Sunday, September 06, 2009

eBaying at the Moon

Betty and I have been searching for a Donald Duck costume for Halloween, and one within our price range was recently up for sale on eBay. The costume was set to sell at $75, which we thought was a good deal as every other similar costume was $150 or more. So we made a play for it.

Bidding on eBay isn't as simple as it once was. You now not only complete with real people sitting at their computers waiting for the price to go up... but you're also dealing with the "automatic bidding" system. This means that anytime you bid on an item, your action triggers another account to automagically bid on the same item. So basically, anytime you bid you're shooting yourself in the foot because you're going to be immediately outbid. The goal on eBay now is to wait as long as you can before placing a bid and hope your opponent's automatic bidding system fails to kick in on time.

Betty and I decided to wait until 10 seconds left remained on the Donald Duck costume before betting on it. We sat and watched the timer count down from two minutes. At the 90 second mark we were smiling, and at the one minute mark we were laughing, clapping and singing.

We were finally going to get our Donald Duck outfit!

At thirty seconds I was literally bouncing in my chair. I was so excited, but not excited enough to actually get off my fat butt. My daughter squealed as Betty and I laughed maniacal laughter. But at 15 seconds I was standing on top of the chair, screaming at the computer that I was so happy to finally have my Donald Duck outfit.

At ten seconds Betty told me to bid on the item, but I waited. "Ten seconds is too long!" I shouted, while staring at the computer. Ten, nine, eight....

"Bid on it!" Betty screamed, "Before it's too late!"

"I'm going on three!" I said as I typed in my bet.

Seven, six, five....

"You're going to blow it! Bid on it!" Betty yelled.

Four, three...

"Click!" I yelled, as I clicked the "Place Bid" button. Then I jumped for joy!

And nothing happened.

"@$)(@&$)%@(!!!!" I yelled, as I lunged back to the desk to click the mouse again. "Click, damn you!"

A new web page appeared, saying simply: The item you have bid on has expired.

Silence. We were stunned. I kept looking at the computer, as if the web page would change, as if it were all a bad dream, but it still showed the same message. I had lost the bid. My click didn't actually "click". I don't know what I did - maybe I clicked and dragged instead of just clicking - but whatever I did obviously didn't work.

"Should have gone on ten," Betty said, and as she stormed out of the room she yelled, "But you never listen to me, do you?"

eBay, why have you forsaken me?

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