Penny Auction – is a type of all-pay auction in which participants must pay a non-refundable fee to place a small incremental bid. When time expires, the last participant to have placed a bid wins the item and also pays the final bid price, which is purportedly significantly lower than the retail price of the item. The auctioneer makes money in two ways: the fees for each bid and the payment for the winning bid.
How It Works
Participants pay a non-refundable fee to purchase bids. Each bid increases the price of the item by a small amount, such as 0.01 USD (1¢) or 0.01 GBP (1p), and extends the time of the auction by a few seconds. Bid prices vary by site and quantity purchased at a time, but generally cost 10–150 times the price of the bidding increment. Once the auction is over, the auctioneer collects the final cost of the item in addition to the money already collected by selling bids.
For example, if an item worth $1,000 sells at a final price of $60, and a bid costing $1 raises the price of the item by $0.01, the auctioneer receives $6,000 for the 6,000 bids and $60 as the final price, a total of $6,060. This represents a profit of $5,060 for the auction site. Assuming the winning bidder used 150 bids in the process, they would have paid $150 for the bids and $60 for the final price, a total of $210 and a savings of $790.
Some auction websites offer a ‘Buy It Now’ feature which allows users to apply the money spent on bids during an auction to the full retail price of the item.