Hmmmm, I still work on perfectioning my tactics myself and apart from illegal programs that allegedly snipe the auction for you in the last seconds, I guess there's no fool-proof method.
I do the "wait for the last 20 seconds" thing, too. But then I enter the maximum that I am willing to pay. That way I'm only outbid by someone who's willing to pay more.
Other things I do
- giving a low starting bid, just a few bucks, let's say 11, and if someone else outbids me with their first bid I almost always can be sure they entered their maximum. Else, you sometimes can see the steps they use to raise their bid until they did overbid you and estimate the amount they've entered last, let's say 15. If you ignore the item until the last day, chances are they won't raise their bid, because they are on top and believe you are gone. That's when you can snipe the auction for cheap.
- as long as I have not bid on an item I'll only bookmark it, make a note about the ending time and rarely ever call it up again until that. Because sellers can see how many users are watching the auction when you use the "watch it in my ebay" function (If I had several people watching my auction and not make a starting bid, I'd ask a friend to make the first bid so they feel inclined to start bidding, too!). The counter on each page is another indicator that tells of how many people are interested in a particular auction.
- I'll also make the starting bid on an item I really, really want to have, so the seller won't withdraw it. They can do that until 12 hours before the auction ends without having to explain why, even if there's a bid, but I trust the psychology that it'd feel "unfair" to do that if there's someone who's interested.
There, now you know all I know. Not much really, eh? *LOL*
Lucy, great post.
I think you are bidding too EARLY. I used to do that, now, like Novemberchild said, my first bid is in the last 3 seconds with the TOP amount I will pay. I NEVER bid earlier than that - bidding draws attention to an item - especially lava lamps. If you think it is worth buying, other people will notice and follow it too. Sniping can be fun - but boy is it ANNOYING when you forget to bid.