You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Despite the title, this post is not about song lyrics; it is about human emotions and the fact that people always seem to want something more, when they know they can’t have it. What has all of this got to do with private registration plates? Let me explain.

We have recently started offering some of our stock number plates for sale on the auction website; Ebay. There is a feature within Ebay which allows anybody who is interested in a particular item to add it to a ‘watch list’ so they can keep an eye on any bidding activity. It is useful from a curiosity point of view to ‘watch’ a similar private number plate to one you may own, to see how much it sells for. As the seller on Ebay, you get to see how many ‘watchers’ you have on your item. This gives you an idea of how popular your auction listing is, but one thing it does not do is identify the curious from the serious.

We recently listed the personalised registration plate 5 RLS on Ebay on a fifteen day listing. It was offered with an attractive ‘buy it now’ price and after a few days the number of ‘watchers’ was soon up to fourteen. Great I thought, another happy customer will soon be securing their ideal personalised number plate from Simply Registrations. Ten days later there were even more watchers, but nobody had been bold enough to click the ‘buy it now’ button. At this point the registration 5 RLS was available to buy and the first person to hit the buy button could secure it.

The following day I received a direct enquiry against 5 RLS but this time it was via the contact form on the Simply Registrations website. After a few questions had been answered by email, a price was agreed and the gentleman rang to say he would like to proceed with the purchase of 5 RLS. We received the funds the next day by bank transfer and the personalised registration was quickly assigned to our client’s car. Naturally I signed in to my Ebay account and cancelled the listing of 5 RLS choosing the ‘item is no longer available’ option.

It was only a few hours later that I received a question via the Ebay messaging system:

Is the private number plate 5 RLS still available? I will buy it now.’

This was quickly followed by another similar question from a different Ebay member and later that evening a total of four Ebay members were asking questions about a private number plate now that it had been removed from sale. Just to recap; two days earlier any one of these enquirers could have easily bought 5 RLS. Now that it was no longer available, some of them were offering to pay a premium on top of the asking price.

I did a quick bit of online research and according to Pauline Wallin Ph.D author of; Why You Want What You Can’t Have:

“When something is hard to get (or forbidden) you immediately pay more attention to it. When something is scarce or in short supply, its perceived value increases. You want it more because you think other people also want it. People don’t like to be told they can’t have or can’t do something. It’s related to not wanting to be controlled by others.”

5 RLS Jaguar XK8

I would like to use this example of a personalised number plate being offered for sale on Ebay to encourage any of the ‘watchers’ out there to think about how they would feel if all of a sudden, whatever it is that they are ‘watching’ was no longer available. I am not just talking about private number plates by the way. It could be a house, a car, a work of art; it could even be another person for whom you have strong feelings. They might not be ‘available’ for much longer if you don’t take action soon.

You can’t always get what you want, but if what you want is there for the taking right now, find the courage within yourself and make a decision. Remember, once it is gone, it might be gone forever!