Somebody noted that these sites are less "auctions" as they are "raffles", as there's only ONE winner, and whole bunch of LOSERS. Unlike with an actual auction, however, those taking part in it and not winning are likely out a considerable amount of money. In the case of the WII system, I'm guessing this is one of those "penny auctions" where the bid goes up 1¢ each time. The company charges 60¢ per bid so that by the time the pennies have gotten up to $32.00, there have been 3,200 bids ... which, at 60¢ each is a pay-out to the site of $1,920.00 for a product that retails for $199.00, a huge profit. Poking around, I'm seeing that some other sites charge even more per bid, one (BidFun) ranging from 80¢ to a dollar per bid, depending on how many you buy.
As previous discussed, these sites also have a "feature" that each bid adds time to the clock, so when you find an "auction" with just 10 seconds remaining ("last shot" time on eBay), that could go on for HOURS as every desperate bid opens the door to more desperate bids.
What confuses me in this whole thing is WHO is doing the bidding? I know that the Lottery has been described as "a tax on people who can't do math" (but I'm willing to spend a buck to "keep the probability envelope open" twice a week), this scam can get expensive FAST. In the case of the WII system above, there were in the neighborhood of 3,200 bids, each costing the bidder 60¢ ... one would think that the cost of those bids would work their way into even the DENSEST skulls!
Two quotes come to mind:
-- H. L. Mencken
-- George Carlin
It amazes me that not only Swoopo, but now this bunch of copies (either sub-brands or imitators) is able to keep going ... the model is so CLEARLY a sucker bet, that it amazes me that anybody even buys the bid credits (I did, admittedly, spend hours looking at this stuff, and counting up how much I'd have lost had I got into the action).
I guess with the holidays these sleazebags are cranking up the advertising (all featuring products that went for "87% off", etc.), but I'm also seeing them in the search results, so they're also working hand-in-hand with the SEO scum to lure in their victims.
It's a depressing thought that there are that many suckers out there, but it does go a long way towards explaining our government.
I guess I'm just too damn ethical, but this is another case (among many) where I do not understand how the people running these things can look at themselves in the mirror. There are so damn many blatant scams running out there, from the "buy your unused gold" offers, to the "we'll consolidate your credit" (I read an analysis of those deals the other day and they're bad news), to the zillions of affiliate/SEO scams on the web, to the predatory foreclosure "business opportunities", to this kind of crap. All of these require people to take advantage of people, to work hard all day to end up doing something which is just barely legal, and clearly unethical ... how to they live with themselves? Are these people inherently of a criminal bent, and doing this sort of thing because they don't care who they hurt, and the odds of getting killed or incarcerated are less than doing stick-ups and robberies? It seems to me that criminals who hit armored cars or banks are at least more ethical that the scum who run these scams as they're going directly to the ill-gotten gains and not trying to fool anybody that they're "just in a business"!