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April 9, 2008

Sniping on eBay

On eBay, it's best to wait until the last possible second to place your bid, because otherwise, people might get outbid and then bid again with a higher amount. So, ideally what you want to do is wait until a few seconds before the auction ends and place your bid. This is called sniping. It's legal, effective, and widely practiced.

But, what if the auction ends at 3:00 a.m.? That can be a problem.

There are many online applications that will allow you to snipe auctions on eBay, but they all want your username and password so that they can place bids on your behalf. Trust me I'm not going to go to some random website and type in my username and password.

What I wanted was some free software that would run locally on my desktop and allow me to snipe eBay auctions. What I found was Bid-O-Matic. The only drawback is that it was developed in German and only has German help text. However, you can change the language to English when you run the program. And I found this website with fairly clear instructions on how to use the application in English.

"...even if you choose International English as the installation language during the program setup, the first time you run Bid-O-Matic, the interface language is German. To change the interface language to English, simply open the Sprache (Language) menu, and select english. Your language preference will be remembered even after closing Bid-O-Matic.

The interface used to configure Bid-O-Matic is somewhat clunky, but workable. Open the Window menu (assuming you've chosen english as your interface language), and choose Options. On the Bid tab, press the New button and enter your eBay Username and Password in the fields provided. Press OK when finished entering your eBay account information. Also on the Bid tab, you should use the Login Test and Speed Test buttons. The Login Test ensures that you entered your eBay account information properly and the Speed Test can help you gauge appropriate Prepare/Bid settings. These settings determine the lead times before the end of auction (in seconds) that Bid-O-Matic will use to prepare and place the bid on your behalf. Make sure the Login Test is successful and your lead times are high enough. Otherwise, you risk losing auctions because Bid-O-Matic cannot login to eBay to place the bid or the auction is over by the time eBay receives the bid placed by Bid-O-Matic. When finished on the Bid tab, press Save then press End to save your settings and dismiss the Bid-O-Matic Options dialog.

Back in Bid-O-Matic's main window, press the # Item button. In the text field that appears, paste the eBay auction item number of an auction you wish to bid on and press the Insert button. Press End when finished entering item numbers. In the main Bid-O-Matic window, enter the maximum (e.g. 25.75) you are willing to spend on the auction, not including shipping, in the My Bid field. Do this for each auction displayed. If you see a red button with the text Automatic mode off, press this button so Bid-O-Matic can place bids for you. The button should turn green and the text should change to Automatic mode on. Note that an active Internet connection must be established before Bid-O-Matic can place bids. If you use dial-up to connect to the Internet, you can configure Bid-O-Matic to automatically connect to the Internet prior to bidding. To change these settings, open the Window menu choose Options, and click on the Connection tab. I suspect that Bid-O-Matic will work strictly with Windows dial-up networking connections and may not work with third party dialer software, though I have not personally used Bid-O-Matic in this way.

If an eBay auction for a widget is bid up to $50 with a bid increment of $1 and you enter 100 in My Bid, when Bid-O-Matic places your bid, you will win the widget auction at $51, assuming $50 was the highest bid and no one outbids you in the final moments of the auction. eBay's proxy bidding feature comes into consideration here."

Update: I lost the auction because Windows decided to automatically apply updates and reboot my machine in the middle of the night. You can stop Windows Update from automatically rebooting your PC if someone is signed on.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 9, 2008 at 1:06 AM


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