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What’s Proxy Bidding?

How to use this powerful bidding tool

Proxy bids are a standard part of the eBay bidding system. If you've bid on eBay before you may have used it without even realizing it.

Think of proxy bidding as a service. It monitors an individual auction for you and automatically places bids on your behalf so you don't have to stay glued to the computer. Basically you bid the maximum amount you're willing to pay for the car and eBay will automatically raise your bid as needed to beat out other bidders. Here's an example:

Proxy Bidding Example

Say you've finally found that classic Corvette for sale you've been searching for. You've already researched the seller and you've decided this is the car you want. The auction has 5 days left and the price is up to $14,000. You decide the most you're willing to pay (if it gets that high) is $19,000. So you bid $19,000. But that doesn't mean the auction automatically jumps up to $19,000 as the current high bid. Instead proxy bidding raises your bid only the amount needed to beat out other current bidders. So if the price was $14,000 before you bid, then eBay bids the next increment up, so $14,100.

If someone the next day bids $14,200 on that same Corvette then proxy bidding takes action and raises your bid just enough to beat theirs. So you would immediately become the new high bidder at $14,300. If no one else bids before the auction ends you would be the winner at $14,300, even though the maximum bid you entered was $19,000.  Your bid would only get up to $19,000 if another bidder bids that high. So in our example you've won the auction without having to constantly check eBay every few hours. You simply entered your max bid and proxy bidding did the rest. Proxy bidding is especially helpful if you've going to be out of town when the auction ends or if it ends in the middle of the night and you don't want to sit in front of your computer in your PJ's at 3:00 AM.

Auctions with a Reserve
If the auction has a reserve (and many Corvettes will) the proxy bidding system has one little wrinkle you need to know about. If your maximum bid is higher than the reserve, you'll immediately become the new high bidder at the reserve price. Even if no other bidders have bid that high. This only happens with reserve auctions. So Keep in mind that reserve auctions are listed as such, but the reserve amount isn't disclosed. So you're somewhat bidding in the dark until you (or some other bidders) hits that reserve number.

Also, with proxy bidding don't be surprised to see your bid jump large amounts all at once. This can happen if other bidders are also using proxy bidding. So, continuing with our earlier example, if you're high bidder on that classic Corvette at $14,300 and another bidder enters a proxy bid of $16,500, then your bid will jump automatically to outbid them. Just be aware that your bid could creep up by $100 increments or thousands of dollars at a time. It just depends on how your fellow bidders are playing the game.

Combat Sniping

In addition to convenience, one of the advantages to proxy bidding is that it helps protect you against snipers or sniping. This is where someone swoops in at the very last minute of an auction and tries to win by giving other bidders no time left to increase their own bids. But if you used proxy bidding (and the high bid is still under your max amount) then snipers will immediately get outbid by you, and you don't even need to be there to see the poor sniper lose out.

Proxy bidding makes your life simpler, but certainly doesn't guarantee that you'll win the auction. If someone bids more then the maximum price you entered then they'll be the new high bidder. eBay will instantly send you an email notification letting you know and you'll have to decide if you want to raise your max bid or let that particular Corvette go.

People are sometimes hesitant to use proxy bidding because they feel like they're tipping their hand. But be assured that no one sees your maximum bid. Not the seller nor the other bidders. The eBay computer knows it and that's all.

And remember, there's no special process to using proxy bidding. So don't stress out looking for the "proxy" button. It doesn't exist. You simply bid the maximum amount you want to spend and and proxy bid system automatically takes it from there.

Happy bidding and good luck on your Corvette search!