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At an estate sale, farm auction, or other live auction bidding is done differently than at eBay.

Suppose you are looking for a Z scale Christmas Locomotive and one is offered at an auction that you are attending. You know that the locomotive sells new for about $70, and you think $50 is about all you'd spend at an auction. You would normally make a bid of not more than you have to. If someone bids $10, you bid $10.50 or $11. You go back and forth with other bidders until everyone else gives up after your last bid, or you give up after someone bids more than $50.

At eBay bidding does not continue like this until someone outbids all others. It goes on for a fixed time, usually for several days. When the time limit is reached - even if it as at a time when you can't be at your computer - the auction is over, even if you might have been willing to bid up to $60.

At eBay your bid is supposed to be your upper limit. So you should bid $50 for the locomotive, or $60 if that was really your maximum instead, but because your mindset is the live auction, you bid $15. eBay then bids not the $15 but the next increment. Someone had bid $10 for the engine and eBay ups the bid for you to $10.50. If others have entered bids of less than $15, then the bidding continues in increments until you once again have the high bid, but if someone else had a maximum bid of $20, the bidding ends for the moment at $15.50. So you change your bid to $20 and find that you are still outbid. You change your bid to $30 and the bidding stops for the moment with you the high bidder at $20.50. There is still a day to go, but maybe no one bids again. You assume that you have "won" the auction. Then, with just seconds to go you see a bid of $30.01 made. You are outbid and there is no time to bid again. You're a loser - a loser! Some *!*&%%$#@ snuck in and cheated you out of your locomotive!

No, you're not a loser. You weren't cheated (although you might wonder about that for a while - I did!) You just made the mistake of misunderstanding how eBay works.

If you felt that $50 was all that you wanted to pay, then you should have bid $50 to start with. If you'd been willing to go to $60, then bid that and not the $50. If someone else still wants to bid more, that's their tough luck. Don't keep upping your bid just to "win" the "game." You'll either spend more than you should have or you will feel "cheated" by someone who apparently has more money than brains!

For trains and accessories, my strategy is to find out how much things I might want cost at retail, then figure I'll bid up to 50- to 75-percent of retail value at auction. If I need to pay more than that I'd probably be better off buying a new item from a dealer.

Let's take one more look at the "game" aspect of eBay.

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