If you regularly use eBay you will be well aware that there are some great bargains to be had and it can be exciting when you find something you really want.
Now all you have to do is win it. Easy, right?
Not always! eBay uses an auction bidding system. This means that you could lose out during the last few seconds of the auction if someone bids higher – or faster - than you.
Why did you lose out?
You might blame your reaction times for the loss, or curse your slow internet provider, but the chances are you have not been beaten by some quick-fingered bargain hunter. The winner may well have employed some slightly more devious tactics to secure their prize.
Common methods of winning
1. Incremental bidding
This is the most common method of bidding on eBay. You place your initial bid, then keep an eye on the price as it rises, bidding again if you are outbid. Simple, but time consuming.
You risk getting involved in a bidding war and you are also in danger of losing the auction in the last few moments to someone more determined than you!
You place a bid that is so high, no-one will want to try and beat you. For example, the normal price of an item is £20. You bid £100 and end up winning for £30. This may well guarantee that you win the auction, but could mean you end up paying rather more than you would like!
3. Manual Sniping
The bidder simply waits until the final seconds of the auction, then places their bid, not giving other bidders time to respond. The downsides of this are that you have to be sitting poised over your computer, be quick off the mark, avoid any mis-typing and hope your internet connection doesn’t fail you.
You also won’t be the only one doing this if the item is in demand, and unless you have the fastest fingers you could still lose out!
4. Automated Sniping
To minimize your chances of disappointment take a look at the possibility of automated sniping.
You can either invest in some sniping software or sign up to one of the many sniping websites around at the moment. These tools will automatically bid for you, at any time of the day or night without you having to be there. They will place your bid in the last possible second so that other bidders will simply not have time to react.
The software is not usually free so you have to be a fairly prolific eBay user in order to get your money’s worth. Your PC needs to be on when the auction closes and you need to have a decent internet connection or there will still a possibility you might be beaten to your item by someone with a better connection.
Also, you won’t be the only person using the software, so depending on how high you are willing to go, you could still lose out to a higher bidder at the last second.
If you fancy trying the software look at an option like Auction Sentry. You currently get a free 10 day trial then pay $4.95 a month thereafter. Satisfy yourself that the software is trusted as you don’t want to infect your computer with spyware and adware. Also, you will need to provide your eBay username and password, so make sure you know who you are dealing with.
An alternative is to try a sniping website. These operate whether your computer is on or off, some are free and those that aren’t usually offer a free trial. Websites that you pay for will often bid seconds closer to the auction finish time, giving you a much better chance of winning – or so they claim!
There are, of course, negatives. These sites are not terribly flexible, you can’t cancel a bid once you have submitted it, and you can still face the risk of losing the auction due to errors on the website’s server, incorrect bids and – of course – other snipers signed up to similar websites. This all means that there is a risk of paying to join a sniping website, and STILL losing the auction.
Table of sniping sites
25 cents for items up to US$24.99, 1% of for items up to US$1,000 and a maximum of $10 thereafter.
eSnipe is free for a trial period.
1% of the final auction price, with a minimum of 25 cents and a maximum of $9.95 per won auction.
No charge for the first 3 auctions.
Basic package is FREE, but for increased functionality Priority Account costs $8.99
Basic package is free.
1 month for $7.99 or 1 year for $49.99 OR buy 10 snipes for $19.99,
Free 15 day trial
Membership plans from $5 per month
Free – limited to 5 snipes per week, per user.
FREE. Searches for mis-spelled items as well.
The bottom line is that you will not be the only sniper if the item is popular. The only way to definitely win an auction is to be the highest bidder. So, for that must-have item consider spending the money you might have spent on sniping by using the ‘forcing’ method. You might end up paying more than you would like, but you stand little chance of losing your item!