Non-Gamer's Guide to This Post
The auction house is where players can sell items to other players for pre-determined prices. Like Ebay, you can bid on an item, and possibly be outbid by other players, or you can buy the item for the buyout price, which is an optional price the seller can set for the item, which is a guaranteed sale.
The Warcraft monetary system scales up from copper to silver (copperx100) to gold (silverx100). Like penny to dollar to a hundred dollars.
So every now and then you'll find a great deal on the auction house -- like a white kitten with a buyout of 7 gold and an opening bid of 10 silver, and only one hour left to go. And you think, "Dang, I bet I can get that low bid. This is so great!"
And you get your hopes up for a cutie-patootey white kitten of your very own (to resell, obviously), and what happens?
That's right. Just before the auction is due to end, the seller hops on, sees that he's about to lose money, and cancels it.
So you get nothing. NOTHING.
Seriously, people. Don't list a bid price lower than you're willing to take. It's rude. Not just annoying, not just a waste of everyone's time (including yours), it's just plain bad manners to cancel an auction because your stupid plan to start a bidding war failed and someone is about to get a great deal.
Bidding wars rarely happen for items that are more or less plentiful. If you have something rare, like an Orb of Deception or a max-level epic item, you might get away with starting lower than you want to. But unless it's a really, really hard to get item, don't bet on the bids rolling in.
This canceling thing happened to me with an engineering pet (mechancial squirrel). The buyout was 25 gold, starting bid 10 silver, and I made a bid on my auction character, thinking to make some quick cash re-listing it lower. (Just before Tuesday maintenance, which is the best time to scour for cheap bid prices on items about to run out.) I hopped back on this morning and what did I find in my mail? My bid money back with the notice that the auction had been canceled.
I would have won it.
Doesn't that just make you want to kick something?
*sigh* So, tip of the week (month?), don't list stuff too low expecting a bidding war and cancel it when it doesn't happen. Because it won't, it never does, and people will be frustrated on both ends of the auction. Just list it at a reasonable bid price, something that will make you a profit even if you just get it, and a buyout that isn't astronomical.