Swoopo - great auction deals or great scam?

by Xin Lu on 6 April 2009 43 comments
Photo: Swoopo Logo

Today I stumbled upon a site called Swoopo.  It is touted as a new auction site that combines shopping with entertainment.  I took a quick look and it seemed like many items were selling for very low prices.  For example, an ounce of gold recently sold for only $187.96 when it is worth around $1000.  How is this possible?

Apparently, users have to pay 75 cents for each bid, and each bid increases the auction price by a very small amount.  In the case of the gold bar, each bid only increases the price by 1 cent since it is a penny auction.  This means that there were a total of 18796 bids by all the users with a total value of $14097.  If you subtract the value of the item from $14097, Swoopo still made a handsome profit of over $13000 on this single auction.  The winner of the auction placed a total of 213 bids so he or she did get a good deal on the gold bar, but the rest of the bidders pretty much lost their money.

A rather fishy part of the site is that many of the winners who "win" these auctions use something called a BidButler. It is essentially a bid sniping bot that bids in the last few seconds of an auction.  However, each auction's time left is supposed to go up by a few seconds so that others have a chance to bid.  The BidButler allows people to basically schedule bids and get hundreds of paid  bids for Swoopo in a short amount of time.

Finally, just as an experiment I sat down and watched a couple auctions.  It was definitely exciting to watch the clock going down to less than ten seconds as a frenzy of bids poured in, but then suddenly the clock gets extended by 10 to 20 minutes and the waiting game starts all over again. There is a final end time on each item, but before that final date the clock is basically controlled by Swoopo and they could extend it as long as they are getting people willing to throw their money away. They know that every time they bring the clock close to 0 they will be raking in cash, and they can do that countless times before the final end time.

As the old adage goes, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".  Swoopo basically lets people gamble that noone else will make another bid for a ridiculously cheap item, and in the process Swoopo profits.  If you are into finding deals via auctions, I would definitely stick with sites like eBay
 where you do not have to pay to bid.
 

0
No votes yet
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

43 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
Matthew

I agree with the main idea behind this article: Swoopo probably isn't the place to go if you're strictly looking for a good deal. While good deals can be had, the best part of Swoopo is the excitement of playing and winning. For the money conscious, better stick to traditional auction sites.

For those who want a little spice in your life, Swoopo might do the trick.

Guest's picture

It took me about $5 of bidding to realize that Swoopo makes money on the volume of failed bids.

Guest's picture

It is actiually gambling website more then Bidding website. You never ever compare with great eBay.

It is a organised scam in the name of 'Auction'.

I think they should have to mention that they are Gambling site on there website just like ladbrokes.com and coral.co.uk.

Guest's picture

If it works the way you described-- WHAT A SCAM!

Guest's picture
Guest

I Stumbled Upon (literally using StumbleUpon an interesting Swoopo competitor. It's called PriceDrip.com and they have a TRULY transparent model. Granted, they scam people too by making money off the bids, but in their model the price goes DOWN constantly as opposed to up. Also, like eBay, you can submit an actual dollar value that you want to pay for the product.

There IS a catch though (isn't there always?). Depending on how much you bid, you could use 1 or more "points". So if you bid near the original price, it'll cost you 10 points! That's ten dollars just to BID!

Anyway, just throwing it out there.

Guest's picture

Total scam. DO NOT fall for it!

Guest's picture
Torley

namely, greed. It'd be quite revealing if they showed webcam reactions of everyone "bidding" during the final stretch — a sad, but often-repeated frailty of how desperate we can be.

Guest's picture
Guest

A total scam, I really think they have people working inside increasing the bids. I bought bids from this place, Bid when the timer was down to 2 seconds and lost, the person that bid won. I have been winning items when 1 second showed and did not win. Look at the auctions won, and the bidders had sometimes, 375 bids at 75 cent each. Who is really winning when you have 15,000 bids at 75 cents for an item worth wholesale, maybe $300.00. Stay away from this site. They can have my $22.50.

Guest's picture
Jani

Hey everyone,

There is a new site using this model that you might be interested in, www.yottabid.com. It is new, so there are way less users (much better odds of winning, if only just temporarily). They also are doing their best to be as transparent as possible and avoid some of the potential pitfalls of this model. Real items are won and shipped daily and you can actually get customer service to listen to you and help you.

In the name of transparency and disclosure, yes, I am affiliated with the site, but not one of the owners.

