Ebay bidding activity?

Is it common for the bidding activity to increase or become much more active near the end of an auction?

Seems like if there are just a few bidders, and one keeps coming back, the best strategy is to just wait until the end and go for the high bid.


what is up with the same bidder having about seven bids all bunched together, often several per minute? Is this a case of that bidder submitting a maximum bid and another bidder coming back with a higher bid and Ebay automatically bidding up for that multiple bids in a row bidder? - did that make sense? :slight_smile:

No, the best strategy is to figure out – calmly and with full reflection – how high you’re willing to go, and enter that price when you first bid. Ebay will bid up to that price for you, and if there’s a tie, it goes to the person with the earlier bid. There are snipers who scamper in at the last minute and “steal” the item – but if you’ve figured out how high you want to go, that’s okay, you don’t need to get sucked into the excitement of the moment and overpay.

Yes, it makes sense, and yes, that’s what it is – one bidder has already entered a high bid, and when a second bidder comes in and does the same, the interim bids reflect the bidding going up by increments of $.50 or $1.00 (or, who knows, more, you may be buying more expensive stuff than I do).

Good advice. I admit I have sniped items that I really wanted to have, but generally decide what I’m willing to pay and that’s it for me. I may submit it late in the auction, just because an initial high bid may make the auction go out of control or alert a sniper.

New to Ebay - thanks for the good advice Dopers.

Strange to see a couple of other Ebay threads on the same page. Well, maybe not, just never noticed the subject in the past.

Looks like they may have a good message board.

If you don’t want to lose your shirt on eBay, I suggest learning about proxy bidding. The very most important thing, though, is to check your seller’s feedback before you submit ANY bid. A couple of negative feedbacks in a few hundred positive ones is no big deal, generally. I, personally, will never buy from someone who has no feedback (that is, this is their first eBay transaction). Or at least, I haven’t done so yet. Anyway, examine the seller’s feedback even more carefully than you examine the item. Are there a lot of negatives? Do the negatives say something like “Seller claimed it was lost in the mail” but the seller will not offer insurance? Look at the seller’s replies to feedback as well. You can pretty much tell who will be trouble before making a bid.

Examine everything on the seller’s page. Notice what forms of payment are to be used. Again, personally I won’t buy from people who specify “cash only”, and I very rarely use PayPal. PayPal is a big ripoff, IMO. However, a lot of people love it. DON’T bid on something that is “PayPal only” and then ask if you can write a personal check. Use the “ask the seller a question” option and ask about payment options FIRST. I’ve had several sellers who were quite willing to take a money order, even though the ad specified Paypal only. Look at the item description. If it doesn’t SAY “from a smokefree home” then it might very well arrive reeking of cigarette smoke. This has happened to me a couple of times. Once it happened with a glass owl-shaped bank, and I never thought of glass as something that would hold smoke odor, but it did. Similarly, if it doesn’t say that the home is petfree, you might have pet dander on the items, though I am considerably less sensitive to that, so I’ve never noticed it. The best sellers will describe any flaws in the item, and the very best will also include close up photos of those flaws, so that you can judge for yourself whether or not you can live with the imperfections.

Photos…I rarely buy an item unless it has a good photo. I acknowledge that this puts a burden on the casual sellers who don’t have access to a good camera and/or scanner, but I have a right to know what I’m buying. Even if it’s a book, I like to see what sort of condition it’s in. I love those sellers who will put up several photos of the item, each showing a different angle. One of the things that I like are older fountain pens, and so many sellers seem to think it’s OK to put up a photo of the pen with the cap on. I want to see the nib, at the very least. A nib close up would be better.

I have several favorite searches saved. They are quite handy. I’ve got a couple of favorite sellers, too.

Remember, there’s almost no unique items offered on eBay. If you miss one item, one just like it or at least very similar to it will be offered again, and quite possibly at a better price. So don’t be afraid to set a maximum price for an item and sticking to it, unless you’re bidding on something that is very popular right now. If something is EXTREMELY popular/collectible right now, I review my need for it. I can probably wait for a couple of months or even years, and pick it up for a quarter of what other people paid for it. As you can probably guess, I never bought any Beanie Babies. :smiley:

There’s a page called something like “My eBay Bidding/Watching”, and I use it. For one thing, it will keep track of the total amount of bids you have out. If you have bids on five items, and the max bid on each is $100, then you probably will not want to bid on another item.

