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Breach of Contract in Online Auctions

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? CA

I make a living selling high value ($500-$5,000) items in online auctions. As you would expect, non-paying bidders are frequent (about 5%) and continuing to increase. Although the auction company will refund <I>part</I> of my expenses when a buyer doesn't pay, there definitely is a cost associated with non-paying bidders:

1) The auction company refunds my final value fees (percentage of sale price), but not my listing fees. My listing fees which are lost each time usually amount to $25-$30 (because of upgraded "featured" status on listings)

2) In addition, the re-listed auction <B>always</B> sells for a lower price when re-listed. I think perhaps that the bidders who lost the first auction don't waste their time bidding the second time. This means I usually lose a few hundred dollars because of the lower sales price the second time.

Question: Since bidding on an auction is considered to be a binding contract, can I sue the original winner/non-payer for listing fees and the difference between the original auction price and the re-listed auction price? Would a small claims court consider my actions to mitigate the loss by re-listing reasonable and award me the difference in price from the first "sale" and the lower priced second sale as damages? Is there any similar case law on auctions that I can review?

It normally doesn't make sense to chase non-payers, but I have recently had a few who live closeby and I'm getting sick of the non-payers who cost me time and money. Filing in small claims court would be easy. Advice?




Senior Member
There is a whole 'online' section to this website where ebay questions have been done to death. You are welcome to sue anyone you like, you would have to sue them where they live, so more than likely it would cost you more than the 25.00 or so. Still no one can say who would win.


Junior Member
I don't think you really read my post closely. I'm out a lot more than $25 and the recent buyers live near me (as stated), so travel/venue isn't an issue at all.

I didn't see the "online" section earlier, so I'll move the post over there.


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