Gadgetell interview: Swoopo speaks

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Chris BaumanIn case you missed it, my post on has generated a lot of interest and comments. One of the comment leavers was’s Senior Manager of Business Development, Chris Bauman. is an auction site unlike the traditional auctions you know and has taken a few lumps from readers of Gadgetell. Chris works for the US arm of (formerly and has taken the time to answer my questions and fill us in on what the company is thinking.

The idea behind is somewhat simple: users buy bids (they cost $1 each) then use those bids in an auction. Swoopo’s hope is that enough bids are used to cover the cost of the product (usually high end electronics, DVDs, watches and in some auctions: cash). Sounds simple right?

Maybe too simple, as many folks finding the site via some apparently effective Gmail advertising were quickly scared off. Here are just some of the comments they left on our site:

  • Luckily I never trusted it
  • It should be (and will be) shut down by regulatory authorities
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
  • look(s) like a scam
  • slimy bastards, but brilliant nonetheless

We at Gadgetell believe we are most effective when we can give both the readers and the companies a place to resolve issues and get all the facts on the table. Chris, to his and Swoopo’s credit, has been actively answering comments here and other places on the web. He was happy to discuss the issues I brought up. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Surely, all can’t be mad at Swoopo?

JG: Why are some people are getting really pissed off at Swoopo?

Chris Bauman: It is unfortunate that an auction has just one winner. It is the nature of the beast. People that don’t win are going to be mad, even regretful sometimes, but those very same feelings happen on other auctions like eBay too.

JG: Can you give us some perspective on Swoopo?

Chris Bauman: Sure, back in 2005 a German site started and quickly became popular. The site morphed little by little. In early ’07, they opened London; earlier this year Spain .es, live in USA .com just a couple of weeks ago and now we are going live in Austria.

JG: I have not found Europeans getting as upset over the site as they have for the US version. Are we Americans just more likely to speak up or is there a culture difference that is manifesting in the feelings we seem to have about Swoopo?

Chris Bauman: It may be a different mentality in Europe vs. US users. Back when Telebid started, blogging, comments and the internet wasn’t as big as it was today. We’ve got a lot more access (and willingness) to express our feelings today than we did even three years ago. The fact is people don’t like to be losers. Our CEO, Gunnar, was surprised on how many mixed reviews we’ve gotten.

JG: How are you trying to educate users on the differences in your model vs. a traditional auction?

Chris Bauman: Our about page is very simple explanation about how it works and has sufficed, but can be clearer. We are looking to expand it. We are also looking to do videos as well. The thing that really sets us apart is allowing users to purchase bids and then bid with those. It is definitely not a try before you buy.

Battling globally vs locally

JG: One comment on our site was about a laptop. This laptop was offered for bidding in various countries and you’d deliver a similar version wherever the winner was. Are the bidders battling just those in their country or all the Swoopo sites globally?

Chris Bauman: The auctions can be set up to be just within countries or global. There are some products we can only sell in certain countries so those are limited, as much as we can anyway. I mean, anyone can log onto any of our localized sites from a different country. For example: we have watches that we can sell in the US only. Germany auctioned off a Fiat 500 car in Germany only.

JG: How are bidders made aware of who they are bidding against?

Chris Bauman: We do not make them aware. We don’t say which bidders you are bidding against simply because we are not assured of the outcome. Our business model says the more bidders we can open an auction to, the more likely we’ll cover costs, which doesn’t happen 70% of the time.

Money for nothing? Chicks for free?

JG: Ok, Chris, for me a big red flag are your auctions for $1,000 in cash. You call it a 100% off auction where you bid, but don’t have to pay the final bid price (Swoopo hopes to have more than 1,000 people bid and thus, cover their costs). To me. it just feels icky. . Feels gimmicky.

Chris Bauman: We see this like a promotion. The same principles apply and we have a cost just like say an auction for an iPod. Only we wire transfer the money instead of ship it. We hadn’t got this kind of comment before. Would it make a difference if it were a $1000 gift card to say, Best Buy?

JG: Yes, it would, but I can’t explain why. Giving away cash just seems snarky.

Chris Bauman: That might be something we change. We don’t want to give the perception of our site is up to no good. We want people to win and I want to help people win as much as I can.

JG: Are you concerned about being viewed as gambling?

Chris Bauman: Gunnar, our CEO has been keeping an eye on the auctions for years and has not seen people bid outrageous and not won. Typically been when you come to the site, you came there for a product. We’ve not seen a lot of people go nuts. We try to encourage safe bidding in newsletters, and realize we are introducing a new auction style. There is a skill to Swoopo.

