Tuesday, March 8, 2011

eBay Sniping as Spectator Sport

I just watched the end of an eBay auction and thought it was worthy of a blog post. The listing read: UP FOR AUCTION IS THIS REMARKABLE NEW ENGLAND QUILT PURCHASED AT A CONNETICUT ESTATE SALE. IT MEASURES73" SQUARE. THE OVERALL CONDITION IS VERY GOOD WITH A COUPLE OF MINOR ISSUES. THERE IS A SMALL 1' wear spot on the backing , photo 11, then there is a small separation  of the fabric on the white on the front about 3/4" but it is not ripped, photo 12. The material is extremely strong and you can pull on it and it will not pull apart so something must have applied some kind of direct pressure to separate the fabric at all. There is some bleeding of the red on to the brown in the center lines near one end. The back has a few stains. This is absolutly beautiful on the bed. The quilting is is interesting the way it follows the patterns of the leaves. A real great find. Being sold without reserve. Thank you for looking.

Start price: $250 - no reserve. I was interested in this quilt because of the connection to the Leaves and Tulips quilt I've discussed in past blogs, but had decided not to bid. Fifteen minutes before the auction ended I heard the alert on my iPhone but decided to ignore it. Shortly afterwards, I logged in to eBay to discover there were 56 seconds left in the auction, so I clicked it and saw there were still no bids. I wondered if the auction would end without a bidder. Maybe I could make an offer to the seller.

Curiously, I watched the seconds tick down and suddenly the bid jumped dramatically to $567.77 - then the auction ended. It was stunning to watch. "Snipers," I thought before looking at the bids. Sure enough, two snipers had gone up against each other. The first bidder put in a bid of $557.77 with 7 seconds remaining in the auction. The second bidder put in a higher bid with six seconds to go and won the auction with a bid of 567.77.

For those who aren't familiar with the term "sniper" it is a bidder who places an outrageously high bid in the last seconds of an online auction in an effort to outbid all others. I'm a sniper, so I recognized it right away, but this auction was the first time I'd ever watched it without being one of the bidders. It was exhilarating to watch, and I'm sure the quilt will go to a good home. Who knows - maybe I'll even find out who won it. Did you or anyone you know bid on the quilt? If so, please comment.


  1. I remember the first time I saw it happen, I was bidding on a table. No one else had bid and it was £100. It was one of my early bids and I bid £150, suddenly in the last minute of the auction it went to over £1,000 with 7 bids. I learnt two lessons that day, a, decide what you really really will pay as your maximum bid and, b, only bid in the last 10 seconds (and a sort of c. Always add an odd number onto the end of my bid).

  2. I do believe ebay has who bids on items private for a reason. I am glad they do. My experience is why start bidding on something early? Just a waste of my time. All is fair in bidding unless someone is a fake bidder.

    I was wondering is it okay to take photos from ebay?

  3. Thanks for the ebay lesson...the quilting on this looks just a bit "hinky" to me...I guess I am just nervous bidding more than a couple of hundred unless I can put my hands on the quilt!

  4. I always decide what I'd pay for an e-bay item, go to Auctionsniper.com tell them to bid for me, and walk away. I don't look at the auction again. I lose some and win some, but I don't get carried away in those last minutes.

  5. Sniping is the way to go when bidding on ebay auctions.

    Automated sniping (hidbid.com, bidball, etc) is a convenience for people that want to avoid drawing early attention to an item, and 'nibbling' bidders (bidders who will bid the minimum increment over and over until they're the high bid), both of which normally result in a higher final price.

    A couple more benefits of sniping:

    1. Sniping is actually a way of combating shill bidding - when the seller or his buddy bids on the item until they're the high bid, and know your max, then retract their bid, and use yet another account to bid on the item, bidding just below your max. You don't give the shiller time to retract their bid in order to leave you as the high bidder, close to your max. You can't do much about a shill bidder letting their bid ride to the end of the auction, if it just raises but doesn't exceed yours.

    Also, look out for 2nd chance offers, as they would be a reason for the shiller to let their shill bid ride, you may want to decline any and look for a different seller with the same item. Unless of course, the price seems ok with you, even though possible artificially jacked up.

    2. You can just cancel a snipe with up to 2 or 3 minutes before the end of an auction, if you change your mind about bidding on an item, and your bid won't be placed. If you place a bid on ebay and then retract it (not a seller's or ebay's favorite thing), you can be blocked from bidding on other auctions after doing this a few times, not sure what that # is.

    Add misspelling searches to your tool box (typojoe.com, etc), and an ebay saved search tool like ebuyersedge.com if you're serious about ebay deals.

  6. LOVE eBay... and I snipe! Best way to bid, unless I place an early low bid just to keep track of something I want. Lots of beautiful quilts, tops, and block sets to drool over.

    And misspellings? I won a Featherweight machine for only $242.50 because it was listed as a "Featherlight with book, to quilt". I'd searched for a quilt book. Go figure....

  7. Win more for less on eBay by having goSnipe place your bid in the final seconds of the auction. Don't bid... goSnipe

    Auction Sniping

  8. I'm way too old school to let an automated program do the bidding for me.