eBay's genius is in its bidding system, called proxy bidding. Proxy bidding is the automated bidding system that lets you participate in auctions even when you're away from your computer: you put in your maximum bid and eBay bids on your behalf, up to your high bid. Here's how it works.
As Figure 2-5 shows, when you place a bid on eBay, the Place a Bid page shows two bid amounts:
Current bid. This is the high price of the moment; you have to bid a little more than the current bid to join in the auction (eBay shows you the minimum acceptable bid right next to the box where you type in your bid amount).
Your maximum bid. The amount you type in here is the most that you'd be willing to pay to win the auction. Your maximum bid is a secret amount—hidden from everyone but you and eBay's computers. In fact, if the price in an auction doesn't go as high as your maximum bid, no one else will ever know how much you were willing to pay.
Figure 2-5. When making your bid, you must type in at least the amount listed to the right of the text box, but you can type in the maximum amount you're willing to pay. If you're unsure that you're bidding correctly, click "Learn about bidding" in the lower-left corner (not shown here) for a quick pop-up tutorial.
When you type in your maximum bid, eBay checks that amount against the minimum bid. If your bid is at or higher than the required minimum, ...