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Introduction to eBay for Buyers
What is eBay?
eBay is the world's largest marketplace. eBay doesn't actually sell items - people or companies with products (sellers) post their items on eBay, buyers place bids on the items and the highest bid before the end of the auction wins the item. Buyers do not have to pay eBay anything! All eBay fees are paid by the seller.
I want to buy something on eBay. How do I start?
The best place to start, and surprisingly where most new users skip, is to read eBay's New to eBay guide. Seriously, it is a great introduction and after reading it you can avoid many of the common pitfalls. You should familiarize yourself with the rules of Proxy Bidding, Bid Increments, and placing your bids directly. We recommend bidding on a few small items first, to help you get familiar with the process of bidding and paying.

Does eBay only have auctions?
In addition to eBay's normal proxy bidding auctions, eBay also provides:
  • Fixed Price - The fixed price auctions include Buy It Now auctions, where if you want the item, you don't have to wait to place your bid. You can buy the item right away by clicking the Buy It Now button.
  • Dutch Auctions - Although these are similar to normal eBay auctions, they have different rules and do NOT use eBay's proxy bidding system. Dutch auctions are when there is more than one item in a single listing.
  • eBay Express - eBay Express is more like a standard shopping site.
  • eBay Stores - eBay Stores are seller's stores. They are similar to e-commerce stores on the rest of the Internet.
  • eBay Live - eBay Live holds real-time auctions that are very similar to auctions held by an auctioneer.
What is Proxy Bidding?
eBay's auctions use a unique form of bidding, especially suited for online auctions, called Proxy Bidding. eBay's help site on proxy bidding ( describes exactly what it is, but I'll summarize here. You can place your maximum bid at any time before the end of the auction. eBay will only increase the price of the auction by enough to win up until your maximum bid is reached.

The most important thing about eBay's proxy bidding is that it uses something called Bid Increments.
All new bids must be at least one bid increment higher than the current price.
This may seem like a simple concept, but it's very important. It means that you can't bid very small amounts over the current price of the item (say, bidding 10.05 on a item currently at 10.00). Another important affect of bid increments is that the current price of an item is almost always (but not always) one bid increment above the second highest bidder's maximum bid.

So, what is the case when a current (or final) price is less than an increment? It's related to proxy bidding. If bidder 1 bids a maximum of 20.45, but the current price is only 10.00, bidder 2 can submit a bid for 20.50 (they don't know about bidder 1's bid of 20.50). In that case, their bid is above the current price plus the bid increment, so they can place their bid. Proxy bidding will increase the current price to 20.50 with bidder 2 as the high bidder. This can also lead to ties in bidding - where the earlier bid takes priority.

How do I get an eBay Account?
Getting your own eBay account is simple, fast, and best of all, free. eBay makes it even easier if you're only going to buy things on eBay - there's a few more details they require if you're thinking of selling items through eBay.

First, read eBay's Registration Process Steps. It points you to all the required steps, and guides you through the simple process. It does require email verification, so making up a fake email will not work. Getting the information correct is very important.

Why should I use the auction sniper BidNip?
  • BidNip was recently voted the fastest and most powerful online auction sniping service.
  • Get 5 free snipes to try BidNip with no cost or obligation.
  • Save money by avoiding bidding wars and competitive bidding.
  • Cancel or change your bids at any time before the auction ends.
  • We monitor your auctions 24x7x365 (so you don't need to).
  • Simple and easy to use.
  • No need for special downloads or software.
  • Support for all operating systems and service providers (AOL, MSN, DSL, Cable, etc.)
  • Adjustable snipe delay anywhere from 1 to 30 seconds.
  • View your previous snipe history.
  • Get immediate snipe results via email.
  • Award-winning technical support.
  • Redundant servers and connections.
  • Get free snipes for referring your friends.
  • Our unmatched guarantee: If you don't win, you don't pay!

No more questions? Then sign up for BidNip today to get your 5 free snipes.

If you have a question about BidNip that isn't answered here, please contact us.