Sniping - a good thing or a bad thing?

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My definition of "sniping" is bidding for an item in the last seconds of an auction, thereby not allowing enough time for the previously highest bidder to up his offer. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you are the "sniper" or the "snipee".

As a seller, it can be infuriating as items listed often do not have any bidding activity until the final few seconds of an auction. This is somewhat countered by having the facility to see how many members are "watching" the item.

As a buyer, I can remember being "sniped" for the first time. I was winning an auction at a very low price and constantly refreshing my screen to create a countdown to the end of the listing. Seemingly out of nowhere, with just a few seconds left, someone had come in and "stolen" the lot. It seemed unjust and against my ethic of fair play and I was quite miffed.

I emailed eBay with a solution to eradicate sniping by elongating auctions by five minutes if there was a bid in the last minute. This would repeat until the bidding stopped, much like a real life auction. This would equate to the winning buyer being the one prepared to pay the most, the seller achieving the highest price for their item and eBay receiving higher commission. A very nice response came back explaining how this was dealt with by bidders placing a maximum amount. All very well, but buyers will always become less happy as the winning price approaches their maximum bid.

I soon realised that sniping is part of the "game" and there is fun to be had in competing with fellow members to judge the final price and bid as close to the end of an auction as you dare. I had great fun one Sunday a few weeks back battling with two other bidders on one sellers listings. I'm glad to say the spoils were shared.

So, in summary, I apologise to anybody who may be embittered if I have "sniped" them, but I congratulate those who have outwitted me in a sniping battle.


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