Riffington Sold Louis Vuitton for As Low As $0.17 Now They’re Shutting Down

riffington penny auctionsWe just received notice of yet another penny auction site closing. Canadian based Riffington.com will stop offering penny auctions on March 4th. The site was launched in the summer of 2011 by a group of MBA students and even picked up some press in Canada, but they, like many others before them, were just not able to make it.

This penny auction offered a number of authentic designer fashion items and unfortunately for them they took in huge losses and practically gave away a lot of high quality designer purses with a Louis Vuitton mini purse recently ending for $0.17, a $700 Neverfull, $1.97.

The penny auction model at its current state is just not scalable, nor is it sustainable. If you were Riffington.com bidder who was able to win any of their great items with just a few bids consider yourself lucky. As is the case on nearly all penny auction sites, once a bidder “establishes” themselves as a strong bidder and won’t back down they are often likely to win a number of items from a lower trafficked penny auction site at very low prices. A major pitfall of penny auctions are the bidders who become “powerbidders” and win at all costs. Because this happens, penny auction sites like Riffington.com are unable to sustain the losses and are forced to shut down. It’s great if a bidder is able to become a “powerbidder” because they are more likely to walk away winning, but the sites end up losing if they can’t build a large enough userbase.

Not the first designer handbag site to shut down, OohiLove, FashionBay, TrendyPenny, LuxeWin, MyChampagneTaste, Dime-Divas, LuckyChic, and a number of others catering to designer fashion deal seekers have all practically given items away and had to go out of business.  Items that were offered on Riffington included handbags and accessories from coveted fashion brands brands like Prada, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tory Burch.

Just a glimpse at some of the deals that penny auction bidders got (= losses to the site) on Riffington: 

Louis Vuitton Mini Pochette Illustre – valued at $345 CAD: $1.99 was the final bid price (199 bids were placed by all bidders)

Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM Monogram – $860 CAD – $1.97 final bid price

Tory Burch Nylon Tote – $200 CAD value – $0.26 end price.

A Miu Miu St. Cocco Embossed Leather Clutch valued at $400, end price $0.09.

$100 Amazon.com gift card ended at $0.21.

The site experienced losses like this day after day.

Like Riffington’s MBA founder students, many entrepreneurs are hopeful when they set out to launch their very own penny auction site. Unfortunately many don’t last past the first 6 months and more consideration and research needs to be done before anyone launches a penny auction.

The shut down notice from Riffington.com as was received by one of their members: (Not sure why, but as a non-winning customer there I did not receive the e-mail.) 

“Dear Valued Customers,It is difficult to call it the end. However, the time has come. This will be Riffington’s last week of auctions. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time working on this venture, however, financially it can not carry on. We hope that we have provided a fun and exciting site for you to visit over the last ten months.All bids will expire at the end of the auctions held on Sunday March 4th 2012. This was our first business venture in fashion and it will not be our last! We will continue to respond to everyone’s emails and we wish you all the best,The Riffington Team”

Did you bid on Riffington.com? Join the Penny Auction Watch forum and tell us what you think of this latest penny auction shut down.

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26 comments… add one
  • Clayton February 28, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Admittedly, I’m not from the penny auction scene and I just happened to stumble across this post, but the theory that power bidders cause a site’s downfall doesn’t make sense to me. I think if a person can be profitable at power bidding on a site, it has to be because the site has an overall problem with the volume of bids. I mean, I think in a site with sufficient bidding volume, it just wouldn’t be profitable to be a power bidder as you’d face competition from other power bidders as well us punters trying their luck.

    In my very uneducated opinion, it was lack of volume, not power bidders that caused this sites demise.

    Reply
  • Anthony February 29, 2012, 5:15 am

    Hmm well power bidders can be a trouble for sure…but with prices ending at $1.97 and $0.26 I have to agree with Clayton that perhaps there was simply not enough competition…
    the “volunteers dilemma” in general can hide just as big of a threat as any single power bidder

    But its still always sad to see a niche penny auction go down…

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee February 29, 2012, 10:44 am

      Yes.. It is sad, but it’s just not sustainable longterm…

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 1, 2012, 8:54 am

    I don’t comment on these home page main stories as often as I should, perhaps because I am quite active on the forums at times, but I have to say, I find the assumptions made within this particular story, quite frustrating to say the least. Power Bidders had absolutely NOTHING to do with the down fall of Riffington, and to make any such accusations is quite ludicrous. The owners/decision makers at Riffington are SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for their own demise. Despite Clayton’s own admissions to being a complete outsider from the penny auction scene, and perhaps as such, able to view things from a completely different perspective, even he is able to see a clearer picture, and identify that this was simply not the case. I have the full story of Riffington, or at least a very good version of events that lead to their down fall, and will be only to happy to post it, considering that reading this main page story here, is actually what lead me to write it in the first place. However it is several thousand words long, and as much as I would like those interested to have a thorough read, it closely resembles that of a short story paper back, and I’m not sure that anyone would actually make it to the end, however, the offer is there if you wish to publish it? I may even just post it direct to the forums, but again, it’s so long that it’s unlikely that too many would even make it to the end.

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 1, 2012, 9:43 am

      You’re free to disagree, but this article is based on my own opinions based on my own experiences.

      Reply
    • Frank March 1, 2012, 11:09 am

      As someone who’s really interested in learning more about penny auctions and the like, Id be really greatful to get the “full story” – I’d really like to hear the full story, so I can learn the pitfalls.

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 1, 2012, 10:05 am

    This actually isn’t really about opinions, per say, Amanda… this is about having followed Riffington from start to finish, and observations of the multitude of the problems that they suffered. I never have, and never will tell anyone that they are not entitled to their opinions, and neither should you. Of course I am free to disagree, however I also have a much deeper knowledge of the entire situation, and I think that even yourself would agree, if you took the time to actually read what I have written, that there was a whole host of contributing factors that lead to Riffington’s closure, and I can assure you that Power Bidders never played any role in that. We are on the same side here Amanda, and I am merely trying to enlighten and educate users with the real, and full story of what took place at Riffington. You once used to agree that the full story should be told, as well as to have as many facts laid out as possible. I am merely offering to do that for you, as well as every site owner and bidder alike, that could certainly take many positives, and some good advice from what I have put together in response to your main story. If you would rather me not do that, for the sake of attempting to better educate the community, then that is also fine with me… I’m not interested in the cross site/forum politics that have recently taken place… what has happened in the past, or whatever happens in the present or future between you guys, is of little concern to me. I actively post at both places, and will remain doing so, so long as I have the opportunity. Again, putting your differences aside is of little consequence to me, although I must agree with Chris from PennyPurses, that negativity/friction between the two sites isn’t really helping the industry in general, but again, just my opinion, which as with yours, I am perfectly entitled too.

