Is buying things on penny auctions sites like QuiBids.com a good idea? I heard you can get things very cheaply there.

  • FYI: I'm not serious, but I thought it would be a good question. – C. Ross Jun 8 '10 at 15:16
  • Quite honestly, I don't even know how these work. I suggest anybody answering this one explain basically how penny auctions operate. +1 for the question. – Chris W. Rea Jun 8 '10 at 15:44
  • @Chris I'll put a bounty on it once it's up long enough. – C. Ross Jun 9 '10 at 2:56
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    I like this article from Jeff Atwood on Swoopo – Alex B Aug 30 '10 at 16:07

QuiBides has a description of how the process works. Simply put, every bid costs money (60 cents to place) so when you win an item for $20 that's worth $100, there may be 200 bids that were not won, but the company pockets. The concept is a huge turn off for me. Too much like gambling.

Edit - given the selling price is nearly always on the low side (e.g "iPad 3G for $150!") I'm sure the seller gets most of the bid revenue. I don't know the exact details of the fee sharing.

  • You may need to edit your answer so it's eligible for the bounty (technically, not as far as content). – C. Ross Jun 14 '10 at 17:11
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    That concept does sound like a huge turn off. Spending money to get a chance to win an item amounts to gambling. If I wanted to gamble, I'd stick to blackjack, personally :-) Question, though: Who pockets the unwinning bid money - the auction site, or the item seller, or both? – Chris W. Rea Jun 17 '10 at 23:52
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    The auction site does. It's a great deal for them. – samoz Aug 28 '10 at 18:01

There's been a great deal of growth in this market with new sites opening all over the world. It has only the illusion of being a bargain.

Each bid is worth 1 penny/cent and can cost anywhere from 50 pence/cents to 1 dollar/pound per bid.

Quick calculation: the auction site needs to clear 1% to 2% of the bid price to cover the cost of the item being sold.

From observation it appears that big ticket items (like a car) attract sufficient interest to push it over the 2% level quite rapidly (where "rapid" can be measured in days given that it can be up to two minutes between bids, at 1 cent a time). It is the lower-priced items that can often go for less.

However, this is all a function of the site's popularity. The earlier you get in the more likely they are to still be burning cash like the dotcom flameouts many are likely to be.


A: No.

See: http://www.ripoffreport.com/organized-crime/swoopo-com/swoopo-com-avoid-these-pay-to-c79m8.htm

Go to a casino and play craps instead. At least you'll have a good time.


It amounts to chance, more or less. It's more of a "last man standing" deal: If you're the last person to throw in the towel and cut your losses, you win.

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