The Penny Auction Craze
The Internet penny auction craze represents a departure from traditional online auctions such as eBay. A Penny auction offers high value items but differs from traditional auctions in that bidding costs money. Participants purchase one or more bids, usually 20-50 cents each, and engage in a battle of nerves against faceless bidders throughout cyberspace. Bidding usually starts at zero and increases one penny at a time; penny auction sites turn a profit by selling bids, not from auction proceeds.
BidRay.com offers high end popular electronics, books, gift cards, tools, and something called Haribo Happy Cola Gummy Candy. The candy retails for $17.04, which is significantly less than the value of most items up for bid.
Bid packages start at 19.95 for 20 bids (10 cents per bid). Five hundred bid packages go for $400 (8 cents per bid).
Auctions can be paused midstream and resumed the next day, ostensibly when more bidders are awake. We observed an Apple MacBook Air (retail value $1799) bid up to $57.24 but paused in auction limbo with only 25 seconds remaining. High bidder "BASSIN" probably endured a sleepless night.
Check out the BidRay Bidding Tactics page, where fanciful bidders like Andy the Aggressive, Cindy the Conservative, and Erin the Early Bird are profiled. It's all fun and games until someone loses a mortgage payment. Internet penny auctions have a dark side?
Auctions are relatively short. Although most items were 'paused for the night' when we visited the site, the active auctions seemed to be 2 minutes or less in duration.
Dibzees.com enforces a limit of two wins per bidder per night. Given that dibzees auctions occur in cyberspace, we have no idea what a 'night' is, not to mention how the limit might be enforced.
Typical electronics, DVDs, gift cards, and bid packages are up for auction here. We noted a Nintendo Wii that sold for $3.10 to a bidder named Wiez in a place named East Dubuque.
Bids cost ... well, dibzees insists that you register before that secret is revealed. OK.
We registered simply to gain access to the bid fee schedule. Ouch. Bids start at 50 cents each, with the cheapest package setting you back $5.00.
The definition of irony: PayPal is accepted to purchase bid packages. PayPal is owned by eBay. Would General Motors loan you money to purchase a Ford?
Auctions are relatively long. We observed a Target Gift Card auction counting down from over 14 hours. No bids had been submitted, but digital tension was building.
Rockybid was down at the time of this writing. The site offered voluminous apologies for 'technical difficulties' but no auctions were running. More information about the old days of RockyBid can be found here.
Rockybid has since embarked on a quest to reinvent itself. Previous registered members are receiving invitations to beta test the new site.
Hard Data About Penny Auction Sites
Google Page Rank
Caveat Emptor; Buyer Beware.
Thoroughly investigate any penny auction site before you jump in. We strongly urge a visit to the "Contact Us" page. If the only contact information is an email address, think twice before trusting your money and time to the site.
Roll Your Own Penny Auctions
Penny Auction software is not rocket science. Conceivably, anyone could stock up at CostCo or Sam's Wholesale Club and launch their own online penny auction site. Few bidders care if orders are fulfilled by someone wearing pajamas.
Penny Auction software is readily available online. All you need is a domain, a PayPal account, and some shiny new merchandise. Don't expect much interest in the Haribo Happy Cola Gummy Candy.