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 1, 2012, 10:37 am

      Can you send me what you wrote? I’d love to take a look at what really happened and perhaps post it here too.

      I hope you don’t mean to imply that by “I once used to take a look at the full story” I do not do this any longer, because that is just not the case.

      Thank you.

      Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 1, 2012, 10:40 am

      Also, as for the other site, you really don’t know the full story. So, there is nothing to be put aside and I don’t go over there.

      Reply
  • goodtiming420 March 1, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Since I feel like you called me out in your initial post Amanda, which I will comment on later, I’d like to see Neverwalks’ take on the whole situation. The fact that you want to “pre-screen” it is of some concern to me… but, regardless, I have some comments about the whole Riffington experience as well and would like to see what others like Neverwalks, who is much more experienced than me, thinks about this issue.

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 1, 2012, 9:06 pm

      I did not call you out, it was a random sampling of recent items which you happened to have been the winner. As for “pre-screening” that is not at all what I said, he is free to post it here but I asked him if he’d e-mail it to me and I could post it. Neverwalks is also free to post it to the forum. Sorry you became upset by this post but that was not my intention. Thanks

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 3, 2012, 6:59 am

    PART 1

    The way I am reading things, is that basically Power Bidders are being blamed for Riffingtons closure? WoW… That’s just plain nonsense!!! I have always loved reading PAWs opinions and findings on their front page stories, but I must admit that this particular one kind of makes me gag and gets stuck in my throat somewhat. There are a whole bunch of facts and variables missing from the full Riffington story, but to highlight user goodtiming420 as a Power Bidder, and specifically list a select few auction items that he won is most certainly being a little unfair to him, and honestly reads to me like he is being thrown under the bus somewhat. I almost feel that this user is being blamed for Riffingtons demise, having read what I have just read, and when it comes down to it, that could NOT be any further from the truth. For starters, many, if not most of the winners, would not be considered Power Bidders… There was a LOT of things happening with Riffington on the whole, and I followed this site from it’s very early days when user erin824 pretty much had a free reign over things, and not that I blame her, but boy did she certainly make the most of it. I watched this user basically bury this sites future, before they had even really started. Again, I cannot blame her one little bit for taking advantage of the situation, whilst taking everything that she possibly could. Many will say that she was simply a complete greedy *****, however, for the majority of the time, she was basically given the keys to an empty store, and given the go ahead to take home whatever she pleased. Let me ask you this though… if you were given those keys, and given a free run to take whatever you wanted, would you have not done the same? anyone that says no, is talking from their rear end, hence, I cannot blame her for taking everything that she did.

    I could talk about this particular site at great lengths, as I was once a player there… well at least for a few weeks before I had my account “temporarily deactivated” for being a Power Bidder… and who do you think it was that I was supposedly Power Bidding against? Yes.. you guessed it.. the very user that was the sites achilles heel for so long. The funny thing is, is that not long after I had signed up, there were also another two pretty well known Power Bidders that showed up. (and I am not referring to the likes of the average bidders that have been accused of burying the site because they had little to no competition either, but instead were painted to look tough). I see that one of the other Power Bidders was also challenging the apa number 1 ranked user for the site (erin824), and this is pretty much when the troubles started. I have always had my suspicions that one of the sites users approached the site with their complaints that the REAL Power Bidders had shown up, and this was the reason we were temporarily deactivated, otherwise it makes no sense to deactivate just the three users that they did, but allow their biggest financial suck to remain playing, but then, as far as I am aware, none of the three users that got deactivated were cozied up with the owners.

    Anyways, it was very soon after that both myself and at least one of the other Power Bidders at the site had challenged their number 1, that we were asked to sit out for a week. Now understand this… the win limits at that time were just one single item per week, and I think I had won just two or three items when this happened, in comparison to erin824’s $7,000+ worth of wins that she had racked up by then. Who would you say was the more obvious user to ask to sit out for a week? but do you think this happened? Nope. Out of sheer curiosity I asked the other two known Power Bidders if they were also asked to sit out, and the replies came back that yes, they were.. however, and what I still find most odd, is that erin824 was NOT, because she was seen to win that week. This was when my suspicions as to how cozy she had got with owners first came to light if I am to be honest with you, as there was absolutely no rhyme or reason whatsoever, for her being allowed to continue mopping up after taking into account her amount of wins, compared to the two of mine, and I think one of the other Power Bidders had also won just one or two auctions at that point. Another thing that I found odd at the time, which lead me to believe that perhaps erin824 had been sharing her infinite wisdom with Jessica, as to who she felt the REAL Power Bidders were, is that I don’t know how the site could say that any Power Bidding was even in play there, especially given the fact that the wins were so easy. I paid retail on an item only once there (actually apa states I lost a total of $16.62 on that particular auction), however apa doesn’t take into consideration that I was getting the cheapest deal on bids, and never once bought bids without some amount of promo/coupon bids attached, so I was actually still even under retail on that auction also. How can you deem a user that won just two items and both under retail to be a Power Bidder, so obviously someone had to have suggested something to the site. I’m sure that the user, the site, or even both may try to argue that they discovered this via forums etc, however, to just single out the three users, and of the other two, one is not a PAW member (that I know of), and the other has maybe a hand full of posts in total, is just too much of a stretch of the imagination to me, and my gut most definitely indicates that I am correct in my assumptions. (and yes I know what they say about assume LOL)

    I approached Jessica via email to ask why it was that just us three users were asked to sit out, and why their biggest winner by a long shot, had been allowed to remain bidding there, as well as others that had MANY more wins under their belts than what I, or indeed the other two bidders had had, and I was pretty surprised, to say the least, with the response in which I received. I was informed that it was worked out by a win/loss ratio, and this is also what the site used to determine what a Power Bidder was (*scratches head*)…stranger still, apa shows I had won two and lost four at that point. I admit that the four losses were a single bid tag that I forgot about, hey, it happens, it was a new site for me, and they were only running auctions a few days per week at that time, but none the less, in terms of win loss, I had placed a bid, did not win them, so therefor I lost them right? I did challenge the situation further, thanks to my ever increasing suspicions about some under handed, behind the scenes, funny goings on, or whatever you want to call it… and I asked why that particular user was allowed to remain playing, and not too surprisingly I guess, I received a rather defensive response, so we’ll just call it what it was… I’m sure you probably know what I’m saying that I was thinking at that point LOL.

