Image via WikipediaSomehow in my travels I ended up on a site called SwipeBids. It's an online auction site. You by bid from the company to use on their auctions. Each bid is worth $.01 and you can only bid one bid at a time (except for the gold & platinum auctions in which 5 or ten bids for one $.01 bid. Confused?
According to the site bids on items should only increase by one cent each time someone bid. The auctions have a set time. If the timer gets down past 10 seconds and someone else places a bid then 10 seconds is added to the clock. Sort of like the "going once, going twice, sold" of regular auctions. This is repeated each time the timer gets below 10 seconds and someone bids.
Last night I was on the site and spotted an auction for a MacBook and 5000 bids. It only had a few minutes to run and the current bid was $9 and change. I couldn't pass it up. I started watching and every time the timer got down to 2 seconds I bid. For the next 45 or 50 minutes I watched the price climb cent by cent. I had decided that my limit would be $30. When the bid got to $26 and change I was getting more interested.
All of a sudden, in a couple of seconds, the current bid jumped to over $60. I contacted the site through their online chat and asked how this is possible. Here is the transcript of that chat
I was watching the auction and there were only a few people participating. SwipeBids would have me believe that suddenly 1000s of people joined the auction and then left. Then, a few minutes later, they all came back for a couple of seconds and then disappeared again.you: I was watching an auction and the bid jumped from around $26 to more than $60 in a matter of second. How is that possible?Sandra: The bidding process is simple. Each product starts at just one dollar. Then, people place bids on the product. Each time someone places a bid, the price of the product rises by 1 cent. The timer keeps going down, and when the auction falls below 5 minutes, if anyone places another bid on the item then the timer will reset to 10 seconds. When bidding stops and the auction ends, last bidder wins!you: Then it should not have jumped that far. There's no way 100s of bids could have been placed in under 10 secondsyou: Since I've been talking to you it's gone up another $30.Sandra: One moment please.Sandra: All bids are governed by our swipebid servers. When a bid is placed, it has to be passed from your computer to our servers to register. If there is any lag (delay) in your internet connection there is a possibility that the timer can run out before your bid is registered.you: You are still not answering my questions. The bid more than doubled in less than 10 seconds. That's thousands of bid at $.01/bid. I don't believe that's possible.
What the hell? Was there an auction Flash Mob? Seriously?
While I was bidding I was also watching another auction for a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart. When I started watching the current bid was $1 and change. I looked back at the MacBook auction for a couple of seconds and then went back to the Wal-Mart auction. In those seconds the bid had doubled to $2 and change.
Anyway, after her comment about the SwipeBid servers, Sandra never said another word. Eventually I told her to cancel my account and left.
I think there is definitely something fishy going on at SwipeBids. Buyer beware.