EBAY terminology No 1
Shilling is when a seller bids on their own items, using a separate ID, in an attempt to drive the price up. It is NOT allowed and sellers that do it need to be reported to eBay.
Some warning signs (but not conclusive proof) of shilling are:
Low feedback users who have not won much but who favour bidding (but not winning) the sellers goods
Newly registered user IDs who are just bidding on the sellers goods
The seller's auction item, having been won by the shiller, is delivered, feedback left and back on sale again, within an instant
The above can be ascertained through advanced search or by using tools, for example the tool which is free from Auctionpix which reveals the bidding history of the people bidding on a seller's item.
Sniping is the practice of placing a bid, the snipe, in the last few moments of an auction in an attempt to ensure that:
no one else has a chance to outbid you
in the hope that the item will go for a lower price
to avoid being shilled (see above)
There are two methods of doing this:
with manual sniping you call up the item in the last few minutes or seconds and place your highest bid
with the various tools available you input the item number (and details of your login) into the tool and the tool places the bid, on your behalf, as close to auction end as it can.
to find out more about the different tools available input "eBay sniping tool" into your search engine and read the results
a good sniping tool should allow you to amend and delete details of the bid.
Sniping does have the advantage of preventing a seller shilling you but it is no competition for proxy bidding (see below).
Some buyers and sellers do not like snipers for various reasons (too many to list here) but sniping is totally permissable and within the rules.
This is the practice of placing your absolute maximum bid, the proxy bid, early in the auction to ensure that if someone snipes in the last few moments you will still be the highest bidder when the auction ends.
No special tools are required and this can be done using the eBay software. In addition, if you have bid your maximum on an auction you can still increase it later if, you decide it is too low. Please note you cannot decrease your maximum.
If you place proxy bids be on the look out for shilling (see above) as this is the greatest risk.
Some sellers do not like buyers to put multiple proxy bids on an auction as they think it may "put off" other buyers but it is totally permissable and within the rules.
I regularly snipe (on another ID) and use proxy bidding when I really want to win the auction. I have no conection with any company mentioned here or with any sellers of sniping tools, although I do use one.