So I just used a snipe service for the first time this evening. I’d been watching this item for days:
The packaging on this looks very much like the Stunning Vintage Bottle I mentioned in my No. 5 post. I emailed the seller to ask if the scent was fresh, and she replied back that it “smells full and fresh. There’s nothing like perfume!” Well, Amen.
Earlier today I decided how much this bottle might be worth to me, and set up my first-ever snipe bid. I’ve gotten tired of losing out on really great deals right at the last minute, even though most of the time it isn’t something I desperately want. This one, though, I really wanted. If I can’t beat ’em, I said to myself, I’ll join ’em.
The way a snipe-bot works, I found out today, is that the service places your max bid at whatever time you set (typically 5-7 seconds before the auction ends). Of course, eBay’s general rules apply, and if you place your snipe bid at, say, $41.54 and 6 seconds before end of auction, and the closest bid is, say, $36 at 4 seconds before end of auction…
You win. (Yessssss!) You pay $37.
I ran across one of those Yahoo! Answers issues where an eBay seller was complaining about snipers – he liked to “watch the buyers get into a bidding war” and “watch the bids go higher and higher all week.” In the comments, other sellers complained that the final selling price stays too low, when sniping is allowed.
Butbutbut, I’m thinking, I put in the highest amount I’d be willing to pay. I wouldn’t have bid above that anyway, even if I’d put that bid in five days ago. I stay out of bidding wars – could I ever want something that much? – and it’s fairly nerve-wracking, watching your little “I want this” bid risking its life against “I REALLY WANT THIS” bids, but that’s the Nature of EBay. It just is, that’s why.
Are snipe services ethical? It’s my opinion that they are, given that they operate within the parameters of the eBay system. It’s okay to, um, “work” the rules, as long as you’re sticking by them, I say. Football players do it all the time. So do tennis players and runners and swimmers and volleyball players, and everybody else.
So do lawyers. (Lawyer joke told to me by one of the ushers at our wedding, who happens to be both an attorney and an amateur magician – no, seriously, Bobby is a terrific guy and a good friend: “What’s the difference between a catfish and a lawyer? One is an ugly, scum-sucking bottom feeder, and the other is a type of fish.”)
In your opinion, are auction snipers ugly, scum-sucking bottom feeders?
Image of perfume bottle from ebay seller rhinestonegreyhounds. Image of catfish from wikipedia.