Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

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Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby leonard » Fri May 10, 2013 8:00 pm

I have been finding auction bids/purchases on a Ebay to be frustrating lately - so wonder how others bid for Ebay items.

Any small amount of research indicates that the best strategy for everyone involved is to wait until the last few seconds of the auction - and then put in an automatic bid with the limit you are willing to pay. This results in the highest bidder getting the item of course - but without driving up the price higher than need be.

However, people still persist in driving up the price early in the auction - even though that strategy has been proven just to drive up prices. The strategy outlined above is superior.

So, any thoughts on why people bid early and simply drive the price up on auctions - despite information at their finger tips that indicate a different strategy is preferable? Just trying to deal with the frustration by understanding "why".
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby momar » Fri May 10, 2013 8:11 pm

Because they don't research what the best strategy is and don't think it through.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby Paul78 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:16 pm

Lots of "fake" bids on ebay.

People either have pseudo accounts to jack up the price or have friends to bid.

If a fake bid win the buyer simply does not pay and the item is re-listed.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby ieee488 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:22 pm

I simply bid close to what I want and don't go higher.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby dhodson » Fri May 10, 2013 8:23 pm

U have the right idea.

Also just check completed listings to get an idea of what you can possibly get it for.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby Toons » Fri May 10, 2013 8:25 pm

I quit bidding and waiting ,I use "buy it now" :happy
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby leonard » Fri May 10, 2013 8:41 pm

Paul78 wrote:Lots of "fake" bids on ebay.

People either have pseudo accounts to jack up the price or have friends to bid.

If a fake bid win the buyer simply does not pay and the item is re-listed.


On one item in particular - I think this is happening. The first couple auto bids took the price up too high in the first day or 2 on a week long auction.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby leonard » Fri May 10, 2013 8:43 pm

Toons wrote:I quit bidding and waiting ,I use "buy it now" :happy


Definitely my preference also.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby madbrain » Fri May 10, 2013 8:46 pm

The whole ebay auction system is flawed, IMO.

People should not be able to bid in the last second and get away with it. In a proper auction, the auction would be extended by some amount of time after a bid to allow others to make other bids.

As a seller, I really hate the system, and I have been known to terminate auctions early if there are no bids on the last day, and just relist the item, just to discourage those who plan on bidding at the last second.

Personally, I must prefer the "buy it now / make best offer" system than the auction system, both as a buyer and as a seller.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby daytona084 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:57 pm

As a buyer, it makes no sense to place a bid at any time other than the last few seconds.

Placing bids in the final seconds is equivalent to making a "sealed bid". Placing the bid early allows your bid to be outbid, as in a traditional auction. In effect, other buyers can determine the value of your bid, and outbid you by a small amount.

(Note - eBay tells buyers to place their bid early. Ebay are no dummies - that drives up the price and increases their commission.)

As a seller, it's great to watch a couple of newbies in a bidding war in the early days of the auction.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Fri May 10, 2013 9:04 pm

I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.

In Ye Olde Days when your bid was visible, which I think must be at least six or seven years ago, yes, "sniping" was important. But today, your high bid amount is not visible to other bidders.

If the auction is up to $10, and you are willing to pay $50, and you bid $50, nobody sees $50. They see that the bid is now--I forget what the increment is--$10.25. And that's all they see. If nobody else bids, you get the item for $10.25, not $50.

If someone else is willing to pay $30, and they bid $30, instead of seeing that the high bid is $30, they see instantly that someone else has outbid them and the high bit is $30.25. That's your bid. If there are no other bids, you get the item for $30.25, not $50.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby leonard » Fri May 10, 2013 9:15 pm

nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.

In Ye Olde Days when your bid was visible, which I think must be at least six or seven years ago, yes, "sniping" was important. But today, your high bid amount is not visible to other bidders.

If the auction is up to $10, and you are willing to pay $50, and you bid $50, nobody sees $50. They see that the bid is now--I forget what the increment is--$10.25. And that's all they see. If nobody else bids, you get the item for $10.25, not $50.

If someone else is willing to pay $30, and they bid $30, instead of seeing that the high bid is $30, they see instantly that someone else has outbid them and the high bit is $30.25. That's your bid. If there are no other bids, you get the item for $30.25, not $50.


