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The Web Ask Steven Smith
How to Stop eBay Auction Sniping.

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How to Stop eBay Auction Sniping. - Courtesy of Steven Smith


Every day, hapless bidders get beaten to the punch by auction snipers who jump in at the last minute. I know how annoying it can be, as I once had it happen to me three times in a row on the same item! The thing is that the only people who can help the poor bidders are us, the sellers.
The Problem.
Bidders will bid on an item and then wait for days until it finishes, only to have someone else outbid them at the last minute. In a traditional auction at a real auction house, this isn’t a problem at all, as the auction keeps going until everyone has bid as much as they want to, and the auctioneer double-checks with the classic phrase “going, going, gone”.
The problem on eBay is caused by the fixed length of time that eBay’s auctions last, and the fact that they aren’t extended significantly if someone places a new bid in the last few seconds of the auction. Imagine if a real auction house worked that way, letting people shout “50 cents more!” at the last second and win an item. It would simply be unfair, and many buyers think it’s unfair on eBay too.
The Solutions.
Until eBay decide to fix the problem (and by now it’s looking unlikely that they ever will), you’re the only one who can do anything for your buyers.
First off, you can encourage your buyers to use eBay’s proxy bidding system the way it was intended. The idea of the system is that they enter the maximum they’re willing to pay for an item and eBay places bids for them automatically up to that maximum. They’re not supposed to come back and bid an extra dollar every time they get outbid.
If your bidders are bidding high enough, then no sniper will even come along and beat them – because they will have set the maximum snipe level in their sniping software to less than the normal bidder’s maximum. Changing the way people use eBay is hard, though.
One alternative is to keep an eye on who’s bidding on your auction, and cancel bids from known snipers – but this requires you to be around right at the end of the auction to cancel their bids. You might also want to set your auction to end sometime when bidders will be around so that they can outbid snipers themselves. This is good business sense anyway – most of the bidding always takes place in the last few hours of an auction.
An easier way to thwart bid snipers is to offer ‘Second Chance’ sales to bidders who get outbid by a sniper at the last minute. This is good for you, and for them – they still get to buy the item they wanted, and you’ve just made two sales: one to the sniper and one to them.
Once you’ve sold your items, though, you might be upset to find that one of them gets returned for a refund. Our next email will show you how to turn these returns into profits!

 

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