eBay Users….Stop Sniping For a Second and Listen Up

Updated March 21, 2022 by Kyle
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I wrote an article a while back that was published by The Dollar Stretcher that talked about, among other things, eBay bargain secrets.  In the article I discussed how I often will wait until the last 30 seconds of an eBay auction before I bid. This almost always guarantees I will not be outbid and get the best deal possible.

eBay

Apparently this technique, known as ‘Sniping’, is heavily frowned upon by many online auction users. This was brought to my attention by Susan, a reader of The Dollar Stretcher, who wrote me an email that went like this:

DEAR KYLE,
PERHAPS YOU ARE NOT AWARE, BUT PUTTING IN BIDS ON ITEMS ON EBAY IN THE LAST FEW SECONDS IS CALLED ‘SNIPING’ AND IT IS HEAVILY FROWNED UPON BY EBAY AND MOST OF ITS USERS. OBVIOUSLY, IF YOU DO A SEARCH, AND ONLY FIND AN ITEM RIGHT BEFORE IT EXPIRES, THAT HAPPENS, AND IS ACCEPTABLE, BUT WAITING UNTIL THE LAST FEW SECONDS TO MAKE YOUR ONLY BID IS NOT. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS SNEAKY PRACTICE, AND IF YOU MUST, PLEASE DO NOT TELL OTHERS TO BE AS UNDERHANDED AS YOU ARE.
RESPECTFULLY,
SUSAN

My response: (Looking back, I might have over reacted)

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the note. I have never heard of this term ‘sniping’, nor did I know it was as issue that people frowned upon. If this is such an issue, eBay could easily take care of it by automatically extending the auction time if a last-second bid is placed. Case closed.

As you do not know me, or anything about me, I do not appreciate you calling me “underhanded”. I was simply passing along what I thought at the time was a technique that I thought was helpful. You failed in your note to point out why this is a bad technique or how it harms anyone.
Cordially,
Kyle James

See Also: 4 eBay Tricks That’ll Score You a BIG Deal

Susan’s response:

Mr. James,

I only refer to you as ‘underhanded’ if you continue to use the practice after being notified that it is frowned upon. The reason it is frowned upon is that it does not give people time to respond to up their bids if they are the winning bidder at the time of the sniping.

For instance. someone has their bid at 10.01 and are the high bidder, and the current bid is 7.50. A sniper, can go in, and up bid, until they reach over the 10.01 limit.

At that time, the person with the 10.01 bid would be sent an automatic email, if their account is so set up, to let them know they have been outbid. If the sniper has done this with less than one minute left, it is unlikely that the former high bidder will receive their email in time to make a higher bid.

I realize that one might think, ‘if they really wanted it, they should have been watching the page’, but even that doesn’t work because you have to constantly refresh and sometimes computers slow down, etc and prevent the previous high bidder from making another bid in time.

Frequent users of ebay try to avoid this practice in the sense of fair play. As I said, if you just find something at the last minute, then it cannot be helped, but to set out to intentionally snip something away from other bidders is underhanded.

If it were an in-person auction, everyone who was bidding would have an equal chance to change their bids with response to others in the room and time would not be an issue, but because it is online, time is an issue, especially under one minute and the time it takes to login, bid, and get the bid accepted after being notified of being outbid, even if the original bid was higher than the current bid.

Anyone who wants any item will probably be willing to pay 50 cents higher than their high bid, or even a dollar or two on occasion, but sniping does not allow them to, and that is why it is frowned upon.

Extending the auction time would probably not be feasible for ebay, and the sellers would probably object, although perhaps they can look into a five minute extension, or something like that. I don’t know how, or if that would be acceptable to those parties, but it can’t hurt to ask. If this doesn’t fully answer your questions, please ask again.

I know most people do not know everything, and we learn from experience, so anything I can do to help, I am glad to do. On the other hand, keep up the good work with the articles – more people need to know about more ways to save too!
Sincerely,
Susan

I then thanked Susan for the detailed description of ‘Sniping’ and asked her if I could create a post about this to let others know about the issue. Plus, it would let others weigh in with their opinion. She gave her full consent and so here we are!

What do you think about sniping? Do you think there is anything wrong with doing it? Should practices be put in place to keep it from happening? Looking forward to what you have to say.


By Kyle James

Photo credit to Mike Mozart.

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Robin Harper

Susan sounds like someone who is bitter over being sniped and losing out on things she was bidding on. I am a sniper and quite proud of it, in fact I consider it an art. I very seldom lose out on an auction, and that is the point of bidding after all – not being fair to poor Susan!

