As usual, my daughter was smarter than I was. When I asked her if she, as a business major, had ever tried the online auction houses, places like SaveBig where people bid on particular items and the savings seemed worth the effort, she snorted and said she would never do that. And she's a shopper.
But did I listen? Noooooo.
It cost me $45 to buy the bids necessary to join the fray. And I did join the fray. Twice. Each time I bid on an iPad I thought it might be fun to have, though I don't actually need it. Bids go up in one-penny increments, but each time anyone bids, they are paying 60 cents to do so. The bidding gets pretty fiery as the clock ticks down to the "sold" point. Each time someone made a last-second bid, the clock would be reset to 20 seconds. This could go on for hours.
But there was a function (Bid Buddy) that allowed you to pick a bid-range ($90-$125 for example) and the number of bids you would like to make within that range ... and then forget about it. The site promised that your bids would be made within the last 10 seconds. It never happened and both times the iPads I bid on sold for less than the range I had put in.
When I asked about the proper function of Bid Buddy, I was informed laconically, "Sometimes the item sells at a lower price despite a higher bid is the clock runs out." In other words, the company would disregard a higher bid once they had made enough money with bids offered by others at 60 cents a pop.
None of this was mentioned in the Washington Post article I read -- the one that steered me to the site. So much for "journalism."
It cost me $45 to discover what my daughter knew from the get-go ... if it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't true. As P.T. Barnum observed, "There's a sucker born every minute." And I'm one of them.