eBay ‘Snipers’ Are Fast and Accurate – Just Like the Real Ones

Posted on 06. Jan, 2006 by in Saving & Investing

I wouldn’t say that I’m an eBay “fanatic” but I must admit that I do use eBay on a regular basis – both to buy new toys and sell my old ones. And although you might not be able to draw a direct connection from eBay to personal finance – The Wall Street Journal conducted a field test of eBay ‘Sniper’ programs that I just couldn’t resist sharing.

For those of you who may not know, Snipers are programs – either installed on your computer or web-based – that allow you to place a bid for an eBay auction at the last possible second and without you being there. For example, if the auction for that Treo 650 that I’ve been coveting is ending at 2am then I can set my Sniper program to input my maximum bid at 1:59am while I’m tucked into bed. The programs are not necessarily illegal, but frowned upon by eBay. From eBay’s website:

Placing a high bid in the closing seconds of an auction-style listing is called “sniping” within the eBay Community. Sniping is part of the eBay experience, and all bids placed before a listing ends are valid – even if they’re placed one second before the listing ends.

To help avoid disappointment, ensure that the maximum bid you enter on the item page is the highest price that you’re willing to pay. The eBay bidding system automatically increases your bid up to the maximum price you specify, so entering a higher maximum may help prevent you from being outbid in the closing seconds of a listing.

As I mentioned, there are two types of ‘Sniping’ programs — web-based and installed. Both have advantaged and disadvantages, but in general the web-based versions seemed to perform better because they run on a higher bandwidth than your home connection. The following is a synopsis of the WSJ test results:

auctionsniper.com Three free auctions then 1% of each winning auction, up to a cap of $9.95 Platform independent eBay The most consistently successful, and made it easy to manage multiple bids.
bidnapper.com One year unlimited service, $46.95 or 10 winning snipes, $19.95 Platform independent eBay and Yahoo auctions Archived complete auction info so users can track favorite sellers.
phantombidder.com $9 a month to subscribe or $6 for 10 bid credits. Platform independent eBay, eBay Motors and international eBay sites (except Korea) Black List feature avoids preset sellers in individual auctions and bid groups.
powersnipe.com One-year subscription $59.99 Platform independent U.S. and international eBay sites. It didn’t let us change timing of the bid to make it closer to auction’s end.
silentsniper.com $19.95 to download version 2.0 Mac OS X and Windows 98 and higher. U.S., U.K. and German eBay sites Sign-in screen opened behind the auction-management tool, causing confusion at first.

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