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Bid Sniping on EBay
Really gets me annoyed!
Syzygy




msg:3718641
 4:37 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

<rant>What is it about eBay and sniping of recent? A number of times in the last couple of weeks, there I am confident of winning a nice item and with just a second or two to go - bang, you're outbid and it's too late.

I know sniping is nothing new, but until recently it had rarely happened to me. In the last couple of weeks though, I've lost a number of items though sniping, and it's really getting me annoyed.

Being annoyed is one thing, but what to do about it? Is it a case of if you can't beat 'em join 'em?

Somehow it seems a bit, well, unethical. Perhaps I'm not being hard-nosed enough and should seek to win at any cost?

Anyone here snipe? Are there bidding strategies to compete with snipers, or is it just a case of he who snipes wins?

Syzygy

 

Lord Majestic




msg:3718649
 4:45 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think (and its just my opinion) Ebay does not mind this practice because it forces people to make larger bids.

This sniping practice is certainly (again in my view) highly unethical and while it might be pointless to fight technically it could be good idea to change rules so that any bid made close to the end of auction would automatically increase length of this auction - this would give chance for original bidders to respond in time.

mahlon




msg:3718685
 5:27 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)


I bid right at the end so that I can win the auction.

buckworks




msg:3718692
 5:31 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Snipers are not a problem if you're not trying to make cheapskate bids.

If you bid the full amount you are willing to pay, then a sniper can only beat you if they pay more than you were willing to.

willybfriendly




msg:3718698
 5:37 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Having run an online auction for an NPO, I found that anti-sniping measures were much appreciated by bidders and sellers. Simply reset the close time by 5 minutes everytime a bid comes in during the final 5 minutes.

Bidders appreciate this in general, since it gives them another chance at something they really want (and it better mirrors a live auction, where there is always a chance to get one more bid in).

Sellers appreciate it since it facilitates higher bids.

The only downside I saw was that items could languish with no bids whatsoever until the final few minutes when a sudden flurry took place. When and NPO is raising funds this way it can be a bit nerve wracking sitting around for a week and thinking the fundraising efforts are failing abysmally :-(

IMHO E-Bay should implement similar anit-sniping measures.

rocknbil




msg:3718832
 8:08 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

<Raises hand> Hi, my name is Bill, and I'm a professional sniper (and so glad my friend across the pond is thousands of miles away.) :-)

Allow me to explain my sniping.

eBay is all about ego and greed: getting the item at the lowest price. Someone bids, hey I could "win" an item for once cent! Even "winning" itself is not really "winning," (like "having good credit" is the privilege of being in debt) but you still think of it as "winning," don't you? Winning equals a competition, and I must WIN . . . . there goes ego again.

Along comes someone else: Well I'm not going to let them "win" it for one cent . . . . HA! I stole it from them!

As soon as you post a price, that price now becomes a TARGET. People look at your bid. It eats away at them. What if I only need to outbid them by a penny? It could be mine! They begin bidding it up JUST to see how high your max bid is. And so it goes.

So you come back. You've been outbid. RATS! I know the item is worth $100, I could have had it for $50, so my max bid was $100. The auction shows the current bid at $102.50. But what if I'm wrong? What if the person who won the bid has a max of $105?

I now start thinking that I should change my initial view, that WINNING is more important than paying more than and item is worth. I up my bit to $110 . . . or maybe it should be $135 . . or $150 . . . . who am I dealing with here? How far do they want to take it? You start to form some battle with an unseen force, some nemesis out there with too much time and money on his or her hands . . . who do they think they are anyway, stealing my cheap price?

Knowing full well I can go to the retail store and buy the item, no shipping, for $112. (Silly? I'VE SEEN IT HAPPEN!)

This all adds up to a lot of tension and anxiety. Common sense and reason begin to take a back seat to ego and greed. Seriously, how many of you have gotten up at all odd hours of the night to check to see if it's still "yours", if you're still "winning?"

Okay, lets theoretically remove all the bidding. Item is on eBay for a week, no one bids until the last minute. What do you do?

You follow eBay's advice: enter the most amount you would pay for the item. One shot.

No incrementing of bidding, no frustration, no anxiety (well, it's only a minute or two of it anyway.) And you haven't allowed your "max price" to creep up by any of the above factors. Cut the whole deal down to what matters: the last minute of the auction. Everything else is ego and greed.

