Monday, October 3, 2011

Favorite Rip-offs

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Recently, some pretty ridiculous things have been assaulting me from the TV, from friends, and even my own family. I've shared a handful of them with you from time to time, but of late, it seems like there's a lot more than usual going on. It occurred to me that Snopes.com has a good thing going on: they expose fakes and the like, and they're pretty much the authority about that kind of thing. They've branded themselves well. I've always liked debunkers, which I suppose is why I have a lot of respect for Snopes, Mythbusters, and the Amazing Randy and Johnny Carson. Yep, I like Adam and Jaime for more than their ability to blow things sky high.

I came up with a great idea on how to rip off people while making them think I'm doing them a favor. Actually, I thought of a few ways, and I'll share them now and then. Today's idea has to do with on-line auctions.

Imagine for a moment that you wanted to run an auction website. How do you cut in on giants like Ebay? You have to come up with something different, of course. Like so...


In the online auction world, people sit up and take notice if you can promise them they can buy the stuff they want at pennies on the dollar. Designer labels for 90% off? You got it! Vacations for $20? Absolutely! New Corvette tickling your fancy? Why pay $70,000 when you can have one for $900? The hawt chicks won't know the difference! I can already hear you begging me to tell you how to get these deals and more.

If you cruise on over to Ebay, chances are pretty good you can find something you're looking for, and its current price is something ridiculously low. So you right quick make a bid for it; A new laptop for $50, baby! But the bidding increments are big, like $1, or $5, or even larger. I've seen bidding increments on some auction sites as high as 25% of the current price! Who wants to pay that?

So we'll offer bidding increments of 1 cent. Can't get any smaller than that! But there's another problem with online auctions: people routinely overbid.

I see it all the time. I find something really cool, like maybe a new hard drive or camera. I find out what it would cost to buy it at Newegg or Walmart and sure enough, the bidding goes over its value, usually in its last few minutes. It happens so often, it's almost impossible to get a good deal on anything I'm looking for. How do we overcome this?

We make it cost a dollar to bid! Genius! Now things won't get overbid on!

But wait, there's more. Because the prices are low, people will still be inclined to bid a lot. For instance, if a phone you're looking for would normally cost $100, it might sell here for $10. If the bidding increment is only a penny, who wouldn't bid for 90% off? Even people who've already bid a few times would probably bid another time or two.

On the surface, it sounds pretty fantastic: Getting to buy a $100 item for only $10, plus a few bids at a dollar apiece. But let's look a little closer.

At a penny per bid, how many times DID you bid? Is it possible you got into a bidding war with someone, maybe you bid 10 or 20 times? Maybe 30 or 40 times? Maybe 100 or 200 times? Sounds ridiculous, but let's look even closer.

If the bidding started at 1 cent, and got up to $10.00, that's 1000 bids. Could you have bid 10 or 20 or 40 or 100 times? That's $100 worth of bidding if you did!

But you're not that careless with your money, are you? Maybe you'd only bid 10 times if it was something you really wanted. $20 for a $100 phone is still a pretty good deal. But let's look at it from the other side.

With 1000 bids, that's $1000 spent just on bidding for a $100 phone!!! Can you see the possibilities? Isn't this a great scam? All we need is a snappy name!

I'd use something like QuiBids or BeeZid, but those're already taken. Anyone got a better name? Anyone got some money to invest? Guaranteed return on investment!

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