Short eBay Auctions and the Risks Involved!

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There are eBay auctions and then there are eBay auctions. Ebay UK gives a seller the option to list an item for as long as ten or more days and as short as one to three days. And the small periods or “short auctions” have a risk unique to the small time window involved.

Short auctions are common when a seller doesn’t want to wait the full week or so for the auction to end. The seller is looking for a quick sale and fast liquidation of the item they’re selling. Legitimate auctions of this type are frequently found on items where the base value rate changes on almost a daily basis.

Gold coins are great example of this situation. Since the value of gold fluctuates daily on the market (you can find all market rates at Kitco.com, including UK markets), selling a gold coin over a seven or ten day stretch may end up being over-priced or under-priced in comparison to market value. Since the seller doesn’t have the ability to go back in and change the price after the fact, the only resort left is to cancel the auction entirely and relist it. That’s a bit of chore, especially when you have to do it for multiple listings. So instead, the short auction limits the value fluctuation and shortens the time window before closing the potential sale.

Unfortunately, where there is a short deadline, there can be the risk of scammers and fraud. A common trend is the one-day listing where the seller creates a situation trying to avoid the rules of eBay altogether. They do this by getting your attention with the auction and then wanting to be emailed directly. The pitch is to get you send payment off-system. You will see this with what seems like high-end items and at, believe it or not, a bargain price. And you should be responding to these as too good to be true, because that’s exactly what they are.

The seller in these one-day listing frauds is primarily after one goal, your money. They will try to get you to pay through Western Union or similar and will avoid Paypal UK entirely. The reason being is that 1) Paypal is run by eBay and can be bit enforced by eBay who owns the company, and 2) payment via Paypal generally tends to be either protected by eBay’s fraud protection of up to £150 per eBay transaction or the credit card chargeback system (eBay transactions can actually be protected up to £500 if the seller meets specific criteria such as 50 or more in feedback, etc.).

Either way the seller stands the chance of seeing their ill-gotten gains reversed quickly by Paypal. Outside methods are more secure for fraud in the sense that once the money is delivered to the criminal seller, it can’t be reversed.

So how do you deal with the short sale risk situation when you find a short auction you really want?

  •  First, ask yourself the question why it’s necessary to buy the time from this particular auction. Most times, the same item is sold by more than one buyer and you may find a better price or better condition version from another buyer if you wait patiently.


  •  Second, always run your payment through Ebay and Paypal. Again, (I can’t stress this enough) Paypal UK gives you as a buyer protection of up to £150 to £500 per eBay transaction (specific limits apply). Third, make sure you’ve read all the details and seen all the photos of the item sold. If you don’t have enough to work with, ask for more information and more photos. If the seller is genuine, they will provide it, regardless of being in a short auction.


  •  Finally, look at the seller’s track record via their feedback. If you’re not seeing a very good amount of data showing they’re a good party to work with, then avoid entirely. Again, you’re likely to find the same item for sale again from someone else, and you need to trust your gut when it says someone is fishy.


If you found this guide helpful please checkout out my other eBay shop guides. And kindly review this guide as helpful below. Thanks Jon

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