Glossary of Abbreviations and Bidding Tips for Auctions
The following is a list of abbreviations that are commonly used on auctions and their meanings. We've added a few of our own, and this list will expand as we come across new ones. If you use or see any that are not here, please e-mail us this them so they may be added to the list. We've also added a section for bidder types and their definitions, plus some thoughs on the various ways of bidding.
Condition of item:
BSN -- Brand Spanking New
M -- Mint
OTS -- Off The Shelf
NM -- Near Mint
VG -- Very Good
VF -- Very Fine
F -- Fine
U -- Used
SB -- Sealed Box
NVO -- Never Opened
RSB -- Re-Sealed Box
Status of item:
VR -- Very Rare
HTF -- Hard To Find
OOP -- Out Of Print
NR -- No Reserve
A "reserve" is a price that must be met by a bidder before the item can be sold. It is usually higher than the starting bid price, and not revealed to bidders.
BID INCREMENT/MINIMUM BID: An amount determined by the auction server that is needed for someone to place a bid on an item. Example: an item has an initial bid amount of $5.00 as determined by the auction seller. This will be the minimum amount a buyer will need to input in order to place a valid bid on the item. The server will then make the next minimum bid amount $5.25 (a bid increment of 25 cents). So, the next person who bids on the item will need to enter at least $5.25 in order to place a valid bid on the item, and the third person who bids will need to bid at least $5.50, if everyone is only bidding the absolute minimum allowed by the server, the bid increment determines how much of a proxy bid is necessary to keep someone a high bidder. Generally speaking, the bid increments increase as the dollar value of the item increases. The bid increments are always displayed on the auction listing either as the increment itself, or as the minimum bid amount allowed by the server.
Example: The current high bid for an auction is $5.75. In order to bid on the item, you have to enter an amount of at least $6.00 if the auction has a 25 cent bid increment. You can enter any amount above that, and the auction server will automatically determine how much of that amount is necessary to make you the high bidder, and that will become the current bid amount. If you entered a bid of $6.95, and the other person's max amount was the $5.75, then you would be the current high bidder with a $6.00 amount showing. The next person to bid would need to enter at least $6.25 in order to bid, but in order to beat you out as high bidder, they would need to enter at least a $6.96 bid. If that person only entered the minimum amount necessary to bid ($6.25) the auction server would keep you as the high bidder with $6.50 showing. The next person to bid, would then need to enter a minimum bid of $6.75, but if they entered no more than that, you would still remain the high bidder with your max of $6.95 showing. If they entered $6.94, you would remain the high bidder with $6.95. Even with the bid increment at 25 cents, since your initial bid was still higher, regardless of how much higher, the server keeps you as high bidder and the next mimimum bid placed would have to be $7.20. Anyone else placing a bid now would then be the high bidder since any amount they enter is higher than your maximum amount. You would then have to enter a new bid amount to try to become the high bidder once again.
Types of Bids/Bidders:
There are two main types of bids you can generally place on-line, used primarily for timed auctions which will end on a specified date and time. A live auction is the traditional kind which has no specified end time, and will only end after no more bids are placed (the going, going, gone method).
PROXY BID: This is the type of bid you can place on an active auction at any time during its run. A proxy bid is placed by bidding a fixed amount for the item you are interested in. The auction server will then determine how much of that amount is needed in order for you to be the high bidder for the auction, using all other bidder's proxy amounts and the bid increment. The server will then raise the amount of the bid (up to, but not exceding your initial amount) as needed for you to remain the high bidder. The total amount of a proxy bid is known only to the person who places it - the seller and other bidders have no way of knowing what your maximum bid amount it unless an amount that is higher is placed. A proxy bid has the advantage of not requiring you to be on-line at the time the auction ends.
Example 1: There is an auction running that has no bids, and ends in three days. The initial bid amount required is $1.00. You need to estimate how much you are willing to pay for the item, and put in a bid of $25.00 (this is your proxy bid). The auction server determines that only $1.00 of your bid is necessary to be the high bidder of the auction (since you are currently the only bidder on the item). So, if the auction receives no more bids, at the end of the three days, you will be the winner of the auction with a $1.00 final bid price. (Even though you bid $25.00, the remaining amount is unused since you only needed $1.00 to win the auction).
