Have you ever been pipped at the post for an item on eBay? With 30 seconds to go on the auction you feel confident that the item is yours, and then all hell breaks loose, the price rockets and you lose out to a higher bidder. But there is a way to avoid this without developing lightning fingers or staying up until the early hours when that item from a foreign seller closes.
Say you want to buy a designer handbag from an auction that closes at 3am. You enter a bid on eBay and, because you don’t want to stay up all night, you add your maximum price of £50.
You start as the highest bidder on £5, and each time your bid is topped, eBay automatically ups your bid. It is yours only as long as your bid is the highest at the end. However, if someone else who wants it and is prepared to wait and watch, they can try for it. They will be aware that you have it at £5, and they can sneak in a higher bid at just over your current bid, leaving no time for your bid to be upped. Sometimes, this can even be lower than your maximum bid.
Fortunately, auctionstealer.co.uk gives you a fighting chance to win that item, even when you are tucked up in bed, dreaming of your purchase.
The service is free for a limited number of bids per month. Once signed up, just enter the eBay number of the item you want to bid for, place a maximum bid level and wait.
Auctionstealer does not enter any bids for you until a few seconds before the end of the auction (10 seconds if you don’t pay and three seconds if you pay a membership fee).
Your bid will arrive just before the end of the auction and will be for the lowest amount that is necessary above the current highest bid (if any) and leaves little time for a watching bidder to top yours.
If your maximum bid is too low, you will still lose, but not bidding till the very end prevents eBay’s automatic bids from trumping yours.
It is all perfectly legal and gives you the edge, at least over unseasoned eBayers. You don’t always win, but you stand a much better chance of doing so.
Dr Livingston is a GP in Barnet, Hertfordshire