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

Updated December 11, 2023 by Kyle James

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


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:






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.

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!


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?


Ask The Reader: Should practices be put in place to keep sniping from happening? Looking forward to what you have to say.

By Kyle James

Photo credit to Mike Mozart.


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just bid 100.00-500 over at 2 sec left and you will win…if it gets way to high just ask to cancel immediatly after and then when relisted try again


Very pro sniping. It’s just the smarter way to do it and entirely permitted by the eBay architecture. All the non-snipers are just falling prey to the “consume at maximum cost” design of eBay, and letting their emotional attachment to the thrill of Winning for the sake of winning overpower their sense of thrift and just jacking the price up for everyone else. The anti-snipe sentiment is great for eBay and sellers, but makes absolutely no rational sense for buyers trying to minimize their personal cost. Just put in your absolute maximum acceptable cost in a sniping app and then go do something else and forget about it. If you lose, oh well, you did your best and didn’t let your emotions get the best of your rationale.


Here’s the long and short, sniping can be done by anyone. Any person can so-call “snip” if they want something bad enough. And, that’s what auctions are….A game of who wants something bad enough, or more than the next person!
The fact is that any person who wants something bad enough has the same advantages the so-called “sniper” has. Every auction is an opportunity to bid on something and the playing field is the same for all players; leveled. Snipers do not have some unseen advantages that other buyers don’t have. If a bidder wants what I am looking at bad enough, they can try and out “snipe” me, plain and simple.
When I wait until the last moment to bid, it doesn’t guarantee that I am going to beat everyone anyway, as I have still lost on a few occasions using this method. And, that’s just how auctions work. Telling someone not to bid at the last moment is like telling one bidder at a Sotheby’s auction not to have more income than another bidder at that same auction!
People who lose to snipers are simply sore losers who think that they are playing this game on a higher moral level than others, when the reality is that they are sore about losing a coveted item in a manner that they didn’t think of first!
This is business and when it comes to acquiring goods, I really don’t care about hurt feelings. And let’s face it, sniping is more about hurt feelings than anything else. It’s a hurt person’s way of crying foul when they have lost! Either way, when it’s all said and done, that is not my cross to bear. Sorry, that’s just the truth and reality of it!

Last edited 1 year ago by Mondo

The solution would be to just allow sellers the option of leaving bidding open until there’s a set time of no bidding (past the original close time). eBay likely could easily give sellers the option to set a “snipe extension time” to any item on offer. If that doesn’t work for the seller then they could turn such an option off.

The truth and reality of it is that sniping stops people who like auctions but who can’t afford to waste tons of time and money doing it from participating in online auctions. It was mentioned that sniping only hurts sellers above. I submit that sniping prevents markets from being fair, encouraging brokers and other middlemen opportunists to increase costs to end-customers by use of sniping technology >to push retail values upwards<.

As the blog author pointed out eBay would fix sniping if eBay felt it was a problem; the only conclusion to be drawn from the fact that eBay has not fixed it is that the current sniping policy there somehow benefits >eBay’s< bottom line or…it benefits >a subset of eBay employees or investors in some less clear manner<. However, eBay’s open sniping policy is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of at least 10-20% of sellers’ potential bidders currently (yeah, someone did an actual statistical study and that’s what was found to be occurring). Just because sniping is a game to some, and no doubt ‘profitable’ some way or other, doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful to sellers or end customers.

John H

From EBay Bidding tips (Uk)

“Bide your time. By placing your highest bid in the closing seconds, you stand a greater chance of getting the item”


It’s legal, allowed by eBay (+ most/all others), and likely always will be. Conversation over. Personal feelings don’t matter at all.

D Brown

Sniping is fair and a way for the buyer to protect themselves from unscrupulous sellers that potentially could bid their own items up. If other buyers wanted an item then they should’ve bid more money.


Bid “sniping” is using the service legitimately–no more, no less. You bid for an item. If you win, you pay for the item at the agreed upon price. The seller gets money, you get the item. Everyone agreed to these terms in advance. This is the way a market economy functions. No one is compelled to list his item on eBay, and, if a seller wishes to sell for a given price, he may utilize the reserve price or “buy it now”. Sellers that complain about sniping simply want buyers to fight each other so that the competition results in pushing up the price beyond that which any of the bidders would have paid were they not enmeshed in the excitement of a bidding war, i.e. they’re selfish.


