Or, “Nothing in Life is Free!” Perhaps you’ve never heard of the penny auction sites popping up around the Web. I hadn’t until a few weeks ago. I’ve been doing some online research on video cameras with the intent of purchasing one. Some nights I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I usually get up and do some reading and sometimes get online, which is what I did that night. As Google shares what Google knows, some ads popped up in a sidebar about this place called Wavee which showed cameras going for ridiculously low prices at online auctions. I decided to check it out. That was my first mistake.
My second mistake was not paying attention to what I was doing. I thought I’d give it a try and in order to do so one has to purchase credits. So I assumed I entered my credit card information and that’s when I would make a decision about whether and how much to purchase (if I did decide to go ahead with it). Lo and behold, before I know it I’m signed in with an immediate $75 charge for 125 credits I think it was. So roughly what, 65 cents per bid? By this point I’m pretty mad at myself and think oh well, certainly it’ll pay for itself.
Newbies get to participate in newbies-only auctions, designated by a little baby face (for those with less than three wins). It only took me about six or seven credits to realize how quickly they disappear and how crazy things can get. So I decided to bid on credits instead. Fortunately, being early in the morning and obviously starting with a pack of other newbies who hadn’t figured it out yet, I was able over the next day or two to buy 30-credit bundles for the price of one bid. For some reason the first one was 15 cents but the other two were only a penny. But wait, there’s a $1.99 charge per transaction, so technically I paid $6.14 for 90 credits. Not bad. So now I have 195 credits sitting in my pot.
I decide to watch and wait, see if there’s any rhyme or reason to this thing. And I learned, very quickly, that this is nothing short of gambling. That’s right! So DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get involved in these sites if you have a gambling problem because you WILL lose money. If you’re smart, you may make out okay, but my guess is most people get caught up in the heat of the moment and figure they’ve already invested so much in bidding on a particular item that they just have to have more credits and keep up the bidding/gambling and quickly buy more (sometimes at full price).
The savvy (and those who can afford it) employ “bid bots” and if they spend enough get “halos” which do their bidding for them if they’re going to be away. Oh, and there’s the option to buy an item and put some of your credits you spent trying to get it for nothing towards it. But that gets turned off earlier than I think it should, and you’re left with nothing.
So here I am a couple of weeks later with nothing to show for my $81.14 because a) I’m a tightwad and b) I don’t have large chunks of time to waste, uh, invest in this venture. I decide that if I can come close to breaking even I’ll be a happy camper, so my plan is to bid on $25 gift cards. Whatever I choose to bid on I will continue to bid on until my credits are gone. That was what I was going to do this morning. But she who hesitates is lost. I pulled up the site and watched and forgot to log in and dilly dallied around for about two minutes. There were supposed 8 participants in the bid so I thought it would maybe go on for a while. Within a minute it closed, the winner getting a $25 gift card for $.51 (plus the $1.99 charge). Now of course, it’s entirely possible had I entered the bidding it could have been run up. Well, let’s see, if two people are bidding (though there are usually more), I’d have run out of credits when the bid reached a three or four bucks??? That’s just it, one never knows how high things will go. One day something may go for $.51 and another day $8-10. It’s all in the dice, so to speak.
Sites like these play on human greed and the Bible has plenty of warnings about that. It’s my own greed that got me in this mess and it’s a lesson that will cost me. What am I saying?! It already has cost time and money and it’s not over yet! But it will be soon. I’ll let you know how it all ends.