As it happened, using a stopwatch to time my bid in the final seconds was manual sniping – if I’d held my breath I might have got my bid in with 4 seconds remaining. Then again, I could have misjudged it, my connection might have failed, or eBay could have been slow to respond, and I wouldn’t have been able to place a bid. Manual sniping does work, but you need to be available to do it no matter the time, and you need strong nerves.
Determined snipers use automated sniping software to place bids for them. Automated sniping has these advantages:
- You make it hard for manual bidders to bid again in time.
- You don’t have to be there to bid – the sniper software does it for you.
- You avoid getting involved in a ‘bidding war’.
- You are more likely to win the item with a single bid at the price you are prepared to pay.
Here are the names of some well-known sniping tools (there are many more than these!). Use Google to locate their websites. Some offer a free sniping service, others require payment. The free tools work perfectly well, but some may not place bids with less than 10 seconds remaining unless you sign up to a pay-to-use service, which leaves the door open to a last-second snipe.
- If you really want the item, and don't want to be disappointed if you fail to win it, give the sniper software the maximum amount you are prepared to pay. When your bid goes in, it will only go up by the next eBay increment, which might mean you win the item for less than the maximum you were prepared to spend. Think of your sniper maximum as a 'cushion' to safeguard you against other bidders.
- Set your snipe up as early as you can, then watch the auction. As bids are placed, you might need to raise your snipe amount.
- Smoke other bidders out. Place a bid in the usual way, then watch to see if this provokes other bidders. Research their bidding history and based on the information you gather you might need to adjust your snipe amount.