A week ago the BBB posted an article in the blog section of their website entitled “Penny Auctions: Unless You Win, You’re Probably Wasting Time and Money.”
Personally, I found it hard to believe that penny auction sites were at all accredited by the BBB – this new blog post of theirs makes me feel a little bit better. In the post’s title they blatantly tell consumers unless they’re winning, they’re losing. Big.
For every $80 iPad that gets auctioned off, there have been about 8,000 bids. At the $1 per bid level, that’s $8000 the Penny Auction site receives. – Source
Over the past few years the BBB has seen an increase of complaints from consumers about penny auction sites including complaints about poor customer service and charges charged during trial periods.
For example, Leo and Joann Stefano, a Carnegie, Pennsylvania couple was recently showcased on a Pittsburgh WTAE news segment warning consumers about penny auctions.
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While browsing penny auction site, SaveBig.com, for information they were asked to register to continue to browse further into the website. The site claims “registration is easy and completely free” – Source
They signed up and were reportedly charged $99 in bids just after registration. When they requested a refund they were told none would be given. Instead, they decided to play some of their bids but couldn’t find anything of value on the site.
After reviewing the site myself I didn’t find anything of value (beaded bracelets to iPad covers being the highlights) on this site just by browsing. I was able to browse without signing up. I am unsure if this option to browse without registration became available after complaints or if it was always this way.
What troubled me the most was the phone call between investigative journalist, Jim Parsons and SaveBig.com.
“Parsons: Could I speak with you about trying to get them a refund? I’m calling today to ask can you just give her a refund?
Representative: No sir. This department is not able to make the refund, sir”
Parsons: Ok, can you send me to the department that is able to do that?
Representative: No sir, we don’t have a number for them”
The local BBB made a statement that SaveBig.com has earned an “F” rating for failure to respond to over a dozen consumer complaints.
To see the news story from WTAE please click on the picture below to see the video on their YouTube channel.
I only hope with the BBB publicly addressing these sites and more news stories breaking loose that consumers will be able to clearly see these sites are not in their best interest.