- Choose auctions that finish at strange times. Some things, like for example memory cards, are "auctioned" at regular intervals throughout the day. By setting your alarm and bidding in your pajamas at seven thirty on a Sunday morning you can shave two pounds fifty off that closing price.
- Bid late. Don't show your hand by bidding early. Bid as late as possible, preferrably within a minute of the auction closing. Don't worry about your browser/network connection locking up at this point, this will hardly ever happen to you.
- Bid a couple of quid more than the current bid. This means that you will hopefully "leapfrog" the other person who presently has the highest bid. If they have done the same, at least you are going to make someone else (the seller) a happy person.
- Add a strange number to the pence part. Rather than bidding 10 pounds exactly, bid ten pounds and thirty seven pence. This also makes your paypal account numbers more interesting.
- Watch the bids climb as the auction closes. If you have the winning bid at the moment you can watch as the other people (or their sniping software) ramp up to your value. If you need to, you can whack in another, slightly higher, bid to keep you in the running. Even if the thing isn't actually worth it.
- Ignore words like "win" and "lost". This is not a game or competition. It is simply a way of getting stuff cheaper than any other. If the item is not worth having at the price, walk away. You can be sure that another, better, one will be available later anyway. Unless of course it becomes a matter of honour.
- Look at the price of previously closed items, make sure that you are not paying over the odds. Check on Google and pricerunner, because these always have the lowest price. Except sometimes.
By cunning application of all these rules, today I managed to buy a second hand item at only twelve pounds more than the brand new price. Ho hum.