31 July 2009

Bidcactus?

WARNING:
By visiting the site below, you may be hooked into a half hour or even ONE hour of viewing almost worthless flash updates. This could cause damage to your eyes as well as waste precious time in your schedule.

So I have a MyPoints account. I've had one for about two years, after a coworker at DecisionWise told me how he clicked through emails and got free giftcards for his family. I want free giftcards! So I clicked through emails casually for a year and I was able to get Scott a $50 gift card to Macy's for Christmas, with which he bought a nice jacket and pair of clear sunglasses that he always wanted since he saw a picture Brad Pitt wearing them. I feel like it's totally worth clicking on emails to get $50 at Macy's a year. I usually don't even look at the sites, I just click and run. (If you want to join, I get extra points for recommending people!)

This is all besides the point, though. Just background information. So today, as part of my usual morning clicks of the day, I clicked upon two sites that I actually had to stop and read. The first site was called Alice.com, which is a site where you can buy household goods directly from the supplier for less cost and have it shipped to you from Alice for free. An interesting business proposition in these economic times. The second site was called Bidcactus.com. (Seriously? Bid-cactus?)

Now I'm not into online auctions at all and am thus more than surprised that I stayed as long as I did to view the goings on of this Bidcactus. In my defense, the functions of this site were MORE than intriguing... especially as I began to understand how it works. It looks like a totally normal online auction site, except that the first thing I noticed was that $75 gift cards to Wal-mart were going for $9 and $700 laptops were being auctioned off for $20. What? In my sim-mind world of auctioning, where I don't actually do it but rather play the what-if game, I would pay up to $60 for a $75 gift certificate, especially if I needed it anyways.

Theres more!

So it actually costs $0.75 to place a bid. You create an account and you pre-pay for "bid packages." Then each bid is worth $0.01 to $0.10 depending on if it's a large item or "Penny Auction." So every time you bid, you're paying $0.75 to get closer to winning an item for a fraction of the price. Of course, that means that people don't like to bid very often. So most people let the clock go all the way to 3 seconds left before trying to be the last person to bid on an item. That's really the game...

Except there's a twist.

Every time someone bids, up to 30 seconds can be added to the clock. So while you want to be the last person to bid because you're paying for every bid, you could add time to the clock which prolongs the bidding. It's hard to tell how or why the bidding stops, but I sat for quite some time, trying to figure out why more time was added when a bid was placed. All I wanted to do was see someone win a gift certificate, for heaven's sake!

Well then I got to thinkin', and you may have come to the same conclusion. It's obvious that at $0.75 for every penny or dime bid on an item that there comes a time, long before $60 bid, that the item is not worth paying for. If you bid one penny, 100 times, that's actually $75. You've already paid for the gift card without winning it. But the card isn't going for $1.00 (which is what it is worth in bids paid). The winning auction for the gift card was $8.79. That's 879 bids at $0.75 a piece... which means that Bidcactus.com is making $584.25 (assuming that they paid the full price for the gift card). Who is the genius that thought of that?

Now I'm not encouraging you to bid on Bidcactus, by any means. I have no plans to waste $0.75 on even one, one penny bid. But really?! There are so many people sitting in front of their computers at home (or in there office, slackers!) that would be totally willing to get in on this game, especially if it means getting a gift card for what appears to be $9. Don't be fooled though! And try not to get hooked watching these fish try to swim upstream.