Here is a new comment I received from an Auction Squirrel user that you might find interesting:
"I think [The Auction Squirrel] turned to shills. My wide did one auction with her pack of 30 and I did another with a total of 31 bids. Both were for $25 or less items. We both got outbid by one bidder (who obviously also overbid to win) and the auctions all around those two went for next to nothing...no bidders. the one just before mine, for example, went for ONE bid. Sour grapes I'm sure...just suspicious enough to keep me from buying another pack though I can tell you that much."
This is suspicious and had I been the bidder I expect I would also be weary of The Squirrel. I don't know for sure if The Squirrel is using shills, I am fairly confident they are not. I see lots of names on the ended auction page that I know to be real bidders and I myself have won.
Last night I watched the auction for the Shell gas card and it seemed normal. There were only three bidders and the card sold for 18 cents. The winner was rbw63, who I believe is a real person. I'm sure readers can confirm whether this is true or not since he is very active on The Auction Squirrel.
I think the reason why some items go for cheap and some go for over $1 has to do with the resilience of the competition. Some people give up early and others are determined to win no matter what. As has been discussed in much detail here and elsewhere, there is an incentive for users to convince other players that they are willing to win at any cost, because if other players believe this person they won't challenge him and the item will be won on the cheap. People on the Penny Auction Watch Forum love to berate bid-to-two-2-too-win for winning at all costs, he is trying, with much success, to develop this kind of reputation.