A link in the post took me straight to the Quibids site, an Aladin's
cave of electronic goodies. Quibid's stock comes from warehouse closeouts and overstocks, and photographs give the impression it has been bought in bulk to sell at knock down prices. On the home page there are several auctions running with only a few seconds left and a good-looking smartphone looking as if it about to be sold for 64p.
Quibids claims to have thousands of satisfied customers, one of them, Lurker bought a Canon EOS Rebel Camera for 148.58, an Apple iPad for 44.07 and a Toshiba Netbook for only 67.37. In all Lurker saved 1,935 pounds says Quibids.
At the bottom of the page lurking in the small print are the words, 'results are of highly skilled Quibids users. Prices do not include cost of bids'. Words that are worth remembering.
Free Bonus Bids
Now, I'm not a great lover of gadgets. I can't even remember which drawer the mobile is in. One day a pair of socks will ring and I'll go into coronary heart failure, I decide though to bid for a smart phone, a gift for a friend who's birthday is coming up. At those prices I could afford to buy her a lovely surprise couldn't I?.
Well, signing up is fairly simple if you have a credit or debit card because before you get anywhere near the auction, you have to buy a package of 90 bids costing 36.00 and you are given 3 free bonus bids.
As I wait for the phone I've chosen to reach the electronic rostrum, I see there is a jumpdrive.being sold and no bidders. I need one and I win it for a penny. Whoopee. A good omen for when the phone comes up. It was only later that I discovered I would be paying 3.99 for standard delivery on something that would normally cost around a pound to post.
Bidding on the smartphone bundle starts and I hold off a wee while, just watching. These sales are called penny auctions, not because you win items for pennies but because bids rise in increments of a penny. It's easy to forget that each bid you make, win or lose, is costing you 40p and the item still has to be paid at the end of the sale.
Quibid's rules state that after each person bids, 'a maximum of 20 seconds will be added to the timer and one bid will be deducted from your account with each bid placed. An auction ends when the timer on the quibids servers hits zero.' When I did start bidding I waited till the clock just hit zero, my bid was accepted but always, straight on top of my bid another appeared, usually one of the same two names and the clock went back up to 15 seconds. The auction doesn't always end at zero. That zero is there to cause a bidding frenzy.
When the phone reached 4.25, I decided to skip a bid. there were three of us battling it out after all. I've many years experience of traditional auctions and Ebay and it's rare for two out of three to drop out at the same time. But this is apparently what happened and the item was sold while I took a sip of my coffee. The whole experience had cost me 23.60 and I had nothing to show for it.
Immediately, after the sale, an email of consolation arrived saying Quibids didn't want me to be disappointed and walk away with nothing so they were offering to sell me the phone at the retail price of 69.00 minus the 23.60 I'd just lost. Nifty marketing.
Lurker's Lucky Wins
If we look at Lurker's lucky wins, we can now see that his real savings weren't 1,985 because we don't know how much he spent on bids. What we do know is that each bid raised forty pence and even taking into consideration that a few of those may have been free bonus bids, Quibids made around 10,280 pounds from auctioning these three items, which they probably bought for pennies. Money would have been made from selling similar items to losing bidders at the retail price. On top of that was the profit from handling charges added to the postage.
Its seems the company's 'thousands of satisfied customers' are gambling on iPads, iPhones and HD televisions when the odds on winning them, are longer than those on a three- legged donkey romping home in the Grand National. Meanwhile, the site must be raking in millions of pounds. I'm just wondering how much of those millions Quibids Malta Ltd., with a base in Bristol, are handing over to Her Majesty's Government in taxes.
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