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How to Win at eBay:
How to Pay Less Than You Bid
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Few people read eBay's fine print, so few people realize that the amount you enter as your maximum bid will probably not be what you pay, so long as you bid at the last second.

This is the least understood and potentially most valuable part of eBay, along with why you must never bid before the last moment.

eBay's semi-automated bid process automatically enters bids for you only as needed to be one small increment more than the next highest bidder. eBay never goes out of its way to point this out, because most user's ignorance makes them bid too early and to often. This increases the prices paid, and therefore eBay's profits.

Look carefully, and you'll see when you enter your bid amount, that it's called your "Maximum Bid Amount."

In other words, if you enter $500 and the next highest bidder only enters $66, you'll win and pay only $68!

If you were foolish enough to early-bid, the other bidder sees eBay's automatic placement of a $68 bid for you (eBay sends eMails and text messages and whatever it takes to let every other bidder know immediately), and he'll probably bid it back up to $70, exactly as eBay plans. Now eBay automatically enters $72 for you, and so on, until the other bidder busts.

When you bid at the last second you save yourself and everyone else from getting auction fever, getting emotional and paying too much.

By bidding at the last second, you win and pay only one increment over what the next highest bidder would have bid, and no more.

No matter how much you bid, you'll never pay much more than another bidder was willing to pay. I've bid stupid-high amounts, and only had to pay a tiny fraction of my maximum bid. No matter how stupid my bid, my winning price will only be one small increment above the second-highest bidder, who I hope is less crazy than me. (or is that "less crazy than I am?)

The increments vary with the amount, for instance, it might be 50¢ at the $10 level, or $20 if the item is bidding at thousands of dollars.

The only gotcha for sanity is if there is a reserve price. If there is, and no one else has bid that high, you'll get the item at the reserve so long as your maximum bid was at least as large.

The potential problem with bidding stupid-high here is that you won't pay just one notch above the next reasonable person; you'll pay whatever the seller wanted as his reserve.

Never place a maximum bid higher than you would want to pay, because if anyone else bids that high, you just might have to pay what you bid. This is why it's critical to determine exactly what the item is worth — to you, and bid exactly that. This is our next page.


Next: What's it Worth — to You?

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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