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Before the Pandemic, I had  never bought on eBay. I'm a" touch & see- in- person" gal, but this virus has changed that, so I tried eBay. I thought it would be easy; bid, be highest bidder, & pay. After 2 mon. & 8 purchases later I've learned a lot:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've done other on line-auctions, so I had a general idea on how to use one.  I put in one of those undisclosed high bids & for hrs. no one had pushed the bid even near what my high bid was. In the last 18 seconds I was out-bid & there was no  grace time added as  other on- line auction do. It was blunt & I was stunned. The next day, I had another marble bidding going on, & again, I put in my highest bid, this time high enough no one in their right mind would bid over it, but I was ready, with finger posed over the bid button just in case. I counted down the seconds, 8, 7,6,  by then I was sure the marble was mine....with 1 second to go I was outbid- not by 1 min., ONE SECOND! Beyond belief... !!                                                                                                                                   So I changed my game plan. I would only go for "buy it now" or marbles that sellers had in their "store". I  found 2 "buy it now" marbles, put them in my cart, &  I saw the seller had 2 other marbles being bid on  & closing the next day, so I bid on, & got them . I went to my cart to pay & only found  3 marbles from the seller noted there. I contacted the seller & was told that one marble I had put in my cart sold- so it seems just putting a marble in your cart does not secure it for you. I  bought the 3 other marbles, as they really were nice, but when they say "buy it now" it must mean NOW!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I realize I have just run into "Tricks of the trade" but I've put eBay on hold for now while I lick my wounds. If you folks who have become old hands at using eBay to buy marbles have any advice on how to be smarter bidding & getting new marbles,   I would certainly appreciate your advice,  Thanks, Bonnie

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There are (or at least were) sniping programs where you could get the program to put in a last second bid to give you your best chance of not being outbid and not having to show your hand too early.

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There are many different snipe programs available. But most or all charge a fee. That can be by each individual bid, or a certain number of bids, or a yearly fee of unlimited bids.  They are different reasons people use bid snipe programs . Not just ebay but also other auctions. Some snipe programs will let you set the time when your bid is placed. Some of those programs as you have seen can get a bid placed in the last 3-5 seconds. Ebay is like any auction, some times the bid may go well above what the item is normally worth. Sometimes a very good deal can be had.  Some very good marbles do slip through ebay at very cheap prices. But the vast majority get what they are worth.  Sometimes the description can be totally wrong or the pictures not good. People will take a gamble and sometimes lose and sometimes win. One could win can make up for five or ten losers. Putting items in your cart is just like shopping in a brick and mortar store. You place things in your cart planning to purchase but leave the cart and anyone can remove a item from your cart and go buy it.  Your ebay cart is not much different than your ebay watchlist. As you have discovered the only sure thing for owning a ebay listing is buy it now. Or just place a bid high enough that no one will go over. I know a person recently who wanted a certain marble for sure. It was a  $75.00-$100.00 marble. They use a snipe program but they still placed well over a $200.00 bid with the snipe for that marble. The marble sold for $38.00.  With the snipe program they did not have to watch the auction, they did not have to be home, they did not have to be online with any device anyplace anytime after they entered their snipe bid into the snipe program.  So the fee for snipe programs can bring peace of mind and sometimes get a good deal or also keep you from overpaying in a auction bidding war. There are very very good marble bargains on ebay. But they do not come easy. They take time and effort. I see and hear from people every month with marble bargains from ebay. Many are groups or lot of marbles. It might be one single marble in a group of 25 or 50 or more ?. It might be one single marble listed wrong or bad pictures ?  Some people shy away from new sellers and they can have a good marble. It is a on line auction, it Is a gamble. It is not hands on. Hands on is at a marble show. I see many more steady marble bargains at marble shows than on line. But it cost to attend marble shows. But you meet some people and make many friends at marble shows.  Some will end up lifetime friends.  

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I get a lot of info by looking at the photos you folks all post.  The colors are accurate and the photos are sharp.  Sometimes, it is hard to purchase marbles on eBay because the pics aren't all that clear and accurate.  I think it would be worth paying an entrance fee to go to a marble show.  The characteristics of the marbles that I hold in my hand would stick to my brain cells a whole lot better. That was my plan in retirement. Unfortunately, that came to a screeching halt because of covid. 🥴  Praying for a vaccine soon! 

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I've heard about the snipe programs, but never tried them.  I probably everyone because my strategies of buying are so old-school and somewhat nonchalant.  If I don't get it, it was meant to be.  But, I do get sweaty palms when I'm waiting for the right time to press that send button! LOL!

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The majority of marble shows charge no entrance fees.  It is very busy with in room trading buying selling the two days before actual show day. After a few shows most people like the two days before show day, better than actual show day. The two days before allows more time for learning, meeting people, and seeing more marbles. Some dealers and collectors leave the morning of show day. They have already done their business, happy and want to get home for work on Monday. A lot happens all day and into the night on Thursday and Fridays at shows before the actual show usually Saturday. A few shows are Sunday but most are on Saturday allowing people time to travel home before Monday. Some people show up on Wednesdays. Actual show day is mainly for more local people, new collectors, and people with questions about their marbles. Some of the local people may bring marbles for sale. They are called walk in's.  People new and old friends get together daily to go eat nearby, and catch up. Of course lots of marble talk. People travel a couple hours and some travel 16-24hrs. to attend a show and visit with friends. Many marble friends only see each other once or twice a year at marble shows. I have traveled to many marbles shows with the main reason to catch up and have time with long time friends. The marbles are a bonus. In 25+ years, I  have never been to any marble show that I did not learn something new about marbles.  It is up to all the people at a show to make of it what they want.     

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Guess I must have good taste, cause I obviously have been sniped twice, & had an item taken from my first time using the cart, all within my first 8 times trying to buy a marble on eBay.  I really had good luck with my live auction purchases, but the pandemic has dried that source up, & I wouldn't want to be with an auction crowd now anyway. We had decided before the virus appeared, to go to the Vegas marble show, but I haven't heard if it is still planned- any one know about it, or any others? Good hearing all your ideas & experiences, Bonnie

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Snipe, snipe, snipe! Watch about putting too high of a price to win something - someone else may have done the same thing and you could get stuck over paying for an item big time. I snipe and still only use a bid I would be happy to pay. I will add $6 to $11 bucks over my max comfortable amount sometimes as a cushion if I really want something. The  majority of the time I get what I want for a lower price. Do not get pulled into over paying! Do not bid early. On ebay it is only the last second that matters. I set my snipes for 3 seconds or less. The great part about sniping is you get to relax and get a pleasant surprise when ebay sends you a winning email.

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