I usually buy tools on eBay. This way I get a discount by buying used, I free up space in other people’s garages, and we get more value from existing things without having some factory produce a new one: less pollution, resource suck, etc.

If you ever used eBay, you’re probably aware of the downsides. You might get outbid in the last second (more on that below) and if you’re bidding on several auctions for the same thing, you have to coordinate the bidding in real time. In addition, you may have a finite amount of money which is insufficient to bid on everything, yet putting in bids essentially means that you have to have the money somewhere.

Sniping solves all these problems. I’ve used gixen.com for while. The idea behind sniping is that you enter your bid using the sniping platform instead. That way you have control until the last possible moment. This means you avoid getting suckered into bidding wars possibly resulting in a lower final price. Also you don’t commit money several days in advance, which also means that you have until the last possible moment to delete your snipe. Furthermore you can group your snipes so that if you win one auction in a group, all other snipes in the group gets canceled. That way I can put in bids for, say, 5 different hacksaws and have a reasonable likelihood of winning one of them.

If you already use eBay but haven’t “advanced” to sniping yet, I encourage you to try it out.

Some arguments can be made that sniping is morally evil and not in the spirit of ebay’s auction setup. On the other hand, it’s legal and others use it so until ebay changes its policy, e.g. by extending the deadline for an hour past the last bid, you’re at a disadvantage by not using it.

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Originally posted 2011-03-01 15:59:46.

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