The theory goes that some people don't bid knowing in advance what their max is. I don't have the links handy - but studies show that some bidders use the auction bids themselves to determine what their price is. If the current bid is $10 - up from $9 - to some bidders they look at the $10 and make a decision based on that to bid $11. I personally don't get it - but some people don't know the value of the item to them - they just know that they are willing to pay more than the current bid.

Thus, these bidders just tend to drive prices up in an auction. A seller will want them in the action. But, all they do is drive prices up for the other buyers, bidders. Will see if I can find the links to the behavioral research stuff. It's interesting - but annoying in practice when you have to deal with other bidders running the price up.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby otbricki » Fri May 10, 2013 9:21 pm

madbrain wrote:The whole ebay auction system is flawed, IMO.


There are many legitimate styles of auction. The Ebay style actually works very well for an online system because it does not require participants to wait around at the end of the auction to see if there are any last minute bids, and to respond to those bids. What works in a live outcry auction is not necessarily a good idea for a world-spanning system with millions of users.

I used to participate in another online auction system that extended bidding. It was a giant pain in the neck for many reasons. I hated it because you had no idea when bidding would be over.

The Ebay system is far better in my opinion.

And yes I like the last second bid method. A lot. If you place a bid early you may run into a nibbler who will increment their bid by small amounts until yours is surpassed. A last second bid at the max amount you are willing to pay is generally a winning strategy on Ebay. Just set up your sniping software and go about whatever else you have to do.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby pennstater2005 » Fri May 10, 2013 10:09 pm

I wait until the last seconds to bid, it's exciting. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. My heart races. Yes, sad I know. If I want it quickly I use buy it now or just go to Amazon.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mike143 » Fri May 10, 2013 10:17 pm

Nothing is free, someone pays.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby bill1958 » Fri May 10, 2013 11:00 pm

Toons wrote:I quit bidding and waiting ,I use "buy it now" :happy


+1
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby daytona084 » Sat May 11, 2013 12:07 am

nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.


Ok, here's why. Say there is an item for which I am willing to pay up to $100. Say there are only two people interested, myself and "Bidder X". Bidder X has is willing to pay $125, but hopes to get it for less. So he starts the bidding at $25. He thinks it's like a traditional live auction (which it definitely is not).

Scenario #1. I bid my maximum ($100) several days before the auction ends. Bidder X then pokes around, makes more bids, keeps increasing his bid. Finally, he bids $102.50 ($100 plus $2.50, which is the bid increment at that level). Meanwhile, I "forget about it" (as you suggest - and besides it's above my maximum), and Bidder X wins the auction for $102.50.

Scenario #2. I refrain from bidding until the end. As of a few seconds before the end, "Bidder X" is still the high bidder with a high bid of $25. He is giddy with anticipation of getting the item for $25, thinking how lucky he is that no-one else is bidding. After all, the item has been listed for a week and no-one seems interested. Then I enter my bid of $100, with 3 seconds left. Auction ends and I win the item for $26.00 ($25 plus the increment at that level, which is $1.00).

I cannot think of any scenario in which a buyer is better off by entering the bid at any time except at the end.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby MattE » Sat May 11, 2013 1:18 am

wjwhitney wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.


Ok, here's why. Say there is an item for which I am willing to pay up to $100. Say there are only two people interested, myself and "Bidder X". Bidder X has is willing to pay $125, but hopes to get it for less. So he starts the bidding at $25. He thinks it's like a traditional live auction (which it definitely is not).

Scenario #1. I bid my maximum ($100) several days before the auction ends. Bidder X then pokes around, makes more bids, keeps increasing his bid. Finally, he bids $102.50 ($100 plus $2.50, which is the bid increment at that level). Meanwhile, I "forget about it" (as you suggest - and besides it's above my maximum), and Bidder X wins the auction for $102.50.

Scenario #2. I refrain from bidding until the end. As of a few seconds before the end, "Bidder X" is still the high bidder with a high bid of $25. He is giddy with anticipation of getting the item for $25, thinking how lucky he is that no-one else is bidding. After all, the item has been listed for a week and no-one seems interested. Then I enter my bid of $100, with 3 seconds left. Auction ends and I win the item for $26.00 ($25 plus the increment at that level, which is $1.00).

I cannot think of any scenario in which a buyer is better off by entering the bid at any time except at the end.


