I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues this week, one of whom I thought was quite internet savvy. He is a regular eBay user, yet he claims to have no knowledge of a bidding method known as “snipering” an auction.
In a few short days, eBay will be testing a new policy on its
guinea pigs Australian user base. From May 17, sellers will be required to offer PayPal as a payment method on all auctions. From July 1, PayPal will be the only available payment option (apart from the old pickup / cash trade). eBay hopes to attract new users to the site with their new “safer” policy. However, most comments so far suggest that it will push many (current) users away, as fees increase through the use of both (eBay owned) services.
Let’s face it, eBay is going to crap anyway, so we may as well discuss a few of my favourite eBay buying and selling techniques.
Buying Tip, Snipering and the uneven proxy amount: Well this isn’t really a tip. It’s more like an instruction. If you are new to eBay, you will (should) get used to snipering by the end of the first auction you bid on, unless of course you are an idiot and have bid too much for something that no one else wants. If not, you will notice that in the final seconds of the auction someone outbids you and you lose. That is a sniper, welcome to eBay. It is the only real way to bid and win on eBay.
Some people don’t even realise how eBay’s “proxy bidding” system works, so they will never understand sniper bids. But if you have your head around proxy bids, then you must sniper. Just like a regular proxy, work out the maximum you are prepared to pay for an item, let’s say it’s $40. For heaven sake, don’t put the $40 bid in at the start of the auction. To sniper correctly, you have to enter your $40 with only seconds to go.
But let’s say you did, and now the item is at $12 with 5 minutes to go, you’re laughing to yourself going “Gee, look at this Mary, I’m winning this thing for $12 and it’s worth $70 in the shops!” Don’t worry, if there is even one (1) other person that wants it, you’re not going to win. Even with your $40 proxy.
The item has 2 minutes to go, some idiot on dial-up puts in his “sniper” bid a few minutes out and the bidding hits $31. You’re still winning and it looks like he hit his $30 limit. Your proxy has auto-incremented your bid to $1 more than his maximum bid. 5 seconds to go, you can’t believe your eyes! F5, F5, F5. Bidding for this item has ended, you were outbid. PISS! How did that happen? WTF? It sold for $40.11? Someone beat you by 11c? Let me tell you why.
They are smarter than you. Their spend limit was $40 too, but their “smart” proxy was set at $40.11. So they win because they bid more, but only 11c more. Even though the regular minimum bid increment is $1, they have pipped you at the post for 11c. Always use an uneven proxy amount, I usually use $1.21 or something over my maximum. This is an awesome snipering technique and one that you must employ to win more on eBay.
There is another reason the odd amount can win, and it’s what I refer to as a “rounder”. I am a rounder myself, but you can’t be if you want to WIN on eBay. If an item is worth about $80-$100 and the shipping is $15. You can be guaranteed that someone will have a proxy at $85 (making the full payment round off to a neat 100 sheet). $85.11 and you could win here too.
Buying Tip, Buy Now Elimination: Sellers often start their auctions at 99c, generally because the exorbitant eBay fees. It’s ok to throw a bid on here, I like putting a very low bid on something just so it ends up in “My eBay” so I can keep an eye on it, because I generally forget if it’s just in my watch list. But its even MORE important to put a first bid on, especially if the seller has a starting price a lot lower than their “Buy Now” price. Say an item that is worth $400-$500 is listed with a starting bid of $200 and a Buy Now of $500. Put in the $200 bid immediately, get rid of that $500 price tag out of everyone else’s mind. Don’t remind them it is worth that much money, don’t let anyone else know. Oh and if someone lists something for $0.99c and $2000 Buy Now, just put the $1 in to piss them off. The “Buy Now” option disappears as soon as a bid is placed. Sucker you just wasted 10c. Note: 10c is accurate at time of writing, by the time you finish reading this post, eBay have probably upped their Buy Now fees.
Selling Tip, Go Long, Start Low use a Shill Bidder:
Go long. I always like to use the longest auction option which is 10 days. Due to proxy bidding, a 10 day listing is basically a week long advertisement for the auction that is going to happen in 9 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes. Yes that’s right, everyone knows the auction doesn’t really “happen” until the last minute. Research your market before you list. Have a look at who else is selling etc. If someone has a similar item to you with great bids and 6 days left, it might be right to put in a 5 day auction and get all those bidders to hop on yours first. Don’t let the dummy set a precedent with that auction, pushing it through the roof and then the other bidders pay too little for yours. If there are early bids, make sure the dopey one gets on your auction too. Sometimes, in this case, it is better to put it up for 7 days. Maybe pick up the dummy who misses out (because of snipers) and then thinks he has to pay way too much for yours just so he doesn’t miss out again.
Start low, the 99c auction saves you listing fees. It also looks good in the search listings when you scroll past an item that has 49 bids on it. Lots of bids attracts lots of attention, it also gives suckers that winning feeling. It also might create a bit of “bid rage” where people get suckered in to paying too much to retain that “winning feeling”.
“But its too risky to list my $1,000 stainless steel fridge for $1 starting price, what if I don’t get the money I want?”
Don’t be a fool, you never go in to battle (read “99c listing”) without a shill bidder. OMG Paul, what is a shill? A shill under eBay policy is illegal. Don’t read passed here if you have any morals. A shill is a friend of yours who bumps up the price for you. A shill makes you more money, a shill makes eBay LOTS more money, so I think they probably turn a blind eye to it. Oh but if you see evidence of shill bidding, please inform eBay.
Use your shill to push the crap out of stupid people’s early proxies. Use your shill to set your own “reserve”. Use your shill to push “rounders” to their proxy. Use your shill to win your auction if you think you are going to get crushed. Just email the under-bidder after the auction and sell it to them on the side.
Anyway, I could go on all night about eBay buying and selling techniques, but I have an item finishing in 30 minutes and I have to get my shill bidder suited up for action.
Note: Paul Cherry does not condone the use of “shill bidders” or any other method or means that violates eBay policy and local laws. This post should be read for its comedic value and used for educational purposes only.