and bidded for an item, then it closes because none of the bids met the seller reserve price?


What is the purpose of a seller using  Reserve options? Well, obviously the seller is NOT willing to sell the item for less than the reserve price which is hidden. Only when someone bids over the reserve is it revealed and a notice is posted. But really, a seller using the option is wasting a lot of bidders time playing the stupid game until the reserve is met. Why not simply be up front and and sell it a set price using the Buy it Now option?

For example, selling a car. With so many online  sites that tell you what the car value is, like kelly blue book or, any buyer can easily find the probable sell price. Let say a car with so many miles, in good condition, daily driver, no major mechanical issues should sell (according to appraisals) for between $5000 and $10,000. On Ebay, a seller started an auction with a really stunning car, low miles etc. Is opening bid is $3K. His reserve is ? 

So, bidders have to slog and play the game until the reserve is met before the seller must sell to the highest bidder. With such a car, a buyer can ascertain that he certainly would not sell for less than 5K, and probably would start at the higher end and then go down like most car sales do. So, why would a seller even waste every one's time by starting the auction at 3K, when everyone knows the reserve is probably at least 5 or 6K. Does the seller think it will stir a war in bidding? Many sellers will contact the seller and ask for the reserve just to cut to the chase because they have no time to a bidding war, yet, the seller is coy and refuses to provide it when it may actually sell the car more quickly. Stupid.

A reserve price is nothing more than a selling price, as if it was posted on a car in a car lot. Until met, it really is not for sale. Those seeking to sell cars or whatever, should simply say what the buy it now price is, which is a price you are happy with. Those who can afford and want it, will buy it. Those who want it but cannot afford it, will not waste theirs or your time.

Yes, I know about the auction mentality and psychology and the reserve does work but only if it is met and a bidding war ensures. Upon until that time, it is a lame duck auction wasting the time of everyone. Many times, it is simply more efficient to use a Buy it now price or to accept offers.


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    • profile image

      Dave 5 years ago

      This reserve not met feature on eBay is such a marketing gimmick , the seller should

      Ay fees for the listing if the reserve price is never met, this way they'll thi twice for starting an item on eBay

    • profile image

      John Liller 7 years ago

      I won't even bid in reserve price auctions. I'm not going to play ridiculous games trying to guess how much you want for an item. If you aren't willing to tell me that up front by setting a starting bid at your minimum price, you are not serious about selling the item, so goodbye to you and you can keep your item.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 7 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      My husband and I totally disagree about whether or not to use the reserve feature on eBay. I don't appreciate bidding on an item and have that annoying little message appear about how the reserve has not been met. I always think, I'm not playing this little game! and click off. He on the other hand always lists his stuff with a reserve and he is usually successful in selling but still I won't change my mind on this issue.