Saturday

About Those Online Bidding Sites

You must have seen the commercials where people gleefully tell you they won an iPad for $19.95, and you may be intrigued but skeptical. Sites such as QuiBids, DealDash and Beezid are sometimes also referred to as "penny auction" sites.

You can make bids on various products in a timed auction, and if you are the highest bidder when the auction closes you purchase that item for your bid price.

The way these sites differ from what most people think of as an auction, in that you typically pay a small fee each time you bid, and if you don't win that auction the company keeps your bid fees. 


Say you bid on a $500 TV set, and you pay 25 cents for each bid; if you make 20 bids during the course of the auction and don't win, then you are still out five bucks, unlike a traditional auction.

Think of that for a second - if you conservatively bid on 20 auctions a month, and don't win any of them (which is certainly possible) and average 20 bids per auction - then that's $100 you spent for an adrenaline boost.

On one series of TV commercials, a lady who won a large screen TV for $29.95 actually bid over 400 times, according to the small print on the same commercial. It does not say what the cost was per bid, but you can see that the TV did just not cost the bid amount, but the bid amount plus the cost of the bid attempts.

You may find the sites also extend the auction time limits during the bidding process, and you can see how you could easily rack up quite a lot of bid fees "in the heat of battle" if you are not disciplined. Could you get an iPad for $19.95? Maybe, but I would not bet on it.

While these are not really a scam in the legal sense, just know what to expect going in. If you are the type of person who gets wrapped up in this kind of stuff, or don't have the disposable income to fling around, then you are probably best to just move along...

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