How to Use a Laid-Back Bidding Strategy on eBay
Sometimes the best strategy at the beginning of an eBay auction is to do nothing at all. That's right; relax, take off your shoes, and loaf. Go ahead. You may want to make a token bid (the very lowest you are allowed) or mark the page to watch in your My eBay area.
You can take this attitude through the first six days of a week-long auction you want to bid on, and it works pretty well. Of course, you need to check in every day just to keep tabs on the items you're watching on your My eBay page, and revise your strategy as time goes by.
The seller has the right to up his minimum bid — if his auction has received no bids — up to 12 hours before the auction ends. If the seller has set a ridiculously low minimum bid and then sees that the auction is getting no action, the seller may choose to up the minimum bid to protect his investment in the item that's up for sale.
By placing the minimum token bid when you first see the auction, you can foil a Buy It Now sale from another bidder (because the Buy It Now feature is disabled after a bid has been placed unless there is a reserve on the listing) or prevent the seller from upping the minimum.
If it's important enough, you can see whether the seller has done this in the past, by searching the seller's completed auctions. All preclosing changes are available for public view; just click View All Revisions to see item specifics on the item page.
If you see an item that you absolutely must have, mark it to watch on your My eBay page (or make that token bid) and plan and revise your maximum bid as the auction goes on.
As you check back each day, take a look at the other bids and the high bidder. Is someone starting a bidding war? Look at the time that the competition is bidding and note patterns. Maybe at noon eastern time? During lunch?
If you know what time your major competition is bidding, when the time is right, you can safely bid after he or she does (preferably when your foe is stuck in the dentist's chair while trying to use the eBay app, without a signal, to bid).
If you play the waiting game, you can decide if you really want to increase your bid or wait around for the item to show up again sometime. You may decide you really don't want this particular item after all. Or you may feel no rush because many sellers who offer multiple items put them up one at a time.