Unfortunately, the practice of sniping in eBay auctions is often used by commodity brokers (middle supply chain folks) to prevent depression of retail prices. Brokers know a lot more of what an item might actually be worth and also typically have an interest in maintaining a higher price to end users. That is, they have a vested interest in costing the end purchaser more money for the same item.

You mention that sellers might find it easier to abuse bidders if sniping was prevented? How would they do that exactly? If they buy their own stuff from themselves, eBay would get a percentage. Maybe what you more want to do is more severely limit bid retraction, correct?

Ironically, some of the snipers on eBay are undoubtedly also sellers on ebay. The difference is that they’re not sniping their own auctions, just each others. And turning off 10-20% of potential bidders in the process. In a sense, those 10-20% of potential buyers might lead to the same increase in profits that some of these brokers seem to feel is necessary to maintain their own bottom line in the first place. Where is all that money going instead? To eBay and sniping software companies pretty much. Thus, brokers-sellers come out about even for their efforts under the sniping regime while consumers are hurt/put off and markets are artificially inflated to finance the sniping software industry itself.


Susan’s rationale is utterly beyond absurd. Why would I as a buyer of a potentially rare item want to give someone else the chance to outbid me? I want to win and I don’t want to pay too much, particularly more than the item is worth (book value) as it decreases any future profit of the item if I need money.

Bidding early is what eBay wants you to do and they want you to do it because that starts a bidding war where the only winners are eBay and the seller. eBay gets a bigger commission. It’s really giving people time to re-think about their “maximum” offer. But that’s the key. If that truly was your maximum offer (as it should be if you’re going to proxy automatic bid), then getting outbid shouldn’t bother you as the proxy will up your bid to you red line absolute maximum and thus there’s no way a sniper could win “dirty” unless your maximum isn’t really your maximum. The seller shouldn’t start bidding below their minimum reserve or pay the fee for the reserve auction (which also ticks people off as it says it’s a reserve and they want to know the REAL minimum bid, not some bologna $5 number that’s nowhere near their real number of $100 on a vintage lighter, for example).

She’s actually thinking I’d go $2 more to win! Well guess what? So would the sniper most likely! “That’s not fair because I was winning for 7 days and they suddenly win it!” is not valid logic. It’s EMOTIONALISM (It should be MINE MINE MINE!) and I dare say it’s why emotional people make poor leaders as momentary anger can lead to a lifetime in prison, for example. Sniping also risks a network error or delay that could cost the sniper the auction if they wait too long so it’s more risky as well. But risk has benefits.

What really happens on eBay when you bid early is unscrupulous (truly immoral) sellers will use a “shill” account to test you to see how much you’ll “really” pay and get that much more money out of you. They don’t have time to do that if you wait until the last 6 seconds or so without risking buying it themselves (which if re-listed could get them banned for shilling). They also use shill accounts to avoid eBay’s large fee for reserve auctions.

It’s understandable sellers want to minimize risk and get what they think an item is worth, but to buyers, the whole purpose of an auction is to get a good deal, not get ripped off by fake bidding by the seller himself. Either way, sniping is the ONLY method to avoid these issues as eBay doesn’t go after shilling very hard (i.e. eBay makes more money too).

Sadly, shilling is very OBVIOUS in many auctions (low number of ratings with high numbers of retractions and association with the seller of the item is a dead giveaway they’re using a shill account and I’ve seen it dozens of times from sellers of vintage/antique items where they don’t want to sell under-value or without a profit. They’d sooner buy their own item than sell it too low. If it were legal, so would most people. But that’s not “fair” to the buyer either and sniping is the only way to avoid it entirely.

Sadly, most buyers do bid early and they cause the price to skyrocket as a result (even sniping can’t protect me from clueless buyers that have to be “in the lead” when “winning” is the ONLY thing that matters). Two people one-upping each other until the price has gone up 10x its initial value only benefits the seller and eBay.


That was very excellently well-said.



You are DEAD wrong. Tell me the millions of people who bid and overbid on houses at the last minute are “underhanded”, unethical or unscrupulous. WAH WAH WAH. I’ve been selling commercial real estate for almost 38 years and that’s life!

