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back to article Swoopo - eBay's (more) evil twin

I have never expected much out of a Silicon Valley startup with a name that sounds like a baby word, but Swoopo is a rare exception. It's an online auction site with a dastardly twist. When you bid on products at Swoopo, you don't specify a price. You pay 75 cents for the bid, and that bid increases the price of the item by 15 …

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My head

Literally exploded with the instructions provided, looking at the site and I am no clearer. I watched one auction that said it would finish no later than 5.15 and its now 5.21 and still going.

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Clever bastards!

It's like pure, distilled greed and evil.

It's so clever that I can't fault them for being greedy AND evil.

I also, alas, cannot feel pity for the dimwits that fall for it.

Best of luck to them before it's somehow declared illegal and they are all sent to PMITA Prison.

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Old news

I believe swoopo isn't the actual company, its a company that has the same thing over here but with a fantastic twist. its in the UK, Germany and Spain, all people from 3 countries are bidding on the same items, except the UK are in £, Germany/Spain €.

Now, with the exchange rate and the cost of bids, people from Germany/Spain actually pay less for their bids, and over-all less for any items they win, they even get more cash.

It is all one giant con, people have paid more than the price of the item they are bidding on simply because of stupid economics. Paid £500 in bids already on a fixed price item? Item valued at £1,000? You can't stop at 500, you won't get it back, so you continue to bid, 750, you're still being outbid, people are jumping in because the price is going up so its going to die out, right? £1,000, can't stop now, you can't afford to lose £1,000 and have nothing to show, must keep bidding!

Eventually you win, but pay more in bids than the items value. Unless you are in Germany/Spain where it still says "you made a saving of..."

Then you add in bid-butler, it bids for you, except no one knows how many bid's you have put aside, so 30-40 people bid, the clock ticks down to 5 seconds then... bid butler, more people bid, gets down to 6 seconds... bid butler. Then some bright spark decides to spend £20 on their own bid butler and the clock goes upto 15 minutes and the guy who just spent £20 still isn't the winning bidder, someone else has paid hundreds to "win".

All in all, a site worth avoiding. I believe it is called tele-bid or something.

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damn

While discussing the problems of ebay we came up with the idea that each bid near the end time would add a random (within limits) number of minutes to the auction. This would effectively stop 'sniping' as no-one could predict the exact end of the auction and make it more like a real auction where the buyer willing to pay the most gets the item. Also an early bid has a chance of getting the item as late bidding has much less advantage.

Looks like these guys got there first - then added some weird stuff. oh well.

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A fool and their money...

... soon are parted!

(BTW I've got The London Eye up for sale if anyone's interested...)

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old news

The BBC covered the rise of penny auctions 2 weeks ago. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7793054.stm

They weren't quite as cynical though, I had to fill in all the evil bits myself

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Pirate

Winner's 75 cents?

I understood, though, that Swoopo cashes in on the winner's series of bids too - and so if the winner placed 40 bids for the ultimately $30 Nintendo (which, considering how the system works, will probably accrue pretty quickly, n'est ce pas?), actual amount out of the pocket would be $30 + 40*$0.75=$60 - double! (plus shipping ...) Of course, one could only bid at the "end", but the one who pursued the item for a while won't let it go at the expense of 75 cents (bid) + 15 cents (upping price), no?

If somebody is actually considering this bidding system, you have to re-think the whole bidding process. But then, I also thought of a similar scam from the hands of Swoopo-s - not going as far as your idea, in the sense that you let them win, but have a bot bidding right at the last second to entice the would-be winner shell out another 3 quarters, and so on. Great minds think alike and all that.

Happy New Year, Reg people, and keep up the good (and the dirty) work!

(pirate icon for obvious reasons)

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Hasn't this been around for a while?

I'm sure I've seen this before, possibly a German site. From memory, they were giving away stuff like 100 euro and people were bidding like crazy with their 50 cents.

You've got to admidre their audacity. And the contempt they hold their customers in.

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What an absolute load of bollocks

I think these sites are more scam-ish than legitimate!

Oh, and sites like this have existed for years. Why the sudden report now?

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Paris Hilton

Sounds Dubious

Sounds like that weird MLM scam Dubli.

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Germany, not Silicon Valley

They may be listed in Silicon Valley today but they were founded in Germany and they still have a big presence there - I was asked if I would like to work for them at their "headquarters" in Munich but politely declined.

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Syd

Still going on...

... because it adds a few seconds every time someone bids. (It is REALLY evil!!)

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wow

Ok this sound like a crappy idea. Sound like something ebay would be created to compete against do to being crappy. Not the other way around

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Ex Stultes, Lucrum!

