Going on a Snipe Hunt (eBay)

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Blog entry by Eric posted 02-27-2008 03:38 PM 1607 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The other day I griped about early bidders on eBay – that post got more hits and comments than any other I wrote here. One great byproduct of that post was finding out what other people use to snipe eBay auctions. But first, a paragraph for the uninitiated (those who need to be taken on a snipe hunt).

Sniping is a method of bidding in which the bidder places their bid with just seconds left in the auction. Provided the bid is higher than any other, sniping gives others no time to top their bid with another. Some people would claim that this is unfair, but if they put in their maximum bid to begin with, they shouldn’t complain about not having an opportunity to top it. Sniping may be done manually – I do it sometimes myself – if you synchronize your watch with eBay’s clock (by refreshing the screen a lot to see if you’re in sync) and monitor the auction right up until its end. If you do this, be sure that you have gone to the bidding confirmation screen prior to sniping. But lately, there are several software programs and other services that do the sniping for you. So now on to the programs.

The comments on my eBay blog entry yielded five different online sniping services. Feel free to add more in the comments section. Here is a brief summary of all five:
  • eSnipe: Free trial (14 days), and then you’re charged 1% of the winning bid (minimum $0.25, maximum $10.00). Keeps track of your older auction item descriptions, whereas eBay deletes them from your profile after 3 months. Offers bid groups (more on that later).
  • Auction Sniper: Free trial (first three auctions), and then you’re charged 1% of the winning bid (minimum $0.25, maximum $9.95). Offers bid groups.
  • Bidnapper: Free trial (15 days), and then you have monthly charges: $7.99 for one month, $18.99 for three months, etc. Offers bid groups.
  • JustSnipe: Free service is limited to 5 snipes a week, with a snipe time of 8 seconds. Pay service is $5.00/month with unlimited sniping and a default snipe time of 5 seconds (but can be adjusted down even further). I could find no information about bid groups so it may not be offered.
  • Gixen: Free service is limited to 10 snipes at one time, with a snipe time of 5 seconds. Uses your eBay login so no registration is required. Pay service is $6.00/year with no limits and a few other perks. Offers bid groups.

Bid groups are cool. Let’s say you are watching several Stanley rabbet planes. There are five auctions that end while you are on a weekend camping trip. You add all five to your sniping program and put them all in the same group. The first winning bid cancels all the other snipe bids in that same group.

Here’s my armchair quarterback summary: If you want a strictly free service, Gixen seems the better choice over JustSnipe. You can bid on many more auctions, and the snipe time is less by a few seconds. As for the pay services, eSnipe appears to have a few more features than Auction Sniper (for about the same price), while BidNapper seems a bit pricey. Of course, a frequent eBayer might save money in the long run with BidNapper’s flat rate.

If anyone else uses a different service, please list it in the comments along with the same kind of information I gave – website, prices and features. Hope this is helpful!

-- Eric at

9 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3959 days

#1 posted 02-27-2008 03:46 PM

I haven’t used anything but Bidnapper, so I don’t have a good frame of reference for how the others work. I suppose the service is a little pricey, but I love the contingent bidding (groups), and never having to worry about how many things I snipe. It feels like a pretty good value to me. One thing that probably any of the snipers are useful for is tracking auctions without putting them on your “My Ebay” watch page, which clever people can use to track your activities, if they’re collecting the same things as you, for example. This last from an Ebay-savvy friend of mine; I haven’t verified it for myself.

-- Robb

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#2 posted 02-27-2008 04:04 PM

Hi Eric,

What little bidding I do I normally just post the bids myself. I am too cheap to pay to have this done for me.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3809 days

#3 posted 02-27-2008 04:09 PM

Robb – Very interesting about others being able to look at your “My eBay” watching page. I just tried to do it myself and couldn’t, so it could be a “hacker” kind of thing to do. And are woodworkers really the main culprits when it comes to hacking someone’s eBay? :^) But still, good to know.

Scott – two of the services are free, so why not try them out? Being cheap is the whole reason I snipe.

-- Eric at

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

355 posts in 4042 days

#4 posted 02-27-2008 04:13 PM

I have used Auction Sniper with great success. :) I don’t think I have ever paid for a snipe as I have recommended a couple of people to the site and they give you free snipes for that.


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4013 days

#5 posted 02-27-2008 05:28 PM

I have beed using “Auction Sentry” for a few years now. Never missed putting in a bid.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4077 days

#6 posted 02-27-2008 05:44 PM

WOW I must admit that I have never heard of this stuff before, thanks

-- Hope Never fails

View Scott Hildenbrand's profile

Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 02-27-2008 06:20 PM

I’ve never used a service in my life. My method of sniping is to use FireFox with two tabs open. The second tab I pull up the bid screen with my max bid (10% over what I’d like to pay). The first tab remains on on the auction itself where I use eBays refresh button to monitor the time.

Once the time reaches 10 seconds I start counting down in my head as I goto the second bid button. I reach 3, I click the confirm bid button.. I rarely loose. But there are typically bids before mine, even at that little time left. Key there is actually bidding at what it’s worth to me and not the “Good deal!” range.

It’s only worth while to do all that if you actually have time to sit in front of the comp to monitor your auctions. If not, you’re limited to a service such as above.

I really don’t do much eBaying anymore. It’s alot of hassle at times.. Then again, most things good are.. Take Freecycle for example.. It’s a bunch of garbage until you get to that 1 post a month which has something you’d like to claim. Then you email them only to find someone else has already contacted them..

The Internet’s such an absurd place anymore.

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4113 days

#8 posted 02-27-2008 06:20 PM

I use bidnapper extensively… Just bought a FL60 freightliner truck with it actually… You can easily do bid groups… the subscription also has some bonuses… one is called snapper. You put a little link on your tool bar and just hit it and it automatically pulls up a little screen all you have to do is put the price in that you are willing to pay. It also has some research tools one that allows you to look at a persons bidding history through their ebay id. It is cool… I have tried a few others and like this the best of the ones I have tried. I pay a yearly subscription but use it almost weekly.

Drew in Utah

-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View bryce's profile


9 posts in 3908 days

#9 posted 03-07-2008 05:37 AM

Check out

It is completely free and opensource and works great!

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