How to win

JG: What does it take to win on Swoopo?

Chris Bauman: Winning takes two things: money and patience. Every person has a strategy. I interviewed three new winners in US, all three said, “be patient.” My advice would be start small. Go to the site and start with a DVD. People will learn a skill and bid accordingly.

JG: Any last thoughts?

Chris Bauman: We are legit, we want people to win and they want to help them. We want to be as transparent as possible.

JG: Thanks for your time and efforts responding to our readers.

Chris Bauman: No problem.

Final thoughts

Chris was very open on the phone and seemed genuine in his desire to help users. Some issues about global bidding seem a bit odd and giving away cash just seems, well, odd. Maybe that is just me. In all, I detected no “snake oil salesmanship” and enjoyed speaking with Chris. Swoopo definitely isn’t something I’d go into blindfolded, but, in hoping to catch one of those items on the cheap, it seems reasonable one could do so. At the end of the day, will I be bidding on Swoopo? No. I don’t believe I am lucky or bright enough to stay ahead of the curve and not get taken in by the heat of the moment. How about you?

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  • Mondia

    Look this swoopo look like not the best site to give you the best price for your money.

    Go and check and there you really get the best for your dollar!

  • Klaus

    Nice tool for Swoopo.

  • tobe

    "People that don’t win are going to be mad, even regretful sometimes, but those very same feelings happen on other auctions like eBay too. "
    Except on ebay you don't loose all your money, when you don't win the auction you were bidding on

    "I have not found Europeans getting as upset over the site as they have for the US version."
    Guess you have not found out about that since Sofina filed a lawsuit against just about everybody who was expressing a critical opinion…

    "Our CEO, Gunnar, was surprised on how many mixed reviews we’ve gotten. "
    Probably more surprised that in the U.S. he cannot censor as rigourously

    "We do not make them aware."
    …because if they were aware, they would refrain from participating

    "Gunnar, our CEO has been keeping an eye on the auctions for years and has not seen people bid outrageous and not won. "
    For years? That's funny, he's only been CEO for maybe a year

    "There is a skill to Swoopo. "
    You bet, just as much as there's skill in playing the lottery

    "Winning takes two things: money and patience. "
    True, except spending money patiently won't make the deal a bargain anymore

  • Londoner

    This auction site is a piece of shit. I never won and never will. Crab…… don't use it.

  • Ra

    This is bullcrap. How would anyone know if Swoopo is manipulating the auctions. Since they have have all the chips, they can hire people 7 dollars an hour just to drive up the auction price, when the auction has reached profit making mark, then they drop out. Or better yet, using programs to do that automatically. The house will always win and worst is no one even know that they giving away money to these aholes. How can anyone tell that those ppl who won a 40" hdtv for $255 is not one of the Swoopo bidders using bidbutlers with infinite bids. This is Bogus, I can't even begin to imagine. Looking at the site has my my boiling.

  • jerry summers

    Swoopo is a defenite scam. Check out this 300 bid card that I watched goto $576.75. I watched bidding continually go higher and higher for 45 minutes. Why would anyone pay $576.75 for a $300.00 bid card they can purchase anytime from swoopo for $300.00.

    If people still think it is for real after seeing this then they need to stay on swoopo and give them all their money cause their too stupid to even possess money. By the way there was a TOM TOM 930 GPS that went for $23 and a Sony Playstation 3 for $83 at the same time people were fighting for this 300 bid card.

  • Responder

    In response to Jerry Summers:

    Jerry… I'm not a member of the site and I just saw the site today and I know more than you. The 300 bid card did not go for $576…. it went for $32. If you look around and understood the different meanings of some of the things on the pictures such as 100% free, then you would understand that the person doesn't pay the winning price… instead they pay the amount of bids they did. This means while although the price got up to $576, the person who won had to spend a minimal $32. This makes it an extremely good deal as normally it would cost $300.

    Also, loosing is apart of every game, every auction, every raffle, etc. If you can't stand the loosing then why participate in it? This brings me to the next point. Those of you who say "ultimately the 'house' brings in the most money" its true! But in what situation is this not true??? Think about it, a business has to make money. No matter what the business, they always charge more than what the product is worth or they have to make money someway. In this case, swoopo, has over 380 auctions running simultaneously. Some last days, some last weeks, but either way it is important to know that they need to generate enough income to make up for all the products they distribute, all the costs of a business, employees, etc. and so the obviously need a way to make money. So what I'm trying to say is, while you don't have to like their practices (even i don't like the system), you have to understand the basic principles of a business which is to make money, and in the case of swoopo they do make a good amount of money, but they also offer their users great deals.

