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You know the feeling: After years of pawing through grimy thrift stores and second-hand shops, you’ve finally found it on eBay — be it the perfect leisure suit, a limited edition Star Wars toy or that upside-down label misprint Budweiser can that’s always eluded you. You place your bid, your eyes glued to the computer screen, your finger hovering over the mouse. It looks like you’ve won … and then wham! A bidding ninja swoops in at the very last second and outbids you. Heartless bastard!

However, a solution to the bidding ninja presents itself in the somewhat morbidly named auctionsniper.com. By signing up with Auction Sniper, you can avoid being chained to your computer desk in the final minutes of your auction. For a fee (usually 1 percent of the auction’s ending bid) the service will “snipe” the auction for you seconds before it ends.

But wait! There’s also powersnipe.com, a software download that can be yours for $45.99 a year. Or there’s bidnapper.com, bidnip.com, auctionstealer.com, auctionsentry.com, esnipe.com … hell, with so many automated bid snipers out there, a mere mortal doesn’t stand a chance.

Not surprisingly, eBay doesn’t have a problem with these services (after all, they ensure the item on auction will go for the highest amount possible) yet the company sued the royal crap out of Bidders Edge, a site that allowed users to search multiple auction sites (like the ones on Yahoo!, Amazon, etc.) to compare a single item. The powerhouse eBay won; Bidders Edge dissolved into oblivion.

So, with an estimated 2 to 5 percent of eBay bidders using online sniping services, those choosing to do their bid sniping the old-fashioned way will have to develop one hell of a quick-draw mouse finger.

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