Selling my stuff via auction on eBay used to be really fun, but now everyone waits until the very last second to bid, which means that I have this constant anxiety that my products aren’t going to sell at all and then, just before the timer runs out, there are suddenly a flurry of bids. I’m sick of it. eBay isn’t any fun any more because of all these snipers. How do I avoid having them ruin my auctions??
While I completely understand your issue with snipers (people who bid at the last minute in the hopes of getting a great bargain by preventing others from counter-bidding and raising the price of the auction), I am surprised at your hostility towards the practice on eBay!
The way I figure it, as long as the auction ends with a successful bid that’s higher than the reserve, you’ve accomplished your goal of making money through your eBay sales. It’s not as fun as watching a week-long drawn out bidding war between a few buyers, as your item goes up, up, up, in price, but I would suggest that this still happens today, just in a much more compressed period of time at the very end of the auction.
By the way, I think that one way you can get a sense of whether people are going to “snipe” your auction by looking at the “Watchers” column in your My eBay view. Here’s what I see with my recent auction, for example:
You can see here that in less than 24 hours (they’re 7 day auctions) I’ve picked up four watchers for the mixer and 3 watchers for the inline patch, my two higher ticket auctions. I could say “oh man, they’re going to wait until the last second and end up getting a better price on the item by sniping” but instead I see it as “hurray! People are paying attention and I bet at least one of them will go wild bidding up the price in the last few hours”.
If you check the eBay help system, you’ll find that they say “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.”
Sniping isn’t a violation of any rules on eBay, and with the rise in slick sniping tools like BidRobot.com, I think it’s rather inevitable that this practice will just increase in the future too. On the other hand, these sniping sites do recognize that the practice is at least a bit controversial. BidRobot, again, from its help FAQ:
“Do sellers hate last-minute-bidding? Many do. For one thing, sellers are unable to gauge the interest in ongoing auctions because last-minute bidders are delaying their bids until the flurry of bids at very last moment. For another thing, last minute bidding often forces sellers to sell items for less than what they would like. There is nothing a seller likes more than to see a several day long bidding war at the expense of several bidders. In the early days, sellers unsuccessfully lobbied eBay to prohibit last minute bidding. Some sellers understand that while BidRobot may keep the prices of items down, it also attracts last-minute bidders who might not otherwise bid for an item. Whether sellers like it or not, last minute bidding wins more auctions and is here to stay.”
I have to echo that last line: if you are going to continue as an eBay seller, I think it’s just inevitable that you’re going to see more effects of sniping software on how auctions transpire and the closing price. I can’t possibly see how it can be avoided, frankly. Sooo…..
Hope your auctions all end well nonetheless, and do remember that’s really why you might want to have a reserve price or consider starting your auctions at a higher opening bid, to circumvent the “bargain hunter snipers”.