Friday, October 19, 2007

Cool Tool: Auction Sniper

It’s a common mistake among eBay newbies: You spot something you just have to have, bid on it right away, and keep upping the ante whenever an interloper tries to top you. You may win the auction, but chances are you’ll pay more than you want to -- and you could still get outbid at the last minute.

When it comes to bidding (and winning) on eBay, it turns out that the key word is "wait." Think of this so-called "sniping" as a game of strategy: Keep your poker face on as long as possible, biding your time to make a move, then put in your best bid at the last moment so your competitors don’t have time to knock you out of the winner’s seat.

Of course, if you’d rather not be chained to your computer or set your alarm to catch the end of that 4 a.m. auction, an online service called Auction Sniper can do the dirty work for you.

Here's how it works: Simply type in the auction number for the item you’re eyeing, set your maximum bid, and forget about it (although you can always go back to raise or lower your bid, or cancel the snipe altogether). Auction Sniper will automatically place your bid for you during the auction's last few seconds.

You'll have to fork over a small commission on winning bids -- typically 1 percent of the final cost -- but it's a small price to pay for not letting that great piece get away. Find out more right here.

(And, lest anyone think I'm taking kickbacks from Auction Sniper, here are a few comparable services to check out as well: Bidnapper, BidRobot, eSnipe, I Snipe It, and PowerSnipe. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments area. I just happen to use, and like, Auction Sniper.)

For more tips on snagging great finds for your home on eBay, see my HGTV article.

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