I don't think we've had Auction House drama before. How
I have played WoW on and off since vanilla, but I always seem to return at the tail end of an expansion. I came back this time 3 months ago and decided to start fresh- new server, new faction, new toons. I have alot to prepare for the release of MoP like this but I thought I was doing pretty well.
I joined a really great guild who has an unwritten rule that we don't undercut others on the AH, and alot of the members go as far as waiting until others have sold their items before listing the same thing. As such we're all pretty open with our gold making 'secrets' with each other.
I have a friend who, like me, has two gathering professions on his main, which are also the same as mine. He was complaining that nothing was selling well anymore this late in Cata, so I shared with him a few of the things I gather and sell, my main money maker was something I specifically told him sells a little slow but does sell, so don't get carried away putting too much on the AH at once. Very quickly I found he was flooding the AH with what I suggested to him, undercutting me by 10-20g each time and soon enough things were selling for less than half of what they were before. I pointed out to him, again, he does not need to flood and undercut so much, but he did not listen.
When he decided that wasnt enough anymore, he began looking at what zones I was in and, going by what he knew my professions were, would figure out what I was farming and do the same...at the same time. I figured at first it was just coincidence, pointed out that coming to the zone with me like that meant we were competing over the same things, to which he responded "but if I don't follow you I don't know what to farm."
I know I don't own these zones or the sellables, and I am not the sort to get angry if someone sells the same thing as me, but this is getting pretty ridiculous. He is a nice guy generally, but I can't tell if he really doesnt understand what he's doing or if he's just showing his true colors.
I've tried asking him nicely and pointing out to him he's making things more difficult for both of us by his copycat farming and undercutting but it didn't change anything, beyond that I'm not sure what to do. I've started levelling new toons purely to have more profession slots to take up some productions and hope he doesn't catch on and use one of his army of alts to do the same again. I want him to be able to make his gold too but stop stalking me to zones and then undercutting me on the same thing, I don't know what to do!
Drama Mama Robin: Frustrated, I get frustrated just reading your letter. You help this guy out. How does he thank you? He steals your business, ruins your market, and farm-stalks you. Gah!
He actually may not understand what he is doing. The "but if I don't follow you I don't know what to farm" is indicative of that. He could be a child or mentally challenged and believes that a mentor is there only to provide what he needs. You say he is/was your friend. Do you perhaps know his approximate age? That information may help you determine how to treat him.
Whether he's a kid or an intentional funsucker, he needs to be told firmly that what he is doing is wrong and why. His AH griefing isn't your fault, but maybe you are being so nice to him that he doesn't get how poorly he is treating you. Calmly and clearly explain to him one more time all the things he is doing to you. If he stops, then yay! All is well.
If he keeps up his behavior unbecoming a guildie, you need to take it to your guild leadership. You should be prepared with:
- Screenshot of your final conversation with him, asking him to cease and desist
- Screenshots of his undercutting and overstocking on the AH
- A bullet point list of your history with him for your reference (Bullet points are fun!)
You should also request a change to the guild's guidelines for behavior. An unwritten rule is not a rule. A guild can have rules against begging, bank theft, spamming, etc. -- all of the standard transgressions -- but still not have a rule that covers this kind of nastiness. The guild's rules should probably be changed to describe what proper Auction House behavior is.
I wouldn't outlaw minor undercutting (possibly accidental due to the use of an addon like Auctioneer). Nor would I mandate that guildies wait for other guildies' auctions to clear before being allowed to put up the same items. But AH PvP should probably be outlawed when against a fellow guild member.
I hope you are able to go back to being profitable soon.
Drama Mama Lisa: Money, religion, and politics -- keep them out of your game! You may find your hands tied until you're done documenting this particular guildmate dilemma (since you want documentation to clearly show your name), but I heartily recommend running all of your transactions through an unguilded banker. There are plenty of good reasons to use a banker, and dissociating those transactions from awkward situations with guildmates and friends is certainly one of them. It's nobody's business what you decide to do with the random world rare you nabbed last night -- but you can bet that if you list it for sale on the AH under your main's name, the world will be watching. If you use a character whose name isn't known to guildmates and friends, you'll spare yourself a good amount of drama.
But fair warning: In this day and age, using an unguilded banker is no guarantee of anonymity. Anyone with a mind to discover your banker's identity can probably dig up that information in short order. UI addons and even the ignore feature help identify characters that share the same account, Real ID unmasks your identity, and careful observation of AH listings and timing provide damning clues. But I would bet that if your guildmate is naive enough to have to follow your lead to figure out what to farm, he probably won't have the savvy or initiative to work through any of those tactics. Switching to a banker won't suck back any of the information you've already spilled, but it'll protect future sales from his scrutiny. Pair that with farming on an alt he's not familiar with, and you may gain some protection from this not-so-insignificant flea.
Still, you're probably going to want to deal with the mess he's made of your existing gameplay. Be up front about it. Focus on your own feelings of frustration rather than an insistence that what he's doing is wrong. As Robin suggests, make sure he's not simply a naive kid -- but either way, be frank. Then turn to an officer if it continues, because even if there's no written rule, ruining someone else's game experience sounds like something your guild officers would want to know about and be able to advise you about.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.