How to Make or Retract eBay Best Offers

There are some items on eBay that allow you to submit "Best Offers" to their sellers.  If the seller is desperate enough to get rid of the item, they may agree to sell it to you at the price you offer to buy it at, even if it's less than the price they were initially asking for the item.  Whenever you submit an offer for an item to a seller, they have the choice to accept it, reject it, or make a counter-offer.  If a counter-offer is made, then it is up to you to accept or reject it. 

eBay Best Offer rules

There are three things to remember when it comes to making "Best Offers" for items: 

  1. "Best Offers" are only valid for 48 hours after you make them.  If the seller does not accept your offer -- or you do not accept a counter-offer that the seller makes -- within this time, your offer will automatically be rejected.  Your offer will also automatically be rejected if the item stops being listed on eBay (for example, because it was sold to someone else, or the owner decided not to sell it after all).
     
  2. For each item that allows you to submit "Best Offers," you can only submit a total of three offers.  This includes any previous offers that a seller rejected, as well as any offers that were met with counter-offers that you rejected.  It also includes any offers that expired because they exceeded the 48-hour time limit, or any offers that you retracted.
     
  3. A "Best Offer" is, like a bid in an auction, usually considered to be a binding contract   This means that if a seller accepts your offer, or you accept a seller's counter-offer, you are much more obligated to follow through with purchasing and paying for the item than you would be if you bought the item at a fixed price. 

How to make a Best Offer on eBay

  1. Go to www.ebay.com in your web browser and log in (if you haven't already).
     
  2. Find an item that you want to buy, and that offers are being accepted for, and click on it to see its details. (Note: if clicking on it just creates a new window or a pop-up window, you may need to click on that item again in the new window to see its details).
     
  3. Once you're on the item's details page, look over things like the description of the item, shipping rates, shipping times, types of payment accepted, and return policies.  You can also see the best offer that has been put forward so far for this item (if there is one).

    Example of an eBay Best Offer

    If everything looks good, click Make Offer.
     
  4. A window will pop up allowing you to make your offer.  Click in the box underneath "Your Offer" and type in the amount of money that you wish to pay for the item. If you want, you can also click Add Message to Seller, and then click in the box that appears and type in a short message to the seller (perhaps outlining the reasons why you're making the offer). When you're ready, click Review Offer.

    Review Offers button
     
  5. eBay will show you your offer, and any note that you want to pass along to the seller with it. If there's something you want to change, click Edit Offer. Otherwise, click Submit Offer.

    Edit or Submit eBay Best Offer

There!  Your offer has been submitted, and now you just have to wait to see how the seller responds to it.

When you can cancel a Best Offer on eBay

As we mentioned, Best Offers on eBay.com are considered to be legally binding, just as bids are.  Therefore, in order to cancel one, you must meet one or more of the same three criteria:

  1. You entered an obviously incorrect amount for your offer (as opposed to you just feeling like changing the amount for your offer).
     
  2. The item's description has changed significantly since you made your offer.
     
  3. You are unable to contact the seller in order to retract your offer.

To retract a Best Offer on eBay:

  1. Visit www.ebay.com.

    eBay.com in address bar of web browser
     
  2. Sign into your account.

    eBay sign in button
     
  3. Click this link to reach the Best Offer retraction form.

    eBay Best Offer retraction form
     
  4. Find the item number for what you want to retract by going to the item's details page, click the Description tab, and look in the top-right corner.

    Where item number is located for an item
     
  5. Type it in the box labelled “Item Number” and click Continue.

    eBay Best Offer retraction form - filled out
     
  6. Choose a reason for cancelling and click Cancel Offer.

    Indicate reason for cancelling Best Offer

You can also try to contact the seller in order to cancel your offer (which we can teach you how to do in our tutorial on how to cancel an order). If they have not accepted your offer yet, they may just let it expire, and then you're off the hook. However, if they have already accepted your offer, you will have a much harder time convincing them to let your commitment drop.

If all else fails, you can contact its customer support team, and explain your problem to them. They may be able to help you help you get your offer cancelled in an emergency.

