Time change disrupts online auctions

The "spring forward" rule is causing confusion in dozens of auctions on eBay and Yahoo.

2 min read
Online auction customers are still trying to adjust to daylight-saving time.

The "spring forward" rule is causing confusion in dozens of auctions on eBay and Yahoo. The auctions aren't any longer or shorter, but they are ending later because of the lost hour Sunday morning.

"eBay made no notice of it, none whatsoever," said one San Francisco-based seller, who had some 40 auctions affected by the time change.

But eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the San Jose, Calif.-based company has been doing the same thing every year since it opened its online marketplace.

"The one thing we want to avoid is having people feel like they missed an hour," Pursglove said.

On eBay, sellers can designate the day an auction closes but not the time the auction ends. Instead, the system usually closes an auction at the same time of the day that it opens. For example, a seven-day auction that begins on a Monday at 3 p.m. will end the following Monday at 3 p.m.

On Yahoo, sellers can set the time that their auction closes, but the default setting is for the auction to end at the same time that it opens, just as it does on eBay.

For auctions that began before and end after the time change, the trading will end an hour later than normal. A seven-day auction that began last Saturday at 4 p.m., for instance, will end this Saturday at 5 p.m.

The time change is important to some buyers and sellers because much of the bidding in online auctions takes place in the last hours or minutes--a process known among auction customers as "sniping."

The San Francisco-based seller, who works as a business consultant, said he plans for most of his auctions to end between 8 p.m. and midnight ET, because that's when the most bidders are on the system. But having the auctions end an hour later means that many East Coast bidders may not stay up late enough to participate.

"This shuts out the East Coast," the seller said. "Midnight is sort of a cutoff back there."

But Derek Urbaniak, an engineer in Austin who sells antiques through eBay and Yahoo, said one hour doesn't make much difference.

"If someone is really interested in your item, they'll snipe at it at the last minute," Urbaniak said. "That's just the way it is."

Unlike auctions on eBay and Yahoo, those on Amazon.com will end at the same time that they began.