  • ghvz1

    jerry summers said:

    "Swoopo is a defenite scam. Check out this 300 bid card that I watched goto $576.75. I watched bidding continually go higher and higher for 45 minutes."

    Jerry, go back and look at that auction. It is "100% off" meaning you don't pay the final bid price. Your cost is only the # of bids you made. In this case the winner placed $32 in bids and won $300. That was his total cost. Swoopo on the other hand made $576 on a $300 auction due to all the bidding.

    The BidButler is the scam part – it is supposed to automatically bid for you when the timer drops to less than 10 seconds. However, I've seen it where if there is more that one bidder using BidButler, it won't wait until 10 sec and will run up bids among all the BidButlers until they are extinguished. This wipes out all automatic bids, while SingleBidders can save their bids and sit on the sidelines.

  • quadmonz

    Hey i found something very similar. Its . Also i think there will be more of them, its like flowers in the spring :D. Try out the google search "+wanted +clone", it gave me 148 answers. :))))

  • Jerry Summers

    Hey, I went to that site biddingmadness and spent $10 and won A sauna, Asus laptop, Apple Macbook, a Roomba, and a apple Ipod Touch. Too bad I wont get them cause its a big scam. I won by just waiting till the auction was going to end and bid 2 seconds before closing. The timer said 1 or 2 minutes remaining but the auction closes at a certain time on the dot regardless of what the timer says. I saw lots of people just bidding away and I just snatched the items right out of their hands because they weren't looking at the auction end time, instead their watching the timer, I figured this out after about 10 mins of watching. I only saw one other guy doing what I was doing. Anyhow, they take payment by paypal and when you get the receipt it says payment made to a non-us unverified user. Supposed to get a email on how to get my winnings but haven't and know I wont. This site and swoopo are both sucker games…

  • Brian Roush

    I think most people critical of the general Swoopo philosophy have not bothered to really understand HOW to use the site. Ultimately, there is strategy. It is a bit like gambling, just as it was quoted above "…it takes time and money." In other words, if you buy 20 bids thinking you'll win an auction for something worth $1200, you're going to lose your money. The part he left out is LUCK.

    The comment I have trouble believing is that Swoopo doesn't cover cost 70% of the time. If you look through the completed auctions and add up the number of bids vs. the cost of product, I don't see how this is possible – unless there is some MAJOR overhead (Gunnar's salary, maybe?). Just look at the Nintendo DS's or Wii's. These regularly go for near the retail price of the unit. Any product that is gets enough bids to equal it's retail price means that Swoopo earned 6.66 times the cost of the unit in bids, plus the winner usually still pays the final price of the auction. So, if they sell one Wii for $250 they've earned $1666 in bids, plus the $250 for the final price. This same concept is also true in the other auction types. I've seen very few cases, especially for the more expensive products, where the bids do not cover the item cost plus a large margin to account for the system, databases, salary, etc.

    That said, I don't have anything against Swoopo, but based on these perceived margins, it would seem they could make their bid price much cheaper. Even if 4x the bids are cast, people would feel better about losing $.25 per bid rather than a full $1.

    Another error I've found in the site is that they regularly OVERSTATE THE SAVINGS. I've seen auctions close where the winner has 3 of the last 10 visible bids, but the end report says they won with only 1 bid. The root of the issue seems to be when a person wins with Bid Butler. You can book more than one Bid Butler at different price points. So if one is set to bid up to 5 times between $0-$10 then you set a second to bid 5 more times between $15-30, then you win the auction on your last bid at $30, Swoopo only looks at your last Bid Butler of 5 bids to calculate the amount you spent. So Swoopo would say you used 5 bids, but you actually used 10. Additionally, they don't count "free bids" against the savings, even though you'd have to spend money to win free bids in the first place. Therefore, if you win some free bids, then win another auction using those free bids, Swoopo says you saved 100%.

    I've been watching Swoopo and even dived in to trying it out. After wasting a bunch of bids here & there, I reassessed my strategy. I did win a "50 free bid" auction. It took me around 20 bids to win, so I netted 30 free bids. If you're thinking of trying it out, do like they say – start small. Don't go for that ipod or LCD tv. Go for a free bid auction, the $80 cash, or something. Before you ever place one bid, most of all, OBSERVE! Watch other auctions as they unfold – you'll start to see some general patterns to how auctions end. READ everything you can on the BidButler so you understand how it can work, then observe auctions to see how people use it both advantageously and also to their own detriment.

