Sniping is the art of bidding at the last moment with the aim of winning the item with the lowest possible bid.
While this antagonises the spirit of buying on ebay, it is by no means against the rules, and it is a common method practised and exercised by regular ebayers.
Several factors make this a risky proposition. First, if there are no bids on the item in question, then the listing can be changed by the seller.
Secondly, if you wait until the last moment to bid, you may find yourself unable to bid due to technical malfunction of your connection to ebay, your connection to the internet, or the basic operation of your PC (IT HAS HAPPENED!)
Sniping works well when nobody bids what they are actually willing to pay. When all other bidders are all just bidding at small incremements, its more likely to get a lower winning bid by coming in with a high bid in the last few moments.
There are risks to bidding too early, too high, as well. There are ebayers out there who will bid on items just to see them go up; this can be in the form of illicit auction sabotage or in the form of curious ebayers who just want to see how much others have bid.
When two ebays snipe against each other, the bids can increase very fast; thereby defeating the purpose of sniping.
A proud ebayer will find an item they really want, and they will bid their maximum desired bid. They may be bid up at the last moment, but they realise that a sale is a two sided situation. The buyer may pay a premium, but this can be considered the cost of ensuring they win the auction, so they can be pleased with the success of their bid. If they are outbid, they can rest easier with the knowledge that the seller got an even better deal, and perhaps the item may be offered to them at that max bid price in the case of higher bidders not holding up their side of the purchase agreeement.
Bid early to ensure items cannot be revised (only ammendments may be added to the listing).
Bid as high as you are willing to pay. Unless you are a proverbial tightwad; in which case snipe to your hearts content.
Consider the use of sniping for popular goods (particularly items such as computer components and memory); while it is contrary to the community spirit of ebay, you might just grab a bargain.
Just be careful not to bid more than you can afford.
The dangers of sniping
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2 June 2006
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