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How To Become An eBay "Sniper".

If you bid for a few things on eBay, the chances are that sooner or later you'll end up getting your bid beaten at the very last second by a 'sniper'. This can be a frustrating experience, and while in theory sniping is against the rules and you can report it to eBay, in practice they never do anything about it.

The bad news is that there's only one way to beat the sniper – and that's to become the sniper. The good news, though, is that once you understand sniping you can use it to win auctions at a far lower price than you would otherwise.

Manual Sniping.

Manual sniping isn't that hard, if you have a lot of time to spare and a reasonably fast Internet connection. Write down when each auction that are bidding on ends, and then make sure that you're sitting there in front of the page for that vital last minute. You can then outbid the current winning bidder, or defend your own winning bid.

The only tip you really need to remember for manual sniping is to make sure that you set your maximum bid quite high – otherwise you might be automatically outbid, and the auction will have ended before you can bid again.

Also, it's not worth your time to compete against someone who is using an automated sniping service – if it's any good, then they will always manage to outbid you. In the sniping arms race, you need to find a sniper of your own.

Automatic Sniping.

If you type 'ebay sniping' into your favourite search engine, you'll come up with plenty of online services that will snipe on your behalf for a small fee. They usually let you have a free trial, so give it a go.

If you don't want to pay each time for an online service, then you might be better off getting a piece of software like iSnipeIt (http://www.isnipeit.com) or SnipeRight (http://www.sniperight.com). You can pay for these once and use them for as long as you want. Once you've installed the software on your computer, you tell it which auctions you want sniped and the maximum amount you're willing to pay. The software will then place the bid with only a few seconds left. The only disadvantage is that you need to be able to leave your computer on nearly all the time, or you might miss the end of some auctions.

A Sniping Alternative.

If this all sounds a bit too much like playing dirty for you, then is another, more low-tech way to get around sniping. You can just email the seller and say that you were sniped at the last minute but would really like the item. If they have another to sell, the chances are they'll agree to sell it to you for the price the auction closed at.

Of course, there's more to eBay than just bidding – the site offers a whole set of tools to help you manage your auctions. In the next email, we'll take a look at these tools.

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