Jeber, on Sep 29 2003, 09:30 PM, said:
I've only made one purchase on eBay, (snip)The entire transaction went smoothly. (snip)Scot mentioned missing that last bid on occasion. Has anyone tried one (or more) of the software products I've seen offered that help you keep up on items you've bid on? Do they work as advertised?
Hi, Jeber-Sounds like, although you might not realize it, you may be referring to the effects of the practice of 'bid sniping' on Ebay. No software in existence is going to allow you to "keep up on items you've bid on" so as to make you immune to that practice. Although it has many detractors, there is nothing inherently illegal or unethical about doing it. If you want to track the status of any items you have bid on, that capability is already built-in on Ebay and available to everyone who is registered with them. If you wish, you can even get Ebay to automatically email you immediately if you just got trumped by a competitor bid in any of your current auctions. I think you set that up in your overall Preferences page. This 'works' after a fashion, but is of course no defense at all against bid sniping in the last seconds of an auction. I can offer no actual experience with any of the current crop of supplementary software for auctioning and tracking, but several do sound worth giving a try. I suspect that some of the free ones may install spyware or have unsatisfactory privacy policies, but it should be easy to check the net for that before actually installing one. I managed to stay afloat doing everything manually, even when I was running multiple auctions per week. Selling is a complicated job with many hours of work in the background to make it all go. I doubt I really made all that much as a seller, once all that is factored in. And I was _very_ nice about shipping, always charging actual cost only. That is somewhat rare on ebay, and a few shipping policies are unabashed ripoffs, yet totally enforceable. If you bid in their auction, and win- then you must comply with their ripoff terms. I was wary of that from the getgo, and never have dealt with such auctioners. If in doubt, avoid.The subject of bid sniping is a bit complex, so I will avoid any in depth discussion of its subtleties. Suffice it to say that, despite it being much maligned, with many considering it a despicable and unsportsmanlike practice, it nonetheless produces some amazing results, and you do see a fair amount of it going on regularly all across Ebay. It is the strategy of lurking unannounced in the background and avoiding getting drawn into any competitive bidding at all. You sometimes see others engaged in bidding wars anyway and realize your item is going to go for a king's ransome, so you move on. It is not uncommon for used (good) merchandise to close at or sometimes even above current full retail prices. Then you add shipping! It's insane at times. Sometimes there are few or even no bidders. Sniping in such circumstances can win you the item, often for less than it would have gone for with day-by-day competitive bidding. Very sneaky and sometimes effective. At the end of some auctions you can research the Bid History and be amazed to see that two or three snipers slugged it out in literally the last ten seconds of the auction. These may have been either pre-programmed and done entirely automatically, or may literally represent a bidder hovering over the bid he has set up and hitting the Bid button on the Ebay page a few seconds before the auction ends. BTW the sniper has a considerable advantage in that he has plenty of time to investigate players already having bid. An in-depth reading of their feedback, and even the feedback of those they have dealt with or bid against can be most enlightening indeed. By also looking at bid histories of some auctions won, you get good behavioral indicators. I have been able to build surprisingly accurate assessments predictive of a person's future behavior in a particular auction. Study it long enough, and a pattern will almost certainly emerge. Humans are creatures of habit, for the most part. Habits hold fairly steady over time, though they can and do change eventually. In some cases, I have identified bidders who have essentially no limit on available funds, and they are going to win that auction no matter what anybody else does. They will pay whatever it takes. This is rare, however, but it does happen. Usually, research will indicate that there is a pretty good chance of winning the auction. But you can always get trumped in the last few seconds by other skillful snipers, and most of them know how to set a rational maximum bid level to stop at. Often, as luck would have it, just a bit higher than your own. BTW I don't always snipe. It's not always necessary. I'd say the majority of auctions I bid in did not require it. Then there were others which I would never have won any other way. :ph34r:Those software assistant utilities may be helpful, but Ebay already has a fairly good amount of functionality built in. I think a lot of users don't use much of it or might not even know about all of it. Yes, probably some of that third party stuff might be worth having, and could present your data better formatted, but I personally put a premium on experience- in spades! One third party offering that interested me claimed to be able to extract or aggregate the feedback of another user for you, or to filter for only positives or only negatives, etc. It's good to learn all the subtleties of feedback ratings and how to read between the lines. People are afraid to say much negative, so watch carefully for damning by faint praise! A high feedback rating may or may not signal a good trading partner, because feedback is so heavily weighted towards the positive. Nobody wants to risk getting a negative, so very few negatives are given, even though they are often well-deserved. That is why it is so important to pick up on the nuances, and often only a few subtle hints signal potential problems. On occasion you will find that a persons few negatives were all unfairly given, often by newbies, and were totally unjustified. Further research will almost always enable you to make that call. Auction histories of competitors are most enlightening. Once you put your mind to it, you may realize that, if you are a fairly active bidder (or seller), you could literally spend hours per day discovering all that Ebay can tell you about previous behavior patterns of other Ebayers, sellers or competitors in a few auctions you are interested in on that one day. As a bonus, I found that some other Ebayers were absolutely _fascinating_ and discerning shoppers, and reading their histories led me into new, undiscovered areas of Ebay and even more wonderful finds for myself. It is an entire magical world to itself, and can become quite addictive if you let it. I guess you have to just let it run its course, sort of like a virus.
One must become very good at quickly reading boilerplate in detail. You simply have to do it, no matter how cheap an item you are thinking of bidding for. Quite often, it turns out that the bidder has actually left no clue as to the actual shipping cost, or even how it is figured. You can often catch misbehavior in that area from muted complaints within positive feedback. But if you have any doubts about shipping cost, you really do need to email the seller with your zip code and make them tell you how much- in writing. And before you place your bid. There are a few too many shipping ripoff artists on Ebay, even though they are definitely a minority. The vast majority of folks on Ebay have proven to be nice and also reasonable, at least that has been my experience.BTW one software item that I dearly miss is the _old_ "Auction Ferret" from the folks who also did Web Ferret and several others, all free downloads. They got revenue from a series of inoffensive ads that would refresh in their browser window. Dang, that was one heck of an auction search engine! It turned up some good auctions in other venues for me. Ebay is so very successful that some of the competing venues are sparsely populated, yet they continue to run these services. I think it was in a Yahoo auction I was tipped off about by Auction Ferret that I scored my greatest coup. I found a guy auctioning off his entire LP collection of the Firesign Theatre comedy group, and very reasonably on both starting price and on shipping. I was the only bidder, and got them for about 10 dollars plus shipping. All were in good to excellent condition, a couple near mint. He was not even all that depressed at the single bid. He simply wanted to find them a new home, having no further use for them. He said he was committed to the CD format and preferred to collect them that way. Bought individually at that time in separate auctions, they might have cost easily ten to twenty times as much. Research, research! It pays. I'm pretty sure there would have been much more competitive bidding for them on Ebay. It was occasionally cutthroat at that time. One Firesign-derivative LP made by a solo group member once sold on ebay for nearly 250 bucks in a fierce bidding war, for example. Copies usually went for more like 25-40 dollars in good shape. But all those guys haunted Ebay, and none of them thought to search Yahoo that week, to my good fortune. From all that I have heard, once Web Ferret got sold, it went sour overnight and became both useless and highly intrusive. A familiar story in that field, where a good product gets sold and the new owners run it into the ground.Sorry, this has become another long, runaway post. Ebay is indeed a whole little world unto itself.