    The following week, I was once again free to play, and I won a $450.00 value purse for just 9 cents, spending a total of 4 bids, with user erin824 spending 3… there was a further two other users making up the additional 2 cents, and if you look at the times of the bids, which can be found here http://www.allpennyauctions.com/auct…1ff3406ed932e/ you can clearly see that the first bid was placed on Sept 15th, the two random bidders both placed bids on Sept 16th, and erin824 placed her first bid on Sept 19th, at which point we played tit for tat for a couple of bids each (as you do), before erin824 placed her final bid on Sept 20th. I placed one further bid on this auction on Sept 21st at 1:31 am and the auction closed some 19 hours later with no further bids being placed, making me the winner. Are you seeing any problem here? I certainly am as far as the site is concerned… a bidder of my experience should have certainly immediately noticed that a $450.00 item, hasn’t received a single bid in the final 19 hours of an auction that had been posted for nearly a week prior to closing. Not even a random n00b trying one of their free registration bids. Just to see that happen, quite literally screams to me that the site had a very serious issue with the size of its user base. Now it was obvious to me how erin824 had managed to rack up so much in wins… she had had a free reign for two months, because there was so little competition on the site, that she couldn’t help but win everything, although like I say, that was until myself and a few others arrived. After that win, I won just two further items, and a small bid pack, and lost a further four auctions, again all being single bid forgotten tags, before I received an email telling me that my account had been temporarily deactivated, due to the fact that I was a Power Bidder, and the site just wasn’t ready for that type of bidder. So let’s look at my final standings, as found here.. http://www.allpennyauctions.com/user…om/Neverwalks/ as you can see, I won a total of 6 from 14 auctions (irrelevant of whether the losses were just forgotten tags), and I never paid over retail once for any of them, not even retail in fact… now that’s some awesome display of Power Bidding huh? LOL… I mean, come on… seriously? … answer me this… With a win limit as strict as one single physical item per week, do you really think that a Power Bidder could have any real impact on a site? or even have a chance to build and “establish” a “reputation”? I mean seriously?

    4 more parts to follow….

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 3, 2012, 4:21 pm

      I never once highlighted any one bidder or called them a powerbidder. That was just a sampling of ended items that ended cheaply, that’s all.

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 3, 2012, 4:28 pm

    PART 2

    To blame Power Bidders for the closure of this particular site, is not only pretty crazy, but factually VERY WRONG indeed. This is very little more, than once again, a site failing to produce a steady influx of new users, mainly down to lack of advertising I would guess, in conjunction with a stream of poor business decisions. The management of this site is what made this site fail… it has absolutely NOTHING to do with Power Bidders, that, and again for the record, are simply not even Power Bidders anyway. The writing was on the wall for this site from day 1 in my opinion, and even when I made my initial investment (of course I purchased the largest bid pack for the cheaper bids), I was already worried that this site wasn’t going to last long enough for me to see the returns I was hoping for, and that’s even if I was able to recover my initial investment. Luckily for me, they did survive long enough for me to win 5 physical items and actually receive them, so I finished there way in front with some awesome deals.

    Getting back to the poor business decisions… I really don’t know where to start, there were so many things that just didn’t make any real business sense to me… and get this, I am just a bidder, I haven’t attended any fancy business schools, colleges or universities, but I do have some very basic common sense, and often some of the decisions I see being made even lacked that, well in my opinion anyways. This is not a personal attack on Jessica, or any other single individual, this is solely based on my own many observations, from not only using the site, all be it for a very short period of time, but also from the numerous things I witnessed happening there, even long after I had left. I reached out to Jessica on several occasions offering advice, even after I was temporarily deactivated, because it was literally a horror show to watch for the larger part of the time. As many of you that know me, or aware of me, may or may not know, I have long since been very passionate about the penny auction industry. I have always loved bidding, in fact, so much so, that even when courted by sites to work for them, I refused, because I did not want to give up my bidding rights on those sites or any others, and I really couldn’t be bothered to have to entertain any grief from the bidding community, and you know it would go down that way… besides, I doubt they could afford me anyway, after all, in order to have the best, one must usually pay for it 😛 LOL.

    Anyways, back to my points… I love bidding, I love getting deals, and I enjoy the rush of the clock ticking down, thinking is it this one?, is it going to be this one?, maybe this one? etc etc… I do find them a very enjoyable pass time for the most part. I have helped many bidders and site owners alike, with tips, advice and sometimes even just a friendly ear to bend. It is my passion for the industry that drives me on and fuels me to do what I do… Yes, I have had many awesome deals along the way, although I have also had some pretty hefty losses too… it goes with the territory, but from the behind the scenes stand point, either helping bidders or site owners with tips and advice, I have no personal gain from doing that. I do get plenty of personal satisfaction from it though, sure. I feel nothing but sorrow when a legitimate site fails, because for me, it’s another nail in the coffin for the good guys and the industry itself, whilst the bad guys are often getting away with daylight robbery, largely going completely unpunished when doing so, even when blatantly caught red handed, and yet the consequences of their actions are also so much farther reaching. They are what is largely to blame for an apparently dying industry. For every good honest site that pops up, there are most likely five others which are nothing but scams, whether they are here today, gone tomorrow, along with the money from the initial bid pack purchases, getting users to sign up knowing that they are going to charge that users credit card for bids that the users were cleverly conned into thinking were free, thanks to hiding the real charges so deep within the bowels of their terms and conditions, that even the most avid The Hobbit or The lord of the rings readers would have long since fallen asleep reading by the time they would have arrived at that part, and let’s not forget the numerous sites that have been caught running bots, along with the number that still do, and did we even get to shilling yet? It’s no wonder that most people have never even heard of penny auctions, and that most that have, automatically relate them to scams.

