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Thread: TradeMe - shill bidding?

  1. #1
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    Default TradeMe - shill bidding?

    Bit of an odd one, I'm just wondering if anyone with more experience of using TradeMe can help. I bought a car from TradeMe earlier this week via a TradeMe auction. I had a funny feeling about the person I was bidding against, but I shrugged it off. Picked up car and paid cash on Tuesday evening. Today, I did some cyber detective work and discovered that my initial feeling about that bidder was correct. It was another account of the seller's and he had used it to increase the price of the auction. I also discovered that this is called shill bidding, and is illegal in NZ. I have tried to resolve this with the seller all day and have offered him 2 choices - I'll return the car, and he refunds the full amount, or he can refund me a partial amount which would have made the car a "fair price" ie, the price I had bid before his second account came along.

    He's not co-operating. I've contacted TradeMe and they've had a look and confirmed that it is shill bidding. They said they can see more in the background, so I'm guessing the IP addresses for the accounts matched up, and things like that. They've told me to try and resolve it with the seller, so I'm giving him til this evening to get back to me before I get back on the phone to TradeMe.

    My worry is this. If the seller refuses to refund, where do I go from there? I paid by cash, so have no protection via Paypal or the bank like I normally do when using eBay at home in the UK. Normally, eBay would refund the money and then chase it from the seller. I have a feeling that TradeMe will not be able to do this as I paid in cash. I feel so frustrated and angry, and wish I had trusted my first instinct when bidding on the car! Has anyone had any experience of this?

  2. #2
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    If it's really illegal, I'd start with the police...at least that's free. Following that, the disputes tribunal. I assume you already have the seller's real name and address, so you don't have to worry about forcing it out of trademe. I can't remember the exact cost, but you're looking at around $50, plus a few hours you will have to miss from work.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 72andsunny View Post
    If it's really illegal, I'd start with the police...at least that's free. Following that, the disputes tribunal. I assume you already have the seller's real name and address, so you don't have to worry about forcing it out of trademe. I can't remember the exact cost, but you're looking at around $50, plus a few hours you will have to miss from work.
    This is from the Commerce Commission NZ:

    Shill Bidding

    Under the Fair Trading Act a vendor or seller is only allowed to bid on their own online auction or get someone to bid for them where:

    the online auction has a reserve price
    the vendor bid is below the reserve price
    the bid is clearly identified at the time it is made as a vendor bid.

    If a vendor or seller bids in any other circumstances this is illegal under the Fair Trading Act as it misleads genuine bidders about the price. This illegal practice is referred to as “shill-bidding”.
    So yep, definitely illegal. I want to get back in touch with TradeMe as I might find it difficult to prove the shill bidding on my own, whereas they have additional evidence from "behind the scenes" if you like. If it comes to it, I'm happy to go to the Disputes Tribunal. I'm hoping he just comes to his senses and resolves it privately, though. Would save us both a lot of hassle. TradeMe have contacted him advising him that they know he's used shill bidding, so hopefully that'll give him a virtual kick up the a**.

  4. #4
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    On a positive side, you caught the seller red handed and have TradeMe on your side - which is really good. Gather as much information from TradeMe as possible (there might be privacy issue for them to disclose full information) but once you have all the info, then it will be matter of formally launching complaint with police.

    Unfortunately we did see such pattern in some of the TradeMe biddings, especially the ones with zero feedbacks start bidding at the last moment.

    Your demands are reasonable so I hope it will be resolved amicably, if possible just try not to get into confrontation and get what you really want in diplomatic way - to get value for your money.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sun777 View Post
    On a positive side, you caught the seller red handed and have TradeMe on your side - which is really good. Gather as much information from TradeMe as possible (there might be privacy issue for them to disclose full information) but once you have all the info, then it will be matter of formally launching complaint with police.

    Unfortunately we did see such pattern in some of the TradeMe biddings, especially the ones with zero feedbacks start bidding at the last moment.

    Your demands are reasonable so I hope it will be resolved amicably, if possible just try not to get into confrontation and get what you really want in diplomatic way - to get value for your money.
    Thank you. I am really hoping to resolve it before going to the police. I have been extremely polite and reasonable in my emails thus far, and am showing some real restraint, which is difficult. Even when he told me the story about how the account is his partner's mum's account (TradeMe don't believe that, and neither do I)! I figure the more reasonable I am with him, the more likely he may be to co-operate and resolve the matter without me having to take it further.

    It's more frustrating because I live in a small, close-knit community and have seen/heard of this guy before so thought he would be legit. Nope!

  6. #6
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    the threat of police may bring him round, if he's got any sense. Don't forget to put a black mark against him on Trademe. Good luck.

  7. #7
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    Luckily, I didn't have to involve the police. I sent another email yesterday when I hadn't from the seller explaining that since I've given him 2 options to resolve the issue, my next step will be to file a claim with the disputes tribunal. This prompted him to reply where he said that my "threats" would not help me... Not sure how letting him know what was going to happen next is threatening, but hey.

    So this evening, he emailed me to let me know that he had spoken to his "partner's mother" who was apparently the other bidder in the auction and, although he still feels that it is unfair to him, she has convinced him to refund us the partial amount between what we bid genuinely, and our final bid which was inflated due to the false bidding.

    Still makes no sense to me. If his MIL really wanted the car, surely he'd be happy to take the car back from us and sell it to her at a loss of $10 (difference between our winning bid, and their last bid).

    Anyway. Matter resolved, thankfully! That is, if he makes the payment on Thursday... I think he's probably banned from TradeMe, they told me that they've taken action to ensure it doesn't happen again. But we'll see.

  8. #8
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    Here's hoping the money comes through, and you will have heard the end of it.

  9. #9
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    Well done with your persistence, all that (unreasonable) reasoning is just hogwash. I mean, what are the odds of MIL bidding on TradeMe for his car and that too the seller pays commission for successful transaction which could be anywhere between $50 to $100 in addition to the listing fees.

    If its at all possible then do make note of the vehicle condition.


    Glad you got it all resolved.


    Quote Originally Posted by spenny92 View Post
    Luckily, I didn't have to involve the police. I sent another email yesterday when I hadn't from the seller explaining that since I've given him 2 options to resolve the issue, my next step will be to file a claim with the disputes tribunal. This prompted him to reply where he said that my "threats" would not help me... Not sure how letting him know what was going to happen next is threatening, but hey.

    So this evening, he emailed me to let me know that he had spoken to his "partner's mother" who was apparently the other bidder in the auction and, although he still feels that it is unfair to him, she has convinced him to refund us the partial amount between what we bid genuinely, and our final bid which was inflated due to the false bidding.

    Still makes no sense to me. If his MIL really wanted the car, surely he'd be happy to take the car back from us and sell it to her at a loss of $10 (difference between our winning bid, and their last bid).

    Anyway. Matter resolved, thankfully! That is, if he makes the payment on Thursday... I think he's probably banned from TradeMe, they told me that they've taken action to ensure it doesn't happen again. But we'll see.

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