EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 421 - October 25, 2002     2 of 2

eBay Germany Bans 'Sniping' Services

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eBay Germany has banned automated sniping services on its site. According to eBay spokesperson, Kevin Pursglove, there were concerns by users of eBay Germany that people who used sniping services had an "unfair advantage" over people who were sniping manually. Sniping services allow users to set last second bids on auctions in advance and have them go off automatically, without the buyer having to be at the computer when the bid is placed. Certain sniping tools are hosted remotely by the service provider, while other tools are downloaded onto a user's computer and activated locally.

Some software developers see this as the first step in banning sniping services from eBay altogether. "Although eBay can attempt to "outlaw" automated sniping, they will likely not be able to prevent automated bidding when it originates from a bidder's personal computer," said the developer of one sniping tool. "While eBay can block bids from the single IP address of a bidding site, they would have a difficult time blocking bids from the 100,000 various IP addresses."

As to whether or not eBay's U.S. users can expect a sniping ban, Pursglove said, "Sniping continues to be a hotly debated issue. We haven't arrived at any hard decision about sniping on the U.S. site. From what I've gathered, the online sniping controversy is a larger issue in Germany than it is here. It hasn't risen to the level of severity where we will do anything at this point."

About the author:

David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of and the merchant directory. David, a former television producer, handles business development and advertising for EcommerceBytes. You can reach him at

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