    Getting back to some of the things I noticed wrong with Riffington…

    They had a win limit of just one physical item per week. So despite having such a small user base, to have such a strict limit is almost P.A suicide. The users basically queued up for their easy wins, without really having to make any challenges on other bidders, and fight for them.

    Their total value of auctions in any given week, run into thousands of dollars. Even their smallest weeks where they run for just a few days, exceeded what some of today’s sites auction off in an entire month. This was a bad business decision of the grossest proportions in my opinion, when considering that they had such a small active user base. They made the same fatal mistake that many sites make during their infancy… they were simply far too ambitious in auctioning off so much high end/high ticket product, when it must have been blatantly obvious that their user base was far too small to ever be able to sustain the losses of such product, let alone gain any profits from it. I even advised Jessica to cut back and add a larger amount of smaller product, increase the number of auctions, and add some additional product that didn’t fall within the fashion industry, such as gift cards for Amazon, and some electronics etc, as I felt this would attract a more diverse user base. Guys generally don’t want to be bidding for purses, but stick some Amazon cards in front of them, or some iPods etc, and you will soon see their interest pique. What I was advising is that these would most likely work better in accordance with a slightly more generous raise in the win limit (and no, not for my own benefit), to encourage more bidding activity, rather than have a user win one item, and then have their hands tied until the following week, where upon which they would just join the queue for their free easy win again… make them spend bids and fight, rather than tie their hands and just leave them to take their freebie. In having more auctions of a lower value, really is better than having just a few auctions of high value, and a user is likely to bid more, because there are more auctions to bid on, more choices to make, it keeps the user more active and interested, and the silver lining is that this shouldn’t have been at any extra cost to the site, because it could have been offset upon the withdrawal of one of the weekly high ticket purses.

    Here is how I was looking at things… For that single auction of a $500.00 purse, they could have offered 2 x $100.00 purses, 4 x $50.00 gift cards and 4 x $25.00 gift cards and achieved a much more beneficial proposition, for not only themselves, but also their users. The very fact that I had forgotten most of those tags I placed, was simply because the site did not keep me active enough. I didn’t pop in there daily to win an item or two, I popped in once or twice per week to place a bid or two… it’s so easy for a user to forget a site that runs that way. In fairness to Jessica, she did actually listen, although I was temporarily deactivated by that point anyway.. in the following weeks I see many different items up for auction…Amazon gift cards, ipods etc, but it seemed that one of the points that I was actually trying to make, flew straight over her head… they also listed iPads, maybe two or three of them, I can’t rightly remember now, but point being, they were not offsetting the costs of the extra auctions or more varied items, they were further adding to them, and further more, the win limit still remained the same at just one physical item per week, again only further missing the point of adding more auctions, to keep users more active, and in a position whereas they are more tempted to go and fight for those extra wins. *shakes head* This had the complete opposite effect from what I had initially tried to help advise her to achieve… had she followed what I was actually advising, they wouldn’t have increased their weekly costs, as they could have been the same, or even less, the bidders wouldn’t have gained any further ground, because the items they were winning would have been of lesser value, they would have had more winners paying higher final values, and it is highly likely that more bids would be spent along the way… does that make sense? I also feel that they would certainly have seen the benefits of “getting themselves out there” more. I see the very occasional post here and there on PAW, along with some minor Facebook activity. I have mentioned this site to several bidders, and they have never even heard of it. I’m sure that they could have done much more, and especially if they had added the additional auctions (without further costs), increased the win limit (without any real financial benefit to the bidders), as this was a good way to increase activity within the current user base, as well as attract many more of those users that they didn’t really seem to be chasing, but so desperately needed.

    3 more parts to follow….

    Reply
  • Neverwalks March 3, 2012, 6:14 pm

    Fair enough Amanda, maybe the way that I read it, as well as others, was not what you had intended. None the less, the posts I am making are still valid, because, I do believe that they will outline many things that were wrong at Riffington, and this goes a long way to showing that in no way were Power Bidders to blame for anything negative that happened to Riffington. One look at their apa hall of fame standings should show that anyway.

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 4, 2012, 4:00 pm

      Sorry if I was ill informed and made false assumptions but like I said, this post was based on my own opinions and observations I did not go to APA though or look as deep as you did, that’s why I am glad there are people like you to also post 🙂 So, Thank you!

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 3, 2012, 6:52 pm

    PART 3

    I was told by a relative of erin824, (a very well known bidder who shall remain unnamed), or at least they claim they are a relative, and they have also made this claim to several other bidders, that she was, and I quote…..

    *****”She wasn’t actually trying to win all that stuff on the site honestly. She really was just bidding because everything was going so cheap and she is trying to help the girls running the site make some money at her own expense because it’s two college kids running it. Don’t tell anyone I told you that though, but she has a big heart and she really enjoys seeing the two of them working hard to be successful so she’s just trying to help them out”***** (end quote)

    How is absolutely milking a site for every single item you can get your hands on (and the majority of the time, the most expensive item of the week), whilst all the time not telling anyone, or actively shouting about this site from the rooftops and actually helping them out? What is that well known saying that springs to mind? “with friends like that, who needs enemies” LOL. The reason I point this out is because I recently saw a post on PAW’s forum by a bidder known as eshopper, which was in the thread that actually announced Riffingtons closure. This is an experienced user and has a post count on PAW that even leaves mine paling in comparison, and yet she states in the following thread, which can be found here… http://pennyauctionwatch.com/forum/discuss-penny-auction-news/18378-riffington-sold-louis-vuitton-low-0-17-now-they-re-shutting-down.html
    …and again I will quote…

    *****This is the first I’ve ever heard of this site. Just another case of bidders wanting to keep quiet about sites where they’re getting great deals for as long as the site lasts. I don’t blame the bidders, that’s why they play….for great deals. I think some PA auction owners go in thinking if they can sell items for 60 or 70% off retail bidders will flock but the stickler is, bidders want things for 95-100% off, if they can’t get that on your site they’ll move on to another one, NBD.******(end quote)

    I found the reply from 824addiction (bidder name erin824) rather laughable to be honest… here was the reply… and again I will quote…

    *****I take issue with that comment. I have posted many times about Riffington and the great deals I received—and the fact that, if they didn’t get more bidders, they would be unable to sustain the losses…..I posted my wins and amounts…and I started posting on thepurseforum hoping to get diehard luxury handbag lovers to give Riffington a try.

