Use E-Mail to Search Auctions Automatically

First Published:
Date Published: 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Savetz

Face it: you're addicted. You search every auction site, every day, for the goodies that you crave. It doesn't matter what they are or why you want them -- you're among friends who understand. We can't cure your addiction, but we can make it easier for you to scour your favorite auction sites for those elusive items: with e-mail.

Rather than searching for the same keywords day after day, you can employ a tireless robot that will continually search and send e-mail when it finds auctions that match your criteria. Most of the major auction sites offer such a feature. For the truly addicted, there are tools that will search several auction sites, combining the findings in a succinct e-mail message.

eBay's Personal Shopper ( tool lets members save their favorite searches and receive e-mail when those searches reveal new items. Personal Shopper works pretty well, but suffers from two needless limitations: there's a limit of three searches, and those searches expire after just 90 days. Once that happens, the user must take the time to restart the Personal Shopper search.

Auction Alerts ( is a similar service for Yahoo!Auctions members. You can receive e-mail when new auctions match your keywords, or track a particular category or your favorite sellers. You can request up to two daily updates, or opt for immediate notification as soon as interesting auctions are added (a choice that could flood your e-mail box.)

Fear not, Amazon Auction users, for e-mail searching is offered at your favorite auction house. Alerts ( -- it probably took a team of marketing experts to devise that catchy name -- will send an e-mail when auctions that match your keywords are added. You can also elect to receive updates when interesting items are added to zShops, Amazon's user-to-user direct sales community.

MSN Auctions calls its automated search program "Agents." Agents ( won't do keyword searching, but can notify you when listings are added to your favorite categories. A nice try, but the tool is crippled by its lack of a keyword search.

How about searching the three most popular auction sites in one fell swoop?

AuctionRover's own search function can periodically troll the listings at eBay, Yahoo!Auctions, and Amazon Auctions, then send the results via e-mail or pager. To use this feature, search ( for something of interest, then press the Save This Search button. You can request updates at intervals from weekly to hourly. (The hourly setting is reserved for die-hard auction fanatics.)

Besides saving time, these e-mail search tools will help you rest easy, content in the knowledge that an essential item for your collection won't slip by because you forgot to search last Thursday.

Articles by Kevin Savetz