Incidentally, be wary of purchasing movies, music, or software from Asian countries, as they tend to take a very lax attitude about copyright laws. You might end up with a pirated edition which is unplayable. For that matter, be careful about buying movies outside your region, as you probably won’t be able to play them.

Slight highjack: I normally won’t do this either, but I took a chance with a guy with one feedback a couple of months ago on two framed lithographs by Fred Machetanz (very famous deceased Alaskan artist). I picked them both up for $2300 and the transaction went flawlessly. I took them down to have them reframed and was pleasantly surprised to find that one of them was #1 of 4 printer’s proofs. Total market value of both lithos turns out to be somewhere around $6,000.

Your other advice is right on the mark.

I am afraid I have to disagree with most of the advice on Ebay bidding.

Proxy bidding is what Ebay recommends. You figure out the highest possible amount you wish to pay for something and Ebay holds that number and outbids others up to the amount you choose. That way you never go over what you wanted to pay and you don’t have to keep rebidding.

In reality what proxy bidding does is give every one looking at the item you want, a huge amount of time to consider the amount they want to bid and to chip away at your bid to see if they can win the item. Yes you may win, but you pay more because others have a chance to keep trying to outbid you.

If you want to get an item for the cheapest amount possible you need to snipe it by placing a bid at the last possible moment. You can use your same proxy amount but if you bid in the last 8 or 9 seconds others don’t have a chance to think about how much they want an item, and keep trying to get over your high bid.

I have won many an auction doing this and had many of the people I outbid email me saying that they would a put a higher proxy if they had known I was going to out bid them at the last minute.

I agree with MrPeabody. Sellers hate sniping, that means its good for buyers. Simple enough?

Note that your are not competing against the seller, you are competing against other buyers. If other buyers are doing stupid things (which you can generally assume), then you can optimize your strategy over early proxy bidding.

It’s not just about money, it also involves time, risk and other items available.

In an ideal world, it wouldn’t matter. This is not an ideal world. Surprised?

As to one of the Qs in the OP: In some of my sales the main activity was near the end. In others the winning bid was placed early. One item last year, the winner bid first early with a nice amount, that was it.

Even more good advice.

I agree with about everything mentioned except that if a bidder waits until the last seconds to to try to snipe the current high bid by just a slight amount, what happens if the current high bidder has a proxy bid that is higher than the last second entry? Seems like the proxy bid will beat out that last second bid. I wonder if it is possible to beat the automatic proxy submittal???

I waited until just a few minutes were remaining and submitted a proxy that was comfortable, got beat and bumped it again. I had an offer to buy a very similar item from a friend of a friend for about $800 to $1000, so I do believe I did well.

It is a data media safe that a friend of mine, who is a safe expert, told me would cost over $5000, if bought new. Since the thing weighs about 3,000 lbs, it is a local item that I was able to go and see in person.

The bid history, without names, is copied below. I was the forth bidder. It looks like the first and third bidder were ready to snipe out any new bidders. Also looks like I just got lucky on my final bid coming in just seconds before the end of the auction. The seller told me that he would be happy to just not have to pay to have the safe removed - did not care if it only went for one dollar as long as it goes.

B&I US $470.00 Jan-25-04 08:30:54 PST
3rd US $465.00 Jan-25-04 08:30:39 PST
1st US $460.00 Jan-25-04 08:30:14 PST
B&I US $456.02 Jan-25-04 08:27:51 PST
3rd US $410.00 Jan-25-04 08:30:04 PST
3rd US $400.00 Jan-25-04 08:29:17 PST
3rd US $390.00 Jan-25-04 08:29:06 PST
3rd US $380.00 Jan-25-04 08:28:53 PST
3rd US $370.00 Jan-25-04 08:28:41 PST
3rd US $360.00 Jan-25-04 08:28:24 PST
3rd US $350.00 Jan-24-04 12:48:53 PST
1st US $325.00 Jan-22-04 08:38:31 PST
3rd US $325.00 Jan-24-04 12:48:00 PST
3rd US $300.00 Jan-24-04 12:47:12 PST
3rd US $275.00 Jan-24-04 12:46:57 PST
3rd US $250.00 Jan-24-04 12:46:39 PST
3rd US $220.00 Jan-24-04 11:52:45 PST
3rd US $210.03 Jan-24-04 11:52:01 PST
3rd US $205.02 Jan-24-04 11:51:08 PST
2nd US $200.01 Jan-17-04 19:49:00 PST
1st US $150.00 Jan-17-04 16:28:06 PST

