Con Artists intentionally mislead people to get their money. And on the web, as on any context, their are "snake oil" salesmen, and con artists who will come up with any number of schemes make money off of the unsuspecting.
Web1.0 (the early "broadcast" notion of the web) had plenty of hucksters...
- wrote convincing hard luck story and asked people to send them money and share their story
- sent you email about the millions you have won...but you just need to pay the relatively small customs duty on your prize.
- need your help moving money and if you help, they share their millions with you.
- use your email address to send "help" messages to people you know telling them you are in trouble need money quickly.
All of these scams are still looking for losers. I recently was told by a friend that her mail list was scammed and all of friends were written to and asked to send money to help her get out of a difficult situation overseas. And surprisingly, without as much as a phone call or an email to check on her safety, one of her friends, distressed by the message, sent over a thousand dollars overseas.
NOW WE HAVE WEB 2.0
What does web 2.0 mean?... it means we get to be a part of the action. It is the interactive web where we can produce, respond and develop. And, we can, without paying enough attention, be party to con artistry.
BIG DEAL is just such a scam...
And the people at BigDeal eagerly invite you to help them get rich. How does it work? Well read their page and see what you understand. http://bigdeal.com/about/learn It is written in such a way to encourages misunderstanding. The average person brings a set of experience with auctions to help them understand. Ordinarily, one doesn't pay for a bid unless one wins. Here it is clear that you pay to bid. That is the message that they emphasize. But it is reasonable to think that you are paying the cost of the bid--which is clearly listed as 1Cent. That fact that these penny bids are far more expensive is not so clearly identified.
You have to buy a bid package. The system assures you there is no trouble moving money into your account because you can always get it back but you have to buy "bid packages." The minimum is $22.50 but they encourage you to add more to cover the cost of the item you hope to buy. Then, you start bidding "pennies" on objects with the clock winding down to zero... but every time a person bids, after time is over, the clock moves back 30 seconds to allow other losers to more time to bid. Most people will keep bidding their pennies and understanding that the countdown of seconds takes hours. When the person can no longer bid, and after trying to figure out why, he or she is likely to discover that these "pennies" each cost 75 cents and whatever money was in the Big Deal Bank, it is gone.
Now if one is a less impulsive, and carefully read and understood everything, is there is a way for the person to get a big deal? First, a person should be willing to buy an item at full price (plus a generous shipping charge) before they bid on it. If they invest a few hours, and they are very lucky, they might save a small bit of money--while helping to scam others out of their money for Big Deal. Let's see how it works....
Let's suppose a person plans to buy a $500 ipad.
Here is one that sold for only $319--
Big deal collected 31,900 bids (from some unknown number of people) and each of these bid earned them .75. So now Big DEAL has collected $23,925 for a $500 IPAD. Now some of these "losers" might chose to make up the difference between their bid loses and actually buy the ipad. Say 25 did this and each of these people averaged 300 bids at a cost of ($225). So 25X225 = 5,625 is subtracted from the total (The people can pay the difference between their bids and the product). This still leaves a profit of $17,675 to Big Deal on one action. And they have about 10 past-time actions active auctions and 100 other auctions. While some of the auctions come in at much less, even their best posted deal on a ipad, $67.32 still nets them a possible profit of $5,049 on a $500 product (minus the bids of anyone who uses the buy option).
Now suppose a person understood the process and only started bidding when the price of the ipad was at maximum level, say $315. This is only $4 for the end, but it represents 400 bets which take hours as the clock resets for 30 secs after every bid. Say a person bid every other time bidding 200 times (each costing .75) for a total cost of $150 and wins the bid. This person would then pay pay the $319 plus their bids and the total cost would be $469 saving only $30 after a hour or more of intense bidding. However with free shipping from Apple, the saving is now only a handful of dollars.
But I would wager that most of the people bidding think that the 1C means they are betting one cent. And most of the people will lose their money. And the amount of money most people lose is equal to the shipping cost charged in buying the item at full retail from Big Deals. So there is no redemption. Big Deal offers loyalty bucks (in return for your cash) that can be used for small discounts on products that are readily available on the web for the discounted price with no loyalty bucks. This is is no big deal.
The worst part of this con job is you help others to be losers. As you bet, you encourage others to do so and it is reasonable to assume that most of those people were pulled in by the urgency of a good bargain about to happen... a big deal. And most of them will be people who have not yet learned that a penny spent is not a just a penny earned.
I would like to say that (like other scams that I have warned many of you about), I was too smart to fall for this. But, alas, I was not. I believed the "only two ipads a day" note and saw an ipad was on the board. So I didn't do what I always tell others to do--read carefully and understand everything before you take action. And once my money was gone, and I realized my error, I wrote to them and explained how I was mislead by their postings. I did not ask for my money back, but only to have a fair chance to bid more carefully with penny bids that I understood cost .75. If they were in good faith, they would let me try again. There was no loss to them and in fact, I had helped scam others. But they told me sorry, the money is theirs. I suspect that most of their money is made this way. I have since learned about another service, quidbid which has a similar process but they are more transparent about the process. The amounts of bids on their site are much lower, suggesting that people understand the process.
So my penance for being so impulsively foolish is to write this post so that I might, at the least, help someone else not to be scammed by the allusive promise of a ...Big Deal.