eSnipe is a service that a friend of mine at Yahoo told me about. He loved it, so I tried it. The way it works is you give them your Ebay login, and an auction you'd like them to bid on for you a few seconds before the end of the auction. They put through the bid and mostly, with them I've won, until yesterday.
I've gone from a happy user on the first few transactions to an unhappy user. Not a great trend on their part. I think Ebay may be causing trouble for Esnipe (via anticompetitive behavior), but the reality is, I can't have Esnipe causing problems. I can't trust them to bid for me. Details below on the situation.
First, eSnipe lets you make three successful Ebay bids for free. Then, without really explicitly telling you, you can do three more, but Esnipe charges you 1% of the auction, on credit. Example, if something cost $100 on Ebay, they charge you $1.00 for 100 points in their system. It was a surprise when they stopped me from making a 7th purchase because they wanted money for "points" which I didn't understand at all, and they didn't do much to make clear what points were. The surprise was mostly due to the lack of notice on previous transactions, which I think they should have given. And then at the time of the 7th bid, when I needed to make the bid and run off to a meeting in a hurry, they wanted money. So I paid through PayPal, $10, and then they said they needed 7 days to put through the transaction, even though I know that PayPal notifies them immediately of the payment from me and I can't take the payment back.
UGG. That was so uncool. So I made another Esnipe account, and made the bid, and went on my way. But not without significant frustration and lack on information. They weren't helpful and the interface doesn't give you a lot of information about what's going on.
But the latest disaster happened yesterday. Far worse than the stupid payment fiasco. I put through a bid, and eSnipe confirmed on the page and in email that all was well. Then, for something I've tracked for 10 days on Ebay, I sat and watched as the item went for 30% of my top bid with Esnipe, to SOMEONE ELSE. Esnipe didn't put through the bid effectively.
I went to my account at eSnipe, which said "eBay weekly bidding limit" under status. WHA? Are you kidding?
I've had this Ebay account for years, and the Paypal account associated with it. I'm not a big fan of Paypal, in fact I think some of their procedures and behaviors are pretty ridiculous, but I do have a solid track record with both companies and a good history over several years.
So I ask eSnipe, what happened? I'm pretty annoyed that they've done this, and now made me lose the auction.
They respond with the following message:
eBay rejected this bid because you have "exceeded your weekly spending limits". This is a new security measure that eBay has added to their site. You can read the details on this by going to these eBay pages:
They will sometimes give this result if you are spending more than normal or your account has been inactive for a while and suddenly you are spending a lot, or have a fairly new account. Had you placed this bid directly, eBay would have prompted you to some verification process, but since Rovatron (eSnipe's system name.. like users even know what this is? I had to go read their FAQ to figure that one out...) can not answer questions for you, the bid was just rejected.
Um. Not true. I'm well within my normal Ebay use (about 10 a month, and this month so far, I've done 2 auctions, both of which I won and paid for on the spot). This is, according to the Ebay info, something that was instituted to keep new Ebay bidders in line, if they don't pay.
In the meantime, I use the Ebay interface to bid on another item a half our after the eSnipe bid fiasco, on something from the same seller. Which BTW is a seller I've purchase 5 things from over the past few months. Perfect transactions. And the bid was not at all rejected, and Ebay didn't ask for any verification.
So eSnipe writes back again:
eBay is the one who gave you this result of bidding limit and not eSnipe. I cannot explain to you why eBay is allowing bids to go in through their site directly and putting up the bidding limit notice on others. I can tell you that we are getting this notice which is why we are reporting it back to you.
Until you do the extra registration through eBay, your bids may continue to be rejected.
I reply: no way. I went to the link, which said these sorts of limits are put on new users (I'm in since 1998 as a regular customer of both EBay and Paypal), on users with unusually high bid rates out of sync with normal bid rates (I'm absolutely within my normal ranges), on users with low feedback scores (mine is quite high, with high recommendations), on users who need to submit a credit card to Paypal (PP has had credit card and checking info for me, consistently and unchanged -- other than expiration updates -- since 1998).
So what gives? I think Ebay is blocking randomly eSnipe transactions though I have no proof. And I think Esnipe probably knows or suspects this, but is taking bids anyway, with no notice to their users that they may fail, and causing their users to lose items (had they put through my bid on the items I tried for yesterday, there would have been no issue, I would have won well within my maximum bid, and won the auction. Damn!)
It may be anticompetitive, Ebay's actions, or something else. But the upshot is, I can't trust eSnipe anymore. I can't use them. Bummer, because the concept is great, and when it works it's great. But they don't have the interface, the documentation, the support emails or the bidding together. It's not just the bidding issue though that is significant. They can't tell me about their other issues and help me through them well at all. eSnipe has become high stress and unhelpful. And that's just not cool.
Update: a couple of people have suggested that I should share what I was buying: I had wanted a painting, and that's not something you can replace with something else, exactly. It happened to go for only 33 Euros, which is very reasonable, and so, you know, I was disappointed after getting my hopes up.