Someone at a client-site asked me about this last year; I observed that it was nothing more than a new 21st-century way to separate fools from their money - and cursed over why I hadn't thought of it first!

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Paris Hilton

-1 Old

They were known as Telebid, doing a google now brings up a sponsored link

TeleBid is now Swoopo

www.Swoopo.co.uk Different name, same great bargains Save up to 90% on RRP today!

and loads of results for swoopo

I started seeing ads on facebook for Telebid well over a year ago.

Paris - she never gets old.

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Banned in several States?

Interesting how you cannot register if you are a resident of several states in the US, I wonder if the lawsuits have already started...

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So much for register being at the cutting edge of reporting.

There's dozens for these sites and they've been around for ages. They are outright cons.

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Bargain!

61 inch TV - $2734.50 (instead of $1,899.99) 'fixed price' (which isn't in fact fixed at all as it keeps rising).

And there are still tards bidding on it...

Even if an item goes for less than retail, the site wins - they get money every time anyone bids on an item, and make much more in profit than the item is worth.

edit: now $2741, and rising.

It's a complete scam. Surprised it hasn't been banned yet.

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Price Drop TV for the internet.

Nuff said.

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Pirate

The (con?) artist formerly known as telebid.

Saw this lot a while ago. Who's to say that they are a scam or not, but how do you know that they are not automatically bumping up the bids?

Even if they don't, lets face it, it costs 40 pence to bid (or there abouts) and the increment is a few pence they still make their money. Did a rough calculation ages ago that if they were flogging a plasma tv worth well over a grand and it only went for 500 quid they could (in theory) make in excess of a grand on bids alone (assuming the increment was only a few p or tens of p).

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?yhW .nosaer emos rof sdrawkcab si eltiT

"While discussing the problems of ebay we came up with the idea that each bid near the end time would add a random (within limits) number of minutes to the auction. This would effectively stop 'sniping' as no-one could predict the exact end of the auction and make it more like a real auction where the buyer willing to pay the most gets the item. Also an early bid has a chance of getting the item as late bidding has much less advantage."

A better system is already in use at gunbroker.com (U.S. auction site for firearms and related items); the fifteen minute rule. Bid toward the end, and fifteen minutes are added to the auction; no sniping, very fair for the buyers and sellers.

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Damn!

Well,

1) Site does look pretty interesting at any rate.

2) Fail. People have bid up 300 "FreeBids", which would cost $225 cash money, up to $805.50 so far.

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not really a con...

This is a site for the owners to make money, we all realize that, but the winner get the items for the bids he did, for example, 10 bids = 7.5€ (or whatever currency we are talking about). It's very much like national lottery, everyone puts some for one person to take, and the one that puts it all together is the one that makes most of it... clever scheme.

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Tom
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@tony Hoyle

You aren't really gettng the hang of the concept of a fixed price auction are you? If the winning bid price is $5000 on a fixed price auction of $59, the winning bidder pays $59 only. Plus the cost of buying enough bids to secure the item.

I wrote a program to track bids on the uk site, it leads to some interesting results. The aim of the game is to procure the item whilst outlaying as few bids as possible. The costs on the UK site are approx £0.25 per bid, and each bid raises the auction price by £0.07 . The best trick is to allow someone elses bid butler to controll the auction, allow the timer to run to near zero, and place single bids until that bid butler is out of bids. This keeps the timer low, reducing the scope for someone to jump in.

Of course, that is just a strategy. Anyone bidding on your item after you could pinch it away from you, or prolong the auction. It is totally a mugs game

Ted: As many reg readers have pointed out, this is a german company that has existed for quite some time, used to operate as telebid, so kudos on the journalistic accuracy. Best to stick to ranting about software development, at least when you did that it was slightly amusing, if inaccurate.

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Coat

Bang.

"A better system is already in use at gunbroker.com (U.S. auction site for firearms and related items); the fifteen minute rule. Bid toward the end, and fifteen minutes are added to the auction; no sniping...."

No sniping on a firearms auction? That spoils all the fun!

(Mine's the one lying on the box of books)

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Never mind....

Never mind #2... actually, I guess they don't pay the amount on that auction, just rack up a large amount of 75 cent bidding fees 8-).

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Boffin

A lack of foresight on the sniping front

"While discussing the problems of ebay we came up with the idea that each bid near the end time would add a random (within limits) number of minutes to the auction. This would effectively stop 'sniping' as no-one could predict the exact end of the auction and make it more like a real auction where the buyer willing to pay the most gets the item"

Actually, if people put their real maximum figure into the auction, sniping does not stop the person willing to pay most getting the item. What happens on ebay is best revealed in the advice that ebay provides to its customers:

1) bid the maximum you can afford

2) monitor the course of the auction

3) if you are outbid, up your bid

Honestly!