    I would have much rather had you on the site and have it remain successful than keeping it to myself and seeing it close.***** (end quote)

    Whilst I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever, and I would even bet my house on the fact that erin824, in no way, shape or form, ever wanted to lose such a lucrative “cash cow” that she milked on a very regular basis, close down on her, I did find the part wheres she “took issue” with eshoppers post to be somewhat laughable, and here is why… she made what looks like to be her first post regarding this site, over a month and a total value of $3,259 worth of wins, after discovering the site. Her next post wasn’t until September 30th, some two months later, stating, and I quote…

    *****Riffington.com!!!!!!!!!!!! They are still one of the best kept secrets out there!*****

    And coincidentally? was also around the exact same time that myself and other users had finally found this site, and were not allowing her to get all of those nice, cheap, high ticket wins that she had previously had free reign over. 😉 …I personally feel at that point, she felt it was no longer worth trying to keep it secret, as she most likely realized that her days of stealing all of those nice, cheap high ticket wins, had pretty much come to an end… and well of course the site was a well kept secret… I didn’t see their apa ranked number one winner, exactly making too much of a song and dance, shouting about them from the rooftops, or endorsing them to all and sundry on a regular basis, whilst she continued to milk them dry. I do understand that advertising isn’t the job of the users, but I do think that after several thousand dollars worth of high ticket items (some of them in excess of £1000 in value), that she could have perhaps put a little more effort into getting other users to the site. I can only assume that whilst milking the site dry, well at least until a few of the better known users arrived (only to subsequently get temporarily deactivated), that this was too much of a good thing to share… but let’s have it as it really is, rather than this horse shit…

    (quote)*****”She wasn’t actually trying to win all that stuff on the site honestly. She really was just bidding because everything was going so cheap and she is trying to help the girls running the site make some money at her own expense because it’s two college kids running it. Don’t tell anyone I told you that though, but she has a big heart and she really enjoys seeing the two of them working hard to be successful so she’s just trying to help them out”***** (end quote)

    Ultimately though, it turned out to be one of the reasons that the site failed in the manner it did… it simply didn’t have a large enough user base, which in turn lead to the site becoming unable to sustain the losses. Had there been those many glowing endorsements for a legitimate site (on the whole), maybe the site would have survived had it had that much larger user base that it so deperately needed? Let that be a lesson learned to any bidder that finds a site (s)he knows is legitimate, but keeps it to themselves. New sites need all of the help that they can get, heck, even a lot of the more established sites still need every bit of help that they can get. They have entered a VERY tough industry to survive in, and as I said earlier, are already facing a horrible uphill struggle just to gain the trust of users that are experienced, and regular frequenters of penny auctions… to gain that trust from the average Joe that has never really experienced a penny auction, and has only seen and heard enough about them to relate them to scam after scam, it’s even tougher still.

    When a user finds a site, has won some auctions, is confident it is legitimate, the site replies to all inquiries in a timely, friendly manner, ships the product that they has been won etc, then users need to become more active in spreading the word. You owe it to yourselves, as much as you do the sites. It will ALWAYS remain a fact for sites, that if they do not have a large enough user base to sustain the auctions that they are listing, then they are doomed to certain failure. That’s where the users owing it to themselves part comes into play… if that legitimate site fails and closes, then YOU (the user) just lost another “playground” …you might want to think about that, next time you find a site, feel it is trustworthy, but decide to keep it under wraps, whilst you milk it for as much as you can before word gets out. I have endorsed several new sites this past year when I found them, and felt they were safe to use.. BidPennyDeal, BidRail, and more recently GiftCardsAlley, to name the few that immediately spring to mind. I have not only touted them to many other users, either by forum reviews, posts, and FaceBook, I have also helped them, as much as just one person can anyway, with the available time I have that is, with as much helpful advice as I could possibly think of… but guess what, this advice wasn’t for my own benefit, or in order to better serve myself, it was to help them, or hopefully at least point them in the right direction, so that they stood a better chance of survival by avoiding many of the mistakes that I have seen happen with the many other sites that have closed over the past few years. If they survive, they are happy because they are hopefully turning a profit, or at least on the way to it, and I am happy because I have that other “playground” to keep me amused 🙂

    Reply
  • Neverwalks March 4, 2012, 12:36 am

    PART 4

    I know I keep drifting in and out of my version of “The Riffington Story”, but again, my obvious passion for the industry keeps side tracking me into trying to get as much useful information as I can into this story, as well as provide you all with some food for thought, and yet crazily enough, after all of this unbelievably, snore-festical bunch of ramblings, I know that I will read it back through at some point and think, “damn, I forgot to mention that”, or “I should have added that” LOL.

    Back to Riffington…

    After I had been placed on a temporary deactivation (which is now obviously permanent, due to their closure), I witnessed a few other problems that the site was suffering, and again, even though with a standing of a temporarily deactivated account, I was still reaching out to Jessica to try and advise her about certain situations, well at least up until the point that she stopped replying.

    Here are few of the other problems that the site was suffering, that I had witnessed after I was deactivated…

    *****ALL SITE OWNERS… PLEASE READ THIS VALUABLE SMALL LITTLE PIECE OF ADVICE…. EVEN IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE*****

    Riffington issued free bids upon registration, but more importantly, this was done via an automated process… whilst I do fully understand why sites do this, basically to entice new users into trying the site out, in hopes that those users will stay on, purchase bids, and become a part of the active user base…. for the love of god… *****PLEASE STOP THIS PRACTICE***** Doing this is going to be nothing but trouble by the time all is said and done. There are many users out there that will create an account, after account, after account, after account, just to cheat not only the site out of the free bids, and possibly any product that they might win with those bids, but also create problems with auctions, and in doing so, will also leave you with some angry customers. I have lost count of the amount of times I have witnessed this in play, and it really doesn’t benefit anyone but the cheats.

