Sniping Techniques for the eBay Beginner - dummies

By Marsha Collier

If you want to be successful on eBay, it’s a good idea to develop some strategies. One of those strategies may include sniping. If you decide it’s for you, here’s a list of things to keep in mind when you get ready to place your snipe bid:

  • Know how high you’re willing to go. If you know you’re facing a lot of competition, figure out your highest bid to the penny. Raise your bid only to the level where you’re sure you’re getting a good return on your investment. Certainly, if the item has some emotional value, bid as high as you want. But remember, you win it, you own it!

  • Know how fast (or slow) your Internet connection is. Before you start sniping, figure out how long it takes to get your bid confirmed on eBay. Test it a few times until you know how many seconds you have to spare when placing a bid.

  • Don’t lose heart if you lose the auction. Remember, this is a game.

Although sellers love sniping because it drives up prices and bidders love it because it’s fun, a sniper can ruin a week’s careful work on an auction strategy. The most skillful snipers sneak in a bid so close to the end of the auction that you have no chance to counter-bid. Losing too often, especially to the same sniper, can be a drag.

If your Internet connection is slow and you want to do some sniping, make your final bid two minutes before the auction ends. If you can make the highest bid with just 10 seconds left, you most likely will win. With so many bids coming in the final seconds, your bid might be the last one eBay records.

This stuff is supposed to be fun, so don’t lose perspective. If you can’t afford an item, don’t get caught up in a bidding war. Otherwise, the only person who wins is the seller. If you’re losing sleep, barking at your cat, or biting your nails over an item, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.

To snipe a bid manually (without a sniping service), first make sure you’re signed in. Then follow these steps to snipe at the end of the auction:

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

    Keep one window open for bidding.


  2. Continuously click the Reload or Refresh button that appears in the last few minutes of an auction, just above the Place Bid button.

    By reloading the item continually, 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. In the bid box of the second browser, type your maximum bid and then click the Place Bid button.

    You then face a page that, when you press the button, finalizes and confirms your bid on the item. Do not click the Confirm Bid button yet.

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

    You know when the auction is almost over because you’re reloading your first browser continually. The longer you can hold off bidding before the auction ends, the better.

If you really want an item bad enough, you may want to set up a backup for your snipe. Try the three-screen system, in which you can place a backup 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 rare that you only see it come on the auction block once.