Today some auction firms conduct that conduct public auctions post their sales on the Internet and accept bids online as well as by fax, telephone, and in person. Web sites such as eBay and its various competitors, also offer stamps that you can bid on. Just like public and mail auctions, you still need to understand the terms of sales on that particular site. The terms of sale are what governs and controls the manner in which the Internet sale is conducted.
On this type of sale, you are not bidding on lots where the bidding closes on all lots at the same time. Rather, the person posting the material for sale at one of these venues is given a set amount of time that the item is made available for biding. You as the prospective bidder and purchaser, place your bid according to the sites rules, and when the bidding ends, the highest bid wins the auction.
On these types of online auction sites, the bidding can become furious in the final minutes of the auction sale period. Some bidders revel in their ability to jump in at the last few seconds with the final and winning bid. This is known as "sniping." Bidders who have fallen victim to this tactic abhor auction snipers. However successful snipers point to the skill and great timing it takes to win an auction in this fashion. Granted their approach is generally legal, unless the site forbids such tactics.
However auction sniping only works when an auction sale ends on a specific time. Some online auction sites will extend the sale closing time by a few extra minutes to deter snipers. Remember that stamp collecting is a hobby, not a means of financial investing. To find suitable online stamp auction sites, use your favorite search engine. Be sure to check out each site carefully and watch the action for a couple of days or so, before you decide to get in on the action yourself.
The popularity of online auction proves that it can work. None the less, there are problems. Frauds and scams are always active on these types of sites, no matter how much eBay claims it doesn't have fraudulent sales on its site alone. Take the proper precautions and remember if the offer seems "Too Good To Be True" that is generally the case.
If you are a buyer, you need to be sure that you will receive your winning lot in a reasonable amount of time after you have sent your payment. Otherwise contact the company sponsoring the online auction site. If you are a seller, you will not only want your payment prior to shipping the items, but you need to be sure that the check is good if that is one of the forms of payment that you will accept.
And of course, as a seller you will eventually experience dead-beat bidders. Fortunately most sites do have some form of a disciplinary action in place to ban these types of bidders. While that may not be of much help to you, these individuals will likely be banned from further participation on that particular auction site.