Blind Bargains

EBay Basics: The Snype


All this week, we're covering some of the basics of EBay, the world's most popular auction service. Earlier, we talked about Buy It Now and shipping prices, and links to those articles are below. This time,, weíll talk about the art of sniping.

Have you ever seen a high-profile item on EBay with a really low current bid, and wonder why no one was bidding on such a popular item? An iPhone for $20 just doesnít seem right. Whatís wrong with it?


Actually, most potential bidders are probably waiting to snipe the item. To snipe, in EBay context, is to attempt to win the item at the last minute. Doing so often can score you the item for considerably less money, though you run the risk of not winning at all.


If several people elect to bid on an item early, it drives up the price of the item. Also, other potential buyers may take notice in your bidding and try to outbid you, just driving up the price even more. Meanwhile, others are waiting to snipe and steal the item away from you at the end.


To snipe an item, you will first want to set an alarm or reminder for a few minutes before the end of the auction. I canít tell you how many times Iíve let an item slip away because I forgot to bid on it at the end.


With about a minute or two left, itís time to prepare for your bid. While many will argue the best snipes are done with only a few seconds left in the auction, this could lead to the possibility of your bid not being registered at all because the auction has already ended.


First, be sure you are logged in to EBay. This will save you precious moments and help to ensure your snipe is placed in time.


Then, decide on your maximum amount you are willing to pay for the item. When sniping, youíll probably only have one chance to place a bid, so make it count if you really want the item. With 10-20 seconds left in the auction, press the place bid button. Youíre not done yet. You will be presented with another screen with a confirm bid button. Be sure to press this button to finalize your bid. Note if youíre a slower computer user, you may wish to place your bid a bit earlier to ensure it makes it in time.


One tip that may help you in your sniping endeavors is to use two browser tabs or windows to follow the auction. In the first tab, open the auction so you can watch its progress. Open the auction again in a second tab so you can place your bid. This will allow you to quickly flip back and forth between the two tabs with one showing the progress of the auction every time you refresh while the other is handling your actual bids.


Sniping takes some practice, but can save you lots of money if done correctly. Good luck.


Now that you are ready to become an expert sniper, why not head on over to EBay and try it out for yourself. If youíre new, you can register for free.

Previously:
EBay Basics: Look at the Total

EBay Basics: All About Buy It Now

Category: Articles
Displaying 2 comments.
Reginald George Wednesday, 23-Sep-2009 1:24 PM ET:

Doesn't all this presume no one has placed a maximum bid before hand? You have no way of knowing. I think it should be made clear that you aren't just competeing against other snipers, but against those who may have put in a higher maximum bid than you at the beginning of the auction.


J.J. Wednesday, 23-Sep-2009 1:26 PM ET:

Yes, and sorry if this wasn't made clear. But if you bid earlier, that'll just drive up the price more since there's two active bidders. It's a balancing act between really wanting an item or getting it at the lowest possible price.


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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.


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