One of the latest trends in bargain shopping is the use of bidding fee, or penny, auctions. For those exploring the world of beginner auctions, getting used to penny auctions can be tricky. But once participants have successfully navigated the system, they find that they can save significant money on items such as apparel, jewelry, and electronics. Several of the most common penny auction sites are Beezid, QuiBids, HappyBidDay, DealDash, YNL (YouNeverLose) and PisoBid.
The penny auction process is easy. Participants purchase bids, usually in large quantities such as 50-60-100-200 bid packs and with the price per bid ranging anywhere from ten cents to a dollar. There is typically no membership fee but, unlike sites such as eBay, participants need to purchase bids upfront to participate in the bidding. Once bids are purchased, members can make a bid on items available on the site. Each bid raises the price by one cent (hence the name, penny auctions) and restarts the bid clock. The highest bid when the clock runs out wins the auction. Participants can then pay for the item and have it shipped. Items usually come with standard warranties. Some sites do allow participants to purchase items at full price and to apply their bids to the cost of the item if they do not win the bid. Other sites also have a “no jumper” rule where participants cannot jump in and make an initial bid once the price gets to a certain level. These sites also typically disallow groups of family members, friends, and co-workers to bid as one and also limit how many bids an individual can win per a set time period.
Once an individual gets the hang of the bidding process, getting used to penny auctions is easy. The key is to not get caught up in the excitement and map out a strategy for bidding. Veterans of the penny auctions recommend several tips for beginners. Some participants recommend targeting smaller, lower profile items such as gift cards to get become comfortable with the bidding process before trying to win higher value items such as televisions or computers. Some participants like to bid during the wee hours of the morning when fewer bidders are online and watch bidding patterns. Another frequent bidder likes to scare off opponents off by outbidding everyone right after they have placed a bid. Several of the websites offer the opportunity to obtain “free bids” by “friending” the site on Facebook or Twitter or encouraging friends to join.
There has been some criticism of penny auctions and scams do occur. One scam involving Craigslist has a “seller” of an item referring would-be buyers to sign up for a bidding fee auction site. The site then charges customers an up-front fee for a pack of bids and pays a commission to the scammer who referred the new customer to the site. Make sure that the site is a member in good standing and accredited with the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau recommends that penny auction participants know how the bidding works, set a limit for bidding and be prepared to walk away once the limit is reached. By following these simple guidelines participants can enjoy the benefits of beginner or penny, auctions without ending up a “day late and many dollars short.”