This is exactly what happens and exactly why you should still try to snipe auctions, especially since even on an item that is currently at (to keep with the example) $25 but is worth $100, the person placing the $25 bid generally will not put in a maximum autobid amount that much higher.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby tfb » Sat May 11, 2013 1:52 am

If everyone bids the maximum he or she is willing to pay, it doesn't matter when you bid. Bidding late helps only when others don't bid their maximum. Bidding early helps you find out if others are willing to pay more than your maximum. You quickly find out and stop wasting your time. Losing an auction because others are willing to pay more than your maximum isn't really losing because you already determined the item isn't worth more.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby noyopacific » Sat May 11, 2013 2:30 am

I am a shameless eBay sniper. It helps prevent me from getting carried away and foolishly competitive and it eliminates any opportunity for competing bidders from responding to my bids (nibbling away at the bid $1 at a time.) I realize that being outbid by a sniper sometimes annoys other eBay users. I snipe because it is within the rules of eBay and because I believe that it gives one a competitive advantage.
A sniping service relieves one from the burden of having to sit at your computer waiting until the last seconds to place your bid. I use gixen.com. Gixen has an excellent forum with good explanations about almost anything you might want to know relating to eBay bid sniping. The owner of the site, Mario provides much better service than I had on a paid sniping service I used previously. I believe that Gixen accepts donations and offers a mirror site for a small fee, which may reduce the risk of a bid being lost due to internet connection or server issues.

Buy It Now is great too but if I'm going to bid, I will only bid in the final moments of an eBay auction.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby jda » Sat May 11, 2013 2:57 am

nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.


I have been an active ebay member since 99 here are a few reasons:
1. Newbs drive prices up when they get into a bidding frenzy
2. bid schilling by the seller (I am guilty of that when I was younger)
3. bid schilling by other sellers to drive your bid up to make their auctions more attractive

At the end of the day if you don't care about paying the lowest price possible then go ahead bid early, but if you want to pay the lowest price then bid once and bid last.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby firstmark » Sat May 11, 2013 4:02 am

There are three main reasons why you should wait till the end to bid on ebay.

1 It gives you options and time to consider other items on ebay you might rather have. Maybe a more complete or better condition version shows up before the one auction you watch ends. Maybe a good buy it now shows up, maybe you find whatever you want in a store for less. Bidding early is like potentially tying up your money when you are pricing around with no benefit to you.

2 It gives you time to research an item if its a collectible or item you are not as familar with. Maybe you don't bid impulsively at the beginning just in case. That being said when watch lists are often full a placeholder bid to help you remember the item some people do. Its nice to have extra time to ask the seller questions as they might share something you originally did not know. You don't want to have to withdraw a lot of bids all the time that could have been avoided by asking the seller questions and waiting for them to respond even if near the end. You don't want the seller to list your question in the auction as some will, so often its better to click the contact button on an unrelated auction of the seller to minimize this risk.

3. Some people literally do bid things up in increments if they are new to ebay. One time I went to bed with a super high bid in place I didn't want to stay up. Then someone bid the item up beyond my initial bid in 40 bid attempts. Some people that are new will do this.

4. By bidding at the end you make it less likely some kid will bid up your auction just to be on top even if they have no intention of winning. You bid at the end so they can stay on top with their $1 bid till you win at the end. It also makes it tougher for the seller to try to bid up their own auctions. A seller could themselves or via proxy bid from a few fake personas bid their item up against you if you bid early, then withdraw a bid at the end. Wait till the end and the seller has less idea the max you would go till its too late to do anything about it.

5. A lot of different bidders helps verify an item is authentic. Why contribute to that process and drive it up? before ebay bidder names were annonymous you could see oh so and so is bidding on this so it must be legit. Now they replace it with a series of letters and numbers with parts partly covered up. Now if you are in certain areas of bidding you often will recognize the bidder even still. So bidding early in this instance is like you emailing all potential bidders saying hey I want this too I think its authentic please bid against me and count on my research that causes me to bid too.

So there are more reasons to me to wait then just wanting to bid and forget. Now yahoo auctions except in Japan now defunct used to extend auctions by 15 minutes or so for any bid made at the end. Makes it hard to know when an auction will end. This was such a hassle. Imagine bidders ids not annonymous and all your bids extend the auction. It also makes it hard to plan if you want this item or this auction item that ends after if you don't win the first auction. If two items go together and your first auction is extended an hour via this process now you have to decide if you want to get this other item to go with the first item even though you are now not sure you will get the main item. Such a hassle.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sat May 11, 2013 7:30 am

firstmark wrote:3. Some people literally do bid things up in increments if they are new to ebay. One time I went to bed with a super high bid in place I didn't want to stay up. Then someone bid the item up beyond my initial bid in 40 bid attempts. Some people that are new will do this.
I just don't see the problem here. It seems to me that you caused the problem for yourself by placing a bid that was higher than the amount you were actually willing to pay. Why did you do that? What possible advantage could that give you? If you had simply set your bid for the amount you were willing to pay, then when you woke up, either you'd have the item at the price you wanted, or, more likely, the newbie would have it--but the only way the newbie could have gotten it was by being willing to pay more than you were.

