Getting that desirable item at an auction can be daunting at best. There are tricks that any experienced bidder knows and uses to get their bids to the winners circle. It's easiest to get a grasp of the way to win bids at a live auction. There, you can oversee the people and their bids to get a sense of whether or not to raise your bidding amount depending on the competition and what the item is worth. Online however, you do not have the luxury of sizing up the competition. You're in a no-mans land (or the badlands) of the auction environment and anything goes in this territory, as long as it's legal of course. Here are some easy tips to understanding and winning an online auction. 

What is Proxy bidding or Hidden bidding? 

Online auction sites such as Ebay have implemented a 'Proxy bid' option which allows the bidder to secretly enter a top bid amount into the system which is not displayed to any other bidders. This maximum proxy bid will not be listed until it has been out bid by another bidder. Other bidders can still bid on an item, but will soon discover that every bid they enter is out bid by the proxy top bid amount. 

Done properly, proxy bidding is considered a closed auction, meaning other bidders can't see the highest bid until it has either been outbid or sold. To succeed in proxy bidding, the bidder must be knowledgeable on the actual value of the items they are bidding on. Otherwise, you may either lose a bid, or pay far more that the item's actual worth. 

One note about the danger of proxy bids is the sellers' fraudulent system to sniff out the proxy bid amount and increase it for the original bidder to increase their top bid. This is called 'maximum bid fishing' or 'shilling'. The best way to avoid being duped by such a scheme is to snipe the item, avoiding being drawn into a bidding war. 

What is Sniping? 

Bidding wars are great for the auction seller, but bad for the bidder. Experienced online bidders prefer entering their bids in the last minutes of an auction to avoid upping the bidding frenzy created by 'current highest bid' one-up-man-ship. As well, there is the psychological phenomenon of encouraging others to bid on an item solely because someone else has bid on that same item. 

Online auction sniping may not be illegal, but most people frown upon it. Why? Because it gives the sniper the upper hand at the end of the auction to steal an item you thought you're going to win, right out from under you. Sniping is big business my friends, and if your not in the know on how to do it, you will lose at least half the time. Economists have determined that auction sniping is a price minimizing strategy for auction bidders as long as the auction has a rigidly fixed end time and the bidder can see the previous bids to gain a better knowledge of the real value of the auctioned piece. 

Some online listers have tried to prevent this snipping phenomenon from happening on their listed items, to even out the playing field. One way some listers prevent sniping is by ending their auctions at random times. This involves not disclosing the actual end time in the last hour of the listing. This act has thrown a few snipers into a frustrated fit, but ultimately snipers are furtively working on ways to overcome that too. 

Check out Online Sniping Services 

These new online sniping services are quite new, in fact there many new sniping services being developed every day to try and gain your business. Finding a good sniping provider is of utmost importance to avoid the waste of time it takes in finding one which works for your sniping/bidding needs. The use of bid groups and advanced search features seem to be the key to getting the auction items that you want at the price that you want. Also, a good sniping service will support 'Search Capabilities' so the search & bid process is simplified, they will lists price comparisons and competition, offer a free trial offer, offer ease of navigation of their snipe site and provide the ability to import your watch lists and manage and organize your bids. The following is a list of sniping services which have been rated and approved by well seasoned bidders. 

Good sniping services you may want to try: 
Prospector Lite by 
Always remember, any sniping service worth its salt will offer either a money back guarantee or a free trial. So do some research, and try out a couple of different sniping companies to find the right fit for you and your bidding needs. 

The last tip I can offer is to do your homework. Research the product you are looking to bid on, in order to get an idea of the top price the item is actually worth. Go to eBay's tutorials to better grasp the ins and outs of how all of the aforementioned information on proxys and sniping. It's also worth your while to get involved in the discussions on eBay, real people discussing their experiences and giving out free advice on any thing to do with online auctions. Good luck, you too can be the winner of any auction with these helpful tips. Get out there and start bidding.

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