A Look Inside the Think Tank...

Why day-trading on eBay does not work if you are a human

Created on and categorized as Technical.
Written by Thomas Steiner.

Why day-trading on eBay does not work if you are a human

It all started with the official eBay iPhone app: suddenly you could browse eBay for bargains wherever you were and whenever. 4 am and awake in bed? Why not browse eBay for soon-ending deals? I did a few tests in some sleepless nights. iPhones seemed like the perfect victims: there are many on sale, and they are still traded at high value even if they are used, like most Apple products. I spidered for iphone, ipohne, iphnoe, and iphoen, with the idea in mind of covering the product itself and the most common, but not so evident typos. Even at night times (or maybe especially there) you are competing with some kind of eBay last minute bidding bots. The deal seems great, you wait with you thumb on your iPhone eBay app's "confirm bid" button, silently count 3, 2, 1, and bid, just to be outbid by a machine. While this is definitely nothing new to anyone with a certain eBay experience, it still just doesn't seem fair, and totally ruins the fun of eBay. This are my findings:

Apple iPhone 3G 8GBApple iPhone 2G 8GB
Bought for:
EUR 356,00 device
EUR 4,90 shipping
Bought for:
EUR 249,99 device
EUR 6,90 shipping
Sold for:
EUR 352,00 device
EUR 0,00 shipping
Sold for:
EUR 235,51 device
EUR 0,00 shipping

I did not include the last row with the balance because it hurts too much if you keep in mind that there is eBay's sales split missing, which is currently EUR 4,00 plus 5,0% of the auction price over EUR 50,00 for private auctions ranging from EUR 50,01 to EUR 500,00. Thus in the first case of the iPhone 3G this is EUR 352 * 0,05 + EUR 4,00 = EUR 21,60. So in order to make any profit from buying and reselling at eBay you'd have to make quite some good deals at buying time, or find some really desperate buyer at selling time. It did not work out for my tests. Maybe I am just too naive or stupid, but for me eBay as a selling platform is dead. At least if you are a human, and not a last minute bidding bot.