    Your users will be unhappy because they will feel cheated, most likely leading to email complaints, of which you are then bogged down replying to. If the auction is voided, you have the further problems of then refunding the bids to each of the legitimate users that placed bids on the auction in question, so more work for you. If you allow the auction to stand (although it shouldn’t), then you still have the irate customers that got cheated to deal with, more work, so whichever way that you turn, there really is nothing good that come of it.

    If you want to give away free bids for registering, then do it manually, and at least 24 hours after the account has been created, so that you can verify the ip address and user information, such as addresses etc, in order to make sure that the free bids are being issued to a single user account… better still, offer a $5.00 bid pack for a one time, first time use only (or even $2.50), and tag the free registration bids onto that. You might think that it’s unfair to get a new user to have to pay for even a small bid pack, just to try your site out, but in reality, if they can’t afford to risk $5.00, then what is the likelihood of that user investing any further money at all, let alone becoming residual? I’m sure some do, but I think it’s more likely that when a user has invested even such a small sum, they get more of a “real feel” for the site anyway, as they have at least invested something. They are also, most certainly less likely to attempt to create multiple accounts, as they would then also need multiple mailing addresses, as well as multiple payment methods.

    It will save you so much time and money in the long run. I recently spoke to a tech at one of the current popular auction sites of which I share a pretty close relationship with, and when making these and other points to him, he replied that whilst he will do his best to stop this issue, he has a user base of some 18,000+ users that he is having to screen his way through. Now I use this site on a very regular basis, and I absolutely tell you for a 100% fact, that there is no way on this earth, that even 1% of that user base is active on a regular basis, so I replied to him saying that I would bet my house on a very substantial number of those accounts, being rogue accounts… his reply the following day… after going through the accounts (and he wasn’t even finished), that he had already identified over 8,000 accounts that were rogue. Those 8,000+ multiple accounts have cost that site 40,000 free bids collectively. That is an absolutely astonishing number for a site that isn’t even a year old, and struggling from week to week to make ends meet, let alone turn a profit and build a successful site. That is not only 40,000 bids that it has cost the site, that is 40,000 bids that have been cheated away from the sites users, where the cheating wasn’t spotted and reported, and that doesn’t even take into account the amount of product that may have been won with any of those free bids… so as I say… if you are currently running a site that adds free bids for registration on an automated system, then you are asking for trouble, and if you are someone that is considering opening a site, and was considering the automated free bids upon registration, I would most certainly urge you to think things through… It WILL cause you problems at some point.

    The reason I brought this up is because I witnessed this exact thing going on at Riffington, and it wasn’t getting any better as time went on… it was getting worse. I know I shouldn’t laugh (although I couldn’t help myself), but the sheer audacity of some of these multi accounting cheats actually begs belief… on one particular auction I was watching at Riffington, because I received a message about what was going on, I witnessed a user run through from A-F of the alphabet when creating usernames, and that was about the most blatant I have ever seen at any site PERIOD!! These bids were mainly placed against an eventual winner called pinkstate43… I wonder if this user spotted this?, and if they did, whether they reported it to the site?, or simply remained quiet and walked away with their win knowing that they had profited? The real shame is that this should most certainly have been reported to the site, and the site should have at that point voided out the auction, and refunded the legitimate users the bids that they had placed on the auction. In my opinion, it is the sites responsibility to screen for rogue accounts, and provide the fairest environment possible for their users. If users are creating multiple accounts to cheat the sites systems, then it is the sites responsibility to make sure that this can’t happen, and there is absolutely nothing that a user can do stop it, whereas the site has options available to them to totally squash this practice, as outlined above.

    These were the names as they originally appeared at the time of the auction I witnessed on Riffington…

    A-ileen
    B-hekoy
    C-army
    D-ongkoy
    E-nigma
    F-arah

    Each user spent their free bids and stopped, only for the next one to take over, and never bid against each other, just the other users with history. The last time I looked, each of the names had been changed, and were now running from G-L. This was NOT the only time that I personally witnessed this taking place at Riffington either. It’s incredible to think that someone would sit there and take the time to cheat the system in such a manner, however, they do, especially when they might sneak a win using them, and on a site such as Riffington, that win could potentially have been anything up to and over $1600.00.. If you were a site owner, or a soon to be site owner, would you really want to see this happening on your site?

    Reply
    • Tweet March 6, 2012, 10:10 pm

      I, too, have followed Riffington from the start. But I am not a penny auction guru, and it is very interesting to hear a guru’s comments. Four parts is not too long.
      I disagree, though. I think that power bidders DID destroy Riffington. And of course, one in particular. Erin824 got a stranglehold quickly, and never let up. In the first few months, before the change in win limits, Erin had won between 40 and 50 percent of all auctioned items, to say nothing of bid packs. She would do anything to win – she would bid ludicrous numbers of bids – absolutely insane. Regulars wouldn’t bid against her, and newcomers learned very quickly that bidding against Erin was a waste of bids. When bid limits changed, Erin still had that reputation, and each week she chose and won the most expensive/newest item and 2 of the biggest bid packs available. She usually had no opposition, and she did it week after week after week after week. Abject greed. I must admit I could never understand why Riffington let her get away with virtually stealing from them again and again. I don’t think Riffington could ever get out from under Erin’s grip. You just can’t recruit new people if there is no chance of winning. In the last few months, several power bidders cohabitated Riffington. They never, ever bid against each other, which by the way, is implicit collusion. So if Riffington was hurting before, it could not survive several people sharing the spoils and spending minimum bids.

      Reply
  • goodtiming420 March 4, 2012, 2:47 am

    You’re right Amanda, you didn’t do it once… you did it at least twice:

    1. “A major pitfall of penny auctions are the bidders who become “powerbidders” and win at all costs. Because this happens, penny auction sites like Riffington.com are unable to sustain the losses and are forced to shut down.”

    and

    2. “Note that the same winner won all three of the above mentioned items. After they had won so much, do you think they’d really stop if you bid against them? This is the psychology behind the bid-to-win penny auction strategy and this is why so many penny auction sites have to shut down.”