My name is Bill, and I am a professional eBay Sniper. Don't test me, you will lose (and there I go with the ego again!) :-)

This sniping practice is certainly (again in my view) highly unethical

Nonsense! How is it "unethical?"

There are automated sniping services too. This is Just. Not. Fair.

[edited by: rocknbil at 8:25 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2008]

Lord Majestic




msg:3718835
 8:17 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Nonsense! How is it "unethical?"

The purpose of an auction is to establish a fair price of an item. When you snipe you circumvent this process because:
a) you don't bid normally so other bids might not move
b) when you bid you give no time to other party to respond

If you go to any real auction you will find that when you bid your price (and if its a winning price) the other parties will also be given a chance to outbid you - sniping prevents other bidders from reacting, the whole strategy is deeply unethical and frankly goes against sellers and proper buyers.

I think at the very least sellers on ebay (and other places) should be given option if they want to make THEIR auction automatically extended in cases of last minute bid. I bet a lot of them would use it.

rocknbil




msg:3718837
 8:23 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

The purpose of an auction is to establish a fair price of an item.

Mmm, don't agree.

The purpose of an auction for a seller is to get as much out of the item as possible, even if some schmuck out there is willing to pay more than it's worth (greed.)

The purpose of an auction for a buyer is to get the item as cheap as possible, possibly "ripping off" the seller if they don't know any better (greed.)

The purpose of sniping (for me) is to not let an item's price be affected by all the factors mentioned above. Determine what *I* will pay for it and drop it at the last minute, so that it is not available for others to challenge.

It all down it comes to this: You lost the bid because the maximum amount you would pay was exceeded by the maximum amount someone else would pay. You upped the bid, but were trying to keep the "winning" price low out of greed, when you knew full well someone else might bid it up to what you know it's REALLY worth. Right?

Doesn't matter WHEN this happens.

Now if you want to talk about a COOL way to auction - do not display the current bid at all. Ever, until the auction closes. NOW you've got something!

[edited by: rocknbil at 8:32 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2008]

Lord Majestic




msg:3718847
 8:31 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

In real auctions "sniping" is not allowed - auction automatically gets extended to give other people make higher bid, that's practice of auctions for over 100 years if not longer. Why should not it apply to Ebay and other online auctions? I certainly think sellers should be given such option for their auctions.

Finally getting engaged into something with intent to "rip off" is hardly ethical in my view, which was exactly the point.

rocknbil




msg:3718853
 8:40 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)


When you bid on an item and know the retail price is $100, what do you set your maximum bit at?

If it's anything LESS than $100, you're involved in the same scheme as the rest of us. :-)

My only point is, if you follow the fundamental rule (bid what you will pay), it doesn't allow other's greed to work on you or your max price.

[edited by: lawman at 9:25 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2008]

Lord Majestic




msg:3718904
 10:24 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why do you snipe then if you are so good at setting maximum bids? The whole point of sniping is using it to deny oportunity to the other party to respond - this is why it unethical and unfair.

Syzygy




msg:3718905
 10:26 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Let me tell you what I'm generally bidding on - obscure pieces of vinyl - records (you know, 45's..).

I'm not interested in the retail price of anything. What I'm looking to buy doesn't have a retail price- it's up for auction! May the highest bidder win.

<Raises hand> Hi, my name is Bill, and I'm a professional sniper (and so glad my friend across the pond is thousands of miles away.) :-)

And so am I glad that there's that distance between us! :-)

I now start thinking that I should change my initial view, that WINNING is more important than paying more than and item is worth.

Hmm, I see what you're saying, but in my world an item is only worth what people are prepared to pay for it - and this is where sniping hits hardest.

If I bid GBP100 and someone goes GBP101, I'd like the opportunity to go GBP102 - if I have the funds, balls and/or desire. You snipe me and you avoid competing; you use the system to avoid paying what that item may be worth in the market place - you avoid finding out what the market is prepared to pay. It's not as Buckworks says:

Snipers are not a problem if you're not trying to make cheapskate bids.

All I want is a fair 'fight'. The stuff I lost out on tonight was obscure as hell. The winner won because they came out of the dark and stopped others from competing against them.

