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Can I take back (retract) a bid?


Question: Can I take back (retract) a bid?

Yes and no. eBay does provide a mechanism for retracting bids, but also tightly controls the circumstances under which it may be used. eBay prohibits bed retractions by rule under most circumstances, with the following explicit exceptions:

  • The bidder mistyped the intended bid amount and as a result overbid by order(s) of magnitude.
  • The seller's description of the item changed significantly after the bid was placed.
  • The seller fails to respond in a timely manner to attempted contact.

The timing of retractions is also important. In general, attempted bid retractions during the last 12 hours of a listing are subject to special restrictions detailed on eBay's bid retraction help page.

Bids on real estate auctions (land, housing, or investment property) and vehicles are non-binding and can thus be retracted at will.

Retracting Without Penalty

Any bid retraction can trigger an investigation by eBay, particularly if a seller complains. With that said, in practice it is possible to "get away with" bid retractions every now and then, by using the tool linked at the end of this article while following these guidelines:

  • Don't retract a bid more than once or twice a year at the most.
  • Don't retract bids within the last 12 hours of an auction if you can avoid it, since this is more likely to cause both eBay and the seller to take notice.
  • When using the retraction form, if none of the reasons for your retraction applies to you, use the "Cannot contact the seller" reason. That way, if you are questioned, you can plausibly say that you tried to contact them by email yet received no response.
  • If questioned by eBay, stick to your story—you tried to contact the seller but couldn't.
  • If cited by eBay for a violation, don't complain and don't retract another bid for at least a year, if not longer.
In all cases, if eBay investigates for any reason and the bid retraction is determined to have been made without cause (i.e. it falls outside the guidelines listed above), the retracting bidder will be cited for having made an invalid bid retraction. Repeated citations will lead to suspension from eBay, so retractions are not something to take lightly.

Once made, bid retractions are visible on the retracting member's feedback page for up to 12 months—something that can cause sellers to cancel bids that you place on future auctions.

To retract a bid and provide a reason for its retraction to eBay, use this tool:

eBay Bid Retraction Form


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