 

“Best Offers” is a great feature that separates eBay from its competitors. To learn more ways about how to save money while using eBay, consider reading our section titled “4 tips to saving money with eBay” in our introductory article on what eBay is and how it works.


How to Cancel or Retract a Bid on eBay

Now that you’ve learned how bidding on eBay works, and how to place a bid on eBay, we’re going to help you if you ever find yourself in a situation where you placed a bid on eBay, but you didn’t intend to.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly which situations exist where you may cancel or retract an eBay bid, and give you a step-by-step guide on how to retract a bid.

When can I retract a bid on eBay?

Bids on eBay are usually considered to be legally-binding agreements between you and the seller who is auctioning off an item. This means that, under normal circumstances, you are not allowed to cancel a bid that you place for an item. However, there are three special circumstances in which you can retract a bid for an item on eBay. They are:

1. You make an honest typographical mistake when entering your bid.

For example, you accidentally type in $455 when you meant to type in $45.50.  (NOTE: This does not cover you changing your mind after entering a bid because you think that you bid too high for the item.)

2. The seller significantly changes the details of the item up for auction.

For example, the item may have fewer features, or may be in worse condition, than the seller thought when they first listed the item.

3. You have either of the above problems, and you cannot get in contact with the seller in any way.

This includes through eBay’s internal messaging system, via email, or by phone call.

There are two other rules concerning the timing of when you are allowed to withdraw your bid:

1. If the auction has over 12 hours remaining.

You can retract a bid at any time, for any of the reasons listed above.  In this case, eBay will erase all bids that you have placed for the item.  If you still want to bid for the item (in case, for example, you entered a wrong bid amount), you will have to place a new bid.

2. If the auction ends in less than 12 hours.

You can only retract a bid, for any of the reasons listed above, within one hour of placing it.  In this case, eBay only erases your latest bid for the item.  All other bids you have made for the item stay in place.

To cancel a bid on eBay:

  1. Visit www.ebay.com to sign in to your account.
  2. Try entering a new bid on the item (if it was a typo).
  3. If there is another reason, contact the seller by searching for them, and clicking Contact on their profile.
  4. Type a message, and click Send Message.
  5. If this is denied, contact eBay customer service and explain your reasoning.

If you need a bit more information, and want a more detailed explanation for the circumstances for each method of retracting an eBay bid, read our step-by-step guide below.

Detailed instructions on the ways to retract a bid on eBay

If you think that you have a valid reason for removing your bid for an item on eBay, and your removal meets either of the two timing criteria, there are three general steps that you should take.

1. Correct your bid instantly by placing a new bid.

If your reason for retracting a bid is that you typed in the wrong bid amount by mistake, the first thing you’ll want to do is immediately place a new bid for the correct amount.

If this wasn’t your reason for wanting to retract a bid, you can skip this step.

2. Let the seller know you want to cancel your bid, as they can retract a bid (at their own discretion).

If possible, you’re going to want to get in touch with the person who is auctioning off the item.  Based on your reason for wanting to cancel your bid, explain to them that you entered a wrong bid amount by mistake, or explain to them why the details that they have changed about the item that they’re selling has caused you to want to retract your bid for it.  They may be able to cancel your bid on their end if they feel that your reason is valid.

See our how to Ccancel an eBay order tutorial for instructions on how to contact a seller directly if you have a problem.

3. If neither step 1 or 2 works, you may submit a bid retraction request, or contact eBay customer service directly to see if your issue can be sorted out.

If you can’t get in contact with the seller of an item in order to cancel your bid, or the seller refuses your request to withdraw your bid, you can go to this link to submit a bid retraction request. (Be sure that you’re logged into eBay first, if you aren’t already). You will see a screen like this:

eBay sign in screen

Once there, click in the box labelled “Item Number of Auction in Question” and type in the I.D. number of the item on eBay that you want to withdraw a bid for.

(HINT: If you don’t already know this number, one way that you can find it is by going to the item’s details page, clicking the Description tab, and looking in the top-right corner of that window).

