If you spend time participating in online auctions, you’re familiar with the practice of sniping. Waiting until the last few seconds of a timed auction to place the winning bid is deemed essential strategy by some and foul play by others.
Bidding at the last minute tends to reduce the cost of the item because by waiting to place your bid, you avoid bidding wars. You also protect yourself from dishonest sellers who might place bids on their own items to drive up the price.
Some buyers object to sniping because they feel they do not have time to counter-bid. Because of this, online auction sites have implemented some solutions:
- Automatic extension: whenever a bid is placed, the end of the auction is postponed for a few minutes, giving other interested buyers time to react.
- Deterrents to sniping software: some auction sites require users to enter a CAPTCHA to prevent the use of automatic sniping software.
- Buy It Now: on eBay, the Buy it Now option allows sellers to set a price for which buyers can purchase an item without participating in an auction.
- Maximum bid option: when placing a bid, potential buyers can enter a maximum bid amount. When the auction closes, if the maximum bid amount exceeds the last-minute bids, the item will sell for the maximum bid amount. This way, buyers can win an auction without having to lurk around for the last moments of a listing.
For sellers, the main disadvantage of sniping is it subverts the bidding wars that drive up prices. The above solutions address seller and buyer concerns alike.
What do you think about sniping? Comment below!