They didn't show themselves as bidders until, like muggers in the night, it was too late.

Later this evening, and after posting here, I won a lovely item that helps me in my goal to collect all the output of a semi-obscure 60's record label. I didn't get a 'bargain' - I had to outbid to win. And I did.

Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Syzygy

[edited by: Syzygy at 10:27 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2008]

buckworks




msg:3718951
 11:09 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

an item is only worth what people are prepared to pay for it

If you bid less than you'd actually be willing to pay, you are trying to make a cheapskate bid. You have no grounds to complain if someone outbids you, regardless of timing.

Syzygy




msg:3718963
 11:25 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you bid less than you'd actually be willing to pay...

You miss the point. I bid to win & I'm happy to pay above perceived market value for the items I want. I bid high much of the time - that's why I win most of my items. Can I just ask you to accept that I am not a cheapskate?

Being outbid is one thing. Not being allowed to bid is a rip-off.

Syzygy

phranque




msg:3718970
 11:36 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

the problem is primarily rooted in your confidence that you have the winning bid before the auction ends.
even an experienced sniper expects to lose occasionally.

the rules for bidding on ebay auctions are clearly described.
the seller and other bidders should avail themselves of these rules before participating.
if you don't like the rules you can simply take your business elsewhere - for example to a live auction.
making a bid at the last second is clearly within the rules.
end of discussion.

Lord Majestic




msg:3718971
 11:43 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

end of discussion.

Not really - just because something is legal does not mean no discussion can be made about it - right now sniping is legit on Ebay but as this practice becomes widespread it would certainly have adverse affect on buyers and sellers there (apart from minority that snipers), this would certainly result in change in rules - sooner or later, I think rather sooner.

Sniping is a fundamentally anti-competitive unfair practice that benefits small minority at the expense of others - much like shorting shares on stock market.

phranque




msg:3718977
 12:02 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

fundamentally anti-competitive unfair practice

i disagree - the rules are the rules and you can play by the rules or go home.
you can compete against snipers as a seller by using reserve pricing or minimum bids or posting the auction such that it closes during a period of high activity.
you can compete as a buyer by using bidding services.
if ebay outlawed automated bidding services or allowed the seller to set the closing time of an auction they would greatly reduce the incidence of sniping.
they could also change the rules so that you can only bid during the final minutes if you already have a bid on the item.

Lord Majestic




msg:3718984
 12:16 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

i disagree - the rules are the rules and you can play by the rules or go home.

The rules are just that - the rules, they may change and just because they say something it does not make that something right or fair. Some years ago it was legal (according to rules) to create monopoly and exploit that advantage - it was sure legal at some point but that practice was bad and it became illegal after discussions took place.

Say in some online games some people started hiring others to "dig gold" to sell for real money for those who did not want to spend time doing it in game, this was not against the rules but this was grossly unfair on regular players - so rules got changed.

The bottom line is that the rules of Ebay (and many other ones) are not carved in stone once and for all - they change and the direction of change should surely be towards creating a marketplace that is fair on buyers and sellers - snipers only have negative impact on the system.

buckworks




msg:3718992
 12:35 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Being outbid is one thing. Not being allowed to bid is a rip-off.

That's victim thinking.

You KNOW there is a time limit on the auction. That's the nature of the beast, so learn to work with it as it is.

Bid the full amount you'd be willing to pay, and you'll either win the item or you won't.

martinibuster




msg:3718993
 12:36 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why should not it apply to Ebay and other online auctions?

The real question is why SHOULD it? In offline bidding you can inspect the lots. Why can't I do that on eBay? The answer is apples and oranges, different rules, different situations.

No offense to the OP, who I consider an honest an intelligent person: I use a sniper because too often another bidder who must be an idiot, a donkey and a moron comes along and bids more than an item is worth. Judging by their irrational bidding, if these people were any dumber they'd be in a coma. I can set my bid to the maximum but these pinheads will drag their knuckles to the keyboard and keep bidding until they surpass my bid, even though it's cheaper on Amazon. LOL

Sniping is a strategy for outwitting those lacking common sense. Everyone else just didn't bid enough.

[edited by: martinibuster at 12:41 am (utc) on Aug. 9, 2008]

Lord Majestic




msg:3718995
 12:40 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

The real question is why SHOULD it?

