(last updated on 5/9/2007)
All of our auctions use something known as the '15 minute rule'.
In a typical auction setting, there is always a called out counting that happens to allow buyers time to decide to place higher bids. This 'final call' is reset each time someone places a bid. "Going Once, Going Twice, Going Three times" - someone places a bid - "Going Once, Going twice" - another bid placed - "Going once, going twice".. and on and on until the auctioneer completes the entire phrase "Going Once, Going Twice, Going Three times, SOLD to the highest bidder"
So this rule is no different, but because of delay caused by the internet and other possible technological speed bumps, we have a 15 minute final call time.
When the seller lists an item, he specifies the number of days the auction will run. The auction listings display the scheduled closing time for the auction. If there is bidding activity on the auction within fifteen (15) minutes of when the auction is scheduled to close, the auction automatically switches into a special mode analogous to the 'going, going, gone' period of a live auction. In this mode, the auction is automatically extended until there have been no bids placed within fifteen (15) minutes. When fifteen (15) minutes have passed with no bidding activity, the auction closes.
The 15 minute rule makes auctions unbiased, by allowing all bidders an equal opportunity to place their best bid. In other online auctions where an auction ends exactly at a given time, some bidders will hold their bids until the last minute or so, in the hope of winning an item on the cheap. This is referred to as 'sniping'. The 15 minute rule gives all bidders an equal opportunity to place their best bid on an item before the item closes. This way, no bidder loses an item to sniping, and the seller can be assured that he has gotten maximum value for the item.
Our auctions are more like a live auction. In a live auction, bidding continues until no one wishes to place another bid. The auctioneer does the 'going once, going twice' routine, and if someone places a bid the bidding resumes. Since all persons bidding on an auction are connected by the Internet which can be slow and cranky at times, we picked 15 minutes as a reasonable amount of time to overcome any slowness or technical problems.
In a 'live' auction, the person who is willing to pay the most wins the item. Why should it be different on the Web? We certainly don't hide the fact we do this - you will find the 15 minute rule described in our Help Center, User Agreement, etc. It is also why our auction listings say "Ends On or After".
In a recent survey, a feature similar to our '15 minute rule' was the #1 most-requested feature addition that eBay (R) users would like to see added to the eBay (R) site.