  • mgriffie

    I found out about Swoopo this evening and have been discussing it with a friend. I don't at all think it is a scam, but it is tapping into that "gambling urge" people have and anyone who has problems with that should definitely steer clear.

    Just to respond to jerry summers's comment, the winner of that bid card didn't have to pay $300 for it — as it is very clearly stated on the page you linked, it was "free"; the winner only paid for their bids (in this case $32 for 32 bids) while Swoopo made $3845 from it.

  • bob

    I don't know what every one is bitching about! You don't get mad at the slot machine when it takes your money! It is just fun entertainment and you could win something for pennies on the dollar. My suggestion is if you don't like them don't play them. Same with slots. I myself have never put money into these auction websites, but I have put plenty into slots with nothing in return. Also many of us like to play bingo, but many times walk out empty handed as well. If you don't like to gamble then stay away. It's that simple!

  • Chuck

    people get upset because they think they can get a TV for 10 bucks, but that never happens on swoopo! if you just use common sense along with some 3rd party research on the site, you won't lose all your money. just don't waste your bids early and use sites like for research and you'll have a WAY better chance of winnign auctions

  • diane

    My friend first told me about this swoop site the other day and after visiting the site I am very surprised that there has not been a great deal of marketing done to let people know that it is available, I can only imagine that this is down to the management being silly feeling that promotion is not needed but it is. I found the site to be good and will be visiting often

  • Ian

    The guy is pretty. Lots of large men will have their way with him when he goes to prison.

  • John Grantham

    I agree that swoopo is a bit of a scam!
    The best way to get stuff for very cheap or free is Kudos Network!

    It takes a while to build up your refereances but it works and at least ur not losing your money!!

    try it!

  • Voice of Reason

    Everyone needs to chill out a bit and think.

    If you go to Vegas and gamble you will lose. Always. You might win once in a while, but in the end you always lose. Sure knowing how to play a game gives you an advantage over the next guy that doesn't, but it NEVER gives you an advantage over the house. EVER. Not even close.

    If you buy a raffle ticket your odds of winning are slim to none. If you buy enough raffle tickets your odds get better, but you still can lose all of it and you have no control over the outcome.

    If you play the lottery your odds of winning are virtually non-existant.

    In none of these do you have any control over the outcome other than if you play or not or how much you spend.

    These are pure gambling and the game is set up so you can't win in the long run, not even get close. They don't build Billion dollar hotels in Vegas because people win, they build them because people lose massive amounts.

    While there is a large segment of the population that shuns these things there is a significant amount that enjoys them and nearly all understand that fact they are going to lose their money.

    In an auction such as this you have more control and in the end the odds that you will the auction are pretty good and the more you learn about it the better those chances are. In the end in every auction someone is going to get a great deal and have something to show for it. The same can't be said for Vegas or even a lottery since the house could win in either (Most cases in Vegas, and in a lottery often people don't even check their tickets to see if they won).

    So sure, it isn't for most of us, I will never participate because it just isn't my thing (I like to be in control too much), but calling it a scam, gambling, illegal, etc is wrong. Just because you don't understand something well enough, or realize it isn't something you would participate in, doesn't mean it needs to be shut down or ridiculed.

    I don't know anyone that has won a lottery, or raffle, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen so saying you don't think this is legitimate because you don't know anyone that won an item is wrong. There is a big difference between rumor or opinion instead of facts and documentation. This has been going on long enough that if people were bidding, winning, and never seeing their product there would be A.G. complaints, investigations, and evening news stories. The fact is that there is no reason for them not to be legit. Ship the goods and everyone is happy. It isn't like they don't make a net profit.

    And if you are upset that they make a lot on some items then don't go to a Target or other national chain. Do you really think that something can be "Free after rebate"? There are many items they sell at a loss in order to get you in there and sell you a $17 bottle of shampoo (that costs $1 to make).

    The big difference between these guys and the stores you shop in every day is the fact these guys let you know how much money they make.

    So be a smart consumer always but just accept the fact that some people will participate in segments of the economy that you won't.

  • dennis miner

    I sure was not impressed by the comment that Chris made saying that they don't even cover their costs 70% of the time. Thats pretty fishy if you ask me if I ran a business and couldn't cover costs 70% of the time I'd be out of business. I wonder what practices they are pulling to stay in business.

