Saturday, February 4, 2012

Penny Auction 101

I'm sure a few of you have heard of penny auctions.  Well about a month ago, I decided to try it out and see what comes from it.  I will say that it is not as easy as the commercials make it sound.  Although, if you put the time in to learn, it just like the basics of couponing lol.  There's etiquette, math, and saving money!

So first let's go through the basics of what a penny auction is.  There are many out there and each has their own rules or special auctions.  I'm not going to go into that here since you can read about those on their sites if you want.  I'll explain the basics...

1. Register.  Sign up on the site and READ the Terms of Service. 

2. Buy a Bid pack.  Some places give a few free bids for you to start with, but if you like a site you will eventually buy a pack.   You will use these bids to bid on your item of choice.  Bids tend to cost around .50 to .60 and can range from 50 all the way up to 1000 in a pack.  For example, if you decide to buy a bid pack of 50 and they cost .50 each then you will pay $25 for it.

3.  Bidding!  For a beginner, choose an item that may not be a highly wanted item.  A low value gift card for example would be best as opposed to a 40" LCD TV or anything by Apple. 

4.  READ the page for any special details like shipping amount.  Once you are done, look at the timer.  Majority of bids are placed within the last 30 seconds.  If there are no bids placed the price will generally say $0.00.  So if you are the first bid the price will raise a penny to $0.01.  Every bid placed on the auction will raise the price a penny. 

5. CountDown.  Once the timer has reached :15 or below any bid that is placed will add time back onto the clock.  This varies on every site on how much is added but it's typically 10 seconds.  This is done because imagine you bid on an item and the clock has run down to :01 then another bid was put in.  The added time will give you a chance to bid again.

6. 0:00.  Once the countdown has hit zero the last bidder is the winner of the item.  The winner must pay the final auction price and any applicable shipping.

A great place to start reading and checking out sites is PennyAuctionWatch (PAW).  It's a great forum of fellow bidders that let us know if a site is legit or a scam.  There are a few out there and you don't want to take a chance with your money.  The main things people look for on penny auction sites are the following...

1. Bots.  These are fake bidders used to raise the price of an auction.

2.  Legit Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.  A lot of these sites are privately owned and some owners are lazy.  If the TOS is halfway done or nonexistent, that means that the rules are whatever the owner feels like doing at that time even regarding your wins. 

3. Prompt and accessible customer service.  If there's a glitch or a problem with a win, you want to be able to have the problem solved in a timely manner.  You shouldn't have to wait days to get an email reply.  Phone numbers should work and be answered.

4.  On time shipping.  This is a little harder to check with brand new sites, but otherwise wins should be shipped out in a timely manner as well.  This is something that is usually on the auction page and in the TOS. 

I will be doing another post going in more detail about the auction process and things that I've noticed to look for HERE.

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