So it happened yet again: I tried to be too clever with some manual sniping in an eBay auction, and ended up losing … the item in question (a DVD-based Satnav system for my car) sold for a good €60 less than I was willing to pay.
My mistake? I waited until about 50 seconds before the end before placing my winning bid. Unfortunately, eBay had timed out my account, so wanted me to login again. Very unfortunately, eBay’s login server (though not its main server, apparently) was running very slowly. It took 12 seconds to display the login page, another 12 seconds to process my login, another 12 seconds to accept my bid, 12 more seconds to accept my confirmation … just in time to tell me that the auction had ended and my bid was invalid 🙁
Why didn’t I just bid earlier? From experience, there are always a few people waiting in the shadows to place a last minute bid and pip the highest bidder, and I didn’t want to drive the price up unnecessarily. In this case, the last minute bidding went from €210 to €250, and I was willing to go to €312.
So, new strategy to avoid this extremely irritating log-in process: two minutes before the auction ends, place a minimum bid for the item in question. Also line up my maximum bid, ready to press submit. 30 seconds before the auction ends, hit Submit. I’ll still get caught by eBay’s annoying habit of letting users bid against themselves (what’s going on there?), but for an eagerly contested item, it’s worth paying an extra pound or two safety.