Sniping at eBay
The home screen for JBidwatcher.
By Tom McKinney
This month in Young Blood, I actually did not make any purchases. I did attempt bidding on eBay twice, but have failed to win a lot yet. I've been checking my MatchMaker results on a daily basis, and keeping notes of what I'm interested in, but I've been busy!
So, I thought I'd try bidding on eBay this month rather than using Abe, or "Buy It Now" off eBay where available. MatchMaker found me an English/Dakota Indian Dictionary from 1917, and that was my first bid. It had a starting price of $29.95, and when I found it, it'd been bid on once up to $30. I noted the auction end date of the 23rd and planned to return then to bid.
In the meantime, I've been downloading and trying out various eBay tools to see what I like, what I find useful, what works, what doesn't. I am a Mac user, so the way I started out was searching Google for, "eBay tools Mac." I know based on conversations with my dad, that serious eBay collectors use programs to enter a bid automatically, and at the very last possible second of the auction (called sniping). So, that was the first thing on my agenda. I found a couple options for eBay sniping for Mac users. First, the free solution, is called JBidwatcher. It is still in active development but the most up-to-date release was stable for me.
The other solution I tried out is called Auction Hunter. It's obviously an app for buyers, and it allows you to monitor auctions you're interested in for bidding purposes, or you can use it to just observe and store data for future reference. I downloaded it because it has a built-in snipe feature. The software carries a price tag of $29.95, but it is shareware, so I actually still have not paid for the software, and am in the middle of the 30 day free trial.
These two eBay auction helper programs offer very similar functionality. I was personally just looking for a sniping program, and both can do that fine. Both allow you to track auctions, although Auction Hunter offers a few more bells and whistles to potentially better organize them. I would say that Auction Hunter gets the nod for ease of use, mostly because JBidwatcher, upon first launching, prompts the user with a large amount of settings (the majority of which I ignored, with no problems). And depending on how much bidding on eBay you plan on doing, the $30 for Auction Hunter could likely pay itself off fast. Amusingly, I used each application to attempt sniping on a single item a piece, and in both cases, another buyer came in and sniped even more effectively than me. I learned then that sniping is not a done deal. And I also went back to my sniping apps to look at my settings. Auction Hunter has a time setting whenever you choose to snipe, and I had set mine initially at 30 seconds, which appeared to be too long. Changing JBidwatcher's sniping settings requires going to Preferences in the File menu, and then choosing Sniping there. My next sniping tests will be of 10 seconds, and then probably 5. I can already see a problem arising, as my Internet connection hiccups at times, and an untimely win during the end of an auction could be costly.
Sniping at eBay
The home screen for Auction Hunter.
It's clear that eBay has a lot of great material available, and a lot of not so great, fake, copied, or otherwise bogus stuff. It can be overwhelming. Sorting through it is not an easy task. Before I added date ranges for my wants, I was, daily, getting 20-30 contemporary matches, even through MatchMaker. Fortunately, something as simple as a date range cuts that number right down, and I have MatchMaker pointing me in the right direction. Without it, I could be doing searches through either JBidwatcher or Auction Hunter, but then I'd be left to sorting through those results first, then setting up my bids/snipes, and finally waiting. With MatchMaker, my finding and sorting is essentially done for me, and I just plug in what I want.