Update: If you’re searching for images of the Montauk Monster, please see this post. If you are seeing ads with this post, I apologise; it is WordPress who have put them here, not me.
You’ve got to love eBay, don’t you? Between finding a sweater for a bargain in just the right colour or a copy of an old favourite book, it seems like you can find just about anything if you look hard enough. And then there are the bizarre auctions. I’m never quite sure what to make of those. Some are fun… others are so dumb they make your head hurt.
Why would people want to bid on some of these things? I can understand that a time machine has novelty value but buying someone’s used tissue? Or a hairball? Ew. I don’t need the tissue, the thought of it is enough to make me sick. And then today I saw Nana the Banana octopus. “Nana” is a used banana skin which has been dressed up as Nana Walker Bobana, a fake President… it’s so stupid I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
But it gets worse. Just after Nana I saw this: the body of an alien found on a beach in Florida. It’s possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. And it went for $53! Are they out of their minds? If you’ve got too much money, give it to a charity, don’t waste it.
I don’t even see how it’s supposed to resemble an alien. It looks fake to me or like a turtle without its shell… and why are its arms in a superhero pose? I guess it just proves that there’s always someone who’ll buy anything… especially if it’s dried and preserved with “little otherworldly scents”.
It’s interesting seeing everything that’s been created in the wake of eBay’s success. Most of these bizarre auctions are silly but they’ve become so popular that they’re an entire industry now. Without eBay PayPal wouldn’t have become as widely used as it is now and eBay’s support of Skype has helped it to become successful. It’s spun off a number of online auction tools – and that’s not even mentioning the sniping websites that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
Sniping’s the main thing I dislike about eBay. Perhaps it’s the kind of items I bid on (usually CDs and DVDs) but I end up getting sniped in most of my auctions. I don’t mind being outbid but I hate being sniped at the last moment; it doesn’t break any of eBay’s rules but it’s infuriating and if I were a seller I’d be tempted to leave negative feedback; annoying as it is for bidders, the sniped bid is usually much lower for sellers, so they don’t like it much either.
We do have maximum bids, which in theory should protect bidders, but most people prefer incremental bids and it’s really up to eBay to level the field. But they won’t as sniping is part of the experience. And maybe it is… I’m just bitter as I’ve been sniped four times this week and two came in the last five seconds. But more people will do it if it seems like it’s the only way they can win.
I think the truth is that eBay needs a competitor. At the moment other auction sites can’t match its size and eBay’s dominance has allowed its auction services to stagnate even while branching out into other areas. It needs to become relevant again and perhaps competition is the best way to do that, which would benefit the consumer. Whether there’s a legitimate competitor out there, though, I don’t know… eBay might have too much of a monopoly already.
Anyway, I’ve just been frustrated; I hate being sniped and then I saw those bizarre auctions and it reminded me of how bloated eBay has become. I wonder what you think? Do you like eBay? Do you think a new competitor would be good for eBay? Does bid sniping bother you? Is it an alien, a turtle or something else? Let me know what you think.