Just set the price you're willing to pay and one of two things happens: you get it at that price and you're happy, or someone else gets it by being willing to pay more than you are.

If I am willing to pay $28 for a book, that is what I am willing to pay. Knowing that someone else is willing to pay $51 for it shouldn't change my own opinion of its value to me. Sure, it's disappointing to realize that the book in fact is going to cost more than I'm willing to pay, and therefore I won't get it, but it isn't any different from walking into a Maserati dealership and discovering that I can't afford a Maserati.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mike143 » Sat May 11, 2013 8:14 am


I use this program all the time. It bids in the last 30 seconds. You set the snipe price and whether it includes shipping cost or not. I have been having really good luck with "Make Offer" on eBay. I will make a low ball offer, they will counter with a reasonable counter and I will make and offer from another account a comfortable amount below their counter, 60% of the time, it works every time.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby kenschmidt » Sat May 11, 2013 11:00 am

wjwhitney wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.

I just bid the amount I am willing to pay at the time when I see the item... and forget about it until the auction has finished.


Ok, here's why. Say there is an item for which I am willing to pay up to $100. Say there are only two people interested, myself and "Bidder X". Bidder X has is willing to pay $125, but hopes to get it for less. So he starts the bidding at $25. He thinks it's like a traditional live auction (which it definitely is not).

Scenario #1. I bid my maximum ($100) several days before the auction ends. Bidder X then pokes around, makes more bids, keeps increasing his bid. Finally, he bids $102.50 ($100 plus $2.50, which is the bid increment at that level). Meanwhile, I "forget about it" (as you suggest - and besides it's above my maximum), and Bidder X wins the auction for $102.50.

Scenario #2. I refrain from bidding until the end. As of a few seconds before the end, "Bidder X" is still the high bidder with a high bid of $25. He is giddy with anticipation of getting the item for $25, thinking how lucky he is that no-one else is bidding. After all, the item has been listed for a week and no-one seems interested. Then I enter my bid of $100, with 3 seconds left. Auction ends and I win the item for $26.00 ($25 plus the increment at that level, which is $1.00).

I cannot think of any scenario in which a buyer is better off by entering the bid at any time except at the end.


Great explanation!
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby kenschmidt » Sat May 11, 2013 11:03 am

tfb wrote:If everyone bids the maximum he or she is willing to pay, it doesn't matter when you bid. Bidding late helps only when others don't bid their maximum. Bidding early helps you find out if others are willing to pay more than your maximum. You quickly find out and stop wasting your time. Losing an auction because others are willing to pay more than your maximum isn't really losing because you already determined the item isn't worth more.


Everyone doesn't always bid the maximum though. In addition to the snipers (of which I am one), there are also the "nibblers" who will bid in small increments until they exceed your maximum. If you don't bid, they think they are winning and don't bid.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby kenschmidt » Sat May 11, 2013 11:12 am

nisiprius wrote:
firstmark wrote:3. Some people literally do bid things up in increments if they are new to ebay. One time I went to bed with a super high bid in place I didn't want to stay up. Then someone bid the item up beyond my initial bid in 40 bid attempts. Some people that are new will do this.
I just don't see the problem here. It seems to me that you caused the problem for yourself by placing a bid that was higher than the amount you were actually willing to pay. Why did you do that? What possible advantage could that give you? If you had simply set your bid for the amount you were willing to pay, then when you woke up, either you'd have the item at the price you wanted, or, more likely, the newbie would have it--but the only way the newbie could have gotten it was by being willing to pay more than you were.

Just set the price you're willing to pay and one of two things happens: you get it at that price and you're happy, or someone else gets it by being willing to pay more than you are.