  • Greg

    I have been watching auctions on Swoopo. I haven't made any bids yet. Just trying to figure out if this is a legit company or a scam. In my opinion, let the free market decide if this is worthwhile to them. I think the site can be addicting. I have seen winners post enough bids and pay 2 or 3 times what the item is worth. Is it a rip off? I guess we have to look at it from the ENTERTAINMENT value rather than the Value of the product. An admission to see a movie, popcorn, soda, pay for parking, gas to drive there is $30.00, about the same price as a 30 bid pack. As far as Swoopo taking a loss. I think I have seen smaller ticket items go for a loss. Thing like popcorn poppers, hair dryers, and cheaper grade cordless phones.

    Is it dangerous for a person to get addicted to this stuff? Yes.. But its no different than people who pay $3.00 for ringtones, and wallpaper for cell phones.. Or people who get addicted to E-bay, gambling websites.. I wished I would have thought about Swoopo 10 years ago. What a clever way to make money.

    I don't know if I will use Swoopo..I certainly defend someone's right to use it.

  • danterinium

    I think swoopo is a scam only for one reason; which was mentioned before.

    I have a feeling a lot of the bid butlers are actually the company forcing people to make more bids than would normally be made. I watched an auction for about 2 hours and thought logically:

    "What idiot would bid 100 times and then pay the sale price on this unit?"

    Almost every bid this character made was bid butler… and he wasn't always triggering. Granted, it was because there were multiple set for different price ranges… but still, why would someone use that many bids?

    Without a way to see who you are bidding against, there is too much of a possibility that the company is actually controlling those butlers.

  • swoopoloop

    I would be extremely couscous with this site! I have not read a post that someone said they won a physical item. I do not count bids a wining that is something swoopo can give out. It is like a casino giving free chips when you can get cash for them and have to spend them at their establishment.

    Why was there no question in the interview asking where they purchase the goods and/or store them.

    This site could be legit but very easily not be. Like someone posted swoopo can very easily use a computer program to make sure the auctions keep bidding higher and that swoopo wins in the end. That way they collect money from bids only.

    Again this could be legit or a scam. I will believe it more when I see more people come forward and say they won and received physical goods. Or, if someone bids on an item that costs say $2 and just bids until they win and sees if a swoopo program would go over the actual amount. We all know people would not bid on something that is more then what they can buy if for without a bidding system.

  • Some Guy

    Swoopo isn't a scam per-se, but it IS basically online gambling.

    It's the facade, hiding behind an online auction mask that makes it a sleezey scam.

    Let me repeat,
    The site itself and what it does is not a scam, the scam is the way in which Swoopo presents itself, which has and will continue to attract people lulled into the idea that it's as safe as eBay instead of actual real gambling.

    If Swoopo said "hey, we're a gambling site, but you gamble on electronics" no one would have a problem, but then no one would go there. It's the intended twisting and obfuscation of the truth on Swoopo's part that will invariably land them in jail. The people who are angry about Swoopo aren't angry because they feel they lost at gambling, it's because they feel they lost at an eBay-ish online thing they didn't understand or bother to look up, but that's not warrant enough for anyone to become a pretentious self-righteous douche. These people are the victim of a bold-faced and subtle lie.

    That said, I would love to try my hand at Swoopo sometime. It seems fun, just like any other form of gambling, and that's because I bothered to apply some logic/critical thinking/research.

  • Voice of Reason


    If you have 10 auctions and in 7 of them you sell the item for 90% of what it costs you and in 3 of them you sell the item for double what it costs you then you have lost money 70% of the time yet made a decent profit overall.

    Again this goes back to the lost leader method of marketing. Stores will sell you something at or below cost to get you in the door and you buy a $1 bottle of shampoo for $17.

    As I mentioned before I am not going to purchase any bids or try the site but my neighbor (who travels to Vegas on a regular basis to gamble) has and has won two auctions and recieved the merchindise. Both items he got for a fraction of what it would sell for (including his bids). He realizes that over time, just like the lottery, he will spend more on bids in losing auctions than he will in winning ones, but he is also smart enough not to go overboard.

    And to hit a key point again… This has been around long enough that if people were winning auctions and never getting the product there would be legal complaints, web based reports, and news stories.

    It may not be for me (or you) but it is a valid business.

  • Jeff

    Sometimes it amazes me how clueless people are.

    @danterinium – “What idiot would bid 100 times and then pay the sale price on this unit?”

    Because paying 100 bids plus the sale price and getting something is better than paying 99 bids and getting nothing.

    @Sloopy: "What does Chris Bauman has to say about these 2 auctions"

    If you had bothered to read the article you are commenting on, you would have seen him say that the same auctions run in different countries with slightly different products based on whats available in the country. That way they can have more bidders.

