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Be a Good Guildmate: The Painful Realities of Undercutting

posted Jan 28, 2015, 8:12 AM by SaSa The Singing Skeever   [ updated Jan 28, 2015, 3:53 PM ]

One of the things that can destroy a guild’s cohesion, particularly trade guilds, is undercutting.

What is undercutting? This is the act where fellow guildmates go into the guild store and deliberately price their goods just under yours in order to steal your sales.

Nothing can make you feel more alienated or angry at guildmates is this insidious practice and it also has the added effect of artificially lowering the price of goods.

Look, I know that we all want to make some gold, but when you start making economic war on your fellow guildmates, it can be really unpleasant. People leave guilds over this.

Added to this problem is that officers don’t want to spend time trying to mediate these fights or price wars. And for the most part, they won’t. It is too time consuming. And while certainly this is a free-market system you are sending a message to your fellow guildies that you don’t care about them and that you are willing to screw them over in favor of your own interests. This does not make for a happy guild.

So here are some guidelines as to undercutting, because it isn’t quite as simple as it seems…

  1. Try to have an idea of the fair market value of the items you are listing. Check out what is already listed in the guild store! (Most problems with undercutting would be solved by taking this one step.) If you are looking for a quick sale and you’re willing to dump the item for a price well below market value, offer it for sale in guild chat to a fellow guildie who would be willing to add it to their inventory. You get quick money, they get inventory. Win-Win.

  2. Say you know the fair market value, but someone has listed the item for WAY over that. This happens quite frequently. The best thing to do is to wait until the other person’s item has been listed for at least two days. If it hasn’t sold, then feel free to list your item at a fair market price. I know this is a pain, but at least you’ve given the other person a couple of days to sell their item. If you have a relationship with that person (or otherwise feel comfortable doing so), you could write to the lister and tell them what the going price is. I have done that on occasion - in cases where items were both underpriced and overpriced.

  3. It’s never a problem to list an item higher than what others have listed, because then you aren’t undercutting. If someone has listed an item that’s way lower than market value, I have no qualms in buying it and adding to my inventory for future re-selling. After all, they set the price.

  4. It’s not undercutting if you are using the 99 rule. Say someone lists an item for 500g. If you’ve read previous articles, you know that it is better to sell the item for 499g instead. Listing something for 499g when someone else has already listed it for 500g is not an act of undercutting. What is? Well, listing it for just enough under that you couldn’t buy it and resell it would be. So a listing that’s 5% - 20%  under the original listing is an act of egregious undercutting.

One more caveat about undercutting….and this really happened to me in another guild….

Sometimes, when you’ve sold something - in the intervening space of refilling your store, someone comes in and puts up the same item for a higher amount. If it’s something that you sell regularly, you are not going to be checking the current price if it is a stable commodity. All you can do in that case is try to make the other seller understand that you have been selling the item for a long time at that price and that you aren’t intentionally undercutting them. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around those misunderstandings except to communicate with the other guild member.

For the most part, undercutting is something that can be avoided. Remember, as a guild we are working together as a community. This is something the really huge trade guilds have lost sight of. If our goal is to help each other succeed, then it shouldn’t be a problem to take a little bit of care when listing items in the guild store.

Happy trading!