If I am willing to pay $28 for a book, that is what I am willing to pay. Knowing that someone else is willing to pay $51 for it shouldn't change my own opinion of its value to me. Sure, it's disappointing to realize that the book in fact is going to cost more than I'm willing to pay, and therefore I won't get it, but it isn't any different from walking into a Maserati dealership and discovering that I can't afford a Maserati.


The problem is that there are bidders who are willing to pay $1 or $2.50 more than your maximum regardless of the amount. They use you to set their maximum rather than research and set their own.

If you don't bid, they don't know your maximum amount and can't outbid you.

I can tell you that in the area where I usually bid (collectibles), sniping is the only way to actually win any auctions.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby bertilak » Sat May 11, 2013 11:33 am

tfb wrote:If everyone bids the maximum he or she is willing to pay, it doesn't matter when you bid.

The trouble is, you can't make that happen. If you want to be successful at eBay bidding you need to play in the ACTUAL eBay environment, not the one you think would be best. It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong about what would be best. What matters is reality.

P.S. My sniping service (http://esnipe.com/) has a feature where it will tell you if your (hidden) bid is no longer adequate to win. You get an email. So I can still play the nibble game if I want. I never do, realizing that I will just get into a bidding war that I will either lose or nibble (nickle and dime) myself to death for the win.

WOW: Coincidence! I just got such an email. I am ignoring it. I usually only make low bids on eBay since most things I can do fine without, books, usually. Once in a while I get a nice one on the cheap, and that's why I use eBay. Sometimes I see something I want really badly and over-bid a little, willing to be disappointed in the price but getting something I badly want. Perhaps my other bargains make up for that.

Hey! This is a bit like the floor and aspirational strategy in retirement planning! Take a risk on a few things above and beyond what you really need.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby dumbmoney » Sat May 11, 2013 12:52 pm

If everyone understood how ebay worked, then it wouldn't matter much. But there are always lots of newbies who place lowball bids, then raise them if it's not enough. I did it myself when I first used ebay. If you bid at the last second, then they can't amuse themselves at your expense.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby bertilak » Sat May 11, 2013 1:07 pm

dumbmoney wrote:If everyone understood how ebay worked, then it wouldn't matter much.

If everyone understood how ebay worked, then everyone would snipe. Anyone who bid early would need to bid outrageously high or never win a bid and pay through the nose for any win.

If you bid at the last second, then they [newbies] can't amuse themselves at your expense.

I like that observation!
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby downshiftme » Sat May 11, 2013 7:07 pm

If I want to bid on an ebay item, bidding before the last second only invites others to outbid me and increases the risk I may get carried away by the excitement of the auction and bid more than I might in a calm and rational moment. On the other hand, I often find it useful to put in a bid perhaps much lower than my intended maximum early in the auction. This is because:
As a seller, I really hate the system, and I have been known to terminate auctions early if there are no bids on the last day, and just relist the item, just to discourage those who plan on bidding at the last second.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mikestorm » Sat May 11, 2013 7:50 pm

I bid early all the time. All the examples above assume you and bidder x are the only people in the world. A depressed price for most of the auction attracts way more watchers than an auction with a larger bid early on (still under market price). People see the price and keep searching for a "better deal". Less watch list adds for the seven days the auction plugs along means when the auction ends I have fewer people to compete against to snipe my bid. :beer
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mike143 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:05 pm

madbrain wrote:As a seller, I really hate the system, and I have been known to terminate auctions early if there are no bids on the last day, and just relist the item, just to discourage those who plan on bidding at the last second.

You can set a reserve, we have to operate within the constraints. All the information I can find says that sniping is allowed by eBay per their T&Cs. I will continue to use it because I don't want to baby sit a auction and miss it when I am called to a meeting. There are fraudulent sellers that will jack the bid up with another account so I refuse to set it and forget it.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby btenny » Sun May 12, 2013 12:08 pm

Boy I love all you snipers on ebay. By sniping you totally destroy the "auction' price finding mechanism (at least on big items) that is the whole purpose of a auction, to find the best price that an item will sell for. Some of my friends say this happens all the time. Two have bought used BMWs for way less than market price because of snipped auctions. My BIL also does the same on high end music stuff. So this tells me all kinds of things sell for less than market price lots of times due to snippers...