I have a related question-is it true some sellers use shills to jack up the price of their own auctions? That is, a guy has someone else bid on the item little bits so the overall price is higher but the honest bidder still has high bid. I could swear this happened to me a couple times.

I’ve also found it slightly suspicious that sometimes other bidders will bid up to my exacxt bid-right down to the cent. How did the guy know to back off at $8.27? It’s probably coincidence but it has happened several times, down to the penny.

Sniping is the only way to go when you’re looking for the best deal. You limit your exposure to irrational bidders (there are lots of them) and it doesn’t allow other bidders to look at what you’re bidding on and run up your bid or “steal” items from you. When you see an item decide how high you’re willing to go, put it on your watch list, then wait until the last possible moment to put in a bid. It’s possible to forget about an item, but as someone else said another item usually comes along. If you do miss out, I personally feel it’s worth it in the money I save by sniping. Some people use sniping services; there are several on the internet that vary in services offered and cost. I don’t use one, I just do it myself.

The reason sniping can save you money is because it keeps other people (or yourself) from making crazy bids in the heat of the moment. Bidding wars can get really nuts and significantly run up the price of an item. For example, say there is an item with a starting bid of $50, and I am willing to go $75. I can put in a bid for $75. I would be the first bidder at $50, but someone else would come along and decide they want it for $60. They bid $60, and see that I am still the high bidder at $61. They leave it at that for the time being. After laying awake thinking about it, they decide, that they can probably manage $70. They place the bid, and see that I am still the high bidder at $71. They then decide, that another $2.08 wouldn’t hurt their wallet too much, and place the bid. Again, it isn’t high enough. They decide to go $77 and see that they are now the high bidder. I was sure I was going to get it, so I come back and place a bid for $80 (which I can afford since I didn’t win another auction I was going after). This goes back and forth, and before you know it the bid could be up over $100. If you watch ebay enough you can probably spot examples of bidding wars, and they can get out of hand more than the example I used.

The bidding wars usually apply to collectibles or “hard to find” items. Sniping isn’t really necessary where an item, like a used copy of a newer video game or computer software, is readily available and going for a fixed price. In those cases earlier bids will usually take the item. People that collect things can get really crazy, and I think sniping is the best weapon against getting caught up in a bidding war with a rabid collector.

There was a thread a couple months ago that went really in-depth. I don’t know how well the search engine is working, but if you search for “ebay” you should be able to find it (might have been in GQ). Know what you’re looking for, and know what you’re buying. Being an informed buyer is the best way to get the best deal and minimize your chances of getting scammed. I’m not trying to scare you, I’ve never had a bad experience, just letting you know that you should be careful.

cheesepickles, yes there are shills, but I don’t think it happens too often, and if you’re aware you can probably spot it. If someone with low feedback is bidding on a lot of a seller’s item, but not winning, or the only feedback is from that seller and feedback (paid and received by bidder) was left within two minutes of closing time, then you might have a shill on your hands. It could just be the case that the bidder is going after several of a seller’s auctions to save on shipping. With enough experience you can probably get an idea of who is using a shill to push up bids. Using a shill bidder is against eBay rules and can get a seller kicked off.

Then again, it could just be that your high bid was $8.27, and the current bid price had been $4. A bidder might have come in and decided to bid 8.13. Because youre bid wasn't .25 higher than the next highest bid, it just maxes out your bid. No shilling there, and that’s usually a reason people bid a dollar amount, and then some obscure amount of change. I might decide I want an item for $10, and figure that the current bidder also has a high bid of $10. I wait until the auction is about to end and then put in a bid for $10.01 and I would win by a penny. This is a strategy that a lot of people use.