Penny Auction Sites: Fine Print Unraveled

infoA lot has been said about the legitimacy of certain penny auction sites. In fact, these past years has seen a drop in the sites’ prestige as they fail to meet the quality standards they advertise so much on their sites. But what is the difference between false advertising and scam? As much as many purists would like to see penny auction sites disappear from the face of the Earth, the truth is that they are legitimate –most of the times. Where do all the unhappy reviewers come from then? Are they part of a campaign to bring the sites down for good?

There is a fair chance that many alleged conned penny auction site users have been paid to say that they have been scammed. There is also a chance that many of them, have really been scammed and wish to share their outrage with the rest of the world. This ongoing debate has generated more spark than most talk shows, and many uncertainties remain. There is a general consensus, however, that penny auction site users should be very careful when engaging in this pseudo shopping, pseudo entertainment activity.

Terms and Conditions

What you fail to know: The key to prevent scam in any of the existing forms lies in reading the terms and conditions thoroughly. Except for some cases of blatant fraud, most arguments put forward by angry bidders are included in the terms and conditions section. This means that the whole issue turns out to be a complete misunderstanding. Generally speaking, participants do not understand what to expect. The fact that most of these cases cannot be resolved successfully, as far as the user is concerned, leaves dozens of people feeling they have been either scammed or ill-treated in most cases: bad publicity for penny auction sites.

What you should know

Some of the most argumentative aspects surrounding cases of scam accusations fall under three major categories.

Bids: cost, purchase and refund: Many people plunge into the sites without reading about bid purchase and how this purchase will be billed to them. Moreover, many first time participants claim to have understood one thing and then get a nasty surprise when they found their credit card had been charged heavily with costs they did not know of. On of the trickiest issues surrounding this topic is a registration fee which some sites insist on charging. Read carefully and find out whether the site you are joining features such fees or not. If they do, you will be able to decide what to do with the registrations process. Not knowing will put you in a vulnerable situation most of the times because once the charge has been made, there is no going back.

Yet another tricky issue concerns bid purchase. Make sure you check well what type of bids you are buying and when you can use them. As you see, the fine print in most penny auction sites explains really carefully what kinds of bids are available on the site and what they can be used for. For instance, promotional bids may not be used for regular auctions, whereas guaranteed win bids can be used only in guaranteed win types of auctions and so on. There are dozens of angry reviewers who shout their anger because they got stuck with a bid pack they could not use for a certain auction they were interested in. The sad news is that most of this information is available for the public to read.

Finally, when players who have failed to win, wish to change their used bids in order to help pay for the product using the “buy now” alternative, they may find another even more unpleasant surprise. Some sites now allow only a small percentage of the item’s value to be paid with bids. Furthermore, some sites have gotten rid of the “buy now” feature altogether, or have left it only to be used if you are going to pay 100% with real money. Make sure to inquire about regulations before you set yourself out to purchase anything on any site.

Billing and Shipping Issues: One of the most controversial issues in the world of penny auction sites. To begin with, many participants remain ignorant of the procedures they should follow after they have won an auction. It is essential that participants read conditions and time limits very carefully. You cannot leave an item unclaimed after winning an auction. If you do so, you risk losing the item and all the rights to claim it. There are certain steps a winner should follow in order to claim for the prize and then, eventually pay for it.

You would be amazed to know that a large number of bidders forget to claim their prizes, or even worse, yet. Claim them, but miss payment and therefore lose their bounty. There is a set time limit to fill in the forms and issue the payment which of course, will include billing and shipping charges, where they apply. You should always ask for customer support or check out the help section if you are not sure about what you are supposed to do. Last but not least, check the free shipping conditions: remember that even when the promotional ads on the site say “free shipping” the fine print in the terms and conditions sections may say something else.

Warranties and Returns: This section is usually neglected and rarely taken into account until something happens and then reality sinks in. Even when products boast “factory warranty”, there may be exceptions depending on the categories or types of products. The same may happen with item substitution policies which give the sites the right to change an item for another one should the original product be missing or not available in stock. Remember that in most cases of returns, refunds or product claims, all shipping and handling costs should be covered by the participant and not by the penny auction site.

Word to the wise: always read terms and conditions; fine print counts, too.