December 02, 2005

Taiwan's Yahoo! auctions as flea market

I have not posted in a while because I have been researching portable mp3 players. I eventually opted for assimilation into the iBorg collective, so I got an iPod. My iBorg name is Pesto. I was hoping for a cool name like Locutus, but Pesto is what I got, so what's a borg to do?

In researching prices, I made the mistake of doing the research on American-based web pages. When I finally got around to checking out the prices on Yahoo! Taiwan's auctions, I found that prices are lower than America's eBay. I also discovered that Taiwan's Yahoo auctions have a very different flavor than eBay. It feels more like a flea market, with lots of bartering going on, than an actual auction.

If you check the question and answer section on Yahoo's auction pages, you will notice that this section is much more active on Yahoo auctions than on America's eBay. (I did not check Taiwan's eBay site very thoroughly because it is far less active than Yahoo auctions.) There were people trying to trade their cell phones, PSP, and other electronic devices in exchange for an iPod. There are an even greater number of people trying to talk down the price, trying to get free shipping, or trying to buy only a portion of accessories up for bid. One of the auctions even encouraged bartering, stating that the buy it now price was negotiable. There were one or two scammers trying to get the seller to ship to an international address. (I'm not sure exactly what the scam was.) There seemed to be a greater proportion of buy it now auctions than on eBay. There were also many auctions where the sellers do not state how old their used product is. One auction was billed as an "extremely new ipod." What does "extremely new" mean? That means it's not actually new, right? I asked the seller when he got it, but he ignored the question, even though he answered other questions. Questions that the seller ignores do not show up in the Q&A section. And yes, there are some good deals. There are 20-gigabyte iPod Photos, still sealed in the box, for NT$5000 (about US$150).

Products are not categorized as finely as eBay. On eBay, for common products, you can classify your product very precisely. On Yahoo auctions, all iPods are categorized as simply "iPods." Items included in this category include many products that are not iPods. This is bad for sellers, who will miss out on sales to buyers who try to find a product by searching, but creates opportunities for buyers with a lot of time to sift through all the products. If I want a 40-gigabyte iPod, I will search for "40gb +ipod." This will exclude all the products listed as "iPod 40G." (Actually, in Chinese, the latter choice is used more often, but they are both used, so you should search for both.) The greatest drawback of Yahoo auctions is that I could find no way to search past auctions. On eBay, that is an option that puts a lot of power in the buyers' hands. Overall, prices are cheap and shipping charges are always very cheap in Taiwan, so I'm happy with Yahoo auctions.


  • When I got to Taiwan's Yahoo it's all chinese characters... How do I get to bid if I dont even know how to read chinese. I am really looking for original and authentic clothing from there.

    By Anonymous Joanna, at August 28, 2011 1:25 PM  

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