SNIPING

First of all, Iím going to make this rather remarkable statement: there is no such thing as sniping.

Thatís right. There is no such thing as sniping. There is only bad bidding.

Take this simple (and true) example. A leather coat is offered for sale on eBay, opening bid of $12 and no reserve. With four days and eight hours to go on the auction, Bidder A puts in a proxy bid of $15.00. Bidder Bóletís call him Jerryóbookmarks the auction, but waits until eight seconds are left before bidding $26, the amount he thinks the coat is worth. Bidder B wins the coat for $15.50. Bidder A emails Jerry immediately after the auction ends, complaining that Jerry played dirty pool by not allowing him time enough to put in a new bid.

The anti-sniper faction will boo-hoo this auction, pitying poor Bidder A because he couldnít bid again, and pitying the poor seller because he didnít get more for his coat. The facts of the matter are somewhat different, however. Without Jerry, the seller would have gotten less for the coat, not more, because there would have been no sniper bid. The seller would have received $12 for the coat, not $15.50. Really, that's not difficult to understand.

Now here is the plain unvarnished truth: No one opposes sniping, just being sniped. Was Bidder A mad because Jerry didnít give him enough time to bid again? No. Bidder A was mad because he didnít win the coat for a bargain price. Bidder A was mad because he was out-smarted by Jerry. Bidder A was mad because after four days and eight hours of perceiving that he was the ďwinner,Ē he discovered he was actually the loser. Bidder A was mad because he thought he had laid claim to the coat by placing a bid on it. Bidder A was mad because someone else had the audacity to bid on his coat.

Once again, Jerryóletís call him Bidder Bóproved true the eBay sniperís maxim: the only bid that counts is the one that wins.

The heart of the matter is that Bidder A was willing to pay only $15 for the coat. Jerry was willing to pay more. If Bidder A had put in a proxy bid of $100, Bidder A would have won the coat for $27. Oh, thatís not realistic? The coat wasnít worth $100? Well, what was the coat worth and to whom was it worth that amount? The auction lasted seven days. It seems like that would have been plenty of time for Bidder A to sit down at his computer and say to himself, ďGee, Iíd really like to own that coat. I think that coat is worth X amount of dollars. Iím going to bid that amount for it right now.Ē

And therein lies the beauty of the proxy system. Bidder A should have bid, say, $40 for the coat. He thinks the coat is worth $40, so he bids $40. Thatís a fair value, he says to himself, a fair value for the coat, and an honest appraisal of what I think the coat is worth. And he enters his $40 bid. Now, if Jerry comes along and bids $26, Bidder A doesnít lose the coat. He wins the auction for $27, still $13 under what he thought the coat was worth. And if Jerry comes along and bids $100 (and wins the coat for $41), then Bidder B can tell himself, ďWell, I thought the coat was worth only $40, this Jerry fellow obviously thinks it was worth more. But thatís okay! I didnít want to pay more than $40 for it anyway.Ē

Now do you see why I say there is no such thing as sniping, just bad bidding? Jerry has the right to bid at any one of the 604,800 second the auction is on eBay. He elected to bid after 604,792 of those seconds had passed. But he bid an amount equal to what he thought the coat was worth. Bidder A didnít do that. Bidder A lost the coat, not because he was sniped, but because he bid badly to begin with.

Honestly, is that so hard to understand?

So the next time you lose an auction because someone snipes you, donít cry about how the winner played dirty pool, donít whine because you were high bidder for four days and eight hours, donít whimper and simp because you didnít have enough time to enter a counter-bid. And above all, donít email the winner and chastise him because he was smarter than you were!

Get a little smarter yourself instead.

Links to other pages about sniping and snipers:
http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/supersniper
http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/$$sniper$$