    Yo! idiots. You aren't playing against Swoopo. You are playing against other people. There is no "house". They provide a game that pits users against each other and take a commission. Is it gambling? Hell yeah it is. Do they cheat? No, they don't need to. Because idiots like you who dont read the rules, and dont understand whats going on will pay them off. You only have yourselves to blame.

  • kevin mcmahon

    It is only a matter of time before the u.s. attorney general comes across this site and shuts it downn. It is not a real auction site, it is a game of chance aka a gambling site. Online gambling is illegal in the u.s. It's only a matter of time before uncle sam steps in and offers some good old fashioned Obama style change.

  • Greg

    Obama style change? That would be they would do nothing.. Just like the gas prices which will be at $3.00 a gallon in a few weeks, Closing Gitmo, Ending the Patroit Act, Ending the war in Iraq, fixing the economy. Just spend money.

  • greg

    And fixing health care.. Looks like now we are out of money to fix health care.. Obama gets an F- for his Change. Only change I will get is change missing from my pocket from GW Obama.. Bush=Obama.. Same person.. Same idiot.

  • Jeff

    I sense a thread hijacking…

    It should be obvious that anything that has happened thus far in Obama's term is strictly due to the failure of GB. We're in the state we're in right now because of GB, who, if you want to take about spending, took a surplus when he came into office and turned it into a $10 trillion deficit. Not that I agree with Obama's spending.. Im just sayin.

  • greg

    Yeah you are correct.. I agree Obama has a mess to clean up. But I am afraid he might be making more messes that we will have to clean up for many generations. Its scary.. We didn't have many choices to pick from in this election. Really McCain would have done the same. He probably wouldn't have spent as much money but he would be making about the same decisions..

    Now getting back to the topic.. Isn't Swoopo a company from Europe? I think they have offices here in the United States.. but the servers, and the actual site might be in Europe.. So if the Feds shut them down as a "Gambling site".. They probably would only be able to close the offices in the United States.. I think Swapoo could still operate.

  • jcog

    Yeah I bought some bids to "play" will see how it goes… it does feel like gambling…. dang it!!

  • TheNameReveals

    Swoopo means "Sure Lose" in Chinese! Ask your Chinese friend!

  • Tony

    Obviously there are a handful of intelligent people on here, and then a bunch of whiny cry babies.

    First of all, if the whiners would stop and take the time to read, they'd see that Swoopo does exactly what it says it does and DOES offer people an opportunity to get a great deal on name brand items. Yes, there is a risk involved to win an auction, but that risk is really no different from anything else we participate in knowing that the chances of winning are not in our favor, just as Bob and Responder have stated.

    Like Responder (to Jerry) said, I also am not associated with Swoopo, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out the site if you know how to read. With the format Swoopo uses, it is extremely easy to see that there really is no need for them to pull a scam. They are clearly making plenty of money from their site.

    Like Brian Roush said, I also don't believe that Swoopo is earning below cost on 70% of their auctions, but I could see that number being closer to 50%.
    The site is still young (in the US), and most people will look at the price of an item and see it continue to go up, and assume that Swoopo is getting more and more money with every bid, but that is not the case. Swoopo is ONLY making money when they sell a bid package. So, How many packages are they really selling in a day? That's the question.
    The last time I looked at their site they had around 30 something pages of live auctions ending within seconds, and going up to 23 hours or so. I calculated just one page worth of items at their regular retail rate and that total came to be over $15,000. Now, let's just figure that they spend (after discounts and their wholesale costs) around $10,000. per page. Then that would mean that they have around $300,000. worth of won merchandise to pay for within that 24 hours, plus other business expenses, salaries and that. So, with many items earning a profit, and many not, that still seems like a very high amount to have to cover in a day. Making a profit? Yeah, of course, but at this point probably not as much as many would assume.

    When it comes right down to it, Swoopo is definitely not a scam. They're just very smart and since they seem to be leading this new style of auctioning, they are getting all the complaints. JUST like every other business that has ever started, before people understood them.

    Plain and simple, several people by bid packages, those people spend their bids trying to win an auction, and ultimately just like any other auction, only one person wins. No part of this system is a secret. You pay to play and you take your chances. If you can't handle it, DON'T PLAY!!! Just stop bitching and learn the system. Unlike gambling at slots or poker, there actually are ways to increase your chances of winning, but you need to do the research and apply the methods.

