Drewster In reality it works slightly differently. Imagine there is something for sale on eBay, we’ll keep it simple - starting price is £5 and there is no minimum sale price. It’s a niche item and only two interested - me and Bob.
Bob sees the thing, reckons he fancies it and he would pay £50 quid for it. He puts a bid in, say £15 quid. Thinks to himself, if anyone bids over £15 I’ll big again. His bid is noted by eBay and the next bid amount is £5.50
I see it too - I also think I’ll pay upto £50 quid for it. If I put in a bid - say £10 - the item bid price increases to £10.50 but Bob is still winning the auction with his earlier bid of £15.
If I put in a bid of £20 - Bob sees he is losing - the minimum bid price is now £16 because my bid of £15.50 trumps his earlier bid of £15. So he bids £25 - so on so on… One of us will win at around £50.
But if I see the item - with one bid placed - current bid price £5.50 and don’t bid but silently prime my snipe to land in the closing seconds at my max amount I don’t give Bob the chance to partake in a bidding war. I don’t know how much Bob has actually bid, but if my max bid is higher than his bid I win - In this case I would get the item for £15.50.
Granted, if Bob had put his early bid in at £50 and my late Bid was also £50 - he’d win. That’s why I always make my Snipe for just over - for a £50 thing, I’d make my bid £52.01. But in reality, very few people put in one Bid early with their max amount - lots more either just bid in the closing moments or use sniping software. My technique does not guarantee a win as you point out the highest bid wins. But it is not sensible to advertise your interest early, it only increases the chances of the item price being bidder up.