Swoggi: Real or Reel?

Discount prices for high ticket items – up to 90%! Who swoggiwouldn’t want that!? Well, that’s the “USP” of Swoggi – a well-known penny auctions website. But how much of that is real and how much is reel? Read on and find out!

How Does Swoggi Work?

Swoggi works just like any other penny auction websites. In it, you’ll find a lot of high-ticket items like Asus laptops, iPhone 5S’s, Sony digital cameras, and those are just to name a few. These items (including the lower priced ones) are marketed at a fraction of the original price. You cannot buy it outright however. To get it, you need to bid by buying credits (Note: 1 credit = 1 bid).

Priced at 50p each, credits can be bought in packs with denominations starting at £15. After buying credits, they are added to your account and you can start bidding on items. Should you win, you then pay the auction price (at 90% discount) to get the product you won.

It sounds like a great deal, but veteran penny auction bidders know there’s more to it than meets the eye. For starters, the site has a lot of users and many of them would be bidding on the same item that you do…making the competition stiff. And then there are some not-so-nice ‘traps’ in place that you should be aware of.

Full Refund? What About We Keep £15 Of Your Money?

According to the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (which includes penny auction sites and put into force last June 2014), users are entitled to a cooling period. Within this time frame, they can cancel their purchase of credits and get a FULL refund.

You’d think that a business like Swoggi would stick to the law…but they don’t. Looking at their Terms & Conditions (n7 specifically), there’s a £15 admin fee that applies to ALL refunds. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new user or if you’re within the government-mandated cooling period. If you choose to get a refund, you won’t get the full amount.

Looking at various reviews from numerous websites and forums, this has been going on for quite a while…

There’s a forum post on MoneySavingExpert.com detailing how a user was made to believe he’s getting free credits thanks to a voucher…only to realize that £50 (the amount of credits he accidentally bought) from his PayPal account. We’re not sure if it’s a misunderstanding, or something fishy really happened. What followed, however, really sucked. Upon realizing that money was deducted from his account, he immediately called Swoggi to cancel and get a full refund. The user isn’t getting it though – only £35 was refunded and it took the company two weeks to process that.

What happened to a poster at Reviews.co.uk is even worse. The poster signed up for £50 of credits, but can’t get to the site’s auctions for whatever reason. He called support, but to no avail…he still can’t get to the site! PayPal wouldn’t get the money back for him. It became a merry go round, and the user didn’t get his money back (according to the post).

These cases aren’t remote unfortunately. When there are innumerable forum threads full of negative feedback regarding a company, that’s a clear red flag. However, if that’s not enough to convince you, let’s take a look at a few more of those red flags shall we.

Disappearing Auctions

disappearAside from the £15 admin fee and the entire ruckus it’s making, there have been numerous reports regarding disappearing auctions. Say, an iMac went on auction and users bid on it – watching it for days just to get a shot at winning. And then POOF! The auction disappears all of a sudden. But after a few days, an identical auction – for the same iMac – appears and it’s presented as a new auction. But, what about the users who placed bids on the previous auction? Swoggi’s answer to one of the customer’s emails: “We had a technical problem” and that’s it.

Rigged Timers

We all know that, in traditional auctions, the winner that makes the highest bid when the timer hits zero wins the auction. That’s not how it works in penny auctions. It’s the last bidder who wins the auction. Also, the countdown timer is reset (usually 10 seconds are added to it) when a user places a bid. Swoggi operates identically, but there’s one major difference: They use timers that seem to have a mind of its own.

Increases In Time: As mentioned earlier, bidding on a penny auction increases the timer by a couple of seconds, which Swoggi has declared in their Terms & Conditions. However, this isn’t always the case. There are auctions where a penny bid increases the timer by as much as 3 minutes, which is way beyond the site’s proposed time increase. By prolonging the time increase, they’re increasing the likelihood of others finding out about and bidding on the auction, which (as you may have guessed) increases their bottom line and makes winning harder.

Clock Ticks Up The Price Doesn’t: Every second counts in penny auctions. And when the clock ticks up for a couple of seconds BUT without any movement on the price, you know something fishy is going on. Again, by prolonging the auction, Swoggi increases the chances of other bidders joining in…and making more money for them.

A Second Takes Longer Than Expected: The lower the clock ticks the “longer” the seconds seem to be. No, this isn’t because of anticipation or excitement. It has been observed numerous times – a second takes 3 seconds, and you should know by now what that does for Swoggi.

Call these minor infractions or slight technical bugs. Bottom line however: These issues unnecessarily stiffen the competition and make it harder for users to win…and easier for the company to rack up those pounds.

Summing Things Up

There are legit penny auctions – let me tell you that straight-up. However, some sites seem to have a knack for tipping the balance – which is already in their favor in the first place – further into their side.

This isn’t to say that the user posts, negative reviews, etc. I’ve written here about Swoggi are conclusive. Perhaps their tech team sucks, and these are real issues that need to be fixed. But regardless, it would be ill-advised to go head-first into something that doesn’t have a good track record. Again, there are many legit penny auction sites and it’s best to focus on them instead. Read this.