Contrary to what you may think, winning an eBay auction by sniping does not entail waiting outside other participants’ windows, firing long-range paintball guns at them, and securing your bid via 4G while they clutch their bruising arms. Not only is this illegal, it’s not very practical – no man can hit that many targets with a paintball gun in that many locations within such a short time.
Actually, sniping – in its most basic form – is simply waiting until the very last second of an eBay auction and quickly plugging in a bid that is slightly higher than the user before you. It’s a controversial practice, and in some eyes, it’s almost as dirty as cheating. However, the truth is that it’s completely legal, not an eBay scam, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.
Let’s be real, though. You’ve probably sniped. Don’t deny it.
If you’re an avid eBay hunter (who may even happen to use Chrome’s eBay extension) there’s likely been that one special something you found while browsing eBay and absolutely had to have. While at work, you checked it every other minute, punching in numbers that just barely went over your competition’s bids. As the clock neared five seconds, you went in for the kill, bidding an amount that was just high enough.
Don’t feel too bad, though. Sniping on eBay is actually a pretty common practice, and while the above method is the most typical way of doing it, there are a few others. Let’s take a look at them.
As aforementioned, the most common form of sniping is upping the bid little by little and swooping in at the last second a taking away your prize. As someone who has done this quite often, I can say that it is possible to win, but not always likely. There are a few risks.
For instance, the seller could cancel the auction early 12 hours before it ends (which stinks), or the auction may not reach the seller’s reserve (which also stinks). No bueno. Then there’s the chance of someone out-sniping you. They may even have a few resources up their sleeve like an automated sniping service.
Services like goSnipe and GIXEN automatically place your bid in the last few moments of an auction. The services tell you that they are fairly useful, but in all truth, it’s probably just a game of chance. With that said, I’m by no means recommending that you use them. I’m not even saying that you use them by saying that you shouldn’t use them in that “wink-wink, finger-guns” kind of way.
Just don’t use them. OK?
While I am personally not a fan of automated sniping services, I will say that there are a few sniping strategies you could always try out. The first method is also known as incremental bidding. It’s basic, and there’s really not much of a strategy to it.
Some users will tell you that’s it a good idea to keep two eBay windows open instead and totally skipping the bidding part. You should use one window for watching the time, constantly refreshing and watching the numbers fly by. However, use the other window as your official bidder and plug in the highest amount you are willing to bid in this one. This number may change as you watch the other participants, but as the auction draws to a close, you should click the Commit to Buy button in the final seconds to secure your prize.
Another strategy is to use eBay’s proxy bidding system. Basically, you tell eBay the highest amount you are willing to pay, and it will automatically raise the increments for you up until this number. The catch is that if you and a user bid the same amount, then the user who offered their bid before you will be the winner. A good way to combat this is by adding an extra cent or maybe even a dollar to your amount. Granted, it would definitely be difficult to guess what other people are willing to spend, but it’s at least worth considering.
A dirtier method of sniping would be to find a partner or an alternate account and throw out an outrageously high amount after your (or your personal account’s) highest bid within the last hour of the auction. As the auction draws to a close, the faux bidder would then withdraw his bid, leaving your amount to be the next runner-up. This is a bit sketchy, for eBay says you can’t retract bids by default. However, if you ask nicely, there’s a chance it could work for you. With that said, I highly suggest that you not do this. It’s too much of a gamble.
Let me be clear: you can win an eBay auction by sniping.
But it is also very risky, and it may not be worth it in the end. Could you win in the final seconds of an auction? Of course. No one should tell you differently. In fact, it would be unfair if you couldn’t. However, you need accurate aim, a quick trigger finger, and a bit of luck.
Do you believe that eBay sniping is ethical? Are you a successful eBay sniper?
Image Credit: mastertoolman