“The Learning Curve” by Simon Macbeth | Part 4 of 6

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Simon Macbeth had worked down from the £10 bid until we hit the lowest unique bid at £5.24. We had bids stretching out all the way up to £20 including hundreds of unique bids, so it was in the bag as far as I was concerned.

The closing date came and went and we’d not heard anything at all to confirm that we had won the van. I was starting to get a bit concerned, so I phoned The Sun and spoke to Sarah Meach, the lady who had always broken the good news in the past. I obviously didn’t give my real name, just asked if I had won because I’d received a text telling me that I’d had the lowest unique bid at £5.24 and was wondering what happened next. Sarah told me that I hadn’t won because the lowest unique bid was £2.17.

I just couldn’t understand it. If my lowest unique bid was £5.24 how can a bid of £2.17 be the winner? It didn’t make any sense, until I thought it through and realised the glitch in my system.

What I hadn’t taken into account at any time in the previous competitions was that some low numbers would never receive bids on them. So at any time throughout the auction for example 33 pence, £1.66, £2.17, and £5.24 could have received no bids at all. Other prices may have received nine bids or 15 bids or even 50, but these other spare figures had not been bid on by anybody. So I come along working down from the £10 with all of the bids above covered, and I’m entering bids until I’m told that £5.24 is the lowest unique bid. I sit back and think I’ve cracked it, but I’d not considered that 33 pence, £1.66 and £2.17 had still received no bids on them at all. So on the last day someone texts in a bid of £2.17 and they get a text response telling them that they are now the lowest unique bidder. No one else bids on the other free numbers and therefore that person who bid £2.17 won.

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