Careers Business Ownership Why You Get Outbid on eBay Share PINTEREST Email Print hocus-focus / Getty Images Business Ownership Industries eBay Retail Small Business Restauranting Real Estate Nonprofit Organizations Landlords Import/Export Business Freelancing & Consulting Franchises Food & Beverage Event Planning E-commerce Construction Operations & Success Becoming an Owner By Aron Hsiao Aron Hsiao Aron Hsiao began selling on eBay in 1998 and joined the site's Trust and Safety Department in 2003, helping to resolve buyer and seller conflicts and marketplace rules violations. From 2013 through 2017, he served as senior communications manager for Terapeak, which offers marketplace research and listing analytics to online sellers. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 12/06/19 One of the most common complaints from new eBay bidders is that they get outbid with frustrating speed and consistency. More cautious new users are often convinced that eBay is full of shill bidding, but in actuality, it's very common to be outbid on eBay, and even to be outbid quickly, for several reasons. The simplest way to get outbid is because your bids are too low and eBay is a very popular marketplace. However, there are several more nuanced answers that might help to further illustrate common reasons for being outbid including the number of bidders on eBay, auction prices tending to meet fair market values, and eBay's proxy bidding system that leads to last-minute outbids. If you are a new eBay user and find that you are repeatedly or rapidly outbid on auctions that you'd very much like to win, you may want to learn about the eBay bidding system and how it works so that you'll be less likely to be outbid in the future, and so that you will understand why you've been outbid when it happens to you. Bidder Competition Since its beginning in the 1990s, eBay has played host to hundreds of millions of auction listings, and these auction listings don't exist in a vacuum—they are supported by millions of bidders around the world. If you've got a hankering for a particular item, chances are that someone else somewhere has a hankering for that same item; in fact, chances are that if there's one buyer for an item in the world, there are dozens, and although bidding for many of the items on eBay begins small, often at $1.00 or even $0.01, there are usually far too many interested parties for that price to last. Because of this high rate of competition amongst bidders, it's easy to feel like you're always getting outbid, because you are—with so many people on the server, you're likely going to be fighting with at least one other person for nearly every eBay auction you click on. Not to worry, though, there are ways to work around the high traffic volume, especially on popular items and auctions, and a little bit of luck and well-timed bids will allow you to walk away with that item of your eBay dreams. Fair Market Values At first glance, an iPod with a current price of $10.00 looks like a great deal—but you must remember that most eBay items are sold as auctions, not at-value sales, and whether at eBay or elsewhere, until an auction has closed other people are likely to bid on it if the current bid is below market value. The international nature of eBay compounds this likelihood. In general, someone somewhere will always be willing to bid on an item that is undervalued. By the time most auction listings close, therefore, the winner has agreed to pay a fair market price for the item. Abetting your expectations of "great steals" on eBay auctions will help mitigate the disappointment for being outbid—and increasing your maximum bet will most likely result in you getting closer to winning an auction on your desired item. Proxy System More than being frustrated simply because they've been outbid, many new users are frustrated at having been outbid so very quickly. It is not at all uncommon to be outbid immediately on eBay and to be outbid this way over and over again with repeated attempts to bid on the same listing. This happens not because another bidder or the seller is cheating but rather because of the proxy bidding system that eBay uses, which allows users to set their maximum bid and increment of bid increase that is automatically applied when someone outbids them on an item. What this means for competing users is that every time you outbid another person with a higher maximum bid, the eBay proxy system will place a bid for that person resulting in an immediate outbid. The best way to get around this is to wait until the auction is almost over, set your maximum bid up as high as you're willing to go, and start bidding only when the auction draws to a close.