Let me tell you guys my experience with a piano. Two years ago I decided to buy a super nice Yamaha keyboard grand piano for my wife for Christmas. New they retail for $15K. There were lots of new ones in stores and on ebay but very few used ones. So I started shopping around. I thought about buying one from Florida but the shipping was a mess and after further investigation I found they were "funny versions" so not a good deal. The new ones were too expensive. I found a nice used one in Utah ? but the buy it now price was too high and the auction was sniped for a price above what I had offered but below my maximum price. I was newb at ebay. I found a second piano in New York that sold a few weeks later under the same circumstances. I made a few early bids but did not snipe due to the shipping issues. Same thing happened. The piano sold for way less than fair used market price to a sniper at the end. Strange behavior I thought...

So I waited and another used one came up for sale in Los Angeles which is close enough to me to get real serious. It was on ebay. I bid a few times and then sniped a low price at the end. Someone else won with a higher snipe price. So I forgot about it. It didn't sell as the snipe price was below the reserve and the winner would not pay more. So the piano was put back up on ebay about two months later. I called the guy this time and had it inspected and played by a friend. I bid again and sniped again at a higher price but still very low for the quality of the almost new piano. I did not win but neither did the sniper. We were both lower than the reserve again.... I forgot about it again. Well the guy called me a few weeks later on December 26 ish and wanted to sell. I gave him my bid price plus $400 or so more and got the piano. He was desperate and moving on Dec 30th. Three days later when I moved the piano. I was offered $2K more than my purchase price by our local piano guy when he helped me move it into my home in northern California. So all I see is sniping making a mess of the auction system....

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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mike143 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:17 pm

Snipe is the best way to protect you as a buyer and to separate your emotions from the auction excitement. You can view ended auctions to get an idea of what things usually go for. If you are not sniping you are leaving time and money on the table.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sun May 12, 2013 12:33 pm

mike143 wrote:Snipe is the best way to protect you as a buyer and to separate your emotions from the auction excitement. You can view ended auctions to get an idea of what things usually go for. If you are not sniping you are leaving time and money on the table.
If I win the auction, how can I possibly have "left money on the table" above and beyond the automatic bidding increment?

I couldn't have possibly gotten that item for less, because the price I got it for is only one bid increment above someone else's actual bid.

If I place a starting bid of $5, with a maximum of $60, and I end up winning the auction at $29, the only way that could possibly happen is if someone else actually placed a real bid for $28 of real money. Otherwise the price would have remained at a lower number. If I'd bid, say, with a maximum of $27 at any time during the process, start, finish, or middle, I wouldn't have gotten the item for $27. The person willing to bid $28 would have gotten it for $28.

If you can tell me how on earth I can use sniping to obtain the item for less than $29, bidding against someone who places a bid with a $28 maximum, please explain how.

OK, so I've left a whole dollar on the table. I'm not going to lose any sleep over that.

I don't go to eBay to beat someone in some kind of competition. For me, it's a way to buy stuff. I bid with the maximum I'm willing to pay. If I get the item, I've gotten it for a price I'm willing to pay that's no more than a dollar higher than someone else's bid. I'm sometimes disappointed with the item :? but I'm never disappointed with the amount I paid. I get it at a price that's fair to me, and "if she be not fair to me, what care I how fair she be?"*

*(Darn. It's a misquotation. But close.)
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby bertilak » Sun May 12, 2013 12:38 pm

btenny wrote:Boy I love all you snipers on ebay. By sniping you totally destroy the "auction' price finding mechanism ...

... the auction was sniped for a price above what I had offered but below my maximum price.

So it wasn't snipping that messed up the "price finding mechanism," it was you who didn't bid your maximum price. Other than that, nobody bought or sold for more or less than they were willing to. Seems to have worked pretty well except that you misrepresented your input to the price finding mechanism.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby lightheir » Sun May 12, 2013 12:43 pm

Not sure how a 'snipe' outperforms a high final bid price.

IN that example above, if you entered as your final bid price $103, the bidding might START at $25, but would only go to $100 as other people jump in.

If the sniper jumps in at $100 in the final seconds, it'll automatically ratchet the price up until your true max - $103. Thus, the sniper still has to outbid your final $103 amount, despite the fact he has no idea that's your final bid.

If there was no 'autoincrease' on the final bid, the sniping would make more sense to me, but as is, you can enter a max bid but still win the item with a lower amount.

