Penny drops on online auction scams

Vancouver Island’s Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to use extreme caution when taking part in any online “penny auctions.”

Vancouver Island’s Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to use extreme caution when taking part in any online “penny auctions.”

Penny auctions offer chances for bidders to “win” items at low prices, but many use a complicated bidding process which ends up costing a bidder more than they intended spending.

“The idea is that you’re going to end up getting a great deal, however, you still have to pay what you bid,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of Vancouver Island BBB, which is based in Victoria.  “So you can end up spending a lot of money and getting absolutely nothing.”

Many sites require a user to set up an account and purchase bids with a credit card. Bids can cost less than a dollar and are sold in bundles. The user then places the bids on items, the price for which goes up incrementally as others bid.

So even if a bid is used to raise an item’s price by a penny, that bid still cost the user anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar. And in the end, even if a user doesn’t win the item, they must pay for the bids placed.

The BBB agencies across North America have received a total of 338 complaints so far in 2013 related to online penny auctions, which now hold a rank of 31 out of 84 most complained about industry categories.

“You get ones that fall into the shady penny auction category where they’re charging all kinds of fees and doing all kinds of things that really aren’t very ethical,” Scott said.

To avoid being scammed, the BBB recommends researching penny auction sites at bbb.org, reading the fine print carefully, researching how much items cost before bidding and keeping an eye on credit card statements.

The BBB also advises those who have run into trouble with penny auction sites to file a complaint by visiting vi.bbb.org or calling toll free 877-826-4222.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read