I really don't get this site.
It's a gambling site more than a market/auction? A mixture of the two?
Basically a consumer could run around clicking attempting to get stuff, and if they're not lucky - their account dwindles for no return?
Couldn't this site be gamed by some fancy scripts which click at the last instant?
I suppose I could take advantage of the free offer to try it out, which might help me understand it..
Just browsing - I get a strong impression of ponzi-schemes and gambling :/
If there are as the site says 'often huge savings off retail value' - yet the merchant gets money even from non-winning bidders - then this money is in effect being siphoned off users who aren't 'good at' or 'lucky' using the site??
You do raise very valid points, hopefully I can address them...
Penny auctions are not gambling, it's a strategy game; there are many hardcore PA bidders that are very good at getting deals on PA sites. And there are often huge savings off retail value; take a look at my ended auctions to get a feel for how much is usually spent on bids, and how much winners paid in total for products: http://www.mokimarket.com/ended_auctions.html
And you are correct, many sites come coded with so-called "shill bidders", which are basically robots that bid up prices. Those sites never last long because noone ever wins anything, and in the end if you dont have winners, your customers dry up. I have plenty of different winners all the time, some are respected members on this site. Check out this independent site that tracks stats on all PA sites: http://www.allpennyauctions.com/site/MokiMarket.com/
The industry reality is that most new and honest PA sites, like mine, lose money on items we post because we don't have many users and you have to build up a reputation for no shill bidding and shipment of items. So it's sorta like bitcoin; early adopters gets ridiculous bargains as the reward for trying out a new site. I've sold bitcoins and $25 gift cards on my site for a few pennies.
Also, unlike other penny auction sites, my site also allows users to create their own penny auctions for free. My ultimate goal is to create a bartering community where you can post items, earn credits from auctions you post and use those credits to bid on other items or sell your credits to other users in the community.
It doesn't cost anything at all to simply test out so you have nothing to lose. Really, you really don't need any money at all, ever to use the site, you can easily post something to sell for free as a penny auctions and earn credits to bid on other items.