‘Penny Auction’ Websites Generating Complaints

CHICAGO (CBS) – An iPad for $40, a Kindle for $20 — those are the kind of bargains penny auction websites are promising this Christmas season.

But the Better Business Bureau says complaints against the companies in the Chicago area are up more than 400 percent.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

Penny auctions are really gambling sites. Because they’re called penny auctions it sounds like each time you bid it’s only costing you a penny.

But actually, you pay for each “penny” bid — about 60 or 70 cents, depending on the website.

What that means is that you can end up paying more for an item than you think, and you probably won’t even win it.

Some people find it an exciting game. But some others feel they’re being misled.

“I feel like I was taken advantage of. I’m very upset,” one viewer told Tucker.

His anger is aimed at a penny auction site called Zbiddy.com. He doesn’t want to be identified because he’s embarrassed he lost $99. He says when he put in his credit card he didn’t know he was buying bids. He calls the website misleading.

“I thought it was a credit card that was provided for later use. If I were to decide to buy something my credit card would be on account,” he said.

It’s a growing problem, one consumer watchdog says.

“There are more and more of these sites each and every week, it seems to be. They can be here in America, they can be in Third World companies,”  Steve Bernas, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau, said.

Like many people, the CBS 2 viewer was attracted to the unbelievable prices the sites claim to have sold. What made the zbiddy.com site even more appealing? It looked like CBS was endorsing penny auctions.

“I said if it’s good enough for you, how bad can it be,” the viewer said.

On the front page of company’s site was an unauthorized, re-edited story that CBS 2 did on penny auctions back in April. Left out of the butchered version was information about the difficulty of winning a hot item.

After seeing the original report, the viewer says, “I was just amazed how they manipulated your report to make this whole thing work for them.”

A Zbiddy operator dismissed accusations that the website is misleading. He says customers just need to “read everything.”

A vice president of the company did not return phone calls regarding the doctored CBS 2 report.

  • Bill S.

    Like they say: “A sucker is born every two pennies.”

  • CherylandTom DeTurk

    You have 7 days to cancel your membership and they will credit you for any bids not used… So if you don’t like the site and still have credits, contact them, they will give you back your money… They talked me into staying, but I also got a $50.00 restraunt.com for nothing and they refunded me 50% of my initial bids, and I still have bids left that I can try to win…

  • Chris

    Many penny auctions a deceptive but they are not gambling. I work for pennypurses.com and we try to teach new customers before they buy bids how the sites work. We actually limit the number of designer purses a customer can win each week because once they have good skill they tend to get good deals.

  • Jim Hamilton


  • Jim hamilton

    The reason the tapes all weren’t played is because Jessie and Barack would start screaming racist america! and Nancy would be screaming and all the democratic party would be screaming and and Jerry Right (Thinks he’s a Reverend) He’s full of shiit would be screaming Gawd dam america, and the judge here was a C O W A R D!!


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