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Don’t Be a Loser on eBay

Following just a few simple tips and tricks can make your auction bidding more successful--and more fun.

eBay is a great resource if you're looking to buy things at a discount--with everyone competing to sell their tchotchkes and castoffs, you can often find things a lot cheaper at this online marketplace than in a brick-and-mortar store. The downside: The low price that you see on many auction-only items is rarely the price you'll pay at the end of the auction if you win.

Seasoned eBay bidders tend to wait until the very last second to place their bids, leaving in the dust novice bidders who thought they had spotted a once-in-a-lifetime deal. If you're sick of that disappointment, here are some tips that should help you get onto the winning side of more eBay contests.

Bidding Assistance and Strategies

If you're too busy to keep up with auctions, a "sniping" service can submit your bid to eBay in the last few seconds of action. For example, on Auction Sniper you enter your maximum bid for an item, and it will input that bid 5 seconds before the auction closes. It's well worth submitting your absolute maximum bid with Auction Sniper, because eBay will set the price at only a small amount more than the next-highest bidder. For instance, if Auction Sniper bids $100 on an item for you, but the next-highest bidder bid $85, you'll pay only $86 for the item if you win. Unfortunately, if someone else submits a higher bid than your Auction Sniper maximum before the auction is over, they'll still win.

Bidding manually is always a possibility, too. In the last 2 or 3 hours of an auction, check the bid history to see if it includes any aggressive bidders who might drive the price up. If so, hunker down and think of the maximum price you would bid--say, $50. Then, open two browser windows, both showing the same auction. In one window, enter your max bid and click Place Bid, but don't click Continue. In the second window, watch as the auction closes to the last 10 or 20 seconds. Then move back to the first window, click Continue, and click Confirm Bid on the next page. Chances are, you'll beat your competitors.

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