[OUTBID?] Here's How to Win on eBay!

Category: Shopping

If you’ve ever participated in an eBay auction, you’ve probably suffered the agony of seeing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Do you want to find out how they keep outbidding you at the last second, every time? Would you like to start WINNING some eBay auctions? Read on to learn the secret to success with eBay auctions...

What is eBay Sniping?

An auction is ending in just a few seconds... you've been the high bidder for hours or days, indicating that everyone else has given up. You watch the seconds tick down into single digits. 5… 4… 3… and the anticipation of winning swells in you.

And then suddenly, the screen refreshes and you see, “You have been outbid – bid again before it’s gone!” But there's not enough time to enter a new bid before the auction ends. You lose, and you don’t know what happened.

A “snipe” is what happened, most likely. Someone deliberately waited until the last second to place one bid exceeding the auction’s high bid, giving you no time to respond with a higher bid.

eBay Sniping

Sniping can be done manually, by placing a bid in the usual way and sitting there, finger hovered over the mouse key that will send the final “confirm bid” acknowledgement and place your bid in eBay’s system. Sniping is so popular that eBay actually changed its bid-submission protocol to make it easier. But manual sniping is crude and unreliable.

As the clock winds down, a crash in the kitchen and a toddler’s wail may distract, and you miss the end of the auction. Your Internet connection may choose that exact moment to stall or be lost completely. Your phone may ring. Someone may knock at your door. Lots of things can interfere with a manual snipe.

eBay Sniping Software

Software can handle this problem. While you go deal with distractions, or just go about your life normally, a bid sniping program can sit there waiting for the precise moment before the auction’s end to submit your bid for you. Software can synchronize your computer’s clock to “eBay time,” which is really just National Time Service atomic clock time, so there is no win-ruining discrepancy between your PC’s clock and eBay’s.

The catch is that you must give the software your eBay ID and password; otherwise, it cannot place a bid for you. Here we reach the big fork in the road: do you trust your eBay login information to a remote server, or only to software running on your local machine?

It really doesn’t matter from a security standpoint. A program running locally can transmit your eBay login info to anyone, anywhere, and you will never know it. So the notion that “local is better” is an illusion.

The advantages of using a remote service to place your snipes are real. Typically, a sniping service runs on a high-reliability server in a data center well designed to prevent downtime. It has a faster Internet connection than your consumer or small-business grade connection. It’s just more reliable than a locally running program.

Google the phrase “eBay sniping service” and you will get a bewildering, large set of results. One says it’s totally free, but near the bottom of its laundry list of unfamiliar benefits like “multi-win group bidding” and “contingency group bidding” it says you’ll pay six bucks a year for “mirror service.” If you’re a casual eBay bidder, or brand-new to sniping, it can all get a bit bewildering.

Some Advice From an Expert

I talked to an expert who has been using eBay for many years. Here are some highlights from our conversation about sniping:

Q: How long have you used sniping services?

A: Over ten years; when you trade actively, with many different buy/sell transactions going on all the time, it’s essential to have a sniping service take most of the load off of you on the buying side.

Q: What sorts of things do you trade in?

A: Since I started on eBay in April, 2002, I have dealt in everything from cloth diapers to high-end gems. I’ve even sold intangibles, like a PDF file containing woodworking plans for a rubber-band Gatling gun; that one was popular with grandpas, shop teachers, and Scout leaders.

Q: Sniping services have some confusing jargon, such as “contingency bidding" and "multi-win". What do those terms mean, and are they of value to the casual bidder?

A: A “contingency bidding group” is a group of snipes to be placed on identical or similar items that end at different times. If one snipe fails to win, the later snipes remain poised to place their bids. But as soon as a snipe wins, the remaining snipes are canceled. This allows you to set a group of snipes in which your maximum bid is pretty close to the starting bid. You – or rather, the sniping service – just keep trying to low-ball auctions until you succeed. It helps you pay the least you can.

Using a “multi-win group" can help you win two or three of the same item; a multi-win group will not cancel remaining snipes until all of the auctions have been won.

Q: What is “mirror service” and is it worth paying for?

A: It’s not worth paying for, in my opinion. “Mirror service” means that your snipe is placed from two physical locations simultaneously, supposedly decreasing the chance that a snipe will fail due an Internet outage or server crash. But the risk is so small it’s not worth buying insurance against it.

Q: Do you have a favorite sniping service?

A: Bidrobot.com has been around since 1998. It has won awards for its reliability and customer service. It does contingency group bidding but not multi-win groups. But how often do you need three identical cameras? Its interface is pure HTML, no Flash or Java or other jazzy but unnecessary frills. I like simple when I’m doing business; if I want bling, I can find that elsewhere. Another nice thing about BidRobot is that it can delete your pending eBay bids with no penalty, which you can't do when bidding manually at eBay.

Q: Any final advice for our eBay buyers and sellers?

