For what is probably the first time in my life, I just saw an ad banner that interested me enough to find out more information about the product being advertised. The "product" is called Swoopo
, and it is an online auction site unlike any other I've seen before.
From staring at it for the past 10 minutes trying to understand how it works, this is my observation:
Auctions have a continuous countdown timer to when the auction will end. However, this is actually the part that is vastly different from traditional auction websites. The timers are relatively short, and are based on the current bid for the item. So for instance, I'm looking at a Nintendo Wii
that is currently going for $0.60. That's right. 60 cents. And the countdown timer appears to be 30 minutes until the end of the auction.
But here's the thing: Each time someone bids, it resets the timer. And actually, someone just bid on the Wii, and now it is going for $0.75 and the timer is now 15 minutes until the end of the auction. And it continues like this. As the bid increases, the time on the countdown timer decreases, until some of the auctions are down to 10 or 15 seconds for each bid.
And to prevent an auction lasting forever, there is a final ending time for the auction. This Wii auction is scheduled to end, at the latest, on December 2nd, if people keep bidding until then.
So it actually sounded fun and unique enough that I decided to sign up and try it out. And that's when I learned about the one "feature" that, to me, makes it sound too much like a scam than a real auction site.
You see, in order to place any bid on any item, you need to pay $1 for each bid. (Basically, you buy bids in advance.) That, to me, brings up too many questions about whether these other bidders are even real people, or just auto-bots made by Swoopo to artificially inflate the bid price and make you pay another $1 to bid again.
I can tell by some strange English sentences on the site that it's based in a foreign country. (Looks like Germany, after some research.) Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. It's just a side-effect of being inundated with spam that I'm always a little wary of professional looking sites with strange English translations.
Looks too much like a scam when their main source of revenue is to have people buy lots of bids instead of buying lots of products. Too much of a conflict of interests for it to seem ethical to me. I suggest you take a look at it if you want to just see what I'm talking about, but don't say I didn't warn you if you try to buy something and end up paying more on your bids than what you actually paid for the item.
In conclusion: Avoid it!
P.S. They also operate under http://www.swoopo.co.uk
, and http://www.swoopo.at