How to Cancel eBay Bids as a Buyer

by Tim Hesse
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Demonstrating a low tolerance for bidder's remorse, eBay has an unpaid item policy in place that protects sellers, who pay insertion fees to list items, and protects buyers by creating a disincentive to shill bidding. Shill bidding is the practice of using an alternate username or an accomplice to bid on your own items in order to pump up the final price. If you find that you must cancel a bid on eBay, here's what to do.

Requesting a Bid Cancellation

Step 1

Sign in to your eBay account, browse to the item page and write down the item number. Click on the seller's member ID. On the seller's My World profile, click "Contact member."

Step 2

Select "Enter your item number" from the drop-down menu on the page that appears, then enter the item number and click "Continue."

Write a message to seller in the form that appears explaining your situation and asking them to cancel your bid. Make yourself as sympathetic as possible. Be honest, be courteous and apologize for any inconvenience. In many cases a seller will approve your request and cancel your bid. If the seller refuses to cancel your bid -- or if you can't reach the seller at all -- you'll need to file a formal bid retraction with eBay.

Requesting a Bid Retraction

Step 1

Browse to eBay's bid retraction form (link in Resources).

Step 2

Enter the item number and choose your reason from the drop-down menu. eBay will grant bid retraction requests if you made a typing mistake and bid the incorrect amount, if the seller changed the description for the item after you bid on it and the new description reveals information that makes the item undesirable to you or if you can't get in touch with the seller.

Click "Retract bid."


  • eBay places additional limitations on bids made in the last 12 hours of an auction.
  • Novice eBay users should refrain from cross-bidding, or bidding on multiple similar items in hopes of winning one of them. Bid on one auction at a time and make note of the circumstances surrounding winning or losing an item. With time and careful observation, you may develop a set of best practices for yourself that reconcile your wants, your needs and your bottom line.


  • Don't bid impulsively. Research items on the Web and see if you can find other prices. Consider an item's value both in terms of its collectibility or price relative to MSRP and in terms of your own personal needs and budget.
  • As of 2011, eBay does not regulate the shipping fees that sellers charge. Sometimes these fees are equal to the actual cost of shipping an item. Sometimes they also include insurance or the price of packing materials. Many sellers include a calculator that allows you to input your ZIP code to see the exact cost of shipping. To reduce the chance of having to retract a bid, subtract the total cost of shipping and insurance from what you're willing to spend to find the maximum bid for your budget.


  • "Bidding Behavior in Competing Auctions: Evidence From eBay;" Sajid Anwara, Robert McMillan & Mingli Zheng; 2004
  • Forbes: Sleaze Bay

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

About the Author

Tim Hesse has been writing professionally since 2000. He has written and edited for a variety of print and online publications, including Tech Tips, FOXSports and Automated Homefinder. Hesse enjoys covering music, film, the open-source movement, education and the arts. He studied cinema and television production at the University of Southern California.

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