Unclear on the concept

It's a few months past Y2k, and this IT pilot fish's company has just rolled out its first e-auctions -- which means, of course, that fish has to support the purchasing department with the first few reverse bid exercises.

"On one occasion, a vendor lowered his own bid three times," says fish. "I called to check everything was fine and ask why on earth he would do such a thing.

"This salesman's reply: 'Oh, I saw no one else was bidding, so I thought I'd put some spark in the competition.'

"The dude had just discounted his bid -- which was already lowest -- another $137,000. The guys in Purchasing organized a massive pizza party. They're probably still laughing today."

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