Would You Even Bid on a Penny Auction That Conceals Usernames?

users hidden penny auction blind biddingEarly in 2010 we asked whether or not penny auction sites should consider  concealing usernames, i.e. have their usernames changed to randomly assigned numbers and made the following points:

If you have bid on penny auctions and watched bidding patterns before you may have noticed that some bidders seem to have an edge over others, quite often this is due to them establishing a winning reputation.

Again, the bidders that always bid ’til the end will make it a point to show you, either by bidding ’til the end each and every time and/or with their username choice.

Would the playing field be fairer if user’s couldn’t see who they were bidding against, or would you even bid if you didn’t know who else was bidding?

One Penny Auction Watch member told us how he anonymized bidder names on his auction site and thought that they were a good idea:

  “With usernames being shown it just becomes too difficult to try to win things and I actually have found this to be to my advantage financially. The auction brings in more money now because the “big boys” are not intimidating the small guys.”

When blind bidding penny auctions were first created, a few other penny auction bidders and site owners had thought they were the perfect solution to combat the powerbidder problem.

The first site to conceal usernames was BargainsandFun.com, then the now defunct penny auction Bidoction.com, then NailBidder. More sites have since added blind bidding to their penny auctions.

Today, a few members are wondering why penny auction bidders would even want to bid on a site that concealed usernames.

Some argue that a penny auction site lacks transparency by not concealing usernames.

Over the past almost 2.5 years we have found many penny auctions that shill bid. Do you think it would be even easier for a site to hide suspicious behavior when they conceal usernames?

Recently, one bidder told us that the new penny auction site PennyWagon.com started out with non-blind penny auctions then later added them after bidders had already invested money in bids without giving advance notice.

In my opinion, since it is such a big change for a penny auction site to change from non-blind auctions to 100% blind auctions, they should offer bidders the opportunity to obtain a bid refund, and bidders should definitely be given notice prior to this kind of change.

Jeremy of BargainsandFun.com writes: 

Does the bidding change on these auctions – Definantly, but not always in the way you would think.

Since it is blind many users now have the hidden opportunity to become a power bidder just by bidding like one.

Does it discourage Power Bidders, not necessarily – but it does make it a little more involved since they can no longer rely on their username to have an instant win. All in all it’s a mixed response to these auctions.

So what do you think? Is blind bidding a good idea and would you bid on a site that offers it? Would you be upset if you purchased bids only to soon find a penny auction site changing their format to include blind bidding?

We want to hear your thoughts! Discuss this in our penny auction forum in the thread:  Blind-Bidding Penny Auctions: Would You Bid?

Photo Credits: Meffi

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6 comments… add one
  • Jackie December 6, 2011, 10:33 pm

    while I was on your site the penny auction that pops up and seems like it is part of your site is very diceitful.

    • Amanda Lee December 7, 2011, 10:58 am

      What do you mean? I dont have any popup ads?

  • Ted December 14, 2011, 5:53 pm

    I’m creating a penny auction site and I’m very interested in this. If that is what people want, I will write the code, if not, I’m one step closer to opening. so please give your opinion.

    Thank you,

  • Alexander January 7, 2012, 9:53 pm

    Amanda, I have been attempting to reach you. If you could shoot me an email I would greatly appreciate it.


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