How to bid like a boss on eBay

How many times has an evil shopaholic pipped you to the post on eBay? You thought that vintage t-shirt or car of your dreams was as good as yours and alas, it would have been, if they hadn’t stuck their oar in. Over 25 million sellers list more 800 million items on eBay. The average shopper spends 150 minutes on the eBay app determined to snag a deal – so there’s often tough competition for popular items.

Before you start bidding again follow these top tips to becoming a savvy eBay bidder…

Place your bid in the last few seconds of the auction

Firing a bid in the last ten seconds of the auction is called ‘sniping’, because it leaves no time for legitimate rival bidders (or unscrupulous folk who want to run the price up) to react. Open two windows, refresh one to check the status of the auction, and have your bid ready to place in the other. Then click ‘bid’ in the nick of time. We’re talking seconds, literally, not minutes.

Or use free UK apps, like Goofbid or Auction Stealer to do your bidding for you… so to speak.

Watch your feedback and bidding history

When you bid, the owner can see your history. So if you leave unfairly and consistently negative feedback on other sellers or if you appear to be a problem buyer – beware! They’re perfectly within their rights to block or cancel your bid if they think you’re untrustworthy or fake.

Only bid early in exceptional circumstances…

If you’ve found similar versions of the same thing, and aren’t too bothered which you end up with, so long as it’s as cheap as chips – you might try the ‘scatter-gun’ approach. Bid low on everything and keep your fingers crossed. That’s not very wise. Only place the opening bid if you’ve found a valuable item that’s been miscategorised or under-priced.

Don’t bid too often…

Buyers swarm items which have several bids. After all, popularity means it’s good, right? Maybe the seller’s more trustworthy too? Crowds are bad news on eBay – they push the price up, and slash your chances of getting a bargain. So play it cool and never show that you’re sweating with excitement – wait as long as possible before you cave in and bid.

But do leave automatic bids

Got things to do and places to be when the sale ends? Don’t panic. Tell eBay your highest price, and leave it to bid on your behalf whenever someone tries to steal it. You may well get it cheaper than your upper limit. But it’s not fool-proof. Someone can easily outdo your best effort.

Buy it now

If you could avoid the perils of bidding altogether, you would, wouldn’t you? If you have a price in mind, get in there early and try your luck by emailing the owner with your best effort. Charm them into selling to you direct. Or plump for an item that’s listed as ‘buy it now’, then rest assured that it’s definitely winging its way to you.