Because auctions were in existance even before Ebay founders were even born and rules in those auctions were harnessed over many many years: these rules were created for very good reasons.

There are some things that can't be done on Ebay like checking products in person, fine, but there are things that can easily be implemented and that should be the means of making sniping much less effective than it is now.

I find it very odd that it did not happen - Ebay is losing money and customers from this activity, they should have changed rules years ago.

rocknbil




msg:3718996
 12:44 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, I apologize to all that take this issue more seriously than I do. To me, it's on a level with losing at a game of cards.

I only snipe because bidding early would only drive the final bid up, beyond my intended (affordable, cheapskate, ego-driven) maximum bid. By not exposing my maximum bid, it allows wiggle room to try and even get a bid in. Bid it now, it's sure to go up. Wait, I have half a chance.

I've also lost (there I go, "lost") more auctions than won them this way, and have many times been out-sniped. All in all, instead of getting angry about it, I tell myself what I said earlier:

You lost the bid because the maximum amount you would pay was exceeded by the maximum amount someone else would pay.

martinibuster




msg:3719002
 12:48 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Because auctions were in existance even before Ebay founders were even born...

That is not a valid reason. Rules apply according to their context. On a football field I can knock someone off their feet. Different rules apply walking downd the street. Offline auction rules do not have a context on eBay because eBay is it's own thing.

Syzygy




msg:3719007
 1:05 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

You lost the bid because the maximum amount you would pay was exceeded by the maximum amount someone else would pay.

...by unfair means...

Personally I think that willybfriendly speaks the most sense (in post, er, 3718698...)

[edited by: Syzygy at 1:11 am (utc) on Aug. 9, 2008]

buckworks




msg:3719016
 1:19 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

...by unfair means...

There have been times when I entered a bid "by hand" in the last few seconds and won. Would you consider that unfair? Or is it only bids submitted with sniping software that annoy you so much?

Lord Majestic




msg:3719020
 1:33 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Rules apply according to their context

We have exactly the same context - auctions. There were plenty of "snipers" in the past who tried to shout out quick bid increase when the auction dude would count to 3, but if they did so then the original bidders must have got another whack at it - this is in the interest of the auction house and the seller, as well as those who bid earlier.

There have been times when I entered a bid "by hand" in the last few seconds and won

That's "manual" sniping and is nearly as unfair as the sniping - no properly executed auction should allow this to happen.

Anyway I don't care - you can snipe all you want guys, I merely voiced my opinion :)

rocknbil




msg:3719021
 1:45 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think that willybfriendly speaks the most sense

I still say, don't display the current bid price for open auctions and EVERYONE is happy. They do it this way with the reserve price, why not the actual current bid? And they could display all the bids at auction close, just like they do now. It would be so easy to change.

- Sniping would just not be necessary for any of the reasons people do it. Period.
- It would make it a HECK of a lot more fun, being a mystery value.
- People wouldn't go crazy as I described in my original post, paying more for an item is worth just to "win" the bid and letting ego overrun common sense*

* However, none of this would fly because eBay relies on getting the highest bids, and relies on the weaknesses of the people bidding. They'd lose a lot of money, which has always taken precedence over satisfied users.

So I suppose it's just the kind of tension in this thread that has eBay laughing all the way to the bank.

[edited by: lawman at 6:01 am (utc) on Aug. 9, 2008]

phranque




msg:3719120
 7:30 am on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

IMHO E-Bay should implement similar anti-sniping measures.

they could easily make this an option for the seller.
then each seller and each buyer could decide whether and how they wish to participate in sniping-enables and non-sniping auctions.

jpman




msg:3719187
 12:34 pm on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

At yahoo japan auctions, the bid extends for another 5 minutes if you place a bids in the last 5 minutes of the bid ending time. This can go on and on for hours if you get into a bid war with another bidder. It could turn into a war of nerves since the bids limits can up only by a small fractions. I consider snipe bidding as a blessing since it ends the bid life and the seller gets the right price for his items.

Lord Majestic




msg:3719189
 12:38 pm on Aug 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

the seller gets the right price for his items.

The seller gets the higher price with each bid, therefore anything that leads to fewer bids and lack of bidding war gives less money to the sellers.

[edited by: lawman at 1:38 pm (utc) on Aug. 9, 2008]

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