If I see something I’m interested in on eBay, the last thing I want to see – or participate in – is a bidding war. The price gets bid up quickly, emotions get involved, and you can easily end up paying too much. One alternative is to not bid until the waning seconds of the auction, a practice that’s referred to as “sniping“. But what if the auction’s going to end late at night, or when you’ll be at work, or busy with something else?
An option is to use an online sniping agent. A veteran eBayer – my first successful bid was in January of 1999 – I’ve used online sniping agent eSnipe for years. For a modest fee, eSnipe enables you to set up your bid days in advance, but won’t actually place it until seconds before the auction’s end (the default setting is 6 seconds). You can change or cancel your bid up to 5 minutes before the auction’s end.
If you’re outbid during the auction, eSnipe will notify you via email. At the auction’s conclusion, you’ll receive an email notifying you of the auction’s closing bid and whether your snipe was successful or not. It’s very simple and in my experience, works flawlessly.
As you might expect, eSnipe is not a philanthropic enterprise. But the fees are low and follow a simple schedule:
If your cost is 25¢, you use 25 “BidPoints”. You buy eSnipe BidPoints in advance, using PayPal or a credit card. You can buy as little as 500 BidPoints – for $5.
When to use eSnipe
There are certain situations in which an online sniping agent makes sense:
- The item you’re bidding on is a common item on eBay (an iPod, camera, game system, and so forth). In this case, you can snipe with an aggressive (that is, low) bid until you win an auction – miss on one, try another till you’re successful
- You know exactly what you’re willing to pay for the item
- And the obvious: the end date and time for the auction are inconvenient for you to place a bid as the auction winds down
Certain conditions make for getting great bargains (this is true with any online auction, whether you’re sniping or not). If you can, try to find auctions that:
- End during the week, during mid-day, or on Holiday weekends – in other words, when a lot of people are busy and/or can’t access eBay
On Sunday the 6th, I used eSnipe to bid on an electronic item. There are 20-25 examples of this item available on eBay on any day. The auction was set to end mid-day on Sunday during a holiday weekend, perfect conditions for scoring a great deal. This item retails for $65, and $45 is a typical winning bid amount on eBay. I set my maximum bid at $41; the bid was to be placed 6 seconds before the auction’s end. When I set up my eSnipe bid, the item had only two bids and the high bid was $25.45 . I won the item for a bid of $26.45, saving around $20 over typical eBay auctions for this item, and about $40 versus retail (click for a close-up):
(Note – I’ve deleted the item name and number.) In this instance I was able to be busy doing something else on Labor Day weekend while eSnipe successfully bid on the item.
One of the benefits of using an online sniping service is that you won’t get caught up in bidding up an item: it takes emotion out of the process.
You can visit eSnipe here: eSnipe: Place your eBay bids in the last few seconds of the auction – automatically! If you’ve used eSnipe or a similar service, or have questions, please comment!
The Fine Print: I have no connection with eBay or eSnipe.