Retract a bid on specific items

Next, click the drop-down menu under “Your Explanation of the Retraction” and choose one of the three reasons for why you want to withdraw your bid. Then click Retract Bid. eBay will look into the circumstances of your bid, and if they feel you have a valid case for wanting to retract your bid, they will delete it for you.

If your reason for wanting to retract your bid is not one of the three available, but you still feel that it is valid, you can also contact eBay’s customer service department directly in order to cancel your bid.

 

And that’s our explanation of when and how you can delete a bid on eBay! To learn a little bit more about bidding on eBay, click “Next Tutorial” below to read an article with useful eBay bidding tips that will help you save money!


How to Bid While Shopping on eBay

Now that you know how the auction process works on eBay, it’s time to start making your bids towards winning some cool items! One of the great things about eBay is that through the auctions, you can get great deals on items. Remember, though: only bid for what you really want to win, and don’t bid more than you’re willing to pay for an item. If the winning bid for an item happens to be yours, you are obligated to buy the item, and most sellers won’t let you cancel!

For this tutorial, we’re going to assume that you’ve already created an account on eBay, and have already ordered another item.  This means that you will have your account, billing, and shipping information all set up.

Bidding on eBay

  1. Go to www.ebay.com in your web browser and log in.

  2. Find an item that you want to buy, and that is being sold in auction style, and click on it to see its details.  (Note: if clicking on it just creates a new window or a pop-up window, you may need to click on that item again in the new window to see its details.)

  3. Once you’re on the item’s details page, look over things like the description of the item, shipping rates, shipping times, types of payment accepted, and return policies.  For an auction-style item, you may also want to check the amount of time remaining in the auction, previous bids, and the bid increment. 

    eBay item details

    (NOTE: The bid increment is the minimum amount that a bid is allowed to increase by, and can be found by subtracting the current highest bid for this item from the lowest maximum bid that you are allowed to place for this item.  In this example, the current highest bid is $41, and I am being asked to bid $42 or more.  Therefore, the bid increment for this item is $1. Also note that the bid increment may change throughout the course of the auction.)

    If everything looks okay to you, then click Place Bid.

  4. A window will pop up with different options on how to bid.  If you want to quickly place a maximum bid that is a set amount above the current highest bid, then click one of the buttons across the top.  If you want to make a custom maximum bid instead, click inside the box beside Place Max Bid, type in the amount of money that you are willing to bid for this item (as a maximum), and then click Place Max Bid.

    eBay maximum bids

    As we explained in our previous article, “How does Bidding on eBay Work”, eBay will take care of the rest for you.  It will place bids on your behalf that are only enough to beat anyone else’s maximum bids by one bid increment, up to your own maximum bid.

  5. If someone else outbids you on this item, you will receive a notification from eBay.  Click the notifications icon (eBay notification icon) in the top-right corner, and click on the notification that says that you’ve been outbid.

    eBay bidding notifications

    This will take you back to the item that you bid on previously, and you will have the chance to make a new maximum bid.  To do so, just repeat steps 2 and 3.

 

That’s a brief explanation of how to place bids for items on eBay! I’ve you’ve won an auction but no longer want the item, check out our tutorial on how to cancel an eBay order. Or, if you’d like to retract a bid you’ve made during a live auction, click the “Next Tutorial” button to learn how!


How does Bidding on eBay Work?

There are some items on eBay that you won’t be able to buy at a fixed price. Instead, you must bid for them like you would at a real-life auction.  Each participant in the auction states the maximum amount of money that they are willing to pay for the item.  Whoever is willing to pay the most money for the item can buy the item at the price of the runner-up bid, plus one bid increment (i.e. the minimum amount of money that a bid can increase by).