In fact, changing the rules to add some minutes wouldn't stop sniping programs, because you would have to tell the punters that the time had been extended, which means telling the programs. They would simply snipe again if someone upped their bid.

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Pirate

Sinister...

Very evil setup. They probably don't need shills, they just need to make sure the world is bidding on the items. A larger bidding group also naturally increases the number of snipers, and does a pretty good job of preventing collusion.

I want to say they can sell stuff at 20% of price, and break even (each bid nets .75, and increases the bid by .15).

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E

Fuck, Ted.

You're losing your touch.

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Click Here

Win an iPod!

(as if)

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Anonymous Coward

I'm with Dodgy Geezer here

If you get sniped, it's because either you didn't put your top bid in, or someone else was prepared to pay more.

Tough titties.

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Happy

hmmmm....

Looking at the uk site, theres a mac book currently going for around £42

it handily tells you one went recently for £248.03 compared to a list price of £949

so they bought a laptop for £949 sold it for £248.03 for a loss of £700.97 somes like a poor business model until you factor in that there were £9921.20 spent on bids for a profit of £9220.23

its got one of those dodgy satellite channels all over it...

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Paris Hilton

Why rant about a media change

If you look at it strictly, they have done nothing else, than move the ¨chance to win £10,000¨ from the TV to the Internet.

if you think about it, itś nothing else, than these ¨games, where you can win a TV or some cash by either phoning a an 0900 number or texting some spurious number, that will charge you a quid per call/msg.

Are you guys really that naive?

it´s targeted very clearly at the ¨not so¨ Internet-literate.

or to put it bluntly: the not bright citizens.

And now you can flame me.... ;-)

Paris: she would love these actions

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Sniping

I've never employed a program for this, but quite enjoy guessing what has been bid and adding a few pence. It's amazing how many people bit in round tens of Pounds, so £x0.03 often works. If you bid the most you want to pay, then you shouldn't mind if someone else bids more.

Swoopo is clearly a (clever) scam, so Caveat Emptor. Not run by Madoff Securities, is it?

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Reminds me of the joke about the dead donkey

For some reason, the business plan reminds me of the old joke about the dead donkey:

A man bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

Come morning, the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry, but I've got some bad news. The donkey died."

"Well then, just give me my money back."

"Can't do that. I spent it already," replied the farmer.

"OK then, just unload the donkey."

"What're you gonna do with him?" asked the farmer.

"I'm gonna raffle him off."

"Ya can't raffle off a dead donkey!" exclaimed the farmer.

"Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anyone he's dead."

A month later the farmer met up with the guy and asked about what happened with the dead donkey. "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at $2 apiece and made a profit of $898."

"Didn't no one complain?" asked the farmer.

"Just the guy who won. So I gave him his $2 back."

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Works for Me. Why not You?

Last week I bought a brand new Canon Digital Rebel (body only) and a PS3 (80GB) and total fees and cost for both items were less than $450US. They've both arrived exactly as promised.

Not sure why everyone is knocking the site/process so much - worked for me.

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@ James Pickett - sssshhhhh!

Knowing the eBay bid increments is indeed the best way to win close fought auctions. I got undersniped by 2p on the last one I won. What say we keep quiet and keep the advantage ;-)

As for swoopo. Why be fraudulent and get the site banned? Like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

I heard about the site at a party just before the hols so I watched it a few times. I only saw one auction finish - the punter paid £40 in bids and still had a saving on his flat screen, thus one happy teddy. They only needed 5 or 6 losers making a similar number of bids to be in profit, fewer if they bought a few job lots of stuff. There were lots of repeat auctions, so the pallet load buying discount seems likely. I saw a butlerwar there too - 100 bids in 0.1 seconds. Only one item for sale, so one of the bidders lost £20 - both bidders if a smart sniper came in later. And the penny auctions? 40p/bid to raise by 1p? They don't need shills to turn a profit, just humans following a couple of simple rules: Everyone loves getting something below retail; There's a sucker born every minute.

Remember

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Joke

Swoopo...

...sounds like an STI

as in "Haven't you heard, Sam round the corner's got a bad case of Swoopo..."

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Pirate

Lottery scam.

Lottery scam, basically.

You buy a ticket, you either win or not and there's just one prize, even if there are millions of tickets sold.

Very poor (possible) return for invested money, even for a lottery.

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@Mister_C

"undersniped by 2p"

How satisfying! Still, as you suggest, I won't go on about it...

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