December 14, 2010

If you want something from eBay, don’t bid on it!

I’m fond of quoting my father to my sons. I have a terrible memory for these kinds of things in general, but what he says sticks with me:

  • Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” –Mike Sells
  • Don’t start a fight, but be ready to finish one.” –Mike Sells
  • Who got the goddamn jelly in the goddamn peanut butter?!” –Mike Sells

I’ve learned a ton of things from my father and continue to do so, so when I wanted to win something on eBay as a Christmas present for my girlfriend/fiancé’ (what’s it called when you’re engaged to be engaged?), I knew he had the experience, so I tapped it. And here’s what he told me:

If you really want something on eBay, don’t bid on it; that only gives your competition information on how to outbid you.

Instead, set yourself some free time when the auction is going to happen and start up two browser window at the following pages:

  1. The page where the count-down timer is shown.
  2. The page where you have already entered your top bid and are poised at the Confirm Bid button.

The idea is that people’s top bid” changes over time as the auction goes on. I know this happens to me:

Oh, this is only worth $20 to me. Well, maybe $25. OK, $40, but that’s all. Dammit I gotta have it! Where’s the button to enter the Social Security number of my first born!?”

So, instead of putting in your top bid and walking away, which lets other folks probe your top bid with their top bid and deciding later that their top bid goes toppier, wait til the last minute to put in your bid. I believe the practice is called sniping” and there are even apps that do it, although so far, I’ve found IE and a cool hand sufficient.

Of course, the most important question is this:

Dad, at what time in the countdown do I press the Confirm Bid button?”

Oh, well, I do it at 4 seconds, but my computers are slow.”

What can I say; the man’s a pro.