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 4, 2012, 3:56 pm

      Sorry you took offense but this was not targeting you. And again, I own this site, I pay for this site, I am free to publish my opinions. If you don’t really like it there is no one making you read it…

      Reply
  • Neverwalks March 4, 2012, 6:39 pm

    The Final Part…

    Also in having touched on the subject of name changing… another thing I witnessed on a few occasions at Riffington, was that users were changing their usernames mid-auction to replicate the exact same name as the opposing bidder, in order to confuse them, and fool (cheat) them into believing that they were the leading bidder, and I also witnessed users abusing each other during live auctions, by doing the exact same thing and changing their names to cuss out or threaten their opposition. I have said it before, and I will say it again, despite having done so myself on auctions, in order to simply hide my true identity until the auction was over, I firmly believe that a user should NOT have the capability of being able to change their username from their account pages. This should be deactivated from within the script, if the script offers this capability when purchased. A simple call to the script provider should get you the information required to turn this function off. I know this for a fact in terms of the script that Riffington is using (phpPA), as pennyprizes once had this problem, and after a bit of faffing around with their support, they had removed this feature within hours of it being reported. Quite why Riffington allowed this feature to remain a function that a user had control of, was just another bad decision in a string of them.

    I’m quite sure there are things that I am forgetting, but ultimately Power Bidders most certainly did NOT bring this site to its knees… They did it to themselves, as ultimately they were responsible for most of what I have written here. I would like it to be known that whilst highlighting user goodtiming420’s wins and making it appear, at least to myself and some others, as though he is a Power Bidder in the original story posted to the front page of pennyauctionwatch, and as if he was partly to blame for taking this site down, just by appearance of being a Power Bidder (although I accept Amanda’s comment that this was not her intention), I would most certainly suggest that, IF, and only IF, there really was a need to highlight the damage being caused to this site by a single user, or there was any need at all to appear to be throwing somebody under the bus, then there was most certainly a much bigger culprit than the user of who’s wins were posted as an example of “cheap wins” (or suggestive Power Bidding), and if you still haven’t figured that one out, what with all that I have written, then just visit apa, look at the Riffington hall of fame, and pick on the user that won a total retail value of $18,080.29 (with two auctions still remaining at the time of writing), compared to goodtiming420’s efforts of $3,251.41, then can anyone tell me, or anyone else that has half a brain, that goodtiming420 caused this site any damage, or is even remotely considered a Power Bidder (at least by the true Power Bidders). The fact is, there wasn’t a single Power Bidder active on that site for any real period of time, so therefor it is practically impossible to claim that Power Bidders had anything to do with this sites imminent closure.

    It may also be worth mentioning that Jessica might have been struggling to cope with the site on her own. I am not 100% sure, but from my understanding of the set up, it was basically owned and run by both Jessica and Casey, and they are also the very best of friends, or that’s what I was told anyways. They were partners in Riffington, however Casey graduated, and went on to further their career, at which point also left Riffington… I think this was around December. I also think that Casey may have been the one listing the auctions, as they were usually posted at the same time each week, however, more recently, the times were not in line with what they were when Casey was around. I have no idea as to what level their financial partnership in the business stretched to, if any at all, but if Casey left the business, then it may have been Jessica funding the site since January on her own, and I can only imagine the financial strains and burdens that this would have placed upon her. It was sad enough viewing the losses the site was incurring all the way along, even when there’s a pretty good chance that the financial burdens were shared, but if Jessica was indeed funding those kind of losses on her own, then it must have felt like a very unfortunate situation to be in.

    I was also recently contacted by a Riffington user, complaing that they weren’t getting any responses to their communications with the site, and they wanted to know how to file charge backs, because they had hundreds of dollars involved. I told the user to give Jessica a chance to sort it out first, and went on to explain the negative impacts that charge backs can have on a site. I asked the user when their messages to the site were sent, and was told that they had an issue with the site back in mid January, and that Jessica had advised the user at that point, that she would get the issues taken care of the following day. Jessica left the user with no further reply for around two weeks, at which point she simply replied reiterating that she was busy, but would get the matter taken care of by the end of that week… the user told me that this was back on January 30th , and that Jessica has still not replied, or taken care of the issues… What am I supposed to advise a user to do, when they are very worried about their money, have outstanding issues with the site that date back to mid January, and the site isn’t even reponding to them? That really wasn’t my experience of the site when I was using it. Jessica or Casey, but usually Jessica, were usually super fast in replying to emails etc. My only guess at this point would be that coupling the financial losses, along with the loss of her partner and friend, I would imagine that the pressure for Jessica towards the end, and even now, must have been, and still be, quite a difficult and challenging amount to bare. I do fully sympathize with her situation, however, she really does owe it to her customers to make good with them all, and I certainly hope that she does the right thing in terms of refunding her users, and makes a graceful exit, as opposed to some of the dishonest exit strategies that we have all most likely felt the pain of over the years.

    I still believe that this site caused its own downfall, and should ultimately fall into the category of another poorly managed site, that possibly listened to, and possibly took the wrong advice, from the wrong bidders, and couldn’t even work out which advice was best for their own survival, and even if they claim that they didn’t even take advice from ANY users (which I can assure you they did), then they still only have themselves to blame, don’t they?… I don’t wish to rub any salt into the wounds… but the site was run and owned by a group of MBA students… for those of you that don’t know what MBA stands for, I’ll save you the Google time… it stands for Master of Business Administration… I really hope that the site itself was just a side line, and had no baring on any business administration skills test, because if that could have had any kind of impact on its students, by way of being dependent on the outcome of some kind of result of success or failure based on the way the site was run as a business, then to be honest with you, the results, as clearly visible to everyone at this point, would have to be written as “epic failz”!! I would however like to add that I would like to wish Jessica all the very best for the future, and thank her for the time I was a welcomed user at the site.

    There are many lessons to be learned from “The Riffington Story”, and having followed this site from start to finish, and having used it as a small case study, I can only hope that in having highlighted many of these lessons, that current site owners, future site owners, as well as bidders alike, are able to take some value from them, and the now 11+ hours (on and off) that typing this up has taken away from my life, in order to try to help those that have taken the time to actually read this, better understand. I also hope that it has a positive effect for some of you. If I managed to reach just a few of you with the information contained within, then it will have been a worth while exercise, set about by a user that truly cares about the penny auction industry.

