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Bidding on eBay: Smart Bidding Practices

Knowing How to Bid is the Trick to Getting the Best Deal


Woman doing online research at home
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There are basically three types of bidders on Ebay.

  • Those looking for the lowest price.
  • Those looking for an item and willing to pay anything reasonable to get it.
  • Those on a budget but who really want the item they are bidding on.

Once you've decided which type of bidder you are, you can set up your strategy in a way that works with your buying goals.

Lowest Price Strategy
People who are looking for the lowest price on an item will find holding off to bid until the last moment will work best for them. This may not be the most popular practice but it is done regularly as a way to keep the price of an item down until the last minute than snatching it at a good price.

Willing to Pay Strategy
Those looking for an item and willing to pay any reasonable amount for it will do best if they start off with a relatively high bid and maintain that position throughout the auction.

Pre-determined Limit Stragety
People will determine how much they are willing to spend for something and not exceed it regardless if it means losing the auction. A good strategy here is to go in with a bid on the high side and continue to counterbid until you reach your limit.

Deceptive Bidding to Watch Out For
Shill bidding is when a seller sets up fraudulent bidding. This is done using an alternative registration themselves or having an associate working with them, bidding on the item to inflate the price. This is also known as bid rigging and collusion. Usually the bidder that has not set a predetermined limit to what they are willing to pay will be most likely to fall victim to shilling.

How To Place Your Bid
Proxy Bidding
Okay, you've found what you want and you have decided the maximum amount you are willing to pay for it. Let's say you are willing to pay $30.00 and the current bid price is at $3.00. You enter your maximum bid (the most you are willing to pay for the item) and eBay will automatically place your bids for you through out the auction.

This is done through preset automatic increments which will increase as the highest bid on the item increases.

Basic Example of the Bidding Process

  • You've found an item you want to bid on.
  • You've determined you are willing to pay $30.00 for it.
  • The mininum bid on that item is $15.00
  • You enter your maximum of $30.00
  • If there are no other bids on the item the proxy server will enter your bid at the minimum of $15.00.
  • If someone bids $20.00 on it, the proxy server will automatically increase your bid to $21.00. That is what it is currently bidding for plus the minimum increment.
  • eBay then informs the other bidder that they have been outbid.
  • This bidding process continues throughout the duration of the auction, or until your maximum is met whichever comes first.

If someone joins the auction with a maximum bid of $35.00, you will be informed that you have been outbid.

Bidding Tip
Your maximum bid has nothing to do with the minimum bid increment. That only applies to the current high bid.

Example -

  • Your maximum bid is $30.00
  • The minimum increment bid is $1.00
  • The current high bid is $16.00
  • To beat the current bid another bidder would have to bid at least $17.00.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Let's say that bidder decided to put his maximum bid $30.01.What happens? You lose the auction by a penny!
That is why it is a good idea not to put your maximum bid in at a predictable amount. If your maximum bid is $30 you would want to put it in as $30.63 or some off number. Many eBay auctions have been lost by a dime, nickle or penny.

What can You do About Snipers?
Snipers wait until the very last possible minute to outbid an auction. It is legal but to many, considered annoying and rude.

  • 1. Becoming one yourself which takes many hours of watching auctions.
  • 2. Put your maximum amount in plus a little more. If you have decided that you are willing to pay $30.00, do not put your maximum in at $20.00. Go ahead and put in at $33.00 just for safety reasons. If you win, great! If it a sniper gets it, well, just chaulk it up to "you win some, you lose some" and leave smiling.

Next > Retracting a Bid

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