15 December, 2008

Am I the only blogger who doesn't have a problem with this company?

See here:

I was fascinated to discover the auction hybrid site swoopo.com (previously known as telebid.com). It's a strange combination of eBay, woot, and slot machine. Here's how it works:

* You purchase bids in pre-packaged blocks of at least 30. Each bid costs you 75 cents, with no volume discount.
* Each bid raises the purchase price by 15 cents and increases the auction time by 15 seconds.
* Once the auction ends, you pay the final price.

I just watched an 8GB Apple iPod Touch sell on swoopo for $187.65. The final price means a total of 1,251 bids were placed for this item, costing bidders a grand total of $938.25.

So that $229 item ultimately sold for $1,125.90.
Yes, it's ridiculously stupid to play their game, but people also lose tons of money in Vegas and in state-run lotteries and no one is outraged.


Elliot said...

The claim of evilness is subjective and almost certainly true; but as you point out, people spend their money on all sorts of stupid and evil schemes. At the same time, there's nothing wrong, even if moralistic and slightly annoying, about publicizing the negative effects of a scheme.

The claim of illegality is different and in the post seemed to hinge not on the part you cited but on alleged practices of the site such as not providing the promised good or actively concealing or misrepresenting the parameters of the bidding. If its illegal, it should definitely be complained about. But I have no idea if what they do is actually illegal, and said blogger doesn't really delve into that.

spencer said...

Perhaps there is some misrepresentation, but even if it were completely transparent, most would still levy the "evil" charge. I'm not really convinced that the basic business model is "evil" (nor do I believe in "evil", but that's another story), if all transactions are between consenting adults. Maybe people really enjoy the thrill of occasionally winning, even if they lose some money. That's why people play the lottery, slot machines, craps, roulette, what-have-you. And what's wrong with that?

Elliot said...

Yeah, that's true, and I don't disagree with you on that. I meant "evil" in the comic book, Le Chiffre kind of way.

Cassady said...

I have no doubt that the people who brought this about had some sinister little motive all their own to make an obscene profit off of the average person's lack of reading the fine print.

I don't think they had to actively conceal the ridiculousness of what they were doing if the presentation of the site was flashy enough to draw people in--so basically I agree with Elliot.

spencer said...

If you go to the site, it's quite obvious how everything works. There are plenty of psychological tricks (like making you buy bundles of 30 bids at a time so you don't emotionally register the $0.75 cost every time you make a bid), but I don't think there's much illusion that can't be dispelled with a moment's thought.