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UPDATE: Quibids recently contacted us about this post. In response, we've removed the first paragraph's inference that Quibids could be seen as a "scam." The rest of the post remains unedited. Below is a response directly from Jill Farrand, director of public relations at QuiBids.

 

The penny auction site QuiBids.com nearly had me fooled.

This site is, at its core, another Internet auction site like eBay. The catch, however, is users pay for bids in the hope of snagging an item for a killer deal. And let me tell you, some of these deals are outrageous! 32" HDTV for $2.60. 32GB iPod Touch for $15. (The $26 Xbox/Kinect bundle got me.) These deals seem too good to be true, and that's where reading the directions is extremely important.

Each bid on QuiBids costs the user 60 cents per bid, and these must be purchased in packages of multiple bids before bidding. This means you could essentially spend $15 dollars for 25 bids before even getting started. But still, $15 for a new TV is pretty awesome right? Not so much. Every time you cast a bid, 20 seconds is added to the timer giving other bidders time to chime in. Still not so bad? Maybe not, if each bid raised the price more than the 1 or 2 cent limits. Pretty soon those 25 bids are used up and you're cashing in for 25 more on an auction that may take hours. While this process can certainly work out for the winner, the losers lose all that money--unless they "Buy Now." This feature allows losing bidders to purchase the item they were bidding on at full retail price, but they'll subtract the amount you've already spent on bids. When bidding with this site, you have to be willing to pay full price. If you lose and don't opt to "Buy Now," all that money is lost in the ether.

Long story short: read the fine print. I was this close to submitting my free registration without realizing that getting a cheap TV is about as far from cheap as humanly possible.

Always check the Better Business Bureau before buying into sites like this. You may find that a site like QuiBids has had well over 200 complaints of "dishonest sales practices" in the last year.

Know of any sites we need to be aware of? Let us know in the comments section.

*Update: The following is from an email by Jill Farrand, director of public relations at Quibids, explaining the company's objection to Chris' post:

"I absolutely agree with Mr. Thomas’ line about reading the directions! We try to be as transparent as possible with how our site operates and even have a QuiBids101 section devoted to just that – additional information on how our site operates, including ways to better one’s strategy.

In the paragraph mentioning 'every time a user bids, it costs $0.60…' Yes, users first have to purchase their bids before they can participate in any auction. However, keep in mind we have voucher bids (aka free bids) that many customers also use... Voucher bids can be obtained from receiving badges, via promotions and/or gameplays.

Regarding the clock, after a certain amount of time, the clock will reset to 10-15 seconds. It just depends on how long the auction has been on for."

Photo taken from this photostream and used with permission of a Creative Commons license.