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This chapter is from the book

What to Do After You’ve Bid

Let’s forget about all those special types of auctions and fixed-priced items for a minute, and get back to the normal auction process. Let’s assume that you’ve found an item you want and you’ve placed a bid. What happens next?

The answer to this question is a four-letter word: wait. And, as Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

That’s certainly true with online auctions.

Immediately after you place a high bid, eBay automatically sends you an email notifying you of your bid status. You’ll also receive an email once a day from eBay, notifying you of your status in any and all auctions in which you’re the highest bidder. In addition, if you get outbid on an item, eBay sends you an immediate email informing you of such.

Otherwise, feel free to check in on all of your auctions in progress, just to see how things are proceeding. Remember that a watched kettle never boils—and constantly tracking your auctions doesn’t make the time go any faster, either.

Keeping Track of Your Bids

The easiest way to keep track of your bids is with the All Buying view on your My eBay page. Just click the My eBay link in the eBay Navigation Bar to view all the items on which you’re currently bidding. (Learn more about My eBay in Chapter 25, "Creating a Home Base with My eBay.")

Increasing Your Bid Amount

As you get further along in a particular auction, you might suddenly realize that your maximum bid isn’t going to hold, and you want to ensure a large enough bid to win a long, hard-fought auction. How can you increase your bid—even though you’re currently the high bidder?

It’s really easy. Just return to the item listing page and place a new bid, making sure that your new maximum bid is higher than your old maximum bid. (You can’t decrease your maximum bid!) When you enter this new bid, it replaces your previous bid.

Pretty easy, isn’t it?

Oh, No! You’ve Been Outbid!

It happens. Your auction is progressing, and then you get that dreaded email from eBay informing you that you’ve been outbid.

What do you do?

First, you have to decide whether you want to continue to play in this auction. If you decided up front that an item was only worth, let’s say, $10, and the bidding has progressed to $15, you might want to let this one go.

On the other hand, if you hedged your bets with the earlier bid, you might want to jump back into the fray with a new bid. If so, return to the item’s listing page and make a new bid. Maybe your new bid will be higher than the current high bidder’s maximum bid.

Or maybe not. You don’t know until you try!

Retracting a Bad Bid

Everybody makes mistakes. What happens if you place a bid in an auction that you shouldn’t have placed?

Fortunately—but reluctantly—eBay lets you retract bids under certain circumstances.

When does eBay allow you to retract your bid? Well, if the seller has substantially changed the description of the item after you bid, you’re free to change your mind, too. You can also retract your bid if you made a "clear error" in the amount of your bid. What’s a "clear error?" Well, bidding $100 when you meant to bid $10 is clearly an error; other circumstances are left up to your judgment.

The thing is, you can always retract a bid (because you can always claim a "clear error"), but you won’t win any friends doing so. In fact, if you retract too many bids, eBay will come after you and possibly kick you off the site. So retract a bid if you have to, but don’t make a habit of it.

How do you retract a bid? It’s actually fairly easy; just follow these steps:

  1. Click the Services link above the Navigation Bar.

  2. When the Services page appears, scroll down to the Bidding and Buying Services section and click the Retract Your Bid link.

  3. When the Bid Retractions page appears, enter the item number of the auction and then choose an explanation for your retraction from the pull-down list.

  4. Click the Retract Bid button; your bid is now deleted from the auction in process.

Bidding in the Final Moments

It’s during the last hour of most auctions that the bidding really heats up. If you wait for an email to inform you when you’ve been outbid during an auction’s final minutes, you might not have enough time to log on to eBay and make a new bid. For that reason, many bidders will log on to eBay (and on to the individual auction about to end) and manually monitor the auction’s closing minutes. Just remember to hit the Refresh or Reload button on your browser frequently, to keep the item listing page up-to-date with the latest bids!

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