Thursday, August 13, 2009

Attack of the clones

"Craig", presumably Craig Pratka, part-owner of, wrote to us to correct the timeline we have up about bid-fee sites. I'll leave it to my co-blogger, who likes doing stuff like that, to make the correction to the graphic, but I'm always excited to hear from other people in this industry.

In doing some research about Zoozle, I came across the press-release they put out on the occasion of their going live. It included this shocking paragraph about their experience with the standardized "turnkey" software so many penny-auction sites use.
The software came with an 'Autobid' feature and instructions for the site admin to set fake user names and autobid timing from the back end. The feature can be disabled.. but when disabled, the sites critical functions, like bidding, did not work properly.
Shocking, but candidly, not surprising. It's very easy to be dishonest in this business -- even the word "dishonest" is somewhat euphemistic, here; "autobid" is shilling and in a bid-fee auction, shilling is outright fraud.

Cynical as I am, I was still shocked that the commercial software had shilling built in, had defraud-your-customer built right in. Wow, how do the people who develop that software justify what they do for a living to themselves?

So stay away from clone sites. They're easy to spot, they look just like Swoopo. Same green buttons, same unmistakeable red flicker when the timer is pushed back. They are all using the same software underneath. I have no idea what fraction of clones are actually using the shilling feature (or doing anything else dishonest), but why take the risk?

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