Example 2: In that same auction, someone else comes along and decides to bid on the item. They put in an amount of $10.00, hoping it is enough to beat your proxy bid. Since your maximum proxy bid is higher than theirs, the server adds more of your bid amount to the auction to keep you the high bidder at $11.00 (since the bid increment for the auction is $1.00 per bid). That other person now has to decide whether to bid again in hopes of eventually beating your proxy bid, or move on to another auction. This time, they decide not to bid and the auction ends with you needing to pay only $11.00 as the final bid price.
Example 3: When you see that auction, it already has two bids placed on it, and the current high bid is $13.00. You decide to place a bid on the auction and enter an amount of $25.00. The server then determines if that is enough to beat the current high bidder's maximum bid. As it turns out, the other person put in a max of $23.98, so you are now the current high bidder with a bid amount of $24.98. However, should anyone else place a bid on the item, you will no longer be the high bidder and will have to place another bid if you want to win the item. Now, if that other person had input a bid amount of $26.98, they would still remain the high bidder (with $26.00 showing), since their maximum bid amount was higher than the one you just entered, and the bid increment is $1.00. You would then have to determine if you are willing to bid more for the item or if $25.00 was the max you felt the item is worth to you.
SNIPE BID: A Snipe is the type of bid that is placed during the final seconds of an auction. Similar to a proxy bid, the snipe bid has the advantage (if well timed) of not allowing anyone the chance to place a bid after it. People who use this bid method are referred to as Snipers, and often use a special software program that will place the bid for them, so they need not be on-line at the time the auction ends. The Snipe also allows you to avoid the dreaded "Nibbler" who is discussed below.
Example: You see an auction you plan to bid on, but already has several bids placed. Since it appears to be a popular item, you decide to wait until the auction is nearly over before bidding, in the hopes that no one will be able to outbid the maximum you want to pay for the item. On the final day of the auction, you go on-line (preferring to place your bid manually instead of using a bidding program), and see the current high bid is at $14.95. You wait until 10 seconds are left before the end of the auction to place your bid. You put in a maximum proxy bid of $38.00. As it turns out the first person who bid on the auction had placed a $100.00 proxy bid, so they end up remaining as the high bidder and win the item with a final bid amount of $39.00. If you had put in a bid amount of $100.01, you would have won the auction with a final bid amount of $100.01, which shows the disadvantage of Sniping - you usually only have one shot at winning the item, so need to decide how desirable the item is to you prior to bidding and hope no one else, including other snipers who are bidding at the same time you are, want it even more and thus enter a higher bid than yours.
NIBBLER: The nibbler is someone who only bids the minimum amount necessary to place a valid bid, and does so several times in a row until they become high bidder, or the current bid amount is more than they are willing to pay for the item. People new to on-line auction bidding generally use this method because they do not understand proxy bidding and think that whatever amount they enter will be the amount they will have to pay for the item. There is no advantage to Nibbling as anyone who places a proper proxy bid or a snipe will end up beating a nibbler's bid 99.99% of the time. This is why Sniping has become so popular - by placing your bid at the very last moment, nibblers cannot run up your bid amount, and if you see an auction has a nibbler as the high bidder, you can be fairly certain that their max bid amount is not more than a few dollars higher than the current required minimum bid, so don't have to break the bank in order to beat them.
LOWBALLER: This is the worst kind of bidder - especially for sellers. They are the ones looking for the super-bargain (which no longer exisits in today's on-line auction environment). Lowballers only bid one or two times (though nibblers can be considered a varient of lowballer), and will bid only the lowest amount necessary to become the high bidder in an auction. When they lose, especially to a Sniper, they whine and complain on message board forums about the unfairness of life. A lowballer will never win an auction unless they are the sole bidder for the item.
Conclusion: If you want to become a successful bidder and win the items you bid on, a combination of proxy bidding and snipe bidding are the way to go. By using both these methods as necessary, you are guaranteed to win at least 80-90% of the items you bid on. Remember, the one sure way of maxing out this percentage and never being disappointed in losing or overpaying when winning is to be honest about the true value of the item you are bidding on. Price comparing with similar items is a must, and you need to ALWAYS bid the MAXIMUM amount you are comfortable paying for the item (don't forget to include the shipping and handling charges with that figure). 9 times out of 10, you will never have to pay that maximum amount you have bid, and that is the true bargain of on-line auctions.