Thanks,

Jani

Guest's picture
MelissaKO

There's a penny auction watchdog site & forum where you can discuss your experiences and learn more about penny auctions www.pennyauctionwatch.com

Guest's picture
Adam

Swoopo is not a scam. It is a great business model.
The company is upfront about everything.

It is people not reading the rules or understanding how hard it is to win an auction and greed taking over that has everyone screaming CON or SCAM!

When the fayre comes to town and you try out the gun range and the dodgy gypsey has bent the rifles barrel, that is a scam!

However throwing a ring over a bottle neck where the ring only just fits around the bottle is not a scam! You just have to be very lucky to win the cuddly toy!.

Guest's picture
Lovely

I thought this website is great but when i bought bids for $37.50..The bids was not reflected to my account and they just deducted that amount to my credit card. I made it twice cause i thought i made a mistake because the said there was an error. But when i checked my debit card and credit card. The amount was reflected immediately to my Bank and credit card account and there is no way can refund it. SO i reported it immediately to Bank of America and my credit card provider.

Beware with this website this is such a SCAM, FRAUD and ILLEGAL

Guest's picture
RENAN

NEVER BE A VICTIM OF THIS WEBSITE. ITS A TOTAL FRAUD. ITS REAL FRAUD..SCAM..OR WHATEVER YOU CALL IT.. I EMAILED THEM TO REFUND MY MONEY.

THIS SWOOPO SITE SHOULD BE BANNED. THIS IS A SCAM.. IT SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE AUTHORITY

Guest's picture
Guest

I have used swoopo and it is not a scam but it is extremely difficult to win. It is gambling with another name, swoopo calls it entertainment shopping, however it is nothing more than gambling. When you go to a casino and lose you are aware it is a game and hopefully you are aware the house has an edge. In the case of swoopo they make money of the losers and tons of it because the bids generate alot more than the item's value.
how ever i would not get mad because I did not win a laptop for 50 dollars. When using these sites be responsible and do not expect the impossible just hope to be lucky or dont play. If you do not have a gambler personality i would urge you to stay away from them.
To be clear I am in no way affiliated with any of the sites mentioned above I believe that these sites are legal casino's
and dont get mad if i lose because I am aware of the risks associated with bidding on these sites.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have talk to several people that have tried bidding and never won. They said the same thing as everyone else above, the clock stops at 2 seconds, 1 seconds, 10 seconds, 4 seconds, etc. If it wasn't a scam the bidding and clock would not fluctuate at all. You can't even compare this to a casino! The same machine doesn't change depending on who is sitting there. I watched 2 auctions going on Apple computers and the one that started last ended first. The reason is the first auction had more bidders and they were very consent on bidding, where the second auction wasn't as active, so they kept that one going for 36 hours and made $8,000 on a $1700 investment. Its one thing having a edge on you and everyone else the same way, but illegal to commit fraud.

Guest's picture
RachelM

Jani is exactly right, the newer sites really offer awesome opportunities to take advantage of sites like this while they are in their budding stages. bidfire.com was one that I found, I watched an auction for a nintendo wii where the same 3 bidders were going at it and then at $3.30... it just stopped. That was it, the winner got the system for $3.30. So I gave it a shot and actually won a game for less than $1. I'd say shop around a bit and check out other sites. It's more fun than anything, but it's a lot of fun!

Guest's picture
RB

I have created a software that allows to create reports on historical bids that can assist to place more intelligent bids based on bid patterns. Not guaranteed you will win but at least you will be able to determine what days are optimal for bidding. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

RB
biggzz@hotmail.com

Guest's picture
Guest

a lot of people have their reservations with the new concept of "penny auction" web sites..
i hope this blog sets them to rest for the better..
if not.. this is another blog link that may help
http://hubpages.com/hub/penny-auctions

Guest's picture
Thomas

Sites like Swoopo are more for fun than for people actually looking for a bargain. I suggest you look around at the other auction sites similar to Swoopo. Hasteno.com is a new one that I’ve been playing on and I’ve actually won a couple things. Playstation 3 games going for $.08 (2 bids!) and a Nintendo Wii going for $2.16 is ridiculous. Before you completely discount the idea, you should check them out.

Guest's picture
Jim

I used swoopo for around 3 months! Didn't win anything, so I googled. Found a site http://muulu.com 50 cents per bid, second time you buy its like 35 cents, sold. Used the site for around 2 weeks off and on (conserving my bids) when i won my nano! Spent 1 bid on it, waited until the last second. Great site, great design. Oh and the discount on the second buy is awesome!