    If you made it to the end without having to bang down 6 cups of coffee, 12 cans of red bull, and maybe a few dozen cigarettes (for those of you that smoke), or basically any other stimulent that may have aided in keeping your eye lids from dropping down as far as the upper part of your cheek bones, then well done, and thank you for reading. All I ask is that you please bare in mind that I had to consume twice as many stimulents of those listed above in making it to this point, and lost an entire nights sleep, just to share this with you all, so please refrain from the “OMG that was boring as ****” comments. 😛 LOL

    Reply
  • Pooky March 4, 2012, 11:23 pm

    The venture was funded by Peter Gustavson, father of the founder’s husband or boyfriend and recent $10 million donor to the business school.

    Reply
  • goodtiming420 March 5, 2012, 12:58 am

    Amanda, I never said I didn’t like your site. I think you provide an invaluable service to the PA community. Also, I was not suggesting that you shouldn’t be allowed to publish the opinions you may have in any forum, especially YOUR own forum. All I am saying is that I disagree with your opinions on this particular subject in several respects and felt as though you were unfairly attributing riffington’s demise to my activity on the site.

    I won’t be as eloquent as Neverwalks, but I do have a few points of contention with regard to your original post:

    1. To say that PowerBidders are responsible for the demise of riffington and then use a few of my wins as an example is strange to me. First, as Neverwalks pointed out, there were a whole host of factors that contributed to riffington’s ultimate fate; to gloss over them and come to the conclusion that the site had to shut down because of PowerBidders is an oversimplification of the true root of the failed experiment. Second, using my wins as evidence in support of your premise really undercuts exactly why your opinion is flawed; I am not even considered a PowerBidder! The fact that I was able to enjoy the success that I did on the site is a direct contradiction to your belief that PowerBidders are to blame for the site’s demise. In other words, my ability to be a profitable player on the site actually supports Neverwalks’ theories as to what the reasons were for riffington not being sustainable.

    2. Those who know my bidding history can see that I look to maximize my return on investment and riffington was a great place for me to be able to do so, but I certainly didn’t amass the types of wins that would be sufficient to shut the site down in the few months that I played there. As we all know, allpennyauctions errs toward showing less bids than are actually placed on an auction, and if you look at the first two auctions I played on the site you will see that I started off a big loser there. Sure, I was able to overcome those first two auctions rather quickly and turn the situation around, but that was more the result of the site’s limited userbase than any “powerbidding” technique as you can see from how few bids I had to place on any other auction after that (with the exception of the very last auction I participated in during the site’s final week which was an auction riddled with too much backstory to possibly be an accurate reflection of what was the usual state of affairs on that site during the regular operating sessions). My numbers on the site in terms of bids placed and wins accumulated fall far short of “PowerBidder” numbers.

    3. Those that are familiar with the site know that the site listed one “big ticket” item a week, and other enticing auctions throughout the week that weren’t too shabby in their own right. Throughout the time I played on the site, I only ever bid one time on the “big ticket” item. Yes, I won that auction. But, I won it through making an unorthodox play that was made possible by the site’s settings which allowed you to change your username during the auction, and I made the move to take advantage of a site imposed rule on that specific auction which disabled future bidding. The move I made was not a “PowerBidder” move at all; in fact, quite the opposite. It was pure strategy and unconventional, and actually took away what would be considered the most useful tool PowerBidders hope to achieve which is strength of reputation.

    4. I didn’t even win that LV pochette like your original post claims.

    Anyway, just a few points I wanted to make about my take on the subject. Just as I agree you’re entitled to your opinions, I hope you can respect mine. Please do not misinterpret any of the above as an attack on you or a condemnation of the great service PennyAuctionWatch provides the bidding community. I just wanted to offer my commentary in response to a post that seemed to be condemning me.

    Reply
    • Amanda Lee March 5, 2012, 12:38 pm

      Again, I am sorry and ask that you forgive me but I did not mean this was your fault or even implied you were a powerbidder I just saw it as many bidders would continue to win items cheaply because they used the powerbidding strategy, wouldn’t be the first time if I am wrong and again this was not directed towards you at all.

      Reply
  • not leaving name March 27, 2012, 8:38 pm

    Amanda thank s for leaving your comments ,
    and for educating the new bidders and the ones’ out there who need this information, I am a a bidder myself , I am not leaving my name right now as I don’t want any issues from any one., I want to keep it positive and hope nobody gets upset .
    I think that power bidders get upset and feel accused as they do know deep down that , even if it;s not them , thy know that their are some power bidders out there that cause sites to shut down. think about it when some bidders have alot money whether they are trying to get a rep or not, they spend an exorbitant amount on a simple 25 gift card for $100-150 dollars. to show off that their name is here, ” ok and then guess what others who are know and learn this get scared or others who are smart bidders say it’s not worth it and don’t bid. and if this happens to other high end items it gets worst. I know the $25 card was a stretch to some , but I have seen that on a sites. And yeah it build their bidding name up , but they lose alot to, as much as the site is losing.
    I think that Amanda was trying to be fair for the auction sites and the bidders, I am sure she must gets some auction sites owners saying these thing to her to.
    Guys.
    I hope you guys don’t feel attacked, but some bidders do drive up the auction’s and people end up leaving
    On the riff issue, thank you guys above for pointing out what they did , I noticed the Erin bidder and chandler thought it was unusual, but when I saw some other power bidders and new ones , I thought maybe I was wrong , I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I wasn’t going to spend huge amount to find out on bidder Erin
    Sad but I had a feeling something funny was going on.. thank you for the bidder who posted this , and I hope you go all the way with printing and sending it out to as many sites forums so all will know. I have bidded against you and lost , your good bidder.I was bidding for fun at times, but sad alot people really want to win and sites like this do make power or other bidders defensive.
    thank you for listening and i hope I did not offend or upset anyone.
    thank you
    .
    I found out about riffington ,when they were already up and running.,Do you really think alot power bidders are going to bid against each other???????? um no.

    Reply

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