Camping and stalking are two different things, and I got an email from someone facing both asking for help.
I was wondering if you had any advice on discouraging less palatable AH competition? I'm speaking in particular about obsessive AH campers and their stalking tendencies.
I know it's pretty standard for competitors to add each other to their friends (or enemies) list in order to keep an eye on when they're around, but over this expansion I've encountered some behaviours which seem to be pushing the boundaries of what is and isn't OK. Earlier in the year I had one competitor follow me across Stormwind, then to Darnassus, then to the Exodar, and finally to Shattrath where I eventually logged because it was getting beyond creepy to cut a gem and then moments later see this guy targeting me and cutting the same thing.
I'm not an AH camper, but when I am on I'm happy to list/relist against the guys that are – this one following me now seems to be the dominant one on the server (or the most persistent), but I wanted to know if you had any advice on how to discourage this?
If you were to ask someone who believed in playing the AH camping game how they felt they were getting an advantage, they'd make it personal and say that they were winning because they intimidated their opponents or something. These people are bad and are making choices that stroke their ego while costing them money. Your best defense is to completely ignore them and be better than they are. While there's no achievement for making more gold per hour than a camper, achievement points are unspendable -- and gold isn't.
Losers, competition, and ego
Competition is all about ego and winning. There has to be a loser; however, the gold-making game is not all about competition. There are not many losers, and almost everyone competing for business is making money. The only way to see who "won" would be to compare how much money everyone made, and most auctioneers are bald-faced liars when it comes to how much gold they have.
Even though the AH is not a zero-sum PVP environment, having a competitive nature can be an asset on the Auction House, but only if you don't let it get out from under you. Spending any time personalizing your work to cost someone else is always going to make you less money than you'd make ignoring the competition and following the buyers (and the margins).
The best way to compete with a competitive camper/stalker is to become a force of nature. As long as whatever you are crafting can be listed at a profit, have stock listed every single day. When the prices dip below that point, list at the lowest cost you're willing to sell it for. Undercut heavily with a lot of stock, if infrequently, forcing the campers to camp for little margin or move along to greener pastures.
If they stay and camp even though you're not letting them sell above a really low profit margin, you'll have a lot less crafting to do. As such, you can afford to invest time in starting up a new market. Knowing and using TradeSkillMaster can be of value here, because it will obliviously and obstinately post profitable items in your bag whether you're being stalked or not. This permits you to spend more time focusing on what you put into your bags.
All that said, the best way to frustrate the childish is to ignore them. Maybe not even a "/ignore", because closing a door on them is a way of saying "you've succeeded in annoying me." Literally don't ever interact with them; not even going as far as adding them to a /ignore list can cause all kinds of hysterical antics from stalkers. Never rising to any bait they put out for attention and basically ignoring them like a petulant, misbehaving toddler seems to activate a part of their personality that just keeps getting higher and higher pitched until they become ridiculous. Then take screenshots.
At all times, remember that any time you spend obsessing about someone obsessing about you is:
- Time (and thus profits) wasted
- Playing right into their hands
Take nothing for granted
Aside from the (very invigorating, I'm sure) emotional mini-game your competition is playing against their projection of you, they are probably also undercutting you by what they assume is a frustrating amount of 1 copper. Any time someone tries to play mind games, it's safe to assume you're smarter than them and using better tools. See what happens if you post a bait auction just below cost. If they're blindly undercutting without limits, they may go and list a bunch of inventory for less than it costs you to make it. At this point, feel free to buy them out on an alt and save that stock for the next demand spike.
Additionally, if this is the type of market that will support it, don't forget that you can compete on the buy side as well. You're likely more charismatic than your camper and might be able to convince farmers to cut you a volume deal on raw mats. If nothing else, they save the 5% AH fee, and every stack of mats you buy this way can't end up in your competitor's bag.
Your stalker might alternatively be farming all their own materials. People trying to transition from the sustenance activities of farming and dailies incorrectly assume that they need to have a "vicious" competitive edge to succeed in crafting. If this is the case, they will often be willing to undercut way below cost (because farmed mats are "free"), but will have a finite volume they can farm. Don't waste your time arguing economics with them; take their stock (on an alt) and move on.
I don't have a friends list -- I have an enemy list
Don't sweat it if your camping friend seems to know all your alts and shows up to "intimidate" you whenever you log in. It's easy to use a friends list, but very hard to use Auction House addons like TradeSkillMaster properly. Demonstrate your skill with an actually valuable tool when it comes to money making, and you'll come out way ahead. Also, remember that being on all the time may confer a slight advantage in terms of raw volume numbers, but by definition means that the camper has lost at life.
One of the few reasons to own a membership to the remote AH, considering the severe limits on the interface (compared to an in-game addon) and number of transactions, is that you can frequently check the Auction House for crafting mats. If you use it this way, you get two benefits: You can't be annoyed by someone when you're using the mobile AH, and your overall cost on materials should be lower, which allows you to undercut harder.
Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped. Do you have questions about selling, reselling, and building your financial empire on the auction house? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.