Understanding Paradox, Humor and Change to Prepare for the Risky and Uncertain Nature of Penny Auctions

smiley faceJust like in life, the penny auction space is constantly changing and evolving, and just like in life changes and uncertainty can at times zap the life out of you.

Don’t let the risky nature, uncertainty and changing nature of the penny auction game steal your joy, and money out of your wallet.

In Dan Millman’s book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
perhaps you saw the movie (if not you should) there’s one saying that has always resonated with me: “Life has three rules: Paradox, Humor, and Change.- Paradox: Life is a mystery; don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.- Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all measure- Change: Know that nothing ever stays the same.”

There are 3 Simple Truths of Penny Auctions that you must be aware of, and they are:

  • Risk
  • Uncertainty
  • Change


If you’re at all familiar with penny auctions, say for at least a month or longer, you will have found that penny auctions are filled with risk. Beware.

You find a penny auction site, purchase your bids and bid on item(s) of your choosing – you may win, you may lose. The game is risky. Be sure to bid on penny auctions that offer the much more sustainable buy-it now option. Buy-it now allows bidders to apply bids spent to purchasing items if you don’t win them. Visit our forum and penny auction directory to find out about buy-now sites.

As is evident by the many postings both in this blog and in the forum by penny auction users, a number of penny auction sites over the years have outright, blatantly, ruthlessly, stolen from the real penny auction bidders, no qualms about it.

They’ve robbed us by not only manually shill bidding against us, driving up prices and depleting our bid accounts and in turn, bank accounts, but by using automated bidding bots to bid on their items in hopes of luring unsuspecting bidders in and pocketing whatever change they can.


You find a penny auction site, purchase bids, bid on items of your choosing and then pay the final end price and shipping costs. Then you wait, and wait, and wait… Weeks have gone by and although you’ve checked the mail every day you still haven’t received your items.

You send e-mail after e-mail asking about your items, no response. Guess what happens next? The penny auction site shuts down, *poof* gone.

Is there any recourse?


If you purchased your bids and items via PayPal you do have a 45-day window where you could file a complaint, wait any longer and you may just be out of luck. Paid via credit card? Contact your credit card company/banking institution and proceed to file a chargeback.

There’s also the uncertainty of not knowing how many bids your opponents have, or when they might just drop out. Even if your strongest opponents do drop out there could be many more bidders waiting in the weeds to pounce and prolong the bidding game.


As stated above, penny auctions are constantly changing. The bidders, the items, the sites that come and go, the strategies, the win limits.

Let’s go back to the quote by Dan Millman and use it to understand that penny auctions can lead to disappointment, but they don’t have to. “Life has three rules: Paradox, Humor, and Change.- Paradox: Life is a mystery; don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.- Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all measure- Change: Know that nothing ever stays the same.”

Penny auctions can be a mystery.

Know that you just won’t be able to figure out whether or not a site is totally legit or not. You don’t know how many bids your opponents have or when they will stop bidding, just be prepared for this and be sure to set limits on your bidding so you don’t get carried away. While it’s not always easy to know if a site is a scam, there are a few things that you can look for so that you will help you become a better bidder and a more informed consumer.

Before you buy bids check the penny auction site out.  

  • Look for “trust” signs and make sure they’re true.
  • Is the site SSL encrypted?
  • Have they really been verified by the Better Business Bureau?
  • Do they even have real traffic?

We’ve exposed a number of penny auction sites that have used fake trust signals, i.e, they displayed VeriSign seals and BBB seals that were nothing more than images, they were not really verified by anyone.  Read over the terms & conditions, privacy policy, about page, are they a registered business? Do they even state a business name, i.e. Penny Auction ABC, LLC – located in Nebraska.

You can then take this information and go to the Secretary of State’s website for the state they state to be a registered corporation in and verify that they really are an incorporated LLC. Many sites have even lied about simply being a registered business.

The biggest red flag that has been seen time and again has been the penny auction site that appears to be offering dozens of items all ending simultaneously with hundreds of bidders with strange/seemingly unlikely usernames. Watch out for this. For examples of this be sure to check out our Penny Auction Hall of Shame and Legit or Not? categories.

Check traffic states on Alexa and see if it even looks like the penny auction site has enough traffic to sustain so many items and could really have so many bidders. For instance, alexa.com/siteinfo/pennyauctionsiteabc.com – is their traffic rank over 1 Million yet they have hundreds of different users bidding? These bidders could be computer bot bidders or the site shill bidding.

The smaller the Alexa ranking of a site the more traffic they get. For instance, Facebook has an Alexa ranking of 2, Google 1 in the US.

Penny auctions can be fun, keep a sense of humor. 

This simply means don’t take penny auctions too seriously. Don’t get too bent out of shape when you lose, just be prepared to spend and budget accordingly if you want to win, but remember that there is no guarantee you will win. Check out penny auction sites that offer buy-it now, visit our penny auction directory to find some of these.

Penny auctions are constantly changing, so be prepared. 

Penny auctions come and go, be ready for this. If you’re still waiting for won items be sure to follow-up with a site and keep note of their responses or lack of response.  If you’ve won items save screenshots of the items you’ve won and proof that you’ve paid for them. If you paid for your bids and items on PayPal remember that you have 45 days from the date of purchase to when it’s too late to open up a dispute and hopefully get your money back. If you purchased bids with a credit card be sure to contact the banking institution to initiate a chargeback if a site ends up shutting down and never sending your items.

In the event that you become scammed by a penny auction be sure to contact the appropriate authorities and file a complaint. Don’t give up because you really can make a difference.

The Federal Trade Commission is now familiar with penny auctions as are a number of state Attorney General’s offices and they want to know if you were scammed by one. To file  complaints be sure to check out our Penny Auction Scam Reporting Directory. Find out what state the penny auction operated out of and file a complaint with the AG in that state.

Check out 5 Ways You Can Become a Better Penny Auction Bidder This Week and be sure to join our free penny auction forum!

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