Not All Bid and Buy Penny Auction Sites LegitimateBy Nathaniel Hutchinson on June 2, 2012 with 0 Comments
In its continuing series focused on consumer-related tips and warnings, KingofHowTo.com has taken a look at numerous online shopping platforms. Ultimately, we’ve found that not all bid and buy penny auction sites offer users a fair chance to acquire discount merchandise.
According to our in-house technology expert, Sarah McDaniels, while some sites have taken steps to raise their reputations in the eyes of consumers; others continue a business-as-usual approach that has drawn warnings from some reputable organizations.
“When they first came out, penny auctions were almost synonymous with the word scam,” McDaniels said. “In response to numerous complaints, both the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau issued reports warning consumers that many of these sites use deceitful techniques to rip their customers off. Now some of these bid and buy sites are taking steps to prove they don’t scam their users; however, many haven’t followed suit.”
McDaniels says the FTC has warned that many penny auctions use shills or automated bots to make fake bids that drive up prices and prolong auctions. This inevitably increases bidder failure, which ultimately pads company profits. That said, some companies are attempting to separate themselves from their competitors by proving they don’t use these types of strategies.
Recently, QuiBids paid Grant Thornton, a very reputable accounting firm, to conduct a neutral, third-party audit of the bid and buy website’s business model. In the end, Grant Thornton found that QuiBids did not use automated bots to cheat its customers; and the BBB chose to upgrade the company’s rating in response. Unfortunately, according to McDaniels, few penny auctions have followed QuiBid’s lead.
“Right now, consumers really don’t have any way of knowing which sites use shills and which do not,” she said. “There are some sites that attempt to uncover this sort of unscrupulous activity by comparing total human visitors by the total actual bids to see if there is a notable discrepancy. That said, if consumers really want to be sure they aren’t getting cheated, they can either avoid these types of sites altogether or review the BBB’s ratings system to see if the particular company has conducted any sort of audit.”