Guest's picture
mtngrlseller

HI Everyone,

If its TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, ITS USUALLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! Think about it. If you have the money to gamble and splurge, when you don't win then it might be fun, but if you can't afford to gamble use that money you would have gambled with place in a cup or safe place and go to dinner or do something special for yourself or a loved one. Whatever you decide GOOD LUCK.

Guest's picture

Yeah Jim maybe all they do is send one person a nano then they shill the rest. That is if you are not just some shill.

Guest's picture
BOOM

What if swoopo always make their own bidder wins with ridiculously high bid?

They don't have to ship the product since fake user won and they will only get the bid money!

SCAM?? Swoopoo SCAM or not? Time will tell!

Guest's picture
Guest

some website are complete fraud. They place their insiders to bid and at the end their people win with the Genuine members losing. Having some pity on genuine members they let them win some cheap items like Wii remote controller, Gift cards, etc
Also, I visited at http://www.pennyauctioninfo.com and there too I found the reviews about various website. yesterday, their site was down for some maintenance but now, its up.

Guest's picture
Pete

Well. Let`s make some simple things clear - there are fraud sites and there are legit penny auctions. Scammers do not deliver products you won, do not place properly your bids or just use bots to outbid paid users.

I don`t think Swoopo is a scam site, they are still one of the leading businesses with thousands of happy winners. That`s actually the problem - more trusted and popular auctions are difficult to win, lots of bidders participate there.

My personal favorite is Bidfella penny auctions site - I`m from UK, so it`s UK site. I won twice and even considering plenty of bids spent still got 60-70% discount compared to retail prices.

Penny auctions is not like going to shop, like somebody said, it`s entertainment and a chance to win big. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to win, as it should be - these companies spend much on marketing, web development, have many people on their payrolls etc - how do you think they can stay in business if winning could be too easy? Good auctions offer you a fair chance, their goal is never not just give you easy money as a gift.

Google a bit and try to find out scam alerts, check for past auctions and winners, read sites like pennyauctionwatch.com etc. Dumb users loose always, so try to educate yourself a bit. Good luck!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm afraid bidfella is a scam too..looked alright at the beginning, but now you can tell that basically all the bidders are bots..so everyone stay away from bidfella..anyone else noticed it?

Guest's picture
peter908

As with all new services, educating consumers and arming them with appropriate expectations is key. Much of the criticism penny auctions receive stems from the fact that few people win and everyone expects to get a great deal without much effort. Noone can fault the auction sites for channeling these human needs. It's called business. It is up to consumers to educate themselves by doing their homework, such as checking out review sites like www.pennyauctionguide.com. It's just like everything in life: luck favors the prepared.

Guest's picture

Swoopo may not be a scam outright but there seems to be some similarities.

Guest's picture
Nick

Look the majority of penny auctions are scams and we are here to reveal all those scammers out there. Check out http://www.pennyauctionscam.com where we post strong evidence for people and let them make their mind up about whether or not they should buy a bid pack form that particular auction site.

Guest's picture
Guest

Now im not sure how this site is regulated but has anyone considered the idea that the site itself has its own people bidding on items? Example: There are 100 people bidding on item X. If the seller is in on the bidding he can essentially keep pushing the bidding therefore extending the time of the auction. The longer the auction the more money the house will make as more and more people continue bidding. Eventually people with smaller bank rolls will quit and the "the ringer" will win the item. The seller never really loses item X but still makes money off all the bids that were placed. Now again this is all a matter of how well this site is regulated which I honestly have NO IDEA about....For people who have won items how many have they won where they actually paid considerably less than what the item was worth? If what I am saying is right "the ringer" could simply stop bidding once the price of item X reaches a point where the risk of bidding now out weighs what the item is actually worth. Then when Joe makes that last bid that has him paying $200 for a $250 mp3 player...not really much of a deal...and still the house has made probably 5 0r 10 times more just from other peoples bids...who knows... Even if what I am saying isnt true, essentially only people with large bank rolls have a true advantage. With the BidButler someone can simply turn it on...set it to some crazy amount like 500 bids...and just walk away. I doubt most people bidding on these items are laying around in alabaster bathing vessels filled with gold and diamonds. The whole concept of this site appeals to people with not alot of money to spend hoping to get a deal on that laptop theyve always wanted. People who probably have 100 or so bids theyve purchased and likely dont want to use ALL their bids on just one item...so they bid 15...maybe 20 times...hoping...and then quit. And bank roll with BidButler on 1000 bids ends up winning. I havent taken the time to analyze but I wouldnt be surprised if 80-90% of the auctions end with a bidder who uses BidButler. Just my 2 cents.

