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Succeeding by Sniping on eBay

Sniping is the fine art of outbidding your competition in the last seconds of the auction — without leaving them enough time to place a defensive bid.

Bidders (that is, losing bidders) whine and moan when they lose to a sniper — but there is one thing to remember. eBay uses proxy bidding. If you're going to snipe, always assume that the current bidder has a high dollar proxy bid in the works. The high bidder always wins!

Sniping techniques for the beginner

Before you start sniping, be sure you know how fast your Internet connection will react. Figure out how long it takes to get your bid confirmed at eBay. Test it a few times until you know how many seconds you have to spare when placing a bid. Also be sure you're signed in first, before you attempt a snipe.

Follow these steps to snipe at the end of the auction:

1. In the last couple of minutes of the auction, locate the item you want to win and press the Ctrl key and the N key together to open a second window on your Internet browser.

Keep one window open for bidding.

2. Continuously click the Reload or Refresh button in the browser toolbar.

By reloading the item continuously, you'll be aware when you're in the last 60 seconds of bidding. You also can see instantly whether anyone else is doing any last-minute bidding.

3. Type your maximum bid in the bid box of the second browser.

This is the highest amount you will consider paying for the item.

4. Click the Place Bid button.

When you click the Confirm Bid button that appears on the next page, your bid is finalized.

5. Do not press the Confirm Bid button yet.

6. Continuously refresh your first browser.

7. As the auction nears its end, confirm your final bid by clicking the Confirm Bid button.

The longer you can hold off to bid before the auction ends, the better.

The three-screen approach to sniping

If you really want an item badly enough, try setting up a back-up sniping setup. With the triple-screen system, you can place a back-up high bid in case you catch another sniper swooping in on your item immediately after your first snipe.

Obviously, if you win with the first snipe, the second window is unnecessary. But if you lose the first one, that second window feels like a real lifesaver! If you're outbid after two snipes, don't cry. The winner paid way more than you were willing to pay. It's not much consolation, but rarely is an item so unusual that you only see it come on the auction block once in a lifetime.

Auto-sniping your auctions

There are many reasons for not wanting to snipe your own auctions. You might not have the time to be there for the closing of each one, you may have a slow Internet connection, or you may just not want to bother. All are valid reasons!

If you're in the market for some sniping assistance, you can seek out one of the many programs that automate the shopping and feedback processes. Here are just a couple of options:

Just remember that if you use software downloaded to your computer, your computer has to be online at the time of the auction.

  • BidRobot: BidRobot deftly places sniping bids for you from its servers. The service is one of the least expensive ones out there. It charges a low flat rate for all the snipes you could use. Get a free trial. Just enter the code cool in the registration box.
  • eSnipe: Another popular sniping server is eSnipe. This service charges a fee of approximately 1 percent of the final winning price, with a maximum of $10 (you pay only if you win). You can purchase Bid Points to place in your account to pay for upcoming snipes. For 14 days of free sniping, visit esnipe.
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