Why Don’t eBay Watches Bid?


Nearly every eBay seller has had this experience: You list an item, perhaps a rare-ish collectible, and after a day or two you notice a 5 in that item’s Number of Watchers column indicating 5 people are watching your item. “Great!” you say to yourself. “There are sure to be some bids now.”

But nobody bids. In fact, the item closes with no bids. And maybe one or two of the watchers disappears before the end of the auction.

What’s going on? Why would someone watch an item, then ignore it? And how can an item that’s interesting enough for four or five people to put in on watch lists not draw bids? It’s frustrating! Why all the interest, but no bids?

There are several possible answers to this. My favorite (which I’ve posted on eBay boards, just for fun) is that it’s the IRS monitoring your sales. I’m sure that makes some people pause, but I don’t think a watcher on one or two sales is indicative of this; the IRS can get your records from eBay. Besides, if IRS wanted to monitor what you’re selling directly, they’d put a watch on everything you list.

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