Teams had to be registered between October 15 and October 26, and the auction ran on October 27.
The Case for RefundingCCP knew exactly how many teams had registered before the auction started. If that number was less than the 32 team slots available, then it was both disingenuous and dishonest not announce this to the bidders, ahead of time. CCP knew full well that there was no reason at all for any team captain to bid higher than the 10 plex minimum, because there was no competition for the slots.
Granted, there might have been more than 32 teams that registered before the deadline, with some not showing on auction day. Certainly, though, that number wasn't much greater than 32. So CCP knew full well that they were going to be cutting it close to fill up all the slots.
If the team captains knew how many teams would be bidding, they could have adjusted their bidding strategy appropriately. For instance, if there were only 35 teams bidding for 32 slots, then 40 plex bids would be wholly unnecessary, if not outright stupid. Teams would not have bid as though 100 teams were vying for 32 slots.
The lack of transparency from CCP meant teams bid far higher than they had too, far higher than they would have given some information on the number of officially registered teams.
The Case for Not RefundingI'd come across a comment on the forums, at some point after October 15th, that registered teams could be viewed on the tournament website. I could never find that list. The tournament site is a maze and it's near impossible to navigate the damned thing. Who designed it, a minotaur?
Assuming the list was available (and I'm not able to verify that it was), and that the total number of registered teams was less than the available 32 slots, then any team captain that bid more than 10 plex was just plain stupid. CCP should keep the plex of idiots, because they obviously have too much of it. (Of course, if the registered team list was available, and the count was less than the available slots, then I find it exceptionally hard to believe that there was a plague of stupidity inflicting 24 of the 27 team captains.)
The second situation is that the list was available, and that the number of registered teams was greater than 32. This number couldn't have been much higher than 32. Perhaps 40 teams maximum. On auction day, it could be assumed that there was competition for slots (there was no way of knowing who did or did not show up), but not a great deal of competition. Bidding 40+ plex on the first few slots was downright ridiculous. CCP should keep their plex, again, for being stupid.
Let's assume 40 teams. Two of those teams likely had 10 plex maximums. If they get in at the minimum, great, if not, then no big deal. So an 11 plex bid knocks them out of the running. Now you have 38 competing teams, the minimum bid is now 11 plex. You probably have another three teams who have set a maximum bid of around 15 plex. Now you're down to 35 teams, and the minimum bid is now 16 plex. And then you probably have another four teams or so that won't bid over 20 plex. Now you're down to 31 teams, and the minimum bid is 21 plex. Strategically, it would be silly to bid (much) more than 21 plex for any slot in the tournament. Yet, we saw the first eleven slots go for bids greater than 21 plex. The first three slots went for over 40 plex each.
EDIT: Two reports that 61 or 87 teams had registered before auction day. Either way, odd and odder. Seems a very high number of teams that went through the bother and hassle of registering, and then not actually bidding. Shenanigans?
Personally, I think it's the right move by CCP to refund plex to the overbidders, especially if the number of registered teams was not available to team captains at the time the auction started. Even if the registered team count was available pre-auction, the refunds are still a good move by CCP, simply as a goodwill gesture, plus the fact that CCP was unable to fill up 32 tournament slots.
On the other hand, if CCP had decided not to refund, I wouldn't have been particularly fussed. Stupid people need to learn hard lessons.