Update – eBay Introduces Absolute Anonymity for (Shill) Bidders

Posted by CNC Reporter on Apr 13th, 2008.

By Philip Cohen

A comment principally on the whole-of-auction absolute anonymity of bidders recently introduced to Australia (and more recently to the U.K.) by eBay, including responses to the various, sometimes nonsensical, statements being offered by eBay in support of this decision—with apologies to all the shill bidders out there.

For those of you with a very short attention span I will summarise my comments on my principal concern, the issue of “shill” bidding:

It is said that “Justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done.”

It follows therefore that “eBay must not only be free of shill bidders; users must also be able to see for themselves that it is free from shill bidders.”

Putting aside for the moment eBay’s existing “shill-bidders’ hide” facility, “User ID kept private,” if eBay thinks that making all bidding aliases absolutely anonymous (ie, “Bidder n”) will not make shill bidding easier or that experienced eBay users will now trust eBay, of its own volition, to rid eBay of the shill bidding that will undoubtedly now run rampant, then eBay management is living on a different planet and I have no doubt that such anonymity will ultimately have a detrimental effect on eBay’s business.

Actually, they are on a different planet: they have already stated elsewhere that “… we do not immediately remove a member from our site if shill bidding is detected” because eBay believes “… that people are basically good and sometimes people need an opportunity to be educated instead of removed” (ie, eBay needs to protect its income stream). The problem with this policy is that it appears that the only shill bidding eBay is ever going to recognise is that which is so blatant and habitual that such sellers do not deserve and should not get further chances! And, what then about the extra consideration these shill-bidding cheats have taken from unsuspecting buyers who have bought in good faith (and trusted eBay)?

Clearly, eBay does not have any automated processes for the detection of shill bidding (we all can direct eBay to obvious instances of such activity); eBay apparently relies solely on the reporting of such suspected activity by users—yet eBay has just removed the user’s capacity to more easily notice such activity … Dah!

If the various governmental “Offices of Fair Trading” had any backbone they should have the power to make eBay undo this absolute anonymity nonsense as the simple fact is it serves no purpose other than as a blatant hide for shill bidding—in which eBay appears happy to be complicit.

For those of you with a longer attention span, the full detail of this and some other eBay matters at:

5 Responses for “Update – eBay Introduces Absolute Anonymity for (Shill) Bidders”

  1. Philip Cohen says:

    eBay is a very large international company with such a market share of the online auction business that their behaviour has to be viewed as “monopolistic” in nature.

    As an eBay “junkie”, predominantly a buyer, my principal concern with eBay is their recent introduction of absolute anonymity of bidders to their Australian and, more recently, UK sites (and undoubtedly coming soon to the US). I consider this action to be unprincipled, unethical, reprehensible, even unconscionable; however you look at it, it is outrageous.

    eBay has now obscured auction bidding to the point that genuine bidders have got absolutely no chance of detecting and thereby protecting themselves from “shill” bidding (a criminal offence in most civilised countries) by unethical vendors. Notwithstanding eBay’s statements to the contrary, this application of absolute anonymity by eBay serves no purpose other than to deceive consumers; and the same criticism has always applied to eBay’s existing facility, “User ID kept private”—aka “the shill bidders’ stairway to paradise”. Again, notwithstanding eBay’s various pronouncements about shill bidding being banned on eBay, eBay is now knowingly “aiding and abetting” such shill bidders, at the expense of consumers.

    What possible reason could eBay then have for increasing the level of bidding anonymity from that of a bidder-specific level (as currently used in the US) to an absolute level? The only possible reason can be to make shill bidding “disappear”. If shill bidding cannot be detected, then genuine bidders cannot report it and, as a consequence, eBay will not have to waste any of their valuable resources pretending to do anything about it.

  2. Philip Cohen says:

    Regardless of who pays the fees, or who is now abusing the (broken) feedback system, or DSRs, or eBay’s latest “restraint on competition” attempt: the mandating of the offering of PayPal by sellers, or their failed attempt in Australia to mandate the [i]exclusive[/i] use of PayPal, etc, etc, etc, the fact is neither eBay nor its sellers can survive without the confidence of buyers, and the recent application, generally, of “hidden bidders”, particularly in conjunction with the [i]absolutely[/i] anonymous alias (“Bidder [i]N[/i]”) suffered by users in Australia, UK, Ireland and the Philippines, which serves no other purpose that to hide from view the shill bidding that is undoubtedly now running rampant, is not going to improve that confidence anytime in the near future.

    Having said that, I think that most of us appreciate that the people currently in control of eBay are a bunch of unprincipled, disingenuous, (and possibly stupid) corporate snakes; it’s very difficult to keep track of such snakes as they slither through the undergrowth; and that “spinning” forked tongue doesn’t help any either!

    A lengthy detailed criticism of the eBay “snake” starts at

  3. Philip Cohen says:

    Shill Bidding on eBay: A Case Study

    For anyone who buys on eBay, a detailed case study of another classic instance of blatant shill bidding and the abuse of eBay’s proxy bidding system—all exacerbated by eBay’s introduction of “hidden bidders”—and a detailed comment on eBay’s disingenuous attitude thereto, at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=24033

  4. Philip Cohen says:

    Did someone mention eBay/PayPal?

    Visa/Banks prepare to put PayPal back into its eBay box

    It is with very great sadness that “Dr Death” Donahoe MBA (aka Peter Principle), the resident eBay witch doctor, is expected to announce the probable imminent demise of eBay’s most ugly daughter, PayPal. “Noise” Donahoe is expected to advise the market that it is probable that PayPal is about to be stricken by a particularly virulent strain of Visa + CyberSource, accompanied by financial institutions complications. PayPal may therefore be expected to deteriorate rapidly and, if ultimately not completely incapacitated, will most likely be eventually confined to what little there is by then left of the Donahoe-devastated eBay Marketplaces. There is no known cure this condition, and the Chief Headless Turkey will undoubtedly also say that he is particularly saddened by the inevitable presumption that it is unlikely that PayPal will be able to continue to underpin eBay’s bottom line in the future.

    A detailed examination of and prognosis for the patient at

    And for anyone interested generally in the matter of eBay’s unscrupulousness, including its criminal facilitation of the rampant shill bidding fraud being perpetrated by unscrupulous professional sellers on buyers on eBay nominal-start auctions, an introduction thereto at


    eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

  5. Bazza says:

    talking to yourself again Cohen , no one else cares about you waffle you mundane goose , four responses , all your own

    Cohen/Philip:Walking Penis with ears

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