A: Yes, there’s a bit of irony in the auction business. I like to say “The winner of an auction is the one who pays more than anyone else thinks a thing is worth, for a thing the seller didn’t think was worth keeping.” Your mileage will vary.

I agree with our expert's recommendation to use BidRobot, and that's not just because I personally know Chuck Eglinton, the guy who has run it for over two decades. The service has helped more than 100,000 users win millions of auctions at eBay. BidRobot isn't free, but it's been proven that buyers pay less for the items they win simply by bidding only in the final moments of an auction. The basic "Unlimited Bidding for 3 weeks" plan costs $7.99 and comes with a $500 win guarantee. If you don't win that much, your account stays open until you win the amount promised!

There are other sniping services you can try. Gixen is free for the basic service, which has some limits. The Gixen Mirror service costs $6 a year, offers mirror bidding, contingency group bidding, multi-win group bidding, unlimited snipes and promises 100% reliability. eSnipe offers 30 free bids for new users, and charges 1% of the winning auction’s price (minimum 25 cents, maximum $10). They claim to have saved eSnipe users over $7.2 billion since 1999.

Some people think that sniping is cheating, but eBay has not shown any inclination to ban the practice. If you want to shop on eBay without the worry of being outbid, you can skip the auction process and use the Buy it Now option, which is available on many listings.

Your thoughts on eBay buying, bidding and sniping are welcome! Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "[OUTBID?] Here's How to Win on eBay!"

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

I can see using a sniping service if you're ebaying for profit. But for my use, I decide how much I'm willing to pay for something, place the bid, and go on with my life. The "outbid SeymourButts37 by $0.05, get outbid, bid again, PRN" is just a waste of time and energy. And likely you won't get it for less than if you just put in your max bid and relax.

Sniping services just automate the outbid, get outbid, bid again process, which is what ebay's proxy bidding does anyway.

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

I've used eSnipe over 10 years and am fairly happy with them. I prefer eSnipe over others because I'm not tied down to a monthly subscription. Esnipe is pay as you go starting at $5 minimum and you can cancel out up to 5 minutes before sale end. The money given is not consumed by fees if not used for bids indefinitely; acts as a continuous account.

I have lost a few bids over the years with eSnipe bid fails or once in a while their servers will get wonky and want my undivided attention ginning up passwords proving I'm who I say I am which can be a PIA. Email return response is slow on questions not answered in FAQ.

As others have posted if your bid limit isn't as high as someone else's on items sniping won't get it for you other than suggesting 6 seconds before end you didn't bid high enough.

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

I use snipe software a lot. Have been on Ebay since 2004 and both buy and sell there. In response to SSpiffy, I would have to disagree with this statement "Sniping services just automate the outbid, get outbid, bid again process, which is what ebay's proxy bidding does anyway." For example if you have bid on an item for $50 and starting bid is $20 the bid amount would say $20, but if I bid lets say $25, I'm outbid and it goes to $26. I bid $30, it goes to $31 etc etc until I have outbid your $50. You are then notified you have been outbid and if you bid again because your thinking this is well worth $100 so I'll bid a little more. What happens is bids attract bids and more people will see the item in their search and may bid as well and I may eventually win but will pay more for it. ....Now the other scenario is same as original, you have bid $50, it is sitting at $20 and if nobody else bids on it and I snipe it at the last second, I win it for $21 not Whatever it had been previously bid up to either manually or if I had put in my max bid of $100.87 early on and you kept bidding against it, again I or you would end up paying much more for the item.

Posted by:

Terry Muskoff
24 Nov 2020

I have been using https://auctionsniper.com/ for years. It works very well and is inexpensive.

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

@SSpiffy : How dare you steal my lines?

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

Spot on, Spiffy!

Posted by:

24 Nov 2020

Is Ed correct?
If I bid 50, and I'm winning with the price at 20, can someone snipe it at the last second for 21?
If that's true, because there's no time for the automatic Ebay bidding to kick in, then maybe my sniping service won't have time to kick in either?

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

If enough people use sniping services there must already be times when several people interested in the same item are using them. What, then, determines which of them comes up victorious? It can't usually depend on who had the highest bid because whichever sniper crosses the finish line *last* should prevent all others from getting their bids in, even other snipers who might have placed higher maximum bids. Could the determining factor be the speed of the winner's connection with their ISP, or the lower number of Internet "hops" their location has to communicate through to reach eBay's servers? And what does the final "bid history" look like when an auction was fought over in this way?

