The art of eBay sniping has been around for, well, as long as eBay has existed. Auction sniping, for those unfamiliar, is when someone places a bid on an auction seconds before it ends. This helps to ensure that no one has time to outbid them or unnecessarily raise the price. You can do this manually by bidding on the eBay site, use an online sniping site, or by using a software program.
The problem is that there aren’t many sites or software that do the sniping for no cost…and if the solution is free then it is probably very limited in its capabilities. An example of an online site that offers free sniping is AuctionStealer but they say that the bids are only successfully placed 97% of the time whereas the paid version of the service has a success rate of 99.9% along with shorter sniping times.
A great program that runs on your own computer is Auction Sentry. I have used it for the 10-day trial and it has a lot of advanced options that anyone would surely love. Even thought the $15 price tag is not that much I was still determined to find a freeware solution. It was only the matter of minutes before I stumbled upon the open source JBidWatcher.
First, let me start of by saying that there is no installation required after you download JBidWatcher. When you run the executable it will ask where you would like to store the configuration files on your computer which is important for backing up your information.
Another thing that it requests is your eBay information, which is obviously needed to do the sniping on your behalf and to retrieve things from your watch list. Believe me, it is really nice to be able to browse eBay and add things to your watch list as you find them. Then, after you are all done looking around you can have JBidWatcher download all of the items that you are currently watching.
Java is, however, required to run JBidWatcher which means that this is also cross-platform (available for Mac, Linux, and Windows). Okay, let’s get into some of the nitty gritty…
I really love the configurability that JBidWatcher has to offer via the Options. You can configure all sorts of things like the ability to synchronize its own internal clock with eBay’s current time. That is extremely important because if your clock is offer by the smallest amount of time it could cause your snipe to be placed after the auction has already ended.
In the “Sniping” tab is where you can alter the number of seconds before the end of the auction for the sniping to occur. I recently won an auction using this software and had it set to place my bid 8-seconds before the auction ended. It was placed so quickly that I could have probably gotten away with 3-4 seconds but if you are on a slow Internet connection, you should allow enough time (around 10-12 seconds).
Also in the Options, you will see an option to “Display Thumbnails” which might not make sense right away. When you look at the listings on the main screen it doesn’t show any images, but just hover your mouse over a listing and it will show you a nice snapshot of the auction. Not having the images displayed on the main page of the program makes the interface more condensed which I prefer over having the images embedded. After all, how many times do I really need to look at an image for the same auction?
JBidWatcher even has a built-in searcher that can be set to do eBay searches at a given interval. By using this, you can be notified very quickly after new auctions are added for a particular item that you might be hunting down for a great deal. The only thing that I didn’t like about this is that the search results are added right into the “Current” tab where you have all of your snipes listed. If you do a vague search it will quickly clutter up that screen and is hard to keep it organized.
I would prefer to see a search tab so that I can pick and choose from that what listings I actually want to keep track of. This feature might be useful for certain items and certain people but I think I’ll stick to it importing items that I am currently watching.
Lastly, I wanted to cover one of the most prominent features of JBidWatcher: Multiple Snipes. This is great when you see several listings for the same item and you just want to put in a maximum bid for all of them. Using the Multiple Snipes feature you can do just that and as soon as you win one of the auctions for your designated price, it will not bid on any of the others that are part of the Multiple Snipe group.
To use this just highlight the items in the main window that you want to be part of the Multiple Snipe group and then go to Auction Menu -> Multiple Snipe. Enter in the maximum price that you want to pay and it will do all of the hard work.
A word of warning: if two of the auctions end within seconds of each other then JBidWatcher might not be able to confirm whether the previous auction was won/lost and may bid on the second one as well. This works best if there is plenty of separation between the multiple listings (I would probably do a minimum of 30 seconds).
If you are an eBay user then I am sure that you’ll find value in using sniping software. This not only works for the United States eBay site but also for several other countries…so users from around the world can start to snipe their auctions and save some money!