    Oh and by the way, the gaming commission is quite aware of these sites and has even looked into them, and has stated that they are NOT considered gambling because they are winnable with skill, rather than chance like gambling.

    So for those that are smart enough to understand the system, and who have the money to make it work, I say good luck bidding.
    To the rest, I say – Some people do, the rest just complain about it.

  • Jeff from NC

    Actually, Jeff from Los Angeles, it is you who need to reread that posting by Sloopy.

    The significant part of that is that the exact same screen name won the same article for the same price in two different countries.

    The chances of that are astronomically small! The fact that this evidence exists shows that, clearly, Swoopo is a scam, and that there is indeed a "House" at play here.

  • Jeff

    Look Jeff from NC..

    It is the same auction. The same bidders, the same everything. But the products differ based on region and availability.

    So in the USA, the screen says the product is X, and in Europe the screen says the product is Y.

    If someone from USA wins, they ship out product X, if someone from Europe wins, they ship out product Y.

    Its really not that difficult of a concept

  • Jeff from NC

    I see what you mean about that. Thank you for pointing that out.

    However, I still maintain with several others here that Swoopo is, in fact, a scam.

    It is not a scam in that it is possible to get good deals on an item. It IS a scam in referring to itself as an auction site. While it does go through the motions, the site is set up to bilk patrons of their money in a very sneaky and unethical fashion.

    In an auction there is generally a set ending time. If bidding is active that time may be delayed by a few minutes, but you will never see a legitimate auction that suddenly adds 10, 20 even 50 minutes back onto the auction time simply because there is some interest. This move is calculated to sucker people into spending more and more.

    There will be some thoughtful users who will plan ahead of time, and carefully bid. Many of those will be quickly frustrated as the auctions plainly become un-winable short of spending a large amount of money.

    The more common patron, and the one that Swoopo counts on, is the bidder who gets invested emotionally in the auction and bids and bids until the end. These folks will find themselves spending far more than they expected, and often will spend more than they could have bought the item for at normal retail prices. Plainly, this is an unethical practice.

    If Swoopo would set a time for the auction to actually end and stick to that, or simply end the auction within seconds of the last bid their results of their auctions would be much more ethical, and satisfactory for the users.

  • Brian

    Chris Bauman on Swoopo Gambling… this cracks me up.

    JG: Are you concerned about being viewed as gambling?
    Chris Bauman: Gunnar, our CEO … There is a skill to Swoopo.

    Then later…

    JG: What does it take to win on Swoopo?
    Chris Bauman: People will learn a skill and bid accordingly.

    Why would you have to learn a skill to win if it's not a skill game

  • JoeBavaro

    You can always look for newer sites that don't have as many users. The chances of winning are MUCH higher and the items generally go for a lot less.. I.E. a site like has had the same few winners win ALL the auctions..

  • Nick

    I agree with you.
    There are a lot of website like that but I found another one called "for10cents" but where you can bid for as low as 10 cents: . So it gives you chipper possibility to play and buy items.

  • Thomas

    Sites like Swoopo are more for fun than for people actually looking for a bargain. I suggest you look around at the other auction sites similar to Swoopo. is a new one that I’ve been playing on and I’ve actually won a couple things. Playstation 3 games going for $.08 (2 bids!) and a Nintendo Wii going for $2.16 is ridiculous. Before you completely discount the idea, you should check them out.

  • PAG

    I think the important take away from this conversation is not that swoopo is good or bad but that is has a certain purpose with a certain group of people and that purpose is not deal hunting but entertainment shopping. If you want to compete against people and employ some strategies you've devised along the way then swoopo or other penny auction sites might be fun for you. But if you want to cut some coupons or browse around the web for a good deal and save a few bucks, swoopo is not for you. I blog about such matters at

  • PAG

    I follow penny auctions at Penny Auction Insider my <a href="penny" rel="nofollow">">penny auction blog

  • mikeck

    Swoopo is expencive, use muulu

    50 cents per bid, second pack you buy is like 30 cents. Plus free shipping and 1 in 4 bids give you an extra bid. Find that anywhere else.
    Apple® – MacBook® Air with 13.3" Display – $7.11

    Beat That

  • Sloopy

    What does Chris Bauman has to say about these 2 auctions

    2 Different products in 2 different countries. But same auction id. Both won by the same guy for the same equivalent price. See, the bidders are also the same.

  • Bess


    Swoopo is a scam site because they use scam techniques to modify auctions and increase their profit There is some problems with swoopo that frankly i think make anyone loose faith in the fairness of the site.

