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I am tempted to write a bot to submit $1 items that his bot is likely to buy.

How about a $1 bill priced at $2 w/free shipping? From every angle, it would be an interesting experiment. From the consumer's standpoint, it challenges the notion of free shipping. From a seller's standpoint, it challenges the notion of easy money (would you really want to stuff a thousand envelopes if the item sold well?). From the middleman's standpoint, it might help to identify bots (or possibly even money laundering).

You just gave me an idea, but I don't have time to implement it so I'll give it away. Maybe if someone makes money with it, they could sell me my bill.

$1 bills priced at $2 w/free shipping.. the hook, the bills are listed by birthdates contained in the serial number. heh

Go with $2 bills at $3 w/ free shipping. Some people would order it just to have $2 bill.

You can probably just ask for $2 bills at a bank. Last I checked, they still mint brand new ones to replace damaged ones removed from circulation.

A bunch of engineers at idealab did this back during the bubble. The idea was the saturate Pasadena, CA with $2 bills, particularly as retailers, lacking anywhere to put $2 bills in registers, tended to quickly re-release them.

We tried buying them a thousand at a time from banks. One time a manager came out to talk to us about it and asked what we wanted them for. We explained and his response was, "So we're going to get them all back."

Many people might buy them just to get airmiles (remember the hack about buying coins from airmile-generating credit cards some time ago?):


Link to buying dollar coins with free shipping to generate airmiles/cashback: http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/$1coin/?action=directShi...

They do try to discourage the airmiles-purchasing behaviour:

"The immediate bank deposit of $1 coins ordered through this Program does not result in their introduction into circulation and, therefore, does not comply with the intended purpose of the program."


"There is a 4-box $1 coin limit for every 10-day period on any and all $1 coin orders. Beyond that your credit card will not be authorized. If you need quantities greater than this, please send an e-mail before placing your order to directship@usmint.treas.gov explaining why your order should be exempted from the limit."

To do this right, you have to be able to change the terms of the auction. Allow bidding for the $1 to start at a penny so it seems like a good deal. Then allow that the highest bidder gets the dollar, but doesn't have to pay... and the second-highest bidder must pay his bid amount, but receives nothing.

You should see dollar bills purchased for hundreds of dollars at least.

"The only way to win is not to play the game." </wargames>

There's a very strange Brazilian auction site called "Pior Lance" ("worst bid", found at http://www.piorlance.com.br/ ).

The name is misleading, it actually works this way:

1) You buy "bids", the right to do a single bid 2) Every auction has a timer that ends the auction when reaches zero 3) Every bid placed on an item increases it's price by 1 cent and resets the timer

Products get auctioned for values below 20 bucks, which may seem like a great deal, but every cent costed one buck from the bidder.

Pure genius.

There are a ton of these. Here is one of several times HN has talked about them: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=700143

Actually, "site:news.ycombinator.com swoopo" goes on for a while on Google, and that's just one such site...

Edit: Ah, and from http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=978097 we get http://www.pennyauctiontraffic.com/ . Yow.

Ah the dollar action. The evil part of me wants to launch an online auktion house that runs all its actions that way.

The lazy part of me figure it is too much work.

Yeah, the busy part of me has too many other things to do as well, but if you need someone to feed you dozens of other ways to use game theory to abuse people, it'd be worth it just for all the headdesk in seeing them implemented.

selling $1 bills would likely be difficult using the bot in the article because the site (trademe.co.nz) is only in New Zealand where the smallest bill is the $5 one. Although there are probably other equally effective sales you could run using $1 and $2 coins.

Unfortunately you are not supposed to send money via the USPS.

You could send a check instead, payable to CASH. Although, your bank might get suspicious if hundreds of people start cashing small checks against your account.

That would be a pretty bad idea since checks include all the information someone needs to make hard to reverse withdrawals from your account. Knuth used to send checks but no longer does. See http://sunburn.stanford.edu/~knuth/news08.html.

FWIW, it sounds like the OP is in New Zealand.

Yes - It's for Trade Me, which is the dominant auction site in NZ - and has better trading stats per person than pretty much any national eBay site.

Let's start a new monetarist paradigm: low frequency trading.

Mr Buffett may have prior art on that.

This will be tricky. Soon people will copy your bot. Then neither of you will make sales because he searches for rare items.

Maybe then you start putting bizarre titles and explain what you're selling in a field his bot doesn't worry about.

And don't forget you can calculate how much money the bot has available from its Twitter feed, so you can price accordingly!

Good luck for that. Time for battle of the bots ...

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