Thursday, April 28, 2011

Your reputation with the Auction House

It's one of the few reputations in game that works like what a reputation normally is in Real Life.
The one you can't wear a tabard for.
The reputation that is associated with the name of your character.

You may have one or many bank toons - when browsing the Auction House, people get to recognize your name and thoughts become associated with it after a while.
The time it takes for the associations to be made will depend on the frequency at which someone will check the AH, the number of items that you post, the markets that your items cover, the rarity of the items and especially the price.

Now this is a complex topic to cover and explain, and it's very subjective.
It's about people's perception of your auctions and I'm not sure that there are clear and simple rules to it.
The only way I think I can tackle this is by going with examples.

There used to be a guy on my server who would buy all rares and some blues and mark them up at 500% of their usual price.
His prices would never fluctuate - he was hoping for eventual future sales at the prices he dictated.
He laid back, reposted and reposted again, and was patient.
And he did that for months and months.
Sometimes it was good for sellers, because we could rely on him to buy our items if they were priced low enough for him.
And he would repost them.
(The crafty people used his prices as a reference to promote how cheap their own items were compared to his'.)
He did get some people to buy some of his items, mind you.
But a good percentage of his stock stayed there for months.
People didn't want to buy from him because his prices were too outrageous.
Even if there was a few instances where he posted items that people needed, people still went out of their way to buy from others or go out to farm the items themselves.
Because he was sending a very strong message that went along the lines of "I am trying to rip you off", players stayed away from him.
In the end, just before the Sundering patch, he had a huge big sale of his items, 48 hours, with bids, claiming he was "quitting the game" - and he didn't get any of the prices he was going for.

It's okay to shoot for profit - hey it's what we're all in it for.
But there is a difference between making a profit and being greedy.
And in our world of addons that analyze AH stats and The Undermine Journal, that difference can be made quite clear and visible to anyone who cares to take a peek at you.
There are ways to "massage" a market to get people to mark items at a higher price or simply to stimulate a market.

For instance, one thing that I've seen people do in preparation of Patch 4.1 is work the Pet market for 3-4 weeks in advance, posting some pets at higher and higher prices, buying out the lower competition to flip them eventually.
Now pet prices are much higher than they were a month ago and there are two new shiny achievements to back the demand of pets.
Winter Veil pets, rare farmable pets and Argent Tournament pets from the other faction are skyrocketing because people haven't been on during the Winter Veil event to buy the pets at dirt-cheap prices, have no patience for farming and especially have no patience to go back to Northrend dailies.
These reasons make those pets rare enough to mark up for even more than what they would have been worth in Wrath times.
It's incredible how much what people will pay on account of their laziness.

You can't waste half an hour to do a bunch of easy dailies at the Tournament ?
You'll have to pay the Lazy Tax.

But you have to use your noggin to determine what's an acceptable price and what's over the line.
If you're one of those people who have been working the market to accept your price, you're more likely to have sales than if you decide to reboot a market at a ridiculous price.
Taking two seconds to go to the Undermine Journal to look at how much the item is going for on other servers may give you a hint.

If you post items at good prices and you do it frequently enough, people will remember you and sometimes will skip the Auction House to deal directly with you.
If you delve in the Mysterious Fortune Card business, you are familiar with this.
People will ask you for a deal for stacks of 20, 50, 100 cards because you have a good supply and you're not greedy.
If you've been supplying Obsidium ore since the beginning of the expansion, you are very aware of this.
And it goes as well with many markets.

Chocolate Cookies stack to 20.
I sell them around or over 40g.
(That's in the norm, according to The Undermine Journal.)
The people that have been posting for 100g per stack are only selling when all my stock has been bought and I'm at work and can't post any more.
And even then, they're not selling that much.
If they continue with that behavior, they won't be selling anything at all.

Because in the end, selling works better than being greedy.

EDIT: So I wrote this post in bits and pieces when I was at work.
I come back home to proof-read it before I post and I see that Faid just wrote a post about the positive aspect of being known as a good and fair auctioneer (if I can be allowed to summarize it that way).
And that was in reaction to a post from The Gold Queen's post about protecting your auction anonymity.
It's a small world!

(By the way, Rule Number One is Information. Waaaay before not letting people know how to target you. Even that post from the Queen is qualified as information that's best to know before you plunge in the AH craziness. Heck, I follow some of these rules myself.)


  1. Hmmm, I'm not sure about this one. I feel my prices are fair and reasonable (usually) but I do tend to be on the higher-end price-wise. I let others undercut me and buy up the deep undercuts to keep the prices steady.

