Earlier this week, we shared with you the budding saga of "Hitman" and the fact that he had won a 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 from Glenn E Thomas Dodge Chrysler Jeep for the amazing low price of $29,100 – about $13,000 less than the car is worth and also $13,000 less than Glenn Thomas wanted to sell it for. However, because eBay auctions are "legally binding" contracts and the dealer failed to put in a reserve, tough turkey, you gotta sell the car at a loss, right? Not quite.
We just got off the phone with John Davis, the general manager of Glenn E Thomas. Here's his side of the story: About two weeks ago, Glenn put the SRT8 up on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $43,425 and a Reserve price of $42,995. Six days into the seven day auction, Davis says that the dealership changed the Buy It Now price to match the lower Reserve price. At that time, the highest bid was about $21,000 (around half of the Reserve) and Glenn was hoping that a lowered Buy it Now price would drum up some bids. It did, in fact – but not for the reasons Glenn wanted.
Here's where the story gets fuzzy... Follow the jump to hear the rest of the dealership's side of the story.
Mr. Davis swears that they (Glenn E Thomas) did not remove the reserve. Contrary to popular internet opinion, this particular auction was not Glenn's first rodeo. They have been selling cars via eBay for many years, averaging about one vehicle per month. Not only that, but Glenn E Thomas uses eBay Motors Dealer Support Center and has even taken classes from eBay on selling cars. Mr. Davis feels that when they intentionally changed the Buy It Now price, the auction's Reserve was unintentionally deleted. Whether or not it was a software glitch or something else, he doesn't know. However, "We didn't make the mistake," says Davis.
However, the buyer, formerly known as Hitman but from this point forward to be known as Alex, smartly took advantage of the suddenly Reserve-free eBay auction, placing the winning bid of $29,100. When Glenn E Thomas found out about this bid, they contacted Alex (it turns out that Alex had visited and dealt with Glenn several times in the past looking for a Challenger R/T) and explained that they could not – and would not – take a $13,000 loss on the transaction. Glenn apparently did offer to give him a deal "he won't get anywhere else" on a Dodge Challenger, R/T, SRT8 or otherwise. Explained Mr. Davis, the dealership is "Looking for a happy medium. We're willing to take a reasonable loss." Mr. Davis also pointed out that Glenn E Thomas has been in business for over 100 years because, "Our philosophy is to make our customers happy." This, we note, is a much more benevolent attitude than appeared to be the case of the Kentucky Hyundai dealer that called the winning bidder, "A little psycho."
All of which leads us back to eBay and what role they play in all this. If there was, in fact, a glitch in the system, wouldn't that negate any sort of contractual obligation on the part of the seller? Here's eBay's somewhat boilerplate response:
At the end of the day, unless Glenn E Thomas can compel eBay to open up its electronic books (so to speak) and show that the glitch was on eBay's end, the onus for completing the sale remains on the dealership. Especially as someone may have accidentally and unintentionally removed the reserve when they lowered the Buy It Now price. We'll be sure to keep you posted, but in the meantime, what say you? Drop us a line in 'Comments.'Lowering the Buy It Now price does not trigger the reserve price to disappear. There are no other reported cases of this happening. If the Buy It Now price is lowered below the reserve price, the latter is reduced to the same amount as the new Buy It Now price. The help pages on our web site provide more details around lowering a listing price: http://pages.ebay.com/help/
sell/lower_price.html. Not knowing the details behind how this particular listing was changed, we are not in a position to comment on the result of the transaction. As a marketplace, eBay brings millions of buyers and sellers together every day, and have guidelines in place to ensure transactions occur in good faith. We hope the buyer and seller reach a mutually beneficial agreement on this.