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How to Snipe on eBay

The basics, the steps, and the tools to help you to snipe on eBay today

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How to Snipe on eBay

“Sniping” is just a term for waiting until the last moment to bid on an auction. You can do it yourself, or you use a tool to do it automatically for you.

Photo: Franckito / Dreamstime

Somehow auction sniping has taken on the image of being little known or marginally legal as a bidding technique. In fact, sniping is simple, commonplace, and not against eBay rules.

To “snipe” just means “to bid only once, at the very last moment of a timed auction listing.” That’s all. Before you tackle the how-to steps involved in sniping, it may be a good idea to review the positives and negatives of sniping on eBay. If after that you’re still eager to get sniping, here is how to go about it.

Decide Whether to Snipe Manually or Automatically

Manual sniping is just that—entirely up to you and your two hands. You simply wait out the clock on eBay auctions you’re interested in, then bid yourself at the very last moment of the auction.

Manual sniping has some advantages:

  • It costs nothing.
     
  • If you already use eBay, you already know how to snipe manually; nothing new to learn.
     
  • You don’t have to put your eBay or personal data into the hands of third parties.
     
  • You don’t have to install anything on your computer.

Manual sniping also, however, has some disadvantages:

  • You actually have to sit at your computer around the time the auction is ending, even if it is at odd hours for you.
     
  • You have to manage the timing yourself. Bid too early and any of the presumed benefits of sniping disappear; bid too late and you may miss out on the chance to bid before the listing ends.
     
  • You are depending on the reliability and performance of your net connection. These are often iffy things for individuals and small businesses.

How to Snipe Manually

If you’ve decided that manual sniping might be for you, here’s how to go about it:

  1. Find an auction format listing you’d like to snipe.
     
  2. Decide on the maximum price you’re willing to pay.
     
  3. Add it to your watch list so that you can easily find it again.
     
  4. Make a note of the ending time and date of the auction. On the eBay website this is shown near the tops of listings next to the words “time left.” Don’t forget to account for time zone differences!
     
  5. Return to the eBay website about five minutes before the auction ends.
     
  6. Watch the auction until its final seconds and place your bid just before time runs out.

That’s it. If you do this successfully, you’re officially an auction “sniper.”

Theree are, of course, a couple of complications. First there’s the tricky balance between bidding as late as possible and being sure to not miss the chance to bid amidst the vagaries of browser speed, network connections and page refreshes, and so on.

There’s also the fact that if your bids are truly bargain-basement amounts (which is usually why people want to snipe in the first place), it can take several or even dozens of auctions before you actually win at your chosen price, thanks to others having used eBay’s proxy bidding system to outbid you despite the lateness of your bid (don’t make the common mistake of imagining that eBay or the seller are somehow cheating you by sliding an even later bid in after your own, since this happens in a fraction of a second).

That’s where automatic auction sniping using either a program or a third-party website comes in. Read on to learn how to snipe automatically and for a comparison list of some of the most popular automatic sniping programs and services.

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