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

In answer to Hill, If your max bid is $50 and it is at $20 and you're winning nobody else can snipe it unless their max bid is over your max of $50. So if someone else snipes it at lest say $45 in the last second, you are still the high bidder only then it would go to $46 to beat the other bidder because your max is higher. Now if he sniped at $50.87, he would win because he beat your max bid and you wouldn't have time to come back and bid again. But, no, nobody could snipe and win at $21 because they would be way less than your max bid. If someone did bid $21, you would win it at $22 or just enough to beat their bid. Hope I'm not confusing the issue to much by being to "wordy" which I have a habit of being :)

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

In answer to Kevin. The one that is victorious is the one that has the highest bid in the allotted time before the items ends. What you describe does happen a lot and I have sniped on something that has had a high bid of say $50 all day on the last day of the listing with maybe 20 people bidding (it's a hot item) and I'm thinking this is worth $200 and I want to get it for maybe $100, I probably won't get it because big buyers almost always wait until the last few seconds to snipe and you may have one at 10 seconds before the end, who bids $190 and then it says the high bid is $52.50 and I'm thinking I got this for $101.87 or so and I try to snipe at 5 seconds before the end, it immediately tells me I've been outbid and it is now $104.37 and I don't have time to bid again so I lose but then after my bid somebody else snipes at $201 literally "ONE SECOND" before it ends and the guy that sniped at $190 is outbid and the person who sniped $201 wins it for $192.50 Did I make it as clear as MUD? Hope not :)

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

Thanks. Ed. It's clear. But imagine what it will be like once almost everyone is using sniping software. It's going to get that way if all normal (non-sniper) users begin to realize they don't stand a chance to win anything good. After losing out enough times, most will decide "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". As a result, every single auction (including those seeming to have only one initial bidder) will see a flurry of many competing sniper bids in the last seconds. In fact, each person's software will likely be designed to snipe with the same tiny interval of time remaining. As a result, two (or more) who chose the same secret maximum bid could theoretically end up in a virtual tie.

To avoid that, I'm guessing that eBay's servers internally parse out the actual time of bid arrival down to the nanosecond (though, of course, it does not display such precision in the times viewable by the users). So competing snipers who appear to be equal, in both bid amount and submission time, are never really equal after all. In fact, in those situations, the winner may be the one whose Internet path (connection time) to eBay turned out to be better able to deliver a bid precisely on-time.

If they haven't already, I'll bet sniping software will evolve algorithms to very accurately identify the amount of their Internet delay around the time that an auction is about to end. They could test this timing by submiting low failing bids on unrelated auctions they don't care about and then clocking when those bids got posted, To be extra sure, the software could automatically precede its bid for the item the sniper does want with a "pre-snipe" (decoy) bid on the same item. If that's done right, any competing snipers (or their software) will go for the bait once - and then not have enough time to respond again when the first person outbids them at what will be the truly last instant.

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

I've used https://www.auctionsniper.com/ for over a decade/ It's cheap and you only pay if you win an auction. There is no limit on the length of time you take to spend your advance payment.

You have missed the iggest advantage of sniping.

At the very start you decide how much you want to pay for an item and then forget about it.There is no chance of auction fever where you increase bids just to win and it cuts out the endemic problem of shill bidding. Buyer's remorse hardly exists.

If your bid isn't high enough the item costs more than you are prepared to pay you can also end up paying a lot less and getting a pleasant surprise.

You also avoid the ebay sytem's inbuilt problem and that is the buyer who is in a bidding frenzy but just increasing by one bid at a time - with ebay their bid is matched up to your maximum at the time they place it - this allows frenzied bidders to see and increase bids - shill bidders are often the one extra bid operators.

I bid for a friend who does not trust himself on auctions (maybe a more accurate description is that his wife does not trust him......) and many times he has wanted to increase a bid only to get the same item at a lower price from another auction.

The only thing I miss is the excitement of an auction end but the financial advantage greatly outweighs it.

N.B. Prices on ebay are not always cheap - I just bought a brand new camera with free gift and extended warrantee from a business website cheaper than the exact same item 'opened box never used' without free gift or any warrantee on ebay. Amazon is often cheaper and (if you can wait) don't forget AliExpress where prices are sometimes a tenth of Amazon or ebay.

Posted by:

25 Nov 2020

As for myself, I can't think of anything that I wanted so badly that I was willing to use software to gain an advantage in bidding for it. If I really want something on eBay and the buy it now option is available, that's how I will make an offer.

Posted by:

Storm Connors
26 Nov 2020

The auto auction site "Bring a Trailer" has a much fairer (for the seller) method. Any bid extends the auction for 3 minutes. Eliminates sniping.

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

I tend to buy stuff for my model railroad on ebay. I have a good idea of what it's worth to ME, and how much I'll pay. I'll track the auction until the last day when, if there's no action, I'll put in a bid at what I think is a reasonable price; I'll monitor the auction, and, if it reaches the maximum I'm prepared to pay, and I'm not top bid, then forget it. I won't normally overbid on MY maximum. If it's had no action, then I'll keep an eye on it until it becomes close, then stick in a reasonable bid. Nothing - or almost nothing - is worth overbidding, so if I don't win, so what? There'll be another one along one day.

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