I’ve been involved with eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) for years and years and, heck, even wrote a book about online auctions back in the dotcom era. I still use eBay and even bought a classic 70’s boardgame called “The Anti-Monopoly Game” in the last week.
I’ve written about uBid (OTC:UBHI) before, but have never actually bid on a product there. From what I can tell, the site is now primarily for manufacturer overstocks and refurbished equipment, with products from reputable vendors like Garmin (Nasdaq:GRMN) and Gateway (NYSE:GTW).
But the darn auctions never end!
To expand my computing platforms, I’ve been shopping around for a Tablet PC running Microsoft Windows Vista. While there are used systems priced at just under $1000, a more typical price for a Vista-compatible Tablet is about $1300, a bit much for a humble reference platform that I’ll just be using for testing.
Enter uBid. After digging around with both Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) and some of the price comparison engines, I learned that uBid had some splendid pricing on refurbished Tablet PC computers, prices almost 40% lower than the same refurb units on the manufacturer’s Outlet site.
(yes, I’m being a bit coy because I don’t want someone else to bid on the PC I’m hoping to win on uBid. Ordinarily on an auction site you’d know when an auction will end, but, as you’ll see shortly, uBid isn’t like that. I’ll edit this a bit to be more clear once the auction does finally close, if it ever does)
At 5:30pm this evening, I checked the page and found I was the only bidder and that the auction had 90 minutes left before wrapping up. I headed off to speak at a TechStars panel on blogging, confident that I’d come home and be the proud owner of a new Tablet PC.
And yet, it’s now five hours later and uBid keeps extending the auction time in what I can only presume is a desperate attempt to either get another bidder or to have me pay the higher “buy it now” option, which will net them an additional $60. Here’s what I see when I look at the auction page now, almost four hours after the auction was scheduled to complete:
According to the explanation on the site, auctions are automatically extended ten minutes if there’s a last-minute bid and that these extensions can occur again and again based on bidding activity. But there are no additional bids.
So I can only conclude that uBid is trying to pull a fast one on me and that it’s not quite the fair and honest auction site I thought it was. Have you ever bought something on uBid, and if so, did you get trapped in this endless cycle of ten-minute auction extensions?
Meanwhile, if it’s still in this cycle tomorrow morning, begrudgingly, I’ll click that “buy it now” button and pay the additional $60 for the Tablet PC. But not happily.
Update: Alright, so an hour after I posted this blog entry I got cold feet and paid the “uBuyIt” to get the Gateway CX210 Tablet PC. Am I frustrated that they basically tricked me into paying more than my max bid because the auction wasn’t closing? You bet. Do they care? We’ll see…