Thursday, January 8, 2009

Biding (and Bidding) My Time

I had a few minutes to kill while I was waiting to pick up our dinner last night at Sidewalk, our favorite cheap restaurant, so I decided to pull out my PDA and read a little of the newspaper. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good grip on it, the thing crashed to the floor and the screen is now broken. So it's going to be recycled this Saturday because replacing the screen would be about the same cost as buying a new PDA.

Catherine and I are trying to keep our expenses down these days, so I'm not going to upgrade to a smartphone (although Catherine is eligible for a new phone this month and her PDA are dying, so we're considering getting a Centro for her, without the data plan, which may cost as little as $50). I'm most interested in the Palm T/X because it has wi-fi (so I could access the Internet without having to boot up a computer) and I already have a Palm keyboard (because I like being able to type something without having to boot up a computer, especially on an airplane).

My problem is that I'm cheap. As I've said, we are trying to economize, but even if we weren't, I'm cheap and I don't want to pay $300 for a PDA. Or even $100, if I can avoid it. But I'm a tech geek, so the actual sub-$100 PDA doesn't appeal to me. Which leads me to the place all cheap geeks go for equipment. Ebay.

Ordinarily, I'd just Buy It Now because: (1) I'm impatient; (2) I believe the price of a thing should be the price of a thing (I don't haggle); and (3) I don't like being outbid at the last moment (as happened earlier today in the last 8 seconds of the auction). For the most part, I've been pleased with my ebay purchases: PWP got a great deal on a prosumer video camera (Buy It Now) and I got both of my last two PDAs there (both Buy It Now). But there's no Buy It Now T/X under $140 (which, to be fair, is a good price, just more than I want to pay). So now here I am, trying to get a really good deal, waiting for the time to run out on another auction... 22 minutes to go...

RESULT: Of course, someone waiting until the last 30 seconds and then outbid me twice. I had set my max as $100, then added another sawbuck to try to steal it back at the last moment. It finally went for $113.50.

I hate auctions.


Lee Wochner said...

The person who got the T/X in the last nanosecond for slightly more than you was almost certainly using a sniping program. However you feel about that, if you're going to keep using eBay but doing so without a sniping program, you're going to be like the only guy who doesn't cheat in the poker game: walking home broke, but feeling superior. Personally, I like jbidwatcher .

Re the rest, you should always haggle. (Says the Karrass graduate.) You're just leaving money on the table. And if you and Catherine want to economize, you might be surprised how much this would help.

Barry Rowell said...

Thanks for the ebay tip: I actually did finally get a T/X at auction, although just barely. It should arrive in a couple of days, so we'll see how well I did... but I'll definitely look into the jbidwatcher for the future (for those of you who are interested:

In terms of my resistance to haggling, of course you're right about it being a good way to economize. Fortunately for me, it's not something that comes up for us very often: most of the things we buy aren't haggle-able, especially since we don't have to deal with buying cars here. We did end up talking the guy down on our Christmas tree because his first price was way out of line: $45 for a 4' tree! He ultimately sold us the tree for $29 but only because that was literally all the cash I had in my pocket—and I think he still did well on the deal. However, while I know that that's how the game is played, it's not a game I enjoy. Some friends of ours goes to a place on the west side where all the trees are, I believe, $25; theirs was 7' so it's a particularly good deal for them but it's not worth the extra trip for Catherine and me (especially since we don't have room for more than a 4' tree anyway), but I like the fact that the price is set: take it or leave it.