Sniping Considerations

Subscribe to Sniping Considerations 4 post(s), 3 voice(s)

Avatar Dodgy Geezer 107 post(s)

I thought I would put out a few thoughts on this topic to stimulate discussion!

Know your item. There is no substitute for knowing the item and the competition. I have, amazingly, seen items in a bidding war go above the price for which they can be bought new! To work out how much you should snipe for, you MUST find out how much you can get the item for elsewhere (why go above this?!)

Know how active the market has been in that item. Even if the item is quite rare, I find that a sale tends to bring other examples out onto e-bay. What can happen is that an item goes for a lot (usually because of a bidding war), and then a succession of similar items come on because the sellers think they can get a high price. The losing buyer for the first item picks up another at a lower price, and then the price tails off (which is the time you want to come in…)

Find an item which does not end on a weekend! Many items close on a weekend to encourage people to put in last-minute bids. Sellers who do not consider this might have an item ending a 02:00am on a weekday – ideal fodder for an automatic snipe…

Snipe timing. The great insight I have here is that you do NOT want to be closest to the end. You want to be as EARLY as possible, but late enough to stop a bidder manually responding. I have given the reason for this elsewhere, but basically on ebay the first bidder has a natural advantage (so long as your bid is high enough!)

I reckon that someone can redo a manual bid in about 8 seconds. So 6 or 7 seconds is about right for items which are being monitored. Note that you CAN manually bid in a split second, if you have two systems set up, one for monitoring the item and one with a pre-loaded high bid….!

I find that I rarely win by sniping high at the last minute in a bidding war. I more usually win by lying quietly in the background where an item is priced well under what it is worth to me, and then upping the price to a figure I think is still a bargain at the last minute. Other snipers are also doing this, and the fun comes partly from outguessing them…:) Bidding wars are bad news for bargains, but good news for sellers, and ebay will do all it can to encourage them. Amazingly, ebay advice to bidders is:

1 – initially, bid as much as you can afford
2 – monitor the item closely
3 – if you are outbid, raise your bid

Can anyone else see the logical flaw there?

Don’t get carried away! Ebay want this to happen! There will almost always be another one along (particularly if the first went for a high price). Look at your buying history (JbidWatcher is good for this) and take a buying holiday if you think you are getting hooked……

Avatar frost5709 7 post(s)

Finally a post that is on topic for this forum!

All good points DG. There are also some good points under the ‘Recommended Amounts’ topic.

Some other tactics:

  • Use searches to find items you are interested in that are posted to the wrong section. Happens quite a lot.
  • Look for items that have bad pictures. Sometimes you can download the picture and improve it with picture editing software. This is mostly useful for very dark pictures.
  • Ask the seller questions if the description is unclear. If the seller responds to you directly his response does not get put into the listing and then you will have information that other bidders do not have. On the other hand if the response is put into the listing then you may have tipped other bidders to important information. In my experience mostly this does not happen.
Avatar Dodgy Geezer 107 post(s)

The one non-intuitive thing to consider is the sniping time. Most people seem to think that the sooner you can make it to the close time, the better. This is wrong.

Let’s say A and B are sniping on an item marked at $5. It actually has a bid of $7 on it. A and B are seasoned snipers, and both know that a good price for this is a bit over 8 dollars. So A is going to bid 8.15, and B is going to bid 8.45.

If B bids first, he will win. But if A bids first, the marked price will go up to $8, and B’s bid will not be accepted, even though it is higher. When you get good at pricing things, you will run into this issue. The answer is to bid, not as late as possible. Bid as early as possible, but late enough to stop a reply bid. I find that somwhere between 6 and 8 seconds is best – I have had a manual response bid beat me once when I was at 9 seconds….

Avatar applepie 7 post(s)


“have had a manual response bid beat me once when I was at 9 seconds….”

how did you know it was a manual bid?