    The exception to this is rare recipes - those I mark up outrageously because even though the average market price might be a couple hundred gold, based on the rarity of the recipe it's actually worth thousands - the only thing increasing the number of times seen in the AH are my posts. I have no problem sitting on those recipes for a good long while as the posting fees are usually just silvers. Occasionally another recipe will pop up and I'll usually snag it for my stockpile if they undercut by more than a 1,000g. Once I have 3 of a recipe I'll consider dropping my price a bit, but for the rare recipes for which I'm charging over 3K I have yet to reach 3 copies. If I ever reach 3 copies then it might be time to review the price.

    Lol - the other problem is I'm also a recipe collector myself as is my husband, so the first copies usually get learned. I have a few recipes up for 10K each and the sole reason for that is I can't learn it yet and I haven't seen any other copies. If I could get my hands on another copy I might reduce the price, but honestly I don't really want to sell it and 10K is the price I feel I wouldn't be so upset about losing it for.

    Anyway back to the main point. There are times my auctions get purchased when I know I wasn't the lowest price and I wonder why, but it could be due to people recognizing my name (MySales shows a lot of repeat buyers :D ) or just that people hate single stacks as much as I do. I know I'm supposed to be a goblin but unless the single price is significantly lower I refuse to buy them (I STILL remember a time I wound up buying 300 single Infinite Dust! through the Snatch).

    I also try to reset markets frequently because based on the low supply on the AH and people not farming as much, I'm hoping if someone sees the high price they'll get out and farm what they need and throw the extra up on the AH for me to buy :)

    Tangent: I'm debating about getting the RAH for TUJ notifications. I usually check the website at lunch and one time I saw a Rich Purple Silk Shirt recipe for 3g - I seriously considered going home but wasn't sure if I could make it before it was purchased. Sure enough about 20 mins later it was gone. That night I see the same recipe posted for 10K by a rare recipe seller and even though 10K is a price I would pay for that recipe I refuse to buy it knowing they paid 3g for it. I got really lucky and another one was posted a couple of weeks later for 7K - snapped it up instantly and learned it! In my nearly 3 years of playing those are the only 2 Rich Purple Silk Shirt recipes I have seen - really want one to sell now, and (lol) I will put it up for 10K :)

    ...sorry for such a long comment :)

  2. No problem for the length - it's a comment and it's been read! :)

    Yeah I've read again what I wrote and I have to admit that in rushing my writing and being distracted by work, I missed a bit my own point.
    That's what I meant when I said it's complex and hard to cover!

    I should have simply wrote that it varies a lot according to the circumstances.
    However, I think that at this time in the current state that the game has mutated into, it's better to have a lot of well-priced items that get sold rather than to have a lot of higher-than-high-priced items that may never sell at all.
    If you put all your eggs in the luxury items like the guy I mentioned, it may be a bad idea.
    But maybe not. Who knows ?

    I was pointing this out because I'm starting to see some newbies to the AH game (as well as people who question the worth of some items in the AH) and that is slowly starting to be a trend.
    That was just me going "Hey kids! Be smart about your postings!".

    I wasn't saying that having a bunch of high-priced items wasn't worth the risk.
    Having too many of them might be a tad too risky (unless you're a pro at it).
    In the end, you alone know if the risk is worth taking.

  3. I do see your point. Have to admit nothing annoys me more than seeing skyhigh prices that make absolutely no sense.

    I used to purchase Clefthoof Leather from the AH for Clefthide Leg Armor (shhh - one of my few niche markets) and I would pay as much as 5g a piece, but now there are usually less than 5 auctions up (was never a large market and full stacks were rare) and they have them at 20g a piece! The leg armors take 8 Clefthoof each in addition to the Heavy Knothide (which also isn't cheap) and I sell them for 125g which brought steady sales.

    I can't think of any good you can make from Clefthoof Leather that would justify a price of 20g each. From what I remember about levelling LW I think you can bypass it so it's not that essential.

    Much as I hate farming I'd go do it myself if I still had a Skinner (needed Alchemy when Volatile Prices were insane at the beginning of Cata and since my LW is my banker and rarely leaves SW...). I've tried convincing people who ask me for tips to farm Nagrand if they have a Skinner and I'd buy any leather from them but no luck.

    Same thing with Deviate Fish - I think it's really only used for Giant Growth and Savoury Deviate Delights which never sell for much than 5g so pricing the fish at 10g each is crazy! If people would do even a little bit of reseach on WoWHead to see what things are used for, they'd have a better idea of how to price them.

    OK - better stop now before this gets any longer.

    Oh and don't know if you watch hockey but sorry about the Canadiens. We managed to avoid a complete meltdown here and beat Chicago to face Nashville.