Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I rarely blow the whistle on penny auction sites, frankly because we can almost never know for sure whether a site is legitimate or not. Even if Swoopo users like their experience and receive their products, how do we know the site doesn't throw in an autobot every once in a while just to give the house an extra buck? Well, fortunately for penny auction players, the sites that seem to be complete frauds make it pretty obvious.
The latest one, Pposh.com, is so pathetic it's almost funny.
Pposh.com is a penny auction scam site that claims to sell vacation packages; everything from flights to cruises to rental cars and even Hooters gift cards.
While winning travel packages sounds more appealing to me than electronics, they present a logistical nightmare for penny auction websites. Vacation packages which include flights, hotels or cruise cabins are time sensitive, they include components that change in price and that need to be reserved so the seat or room doesn't get overbooked. Also, departure locations will need to depend on where the bidder is located, another logistical challenge. For these reasons auctioning off vacations is very difficult and will likely draw a very small audience. Take a recent example from a Pposh.com auction which was for a round-trip flight from Orlando to Pittsburgh or vise versa. Orland to Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh to Orlando, are you kidding me? A site that just launched and has such low traffic it isn't even covered by compete.com can't auction off a product that is only of interest to people in Orlando and Pittsburgh (and who have an interest in visiting the other city) and who want to fly in August or September (the terms of the ticket being auctioned).
So Pposh is trying an innovative penny auction concept that seems deemed to fail, but why are they a fraud you ask? One Pposh penny auction for a Disney vacation is going for $31.22 which sounds suspicious - really Pposh, you've had more bids on this item than pageviews to your whole site?
I was pretty sure at this point Pposh was a scam but when I looked at the ended auctions I started to laugh. First, the site has over 170 ended auctions, which seems high for a site that's only been open for a short while. But if you look at the bidders you see one user, Shasta1 seems to win quite a bit. This might not seem that odd if the items were electronics, but how many vacation packages, hotels and flights can one person use? Let's review what travel auctions Shasta1 has won on Pposh (feel free to laugh out loud).
1. 8/13 - 3 night Bahamas vacation
2. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Sheraton in Philadelphia
3. 8/13 - a second 2 night stay at a Sheraton in Philadelphia
4. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Hilton in Paris, France
5. 8/13 - roundtrip airfare from New York to Miami (or vise versa) to be used in August or September
6. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Sheraton in Boston to be used in August or September
7. 8/13 - roundtrip airfare from New Orleans to New York (or vise versa) to be used in August or September
8. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Sheraton in Cleveland to be used in August or September
9. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Hilton in Tel Aviv, Isreal to be used in August or September
10. 8/13 - roundtrip airfare from New York to LA (or vise versa) to be used in August or September
11. 8/13 - 2 night stay at a Sheraton in Dallas to be used in August or September
12. 8/14 - 3 night stay at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to be used in August or September
13. 8/14 - roundtrip airfare from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale (or vise versa) to be used in August or September
Then Shasta takes some well deserved time off, presumably to enjoy his recently purchased vacations, before coming back 7 days later to purchase more.
14. 8/21 - 3 night cruise to British Columbia departing from Seattle to be used in August or September
15. 8/23 - roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Denver (or vise versa) to be used in August or September
16. 8/23 - 3 night stay at the Marriott in Orlando to be used in August or September
17. 8/23 - 2 night stay at the Hilton in Chicago
18. 8/23 - a second 3 night cruise to the Bahamas departing from Orlando to be used in August or September
Shasta1 is quite the jet-setter now isn't he? I thought I'd plot his travel plans on the map below to help make sense of all those vacations! (green = hotel stay, red = flight, blue = cruise)
Pposh also has a blog with three entries on it. Two of the entries announce the new site and the third so funny I had to show you instead of tell you, see image below. Note the person who posted the comment and if you click on the link to the ended auction (you need to go to the Pposh site to do so) you will see the winner was none other than Shasta1.
I rest my case. Since I first heard about Pposh in the comment section here on Penny Auction Insider, I hope the owner of Pposh sees this post and responds. I will also ask Penny Auction Watch to chime in on this site because they seem to have a knack for uncovering fraud from the bid patterns on sites.