Tell me about winning a bid on an eBay auction in 2023...
February 13, 2023 9:20 PM   Subscribe

There are a few items I want to purchase on eBay and, frustratingly, they're all auctions! The auctions end on the same date and time next week. What's the best way to make sure I get them? I've heard there are apps you can use to make bids, is that true? What's the deal with them?

The items I want are *not* particularly items that would end up in a bidding war, but you never know. They're pretty low stakes and not super valuable. The starting bid is like $15.00, so it's not crazy. I've looked at the last few auctions for the same type of items and there's typically been 1 winning bidder.

I guess my concern is that there are 5 items I want (all different), and the bidding closes at the same time. If there's a second bidder, how do I manage to maintain the highest bid on all 5 items? I'm also worried that I'll forget about these items and won't even remember to bid (perhaps a sign I don't need them, but nevertheless I want them). Is this what some sort of app could come in handy for?

Help me win these items!
posted by VirginiaPlain to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Set an alarm on your phone for 20 minutes before the auctions end and label the alarm as “eBay auctions” just so you don’t forget. When you put in a bid, you also have the opportunity to put in a maximum bid, where eBay will bid for you against opposing bids incrementally up to your max bid.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 9:25 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]

You want a bid sniper. I use Gixen and I have paid for the subscription which will double the attempts to bid (it's something like $6 a year) but there's a free version I think. You can do some grouping of bids as well, but I haven't done more than set and forget on a few items here and there.
posted by ndfine at 9:26 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]

Make an offer. I sell pretty regularly on eBay. If I get a reasonable offer before there are any bids, I almost always accept it. When a seller accepts an offer, there is no auction. The question is what is a reasonable offer. Take a look at what similar items have sold for and make a bid that is close to that.
posted by hworth at 10:02 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]

I use on the rare occasions I need to bid on an auction. You tell it the most you’re willing to pay, and it enters the bid for you very shortly before the end of the auction. Ebay's proxy bidding system means that if your maximum is higher than that of anyone else bidding, you win at a price just over the next highest bid. Sniping services keep you from getting sucked into bidding wars that drive the price up, and keep you from forgetting to bid at all. They take a small fee but it’s worth it.
posted by kite at 10:19 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]

I've used JustSnipe a few times and didn't have a problem. The offer five free snipes a week, after that they charge.
posted by Marky at 11:01 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Seconding, it has worked for me many times.

Whatever you do, never bid on an item that isn't about to end. All you're doing is giving other bidders a chance to beat you and drive the price up. eBay's entire business model depends on people not being smart about bidding.
posted by mmoncur at 1:46 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]

Also, if you really want to go for it and have some adrenaline to spare, choose the one you want most, decide your highest bid, and sit watching it countdown. Leave it as late as you possibly can - no, even later - like last 10 or 20 seconds - and then put your bid in.
posted by penguin pie at 2:39 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

ESnipe is another sniping app. Just set it up with your auctions and then you get the notifications about the items when you have won.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:18 AM on February 14

You probably want a sniping service. I am not currently active on eBay thus can't recommend one over another.

If you want to do this manually -- for example, if the auctions close seconds apart and you want to raise or lower your maximum on later items depending whether you win or don't win the first one -- ten seconds to hammer is so early that you risk getting raised more than once by another manual bidder receiving an outbid! notification. It is normally best to commit 3-4 seconds before the auction closes unless you expect to be competing with a high-volume sniper in a narrow price range, in which case coming in just before their snipe can save you a bid increment rather than costing one.

It is sometimes correct to bid days before an auction will end. If you are willing to bid the minimum but no higher, do it before someone else does. Or if you are willing to bid far more than the minimum on an item, put in a lowball placeholder bid before someone else makes an offer to entice the seller to end the auction early. And then use a sniping service for your final bid in case life gets in the way when the auction is about to close.

eBay auctions are mostly frustration. If you are playing the game for the long run, you will lose most of your bids while landing a few huge scores and plenty of items Not As Described. If you are looking to buy something for yourself, not for resale, eBay auctions can provide the right item at the right price. Best of luck.
posted by backwoods at 4:54 AM on February 14

Another vote for Gixen.
posted by gakiko at 5:46 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Thirding Gixen. If having the thing at a reasonable price saves you $6, it's worth the paid service. It's also very useful to take the heat out of bidding: you set the price you want to pay, Gixen goes off and does its thing.
posted by scruss at 7:02 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Gixen, but any reliable sniping service will do as well. You can put in all your bids now and it will place bids for you at the end of the auction. The key is to put in a bid at the most you are willing to pay for the item, not your ideal amount that you're hoping to spend. It's basically like handing a friend some cash, knowing they'll be bidding for you - they have your maximum, but they're bidding the minimum necessary to win.
posted by Mchelly at 8:09 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

I use a sniper and put in the highest amount I'm willing to pay. This is generally successful; sometimes someone else is willing to pay more and I'm fine with that.
I always add items to my watchlist; I often get an offer from the seller.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on February 14

Nthing Gixen. Used the free version a couple of times, and it worked perfectly.
posted by quinndexter at 2:34 PM on February 14

I've used myibidder for years. It's free, excellent, and reliable, despite the weird website design.
posted by danceswithlight at 3:09 PM on February 14

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, I'm going to check these out in the future if I come across another auction I'm impatient about.

I actually messaged the seller yesterday (because I was so impatient lol) about just flat-out buying the items I wanted. She didn't have best offer turned on, so I just asked her what she'd be willing to accept for them! She said the *higher* end of what I'm perfectly willing to pay for them ($19!!) and sold them to me!
posted by VirginiaPlain at 9:56 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]

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