Guest's picture
Guest

i agree with the last comments. i started small with the odd bid here and there, soon i was sucked in and lost a total of £600 pounds. all i managed to win was £10 worth of free bids. ok more fool me. but it got to the stage where i was determined to get the money back....wrong move. just ended up losing more. then i discovered some free software from bidfighter .com

try it. it reveals how many bids are going on at any particular auction. some people are bidding thousands of bids for an item that is worth a quarter of the amount. very suspicious. are they bidbots ? you can also analyse each individual bidder and how much they have won over a period of time. the same high bidders had won around £25000 worth of goods in 6 months.  others like me next to nothing. it is all very very suspicious. why would anyone bid 4000 bids for something costing one quarter of the bid costs. i welcome other comments re this.

 

 

Guest's picture
Guest

sorry forgot to tell you .. it was on swoopo . com 

Guest's picture
Jonathan Mayers

Swoopo does sound scary, I've seen the deals there, but from the other commenters experiences it sounds rigged. I think it's a matter of how the rules are set. I've used another pay per bid site and I've been happy with them. I mean, I didn't win, but at least I was able to put the money towards buying the product from them. The price wasn't inflated ten fold like I would have thought either, not the cheapest I found either. However, the point is I would rather use a site that lets you bid your bid money towards buying it, if you don't win, at least then you don't feel screwed or cheated. I'll continue using the Bidarrific.com and maybe next who knows maybe I'll get lucky.

Guest's picture
Guest

Alright, I've searched a lot of sights on how great swoopo really is and now I'm thinking I should buy somewhere else. i want the place to be real, safe, and I want to save money. Any ideas?

Guest's picture
Anthony Defusto

Nice blog!! i also know a very good site for penny auction

Bidzillion.com !!!!
Save up to 99% off retail at BidZillion.com online auctions

Guest's picture
Kawika

Swoopo is more of a gaming site where you throw your money at something in hopes of winning. you have no chance of winning something cheaply unless you happen to stumble on an auction that no one is watching or cares about. Since Swoopo can restrict the number of auctions, and the auctions are available internationally, the chance of that happening is slim to none. Therefore, throw a few bucks at it in hopes of winning the jackpot, but don't waste a lot of money (or time) on it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Well as to wether its fixed read this and decide.
i was watching 2 auctions both for high end computers, i was using 2 computers myself to watch both auctions, after 10 minutes both auctions were identical despite early bids from people who didnt stay longer than 10-12 bids each bid was being repeated on both auctions and both ended with the same amount and crucially each lineup was identical in that the final 10 bidders had the same ranking and the same amount bid in each auction. When i tried to bid it wasnt accepted, but, the spooky thing was that each auction had the same auction ID number. The auctions finished at 3.05am when not a lot of people are active and i was thinking that due to the possibility of not realising a profit on each item would the company end the auction early by using a shill bid and reject outsiders bids so they could end it early, keeping the items and reauctioning them at a time where they would make profit?

Guest's picture
Jim Smith

There are so many penny auction sites out there now. Just into the mix comes another one, itsybid.com. What a way to throw away your money. As with most auction systems, the whole "penny" is really just a unit value that means nothing. Every "penny" is really more like a credit and credits go for $0.75 each. Between all the bidders, the amount could be huge. And keep in mind every time you bid,at .75 cents a click, this does not promise a win. So you could be out hundreds of dollars and not win anything.
Best advise, stay away from penny auction sites like itsybid.com and go with vendors that offer real discounts for real products and services.

Guest's picture
Bid Penny

I think swoopo is a great site. I've used it and had a good experience. I also saved about half price on my ipod. Read about my experience with penny auction sites at my blog:
http://bidpenny.blogspot.com/
Bid Penny

Guest's picture

I agree with you. We have been bidding on penny auctions for a long time. What people needs to know is they need to understand what they're doing. The uneducated just make guesses and accusations. As always the winners will tell everyone how good a thing this is but the losers will whine about how unfair the game is played.

Guest's picture

Swoopoo has officially closed their doors. Their site is no longer online. I guess it was a scam after all. I wonder if they will return the money at least to the people who were still invested in the site. Is there any legal action being taken?

Guest's picture

That's the second time I've read about this site. I will say that there are good penny auction sites out there for obtaining good deals. Don't let your experience with this one taint your feelings for all of them. Just be smart about what you bid on and when. I think you might be surprised by what you can get.