In effect, setting your max price as your true max price is pretty much a guaranteed 'snipe' up to your true max, with faster speed. If you're willing to go over that, then you just have to face the reality that you haven't established your true max bid.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby mike143 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:55 pm

Someone is selling an item. Historically this item goes for $60-100. I decide to make sure I win and bid $110. The seller had another account and bids me up to the high end of historical prices. I end up paying $100 due to this action instead of $60. I know not all sellers do this but sniping protects my interest. Also the sniping program I use you can link snipes and it will continue on to the next auction until you are successful and then stop. Items that are near the low end of historical prices I will use Buy It Now.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sun May 12, 2013 1:16 pm

mike143 wrote:Someone is selling an item. Historically this item goes for $60-100. I decide to make sure I win and bid $110. The seller had another account and bids me up to the high end of historical prices. I end up paying $100 due to this action instead of $60. I know not all sellers do this but sniping protects my interest. Also the sniping program I use you can link snipes and it will continue on to the next auction until you are successful and then stop. Items that are near the low end of historical prices I will use Buy It Now.
eBay does not allow sellers to bid on their own auctions.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sun May 12, 2013 1:17 pm

When I ran an eBay consignment store, I found this book informative: Snipers, Shills, and Sharks: eBay and Human Behavior by Ken Steiglitz. The price on Amazon is silly, but perhaps you can find it at a library.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sun May 12, 2013 1:23 pm

nisiprius wrote:
mike143 wrote:Someone is selling an item. Historically this item goes for $60-100. I decide to make sure I win and bid $110. The seller had another account and bids me up to the high end of historical prices. I end up paying $100 due to this action instead of $60. I know not all sellers do this but sniping protects my interest. Also the sniping program I use you can link snipes and it will continue on to the next auction until you are successful and then stop. Items that are near the low end of historical prices I will use Buy It Now.
eBay does not allow sellers to bid on their own auctions.


There are a million ways around that, although eBay has gotten better about matching up IP addresses used for different accounts, finding curious bidding patterns around particular sellers and bidders, etc.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sun May 12, 2013 1:26 pm

I think perhaps I can reconcile the difference here. In a single auction, a single buyer making a single bid for a single item should just enter a bid with their true maximum. No other strategy can possibly be better.

If you have a community of multiple buyers, each of whom is making repeated bids over and over again for a large pool of more or less similar items, then there are all sorts of possibilities, because by the timing and size of one's bids one might be able to lure other buyers into bidding into earlier auctions at higher prices against each other, until the demand is exhausted but the supply is not. Then the shrewd competitive buyer can come in later and get the items at a lower price than had she acted otherwise.

But it doesn't apply to an individual buying a single item because they want the item.

If you are going to throw the possibility of cheating--i.e. sellers violating eBay's terms of service by bidding in their own auctions under assumed accounts then I suppose anything can happen. I don't know what to say about that, except to say that a seller who is willing to cheat on an auction is likely to be willing to cheat in other ways (e.g. item description). It is part of the risk of buying on eBay. In my personal weighting, I count any negative or even neutral feedback much much much much more than positive feedback. Awful "grade inflation."

I think myself that concern about the price is misplaced compared to concern about the item. I once ordered a book from an eBay seller because it was about ten bucks less than from abebooks. Three weeks later, I received the package and it was a completely wrong title. Right author, wrong title. Does anyone really believe that was an honest mistake? Nah, they had carelessly listed something they didn't have and were "trying it on" rather than acknowledge they didn't have it. Of course I sent it back, of course my money was refunded. And I then ordered it from an abebooks seller, promised shipping time 10 days, got it 3 days later, beautifully packed for shipping and in better shape than I expected from the description.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby SSSS » Sun May 12, 2013 1:31 pm

nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.


Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby btenny » Sun May 12, 2013 1:34 pm

Bert. Maybe I did not explain my self well enough how I preceive ebay truncated auctions. With high price items there are things that are a long ways away from your home and thus lots of shipping costs and issues with quality risk to consider in your bidding. Thus lots of low ball sales. Plus with ebay there are tons of dealers and lots of private individuals that can all look at and bid on items. This makes for lots of issues and potantial for arbitradge. In my case when I first started I did not know of the big price gradient on used stuff across the country and in various international locations. With modern days things are now sold all across the globe as you know. So I bid low ball to start as I did not know the issues nor the price I would eventually end up spending or necessary to get a nice piano. This is also why dealers are fully informed and win a lot of bids like the ones I first bid on but both those bids were very low and much less than a private party would spend or private sellers should try to get at auction....

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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sun May 12, 2013 1:35 pm

SSSS wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.
Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.
I sure do not understand why.

