The other day I griped about early bidders on eBay. I also posted the entry on LumberJocks, where it got more hits (332) and comments (26) than any other I wrote over there. One great byproduct of that post (both here and there) was finding out what other people use to snipe eBay auctions. But first, a paragraph for the uninitiated (those who need to be taken on a snipe hunt).

Sniping is a method of bidding in which the bidder places their bid with just seconds left in the auction. Provided the bid is higher than any other, sniping gives others no time to top their bid with another. Some people would claim that this is unfair, but if they put in their maximum bid to begin with, they shouldn’t complain about not having an opportunity to top it. Sniping may be done manually – I do it sometimes myself – if you synchronize your watch with eBay’s clock (by refreshing the screen a lot to see if you’re in sync) and monitor the auction right up until its end. If you do this, be sure that you have gone to the bidding confirmation screen prior to sniping. But lately, there are several software programs and other services that do the sniping for you. So now on to the programs.

The comments on my eBay blog entry yielded five different online sniping services. Feel free to add more in the comments section. Here is a brief summary of all five:

  • eSnipe: Free trial (14 days), and then you’re charged 1% of the winning bid (minimum $0.25, maximum $10.00). Keeps track of your older auction item descriptions, whereas eBay deletes them from your profile after 3 months. Offers bid groups (more on that later).
  • Auction Sniper: Free trial (first three auctions), and then you’re charged 1% of the winning bid (minimum $0.25, maximum $9.95). Offers bid groups.
  • Bidnapper: Free trial (15 days), and then you have monthly charges: $7.99 for one month, $18.99 for three months, etc. Offers bid groups.
  • JustSnipe: Free service is limited to 5 snipes a week, with a snipe time of 8 seconds. Pay service is $5.00/month with unlimited sniping and a default snipe time of 5 seconds (but can be adjusted down even further). I could find no information about bid groups so it may not be offered.
  • Gixen: Free service is limited to 10 snipes at one time, with a snipe time of 5 seconds. Uses your eBay login so no registration is required. Pay service is $6.00/year with no limits and a few other perks. Offers bid groups.

Bid groups are cool. Let’s say you are watching several Stanley rabbet planes. There are five auctions that end while you are on a weekend camping trip. You add all five to your sniping program and put them all in the same group. The first winning bid cancels all the other snipe bids in that same group.

Here’s my armchair quarterback summary: If you want a strictly free service, Gixen seems the better choice over JustSnipe. You can bid on many more auctions, and the snipe time is less by a few seconds. As for the pay services, eSnipe appears to have a few more features than Auction Sniper (for about the same price), while BidNapper seems a bit pricey. Of course, a frequent eBayer might save money in the long run with BidNapper’s flat rate.

If anyone else uses a different service, please list it in the comments along with the same kind of information I gave – website, prices and features. Hope this is helpful!