So you're the winning bidder all week until the last 5 seconds when someone shoots in and outbids you. Is there anything to help prevent that from happening or is that just a fact of web auctions?

2 Answers 2


Bid the real maximum price you're willing to pay, then if you lose you don't mind because you didn't want to spend that much anyway.

As for a real answer, I don't think there's a trick beside bidding at the last second too.

  • Yeah, but if I don't have to spend even as much as I'm willing to spend then I'd rather not... I suspect you're right, just thought I'd throw it out there in case anyone's come up with something.
    – squillman
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 1:33
  • 2
    .. but you do have to be willing to spend more than everyone else is, if you want to buy the item. The only way to know if you are willing to spend more or if someone else is willing to spend more is to bid your real maximum. You don't figure out the answer to the question "who wants this the most?", Ebay's system does.
    – gbroiles
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 5:41
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    @squillman eBay uses an autobid system to ensure that your current bid is only just higher than the next highest bid - it won't automatically bid up to your maximum bid unless there is another high bidder. You should read up on how eBay works. Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 7:53

Those people that outbid you might be using an eBay sniper application which places bids at the closing seconds of an auction (e.g. gixen.com). You could use one of these utilities yourself.

Unfortunately, using these snipers is actually better for the bidder than using eBay's functionality (auto bidding) since you can keep your interest in the item, and the amount you are willing to pay, a secret up to the last seconds of the bid. By using eBay's feature, someone can figure out what your maximum bid is by placing a higher bid incrementally. It's unfortunate, since it makes sniping apps required to win some bids at a reasonable price.

  • I use SnipeSwipe for this and am very happy with it. It's a web app, so nothing to install.
    – Reid
    Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 20:02
  • I wouldn't go so far as to say sniping apps are "REQUIRED to win most bids at a reasonable price"... that's absurd! It completely depends on the market for any given item and they vary to all extremes. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 6:34
  • I find that sniping has few downsides so even if it is not strictly required I may as well always use it. It certainly reduces the amount of "risk" you are taking on. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 10:12
  • If eBay would change their bidding model (or allow the seller to pick an alternate) then sniping would be unnecessary. But their own interest (and generally the seller's) is of course to encourage bidding up early which means they tacitly / morally accept the consequences. Its just part of their social engineering approach. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 10:13

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