Please answer the question directly. I place a bid early on with a $29 maximum. How do you manage to get that item for less than $29 by "waiting until the last few seconds?"

What are you not saying here?

Is there some illicit secret technical glitch whereby I can bid $29, you can bid $20 "in the last few seconds," you can win the item and actually pay $20, but eBay will display the transaction as a completed auction with a price of $30 or more?

If you are not say that, what ARE you saying?
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby bertilak » Sun May 12, 2013 1:50 pm

SSSS wrote:Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.

I think it all boils down to keeping out of escalating bidding wars. The corollary is that it withholds information from competitive bidders: they can't can't inch past you (escalate) if they don't know where you are.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby JamesSFO » Sun May 12, 2013 1:55 pm

nisiprius wrote:
SSSS wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.
Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.
I sure do not understand why.

Please answer the question directly. I place a bid early on with a $29 maximum. How do you manage to get that item for less than $29 by "waiting until the last few seconds?"

What are you not saying here?

Is there some illicit secret technical glitch whereby I can bid $29, you can bid $20 "in the last few seconds," you can win the item and actually pay $20, but eBay will display the transaction as a completed auction with a price of $30 or more?

If you are not say that, what ARE you saying?


Nisi - I generally agree with you but I think you are being a tad obtuse here. I think the question is assume your maximum is $29, is it better to bid $29 at the beginning, middle, or right at the end of the auction. I think the general research is that you should bid that $29 right at the end as you have the highest probability of paying the lowest price. So the comparison isn't bid $20 in the last few, but bid $29 and have a better shot of getting it for less.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sun May 12, 2013 1:58 pm

nisiprius wrote:
SSSS wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I completely fail to understand what advantage you supposedly gain from waiting until the last few seconds.
Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.
I sure do not understand why.

Please answer the question directly. I place a bid early on with a $29 maximum. How do you manage to get that item for less than $29 by "waiting until the last few seconds?"

What are you not saying here?

Is there some illicit secret technical glitch whereby I can bid $29, you can bid $20 "in the last few seconds," you can win the item and actually pay $20, but eBay will display the transaction as a completed auction with a price of $30 or more?

If you are not say that, what ARE you saying?


Nisiprius, I am not SSSS, but you are right that a "rational" one time bid of $29 will not be sniped away for $20. I ran some 10k+ auctions on a consignment basis. 99% of those were started at $1, no reserve, and were for items that sold for an average of around $200. I would guesstimate, although I never kept statistics on this, that 80-90% of those auctions had nobody bidding "rationally," so sniping was very effective. As a seller, I hated snipers.
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Re: Bidding on Ebay; Ignorance on best Bidding strategy

Postby nisiprius » Sun May 12, 2013 2:02 pm

bertilak wrote:
SSSS wrote:Statistical analysis has proven it with a very high degree of confidence and consistency. Placing an $X bid in the last second is much more likely to result in winning, and at a lower price, than placing the same bid earlier in the auction. Even if you don't understand why, that's the observed phenomenon.

I think it all boils down to keeping out of escalating bidding wars. The corollary is that it withholds information from competitive bidders: they can't can't inch past you (escalate) if they don't know where you are.
But they don't know where you are. Your maximum bid is not disclosed. If an auction specifies a starting bid of $30 and I bid "$30, maximum $100" all you know is that I have bid $30. You do not know whether my maximum is $50, $100, or $10,000. The only way to learn more about my bid is to commit yourself to placing an actual bid yourself. All you see is that the high bid is currently $30 and that the minimum bid is now $31.

If you bid $31 you will see that you were outbid and that the high bid is now $32. You now have two choices, but it doesn't matter which you take. Let's say you are actually willing to pay $150. You can enter a series of bids with limits of $32, $33, $34 and see each time that you've been outbid and that the high bid is now $33, $34, or $35. Or, you can just enter a bit with a maximum of $150. At that point, you see that the high bid is now $101, that you are now the high bidder at $101, and I eventually get a robo-email saying I've been outbid.

Great, you've now discovered that my "real" bid was $100, but what good has it done you? You are committed to paying $101. If nobody else cares, you get the item for $101. You are happy because you got it for less than $150, I am disappointed but not unhappy because I did not want to pay more than $100 for it.

If I bid $10,000, you can, of course, discover that my maximum bid was $10,000 but you will need to bid $10,001 to discover it.

No information is disclosed until it is no longer of any value to you.
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