    Some of the problems are time-outs, unfair currency conversions, and different action description for the same item in different country sites.
    I will take an auction and illustrate how this problems make the site a very unfair environment:

    Ex: "Auction ID: 256264" (check it out for urself, by going on both sites, just click the different country flags)

    i am from Canada and the item description for the item in the Canadain website is: This iMac features a 2.66GHz Intel Quad Core Processor,1TB Hard Drive, 4 GB RAM, 27" display and Mac OS X 10.6

    in the US website the item description is very different: This iMac features a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo,1TB Hard Drive, 4 GB RAM, and a 27-inch display

    -this are 2 different Apple computers and in an auction that is something horrible to do, because it attracts more bidders for no reason. There are people that are looking for the 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac that will be attracted and people that are looking for the iMac features a 2.66GHz Intel Quad Core Processor, and they will all bid. but the problem comes with the fact that all the bids are added on top of each other to each other. This is wrong because the different countries are biding in 2 different items, so we should have 2 different auctions because we have 2 different products.

    -the above example can be simplified if you consider bidding for a car, the US will bid on the Toyota for example and Canada will bid on Honda. Now the bids from both cars will be added together and so will the times. So if so far 100 US customers bid in this penny auction the price for the Toyota would be $1 dollar, and if 50 Canadian customers bid on the other auction, the price of the Honda would be 50cent = $0.50. this would be fair but swoopo adds the price and makes the price for both cars 1.5 dollar at this point, and the worst part, is that the time has been increased over and over because they have combined this auctions. in the end tho they will only sell one car and either the toyota if a US customer wins or the honda if the canadian customer wins, making double the profit just like that. WOULD YOU BID ON THIS?? Than they will auction the other car the same way.


    -Now lets say that we are bidding on a "Nikon D90 with 18-105mm Kit + 150 FreeBids". the price on the US website for this item is USD $1,339.00
    while for the same item (excluding that the problem mentioned above exists, since the running 2 different items in the same auction happens more with laptops and desktops), a "Nikon D90 with 18-105mm Kit + 150 FreeBids" with the same item descriprtion, the price for it on the Canadian website is CAD $1,652.49. Now some might say that makes since since the US dollar is higher that the Canadian dollar, but today the rate is 1USD = 0.95 CAD while when calculating Swoopo's rate you get 1 USD = 1.23 CAD, now how is that fair.
    This problem is even worst when considering the iMac auction above where the US price is USD $1,699.00, and the Candadian price is CAD $2,284.99 buming the rate to 1 USD =1.34 CAD which is very high, that is 40 cent extra per dollar IT'S CRAZYYYYYY !!!!!

    - this is an obvious problem, basically the times just gets stuck on you leaving you confused and sometimes having to refresh in the final seconds and it could cost you the auction, which can be devastating if you are bidding on an item for a while and have used 100ds of bids. this is caused by the website glitches and network lag some times. now the worst if combining all of the 3 factors mentioned above into the same auction which happens on almost every penny or high price auction.

    Now i know it was long and i apologize, but i hope you learned something more because what i have mentioned are all facts and you can verify them. Sites like this are very addictive and there are people who i feel bad about because they will still play even knowing this crazy odds. Well my advice is stay away, but im not your mother so GOOD LUCK!!!!

  • noshi

    How interesting how some say there is skill involved in dollar auctions i.e. bidding fee scheme sites but they should realize they are non-zero-sum sites. They do nothing to help the US plummeting economy. To compare them in profit margins to other businesses is dumbfounded. Eg. It's not the same as being an idiot to purchase a $2.00 HDMI cable (i.e. cost to manufacture) for $40 on Best Buy but at _least_ you walked away with something tangible (the cable). A discount cable would probably be marked up >300% to keep an online business afloat at maybe $6.99 a pop.

    At a store you purchase goods AND/OR services for an advertised price. This is called "trade". Swoopo is NOT such a site. Instead of a tangible good be sold for a price they are selling you a right to place a bid token with a CHANCE to win. That chance is provided no others do the same before the timer ends. As your money is non-refundable the site is no longer a valid auction site but an entertainment site with risk involved. You bid a lot like an auction site but the only genuine way to be guaranteed to win is to be Scrooge McDuck.

    We aren't complaining about the non-zero-sum scheme of things (not!) but at the fact they are misrepresented ALL THE TIME. Swoopo is an ADULT ENTERTAINMENT site akin to CASINOS, PORN, and the likes. They should be regulated as such. It's NOT eBay. When you must "pay to play" and "pay to keep playing" it starts to feel a lot more like a game of poker.