Is sniping wrong?

Poster
Message
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,661
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Is sniping wrong?
14 May 2007
I wrote the following three or four years ago for the Sniping FAQ

Andy wrote:

Both buyers and sellers have good reason not to like sniping. Buyers get irritated by losing auctions to snipers, often because they assume the "unfair" use of a sniping program or service, which is not necessarily true. Sellers do not like sniping because their products sell at a lower price than they expected. For buyers, this is avoidable by using the proxy bid system and entering the highest price they are willing to pay. Sellers could "beat" sniping by setting a reserve price but this tends to put buyers off from bidding at all. Even if sniping is not morally wrong, it can certainly be antisocial.
Have views on sniping changed over the years? Is it accepted as a normal practice now?
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
Please follow on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+
Supplier
Canada Canada
Mario Vodopivec
Kudos: 73
Joined: Sep 3, 2006
Re: Is sniping wrong?
14 May 2007
I completely disagree with the statement above. It is wrong to make sniping a moral issue and look at the auction behaviour as "social" or "antisocial". The whole motivation behind auctions is proper market pricing, and buying / selling something at a rational price. Many business and government contracts are awarded following a closed-bid auction process, which is the equivalent of auctions in which everybody snipes.

As for your conclusions, it cannot possibly be the case that both buyers and sellers lose because of sniping. Buyers who get angry should have placed their maximum bid right away, so if they get angry, this is only because they were not rational to begin with, and they should be angry at themselves, not snipers. Sellers have absolutely no reason to get angry - for them it doesn't matter at all at which moment the bid was placed, except if they counted on irrational bidder's behaviour (bidding war), which is then not in buyers' best interest.

So sniping does not damage the community at all, it only alters rules somewhat towards more rational behaviour, which is what auctions are all about.

Mario.
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,661
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Re: Is sniping wrong?
19 May 2007
Hi Mario,

My argument about sniping being antisocial is based on buyers' and sellers' reactions to it. Auctions are an emotional experience for both parties and they get upset when someone appears to be bending the rules.

True, if everyone simply placed their maximum proxy bid at the outset then sniping would become redundant. But people don't think that way - they bid low at the start as they try to get a bargain then often end up bidding higher than they intended when they receive the disappointment of being outbid and feel compelled to fight back.

Of course, sellers like this bidding war because it pushes prices up. It's what makes eBay - or any auction with plenty of buyers - a great place to sell.

So in a perfect, rational, world your points are completely right. But the world isn't perfect and people aren't rational. Many buyers snipe (myself included) but they should know that sellers and other bidders sometimes take exception to it - that is why it can be antisocial.
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
Please follow on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+
Supplier
howard@auctionsplash.com United Kingdom
AuctionSplash Ltd
Kudos: 55
Joined: Oct 21, 2006
Re: Is sniping wrong?
23 May 2007
I agree that sniping is anti-social. The reason for this is that it puts off new sellers when all the bids come in the last few seconds of an auction. My dad sells antique prints and does so at normal real life auctions. He was amazed at eBay where you item gathers very few bidders (if any) and then sells within the last 5 minutes due to late bidders/snipers. The whole eBay experience is more pleasant for a seller if they have bids coming in over the whole period of the auction.
The whole benefit for buyers in sniping is that they get the item for a lower price so this must mean that the negative for sellers is that they get a lower price.

Regards,

Trevor
www.auctionsplash.com
(we do not offer sniping)
United States
nochkin
Kudos: 632
Joined: Jul 12, 2007
Re: Is sniping wrong?
13 Jul 2007
I personally think that sniping is good from buyers and sellers side.

Buyer's side advantage (when you snipe) is obvious so I'm not going to go deep for it.

But seller get a big advantage because his/her item will not go for high price until the last minutes and that will attract more bidders (most buyers look for auction which are ending soon and has low price). More bidders means higher price at the end (not everyone is sniping anyway).

My opinion is based on what I sell on eBay and my real experience -- I always get a fair market value for every of my item no matter of it was sniped or not.
I'll add even more, snipers put market value for their snipe most of the time, because they know how proxy bidding works. You have to have at least two snipers to sell your item at market value.

So my personal opinion that each side will benefit from sniping once you understand the whole sniping idea and philosophy

[Last edited: 13 Jul 2007]
United Kingdom United Kingdom
bsquared
Kudos: 120
Joined: Apr 21, 2004
Re: Is sniping wrong?
19 Aug 2007

AuctionSplash Ltd wrote:

I agree that sniping is anti-social. The reason for this is that it puts off new sellers when all the bids come in the last few seconds of an auction. My dad sells antique prints and does so at normal real life auctions. He was amazed at eBay where you item gathers very few bidders (if any) and then sells within the last 5 minutes due to late bidders/snipers. The whole eBay experience is more pleasant for a seller if they have bids coming in over the whole period of the auction.
The whole benefit for buyers in sniping is that they get the item for a lower price so this must mean that the negative for sellers is that they get a lower price.

Regards,

Trevor
www.auctionsplash.com
(we do not offer sniping)
You might have missed the point of eBay then. A seller is trying to get maximum value for the item, the buyer is trying to get maximum value for his money.

As a seller you have a hit counters and various other tools at your disposal to see whether your item is generating interest. This is the whole point of the first 6 days of a 7 day auction (IMO), rather like the cataloging of items by a sale room. Then as the auction reaches it's close the serious bidders come in and this is then akin to the a real auction in a sale room, after all an auctioneer doesn't tout for more bids for hours or days - he sells it quickly. If you aren't getting market value for your items, then you need to look at your starting bid.

Don't blame the snipers, quite often a sniper will come in with a relaistic bid and, whilst not winning the item, they will keep the other bidders 'honest' often pushing the price up a long way in the last few seconds. Therefore sniping should be seen as an integral and necessary part of the online auction process.

Bob (an unashamed sniper and Powerseller)
United States United States
jewelry4me
Kudos: 196
Joined: Sep 7, 2007
Re: Is sniping wrong?
7 Sep 2007
Hello,

For a great discussion (well, newsletter actually) on the ethics of sniping, you should check out this article:

BidSlammer sniping service newsletters

Click on "Is Sniping Ethical?" I thought it was pretty well written. They go over the pro's and con's.

Given that the article was written by a sniping site, the article is a little biased toward the pro's, but then again, in my humble opinion, sniping is mostly pro's anyway. They said: "Being a sniping service, naturally we are biased toward the positive, but we hope we have done a good job of explaining all the issues."

The cons are "it hurts sales" which is debatable. I personally would not even buy on eBay without sniping, so it's a paradox. "Poor sportsmanship" is another. Well, that's fair. ;-)

One problem I was having is that people looked at jewelry I bid on and then went to oher auctions I bid on and stole it away from me! Sniping took care of that. I can keep my interest in the auction totally secret.

If you guys disagree please don't rake me over the coals, I just though you might like the article. I hope Ebay never bans sniping.

[Last edited: 7 Sep 2007]

Volo
Selro
StoreFeeder
World First