DH1786

I think sniping is shady. eBay should extend the auction every time someone bids at the last second. The higher the price, the higher the increments of bidding. Quit being shady Kyle. quit being shady eBay. quit being shady Robin

joe

The way to FIX all this is very simple and the seller, ebay and the person that wants it the most would win. Have an end time that is within the last minute and the max bid wins on that second. Nobody could snipe and who ever has the highest max bid placed within the last 5 minutes wins. The max bid would not go up until the last golden minute which could end at one second or 59.9999 seconds. sniping is gone and everyone wins. Thank you thank you now make it happen ebay. So in a nut shell u have to have a max bid placed before the endof the last four of 5 min and then the verylast min could end at one or 59.9999. why the last min then? snipe cant do anything except go to max bid. nobody knows what the actual last second is so max bids prevail. At auction houses people can say when or keep bidding there is no end time. This gives the power to the highest bidder always. This is the only fair way and I know as a seller I AM getting the best deal, never getting short changed.

Last edited 2 months ago by joe
Mark

Sorry Susan is wrong, since ebay has automatic bidding you can just put a very high bid in to discourage snipers

Chaz

Karen,

Isn’t that what the maximum bid option is for? Use it. If someone wants to pay more than your max bid then you didn’t want it badly enough. I think sniping is fair play. I’ve been sniped while i was sniping! It is a buying strategy. And guess what. It doesn’t work if someone has a max bid higher than your snipe bid! No more crying please.

Jim

Susan is butthurt. Why would anyone want to bid early & give everyone in the world a chance to outbid you – that’s not common decency that’s lunacy. Also, EBay allows automatic bidding up to the highest amount someone will pay. You simply put a last second bid in on something that no one else cared to watch or keep up with.

Christopher

The only reason she complained is because it went against her. The reality is that she was outbid. Period.

However, the true correction to the ‘problem’ would be Ebay extending bidding for five minutes anytime a bid comes in during the final 30 seconds.

Jake

Indeed. Bidding at the last moments of an auction is common practice. Here is a screenshot of GovDeals.com policy on auction auto-extension for bids places within three minutes of the end of an auction. Auctions are an easy way to sell items. Thus, auctions typically act as a seller’s clearinghouse, and therefore are a buyer’s marketplace. If a person wishes to receive fair-market value for an item, one has the option to either list the item for private sale, or place a Reserve on the item when listing it for auction. Otherwise, the item should be expected to sell for a nominal amount, often below the fair-market value, if a market even exists for the item, which often it does not.

screenshot.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by Jake
Juan

Nothing dodgy or unethical about sniping, nor generally frowned upon for maybe the last decade. Funniest shit ever. In fact, these arguments are completely missing the point. Anti-sniping makes about as much sense as anti-emails because letters should be written, or anti-vehicles because folks should walk. Your auction-house extended bidding works only under finite, limited in-person circumstances requiring participation, whereas EB scales towards an infinite amount of items around the clock. I can promise, the net $$ gain from sniping benefits users, sellers and Ebay. If not for the black arts of sniping & proxy, most items will remain at the lowest or unsold. And me… I would only bid on a couple of items a month… maybe…, rather than a thousand a week, losing most to the other 10 simultaneous last second bids.

Jamie

Sniping can be an effective strategy as it precludes any additional bidding IF your bid is the highest. It does not work when another bidder’s maximum is higher than yours.

Brett Brett

I won’t sell anything on Ebay as auction or engage in Auctions due to Sniping. People are using 3rd Party programs to inject bids 1 second before the auction ends. This technique is shady AF and doesn’t promote competition for the item. There should be a 2-minute extension for every bid cast under 2 min. Sniping is harmful to the seller…and buyers as a whole

Shauna

I ALWAYS snipe if it is a highly desirable item/great deal. I put the item I want on my watch list, and then set an alert in my phone for a few minutes before the auction ends. This allows me some time to mull over whether I really want the item.

I am always annoyed when a couple of other bidders start bidding back and forth days before the auction ends because all they are doing is driving up the price I will have to pay because I will snipe and almost always get the item I want. I also don’t fiddle around with small bids.

I decide what the item is worth/worth to me and put in one max bid in the last 15-20 seconds (although the last 10 works better because sometimes 20 allows enough time for someone to bid again). The item might be going for $50, but if it is worth $100 to me; I’ll bid $105.56 or some slightly odd number so I don’t end up tied with someone else’s highest bid.

As far as I am concerned, all’s fair in love, war, and eBay and if you really want something, you need to watch the auction as it ends. If I have gotten up at 3 a.m. to snipe an auction ending in another time zone, I think I’ve earned it.

Also, I can’t imagine using an app or third party to do this. All it takes is planning, patience, and quick reflexes when the moment of truth arrives.