Problems that sniping creates

So, how big are the risks?

When you assess the risks of sniping, it's helpful to distinguish risks inherent in sniping from risks associated with the process of sniping.

Risks inherent in sniping

The main risks inherent in sniping are that eBay will suffer an outage at the time& an auction closes, that another bidder will exercise the Buy It Now option, and that the seller will close an auction prematurely. There's nothing that eSnipe or anything else can do to control these risks. You have to balance them against the risks of not sniping: that you'll draw the attention of other bidders to the item you want, or start a bidding war.

Outages are an unpredictable problem, but not a common one. After some early growing pains, eBay's service has become very reliable.

You can tell whether an item has the Buy It Now option from the listing. If so, you can deal with it as suggested on the pages that explain how an auction may end unexpectedly because the seller canceled it or a bidder exercised the Buy It Now option.

Risks associated with the process of sniping

These risks consist mainly of slowdowns or failures in your computer or your connection, your ISP, the Internet itself, and eBay. As this section explained, eSnipe reduces these risks to a very low level.

Three or four times a year, it seems, multiple problems converge on eSnipe simultaneously and cause large numbers of bids to be missed.

For example, in the summer of 2001 the Code Red virus affected two of eSnipe's three ISPs eSnipe was using at the time, and hundreds of bids were missed due to the ISP servers' sluggish performance. For another example, a power failure at one of eSnipe's facilities once triggered a cascade of problems that caused almost 3,000 bids to be missed.

About three or four times a day, out of perhaps 10,000 bids that eSnipe submits, bids are lost for reasons we cannot determine with pinpoint accuracy. Our best guess is that it is due to general network congestion at either eSnipe's end or eBay's. (We're not trying to blame eBay; it's just how the Internet works.)

In total, missed bids represent a small fraction of 1% of the millions of bids eSnipe places each year.

We believe that the risks you run by using eSnipe are far smaller than the risks you would run by bidding early, or by trying to snipe auctions yourself.

We hope that by now you're eager to give eSnipe a try. The next page will get you started—at no cost, since every new eSnipe user gets a free trial.