Be careful what you bid for and how much you bid, though.  A bid on eBay is, in most cases, considered to be a binding contract between you and an item’s seller.  This means that if you end up being the high bidder in an auction, you are under a much stricter obligation to purchase and pay for the item that you won, as opposed to if you simply purchased the item from a seller at a fixed price.  You can try to cancel your order by contacting the seller (see our how to cancel an eBay order tutorial), but for the reasons we just stated, there’s a much lower chance that they’ll agree to this.

eBay’s “automatic bidding” system

In order to make things easier on potential bidders for an item being auctioned off on eBay, the software uses an “automatic bidding” system.  Basically, it allows you to place a maximum bid for an item, and then eBay automatically adjusts your current bid to beat anyone else’s maximum bid that is lower than your maximum bid, by the minimum amount allowed.

This saves you from having to log back into eBay and manually place a new bid for an item every time the highest current bid increases.  Instead, you only have to manually place a new bid if the current highest bid exceeds your maximum bid (or you can decide to not place another bid if you’re not willing to pay any more money for the item).

Here’s how making an automatic bid works:

  • When you go to bid on an item, you only have to put in the maximum amount of money that you want to bid on that item, at least for the moment.  This is your maximum bid, and it is kept hidden from everyone else, at least until the current highest bid exceeds it.
  • As long as your maximum bid is the highest one among all maximum bids from bidders currently in the auction for an item, eBay will automatically adjust your current bid to be equal to the second-highest maximum bid, plus one bid increment (i.e. the minimum amount that a bid is allowed to increase by).
  • If you have the highest maximum bid for an item, and another bidder on the same item makes a higher maximum bid than you, your current bid will automatically be increased to equal your maximum bid, and the new highest bidder’s current bid will become equal to your maximum bid, plus one bid increment.  At this point, eBay will send you a message notifying you that you have been outbid on an item, and will give you the opportunity to place a new maximum bid.(NOTE: Your previous maximum bid also becomes visible to other users at this point, even if you don’t place another bid.  However, your user name is kept anonymous.)

Automatic Bidding Example

Suppose that Steve, Alyson, and I (i.e. Corbin) from Techboomers are all participating in an eBay auction together, and the three of us are the only participants.  The opening bid for an item is $10, and the bid increment is $1.  Alyson makes an opening maximum bid on the item at $15.  Since there are no other bids for hers to compete against besides the opening one, the current highest bid for the item — and Alyson’s current bid — becomes $11 (i.e. the next highest bid, plus one bid increment).

I see that the current highest bid for the item is $11, so I decide to make a maximum bid of $13 (remember that, hypothetically, I know nothing about how high Alyson’s maximum bid is).  Unfortunately for me, Alyson has a higher maximum bid than me, so eBay automatically adjusts Alyson’s current bid to be equal to my maximum bid, plus one bid increment — $14.  eBay then automatically adjusts my current bid to be equal to my maximum bid — $13 — and sends me a message telling me that I have been outbid for this item.

At this point, I can place a new maximum bid, if I so desire.  In addition, both Steve and Alyson can now see that someone made a maximum bid of $13 for this item (though, leaving aside that the three of us are the only auction participants, they won’t know that it was my bid;  Steve may think it was Alyson’s bid, and Alyson may think it was Steve’s bid).

Now, let’s say that Steve enters the picture and sees the current highest bid at $14.  Steve decides to go big and offer a maximum bid of $20 for the item.  Now, since Steve’s maximum bid is higher than Alyson’s maximum bid, eBay automatically sets Steve’s current bid to be equal to Alyson’s maximum bid, plus one bid increment — $16.  Meanwhile, Alyson’s current bid is automatically adjusted Alyson’s current bid to be equal to her maximum bid — $15 — and sends her a message telling her that she has been outbid on this item.

At this point, Alyson can place a new maximum bid, if she so desires.  Also, both Steve and I can now see that someone made a maximum bid of $15 for this item (though, again, we hypothetically don’t know that this was Alyson’s maximum bid; I may think it was Steve’s, and Steve may think that it was mine).

If neither I nor Alyson place any higher bids, Steve wins the auction, and pays $16 for the item (even though he was willing to pay up to $20).

 

That’s an explanation of how bidding works.  Our next tutorial, “How to Bid on eBay”, will show you how to actually take part in an eBay auction. We’ve also got a great article on bidding tips that can help you win your auctions.