Since the launch of eBay in 1995, back in the baby days of the Internet, web users have been intoxicated by the hunt for great auction deals and the thrill of bidding to win them. Shopping had always been fun, but now that scavenger hunt for sweet stuff you may or may not need had become turbo-charged and global. An original painting from Ghana for $55? Click here and it’s yours!
Auction sites are perhaps the purest example of the internet utopia we envisioned and still hope to see. While eBay is still going strong and remains the industry leader, several other auction sites with various versions of rules and protocols have popped up over the years. It’s a challenge to stay on top of them and to determine which ones are the most lucrative, the most fun, and the most legit – so we’ve done that work for you.
Aside from eBay, the top reviewed auction site is Invaluable. But this site is not for everyone – it has a narrow focus, specializing in auctioning fine art sold directly from artists and dealers around the world.
The reason for its high regard is the assurance that every item has been vetted and appraised. It’s free to join and you can participate in any auction at your convenience. All sellers must have a business or auctioneer’s license.
These are premium goods, no consignment items are offered here – and you can expect to pay a premium for these high quality items. But you can also expect top customer service, just as if you were buying from a prestigious gallery. For art lovers and collectors, this is the site for you.
The next best reviewed auction site is one with a slightly different model that can seem slightly confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it – the penny auction site DealDash. They started in 2009 with a promise to offer name-brand goods at up to 90% off the retail price. We’re talking $10 iPads and $200 Accords, all brand new.
How is this possible, you ask? First, let’s define “penny auction” – these are auctions where you pay a fee to place bids. With DealDash, you buy bid “packages” costing between 12 and 60 cents per bid. When you find an item you like, like the iPad, you place bids that bring up the final auction price in one cent increments and the auction timer resets to 10 seconds. When no more bids are placed and you have placed the last bid, the item is yours, usually for way below retail value. Just pay the final auction win price and have the item shipped to you without shipping fess. With bid costs factored in, winners usually still get a good deal – but losers can pay a lot for nothing. They do however have the option to get all their bids back by purchasing the item at retail value, so there’s a bit of strategy involved with only bidding on items you’d want to buy anyway.
And that’s the real appeal of sites like DealDash – the gameplay aspect of it. You’re paying for bids, and there’s a chance you’ll lose. But if you learn the rules of the game, and you play it enough to build your skills and hone your strategy, you can come out on top with some incredible deals. Indeed, the reason why it’s so highly reviewed is because of its thousands of repeat customers, many of whom wind up doing most of their shopping on DealDash.
It’s free to try – you can get a full refund on your first bid package if you decide it’s not for you. It definitely makes shopping a more fun, interactive, potentially lucrative experience. It’s certainly not without controversy, as many penny auction sites that have popped up over the years have shut down for various trust-related reasons. But DealDash has survived and thrived because of its total dedication to integrity – they know they wouldn’t exist without it. Their A rating with Better Business Bureau is proof of their commitment to maintaining trust with their customers.
The last of the top reviewed auction sites is Atomic Mall. It’s quick to sign up and get started with either buying or selling, and like eBay, this site has everything. The reason for its lackluster reviews is because the website feels ancient (it began in 2008 and doesn’t appear to have seen many updates). The browsing experience and page links are frequently buggy. It just generally needs a redesign from top to bottom.
But the customers seem happy enough, and they also have an A rating from BBB, so you can theoretically trust the auction process. It’s worth a shot if you’re looking for something specific, but as a general shopping experience, you can certainly do better.
So if by some miracle you haven’t yet tried online auctions, give one of these sites a shot. But be warned, it can be dangerous to make shopping so fun.
Happy deal hunting!