About half a year ago, I discovered a very pretty silk twill dress with oversized flamenco dots and braided straps on eBay that I quickly decided was mine. The item in question stayed at a relatively low price throughout the auction, until the last ten minutes or so, when an absolutely insane bidding war broke out between me and some awful stranger, who apparently really wanted my dress.
I thought I could outbid her, but every time I entered a new bid, she would immediately top it. Now I was annoyed. Why did this girl think she could steal my dress from me? Who did she think she was, anyway? I kept upping my own bid, but very quickly, I found myself bidding way more than I intended to pay for the dress (even more than the dress initially went for retail). Still, I kept going, partly because I still wanted the dress, more so because I wanted to see how far this girl was willing to go for it, but mostly because I maliciously decided during those final minutes that if I couldn’t win my own dress, at the very least I could make her pay for it.
I am not a mean person, but a very Jekyll and Hyde thing happens to me whenever I go on eBay. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but somewhere along the line, the dress dropped out of the equation, and I felt this intense desire to win by any means necessary. I got so caught up in this auction mentality that at one point, I didn’t even know why I was still bidding. Half of the time, I was hoping that I didn’t win and that this random girl that I had dubbed my enemy would have to pay up (which she did, more than a hundred dollars over the price of the dress before the bidding war I instigated).
I did bad things to good people on eBay. After the auction ended, I made a decision—I had to go cold turkey.
Fast forward to today. I have emerged victoriously on the other side of eBay rehab a little older and a little wiser, too. Taking a cue from my roommate, I now decide beforehand how much I’m willing to spend on a particular item, and I absolutely won’t go past that amount, not even a penny more. The key is to treat the auction like any other sale—if someone bids above my maximum, then it wasn’t meant to be. Now, instead of bringing out the guns, I simply let it go.
And eBay makes this easy. Since they’re bidding for you automatically up to the price limit you set, if you just put in how much you are willing to pay as your initial bid, then you’ll either get it at the price you set or less. Unless someone else takes it, in which case, it was more than you were willing to pay, remember?