Second Chance Offers in Auctions

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2014


This paper examines situations in which a seller might make a second chance (take-it-or-leave-it) offer to a non-winning bidder at a price equal to their bid at auction. This study is motivated by the take-it-or-leave-it second chance offer rules used by eBay and a number of state procurement agencies. Equilibrium bidder behavior is determined for IPV sealed bid first price, second price, English, and Vickrey auctions when a second chance offer will be made with an exogenous probability p. In all but the Vickrey auction (which elicits the dominant strategy of bidding one’s value) equilibrium bids are lower than if there were no possibility of a second chance offer and higher than if a second chance offer will be made for certain. Further, the possibility of a second chance offer erodes the strategic equivalence between second price bids and English auction drop out levels. If bidders are risk averse (with CRRA preferences), this difference leads to expected revenue dominance of the second price over the English auction, both of which dominate the Vickrey auction. Numerical results and intuition from existing literature suggest that the first price auction delivers greater expected revenue than the second price auction. However, the complexity of the equilibrium bid function in the first price auction precludes general revenue comparisons, with the exception that it is shown to revenue dominate the Vickrey auction when bidders are risk averse.

Journal Title

Journal of Economics