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New Auctions to Win
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shopbag.gif (1200 bytes) New Auctions to Win

shopbag.gif (1200 bytes)    Shopping on America Online

shopbag.gif (1200 bytes) Drugstores

We've been amazed at the spread of auctions, moving from a fringe of the Web to become an important feature on major stores and portals. 

Recently, when the Learnlots folks asked us to write up how to bid and sell on some of the biggest auction sites, we got a chance to look at all of the new (and old) auction sites up close.  (If you really want to know how to use a particular site,  visit our Learnlet).

Here's a report on some of the best new or transformed auction sites. (We report on what's happening in sites we reviewed in our book, over in Updates). --Lisa and Jonathan Price

thumbup.gif (947 bytes) Amazon Auctions

Amazon does so many things well, it’s no surprise that their approach to auctions makes sense.

Their search, bid, and sell mechanisms are simple, and easy to maneuver. And Amazon adds plenty of extras. For instance, when you do a search for a product, you get a list of related auctions, but you also get a link to any z-shops selling the same thing. Z-shops are little booths run by small businesses and individuals huddled under the Amazon umbrella. Amazon handles their credit card transactions, for a nice fee, allowing these shops to sell odd lots and used goods without paying the usual stick-up money your local pizzeria has to pay to get a merchant account.

The auctions are pretty well organized. When you register you provide credit card information, so you can use that with a single click to pay a seller, if the seller will accept Amazon as an honest broker. When you browse or search your way to a list of auctions, you learn the current bid, number of bids so far, and time to go for each item. Their Bid-Click works as a kind of bidding butler, because you can set a maximum price you are willing to pay, then let Bid-Click keep raising your bid in small increments up to that level. This way, you don’t have to keep coming back every few hours to see if you are still winning.

Fun idea: penny auctions. Yes, one cent wins it! (Of course, you may have to pay a bit more than that for shipping).

Amazon also verifies each vendor and each bidder, via a credit card, to cut down on fraud, and they actively investigate fishy listings and copyright infringement. If anyone offers an item for sale, and then does not deliver, Amazon tosses that person or business off the site. Ditto for people who win the bidding, then refuse to pay. Good: this is the kind of tough discipline we need in auction sites.

And Amazon  offers a back-up $250 guarantee. With their one-click system the winning bidder can pay via credit card, immediately, and therefore sellers who don't have merchant status can get paid quickly, without checks, and the buyer gets the product shipped immediately. Plus, these transactions are covered up to $1,000 by the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee.

Sample items:

  • 1st Edition Jungle PoKeMoN pack, Dutch auction, $