Life is a “bit@*” for those who are asleep at the wheel. I have been snipping for 20 years and you are the first who says it’s “frowned upon”. Tell them (or you) go to a retail store if you can’t handle the way the world works. Some win, some lose, NEXT!

Take your opinions and tell them to someone who gives a cr@p.

To a sore loser..


Rocky Browne

If everyone is worried about getting outbid at the last second then put your maximum bid in proxy upfront and walk away. Sniping is a way to make sure you are not getting ran up by a seller which is called shill bidding. I work for an estate auction company not online but when some leaves a bid on an item we do not run the bid higher, I also am a buyer and seller in the auto business, I use auction sniper on eBay because I don’t want to sit and watch to see if I won or not. I believe in whatever works for you can work for anyone.


I’ve been doing eBay for many years both as a buyer and a seller. Recently came across an item that I really need for a very reasonable price. There is one bid. I’ve contacted the seller with several questions. It’s not a inconsequential amount of money, several hundred dollars.
I haven’t bid on the item yet, was thinking about sniping and then started thinking about the ethics of it. The item goes off very early in the morning and there’s probably a good chance that everyone will be sleeping if I snipe it. It kind of makes me a little sick to my stomach but most of the comments I read here and on eBay forums say it is what it is. Basically that it’s an acceptable practice and that is the nature of ebay.

My comment to all those who suggest just bid the highest price you’re willing to pay right off, that’s just not how auctions work…anywhere.
That said, with online auctions it’s not like you’re right there to counterbid.
So I’m thinking about putting in a bid on the item late in the evening, giving the other buyer a couple hours to make another bid. If they really want it they’ll be watching. Even though it’s very reasonably priced, I really can only afford another 25 or so dollars, so my first bid could be almost my highest bid. Then I wouldn’t feel so bad about sniping it for a dollar or two more in the wee hours if it came down to that.


I hate to tell you, but nothing is frowned upon by other bidders, as a group, because there is no group of bidders. It is every man or woman for themselves. Why would you want to pay more for something.

Sniping, in a way, benefits the other bidders as well. If a sniper puts in their best bid at the last second, but it is not higher than the next higher bidder, then bidder who wins actually got a discount, by not having to up their price.

The only problem with all of this is that a bidder can cancel if they do not like the price, and there really won’t be any repercussions for that ingrate.

I’ve seen the reverse too though, where a seller doesn’t like where the auction is headed and cancels the auction. I reported one seller that did that to me. It does not appear that there were any consequences though.

Robert Sackman

eBay doesn’t frown upon anything that makes money for eBay.
I do this regularly and will continue to do so. What exactly is the point of an auction countdown if you can’t bid in the last few seconds??
I only do this on items I am extremely interested in .
If other people are also extremely interested then let them play the game.
I have been beaten out in the last two seconds of many auctions, and no I’m not at all upset about it .
You don’t like the game then don’t play the game .
Simple as that . 😎


Susan is really Karen


hahaaaa! That’s too funny…. I was only aware of the “Karen” in Australia who humiliated herself during the lockdown at a big Hardware store called Bunnings. I”m now aware of the “Central Park Karen” too. LOL I feel for all the lovely “Karen’s” out there …

Now to make my comments about sniping. I’m here online specifically wanting to find out how to make a bid at last minute for an item being sold in US at 4am Australian time. This is an extremely small and light item and the postage alone is quoted as being $54 US = approx $90 AUD, and this isn’t express postage either. The eta is being quoted as being in a months time. I would be very surprised if the seller isn’t making money on the postage alone, which is fine. It’s their item to sell on their terms and up to me if I wish to pay what this ends up selling for.

At time of writing, there isn’t a single bid on the item and auction ends in 18 hours. I will definitely be setting up a sniping bid today and I really don’t have any issue with that. If I win at my maximum bid, that’s great and if I don’t, then that’s fine too. It wasn’t meant to be. I’m not going to go and blame anyone because of circumstance but equally I would like some kind of chance of buying this item at what will, at the end of the day, be too much money for the item because of the postage. It’s just how much – too much – I am willing to swallow for an item I want for emotional reasons and have no intention of reselling. If end up being the only bidder who wins the item, then the seller will have sold the item for an amount they were willing to accept.

There are many situations and variables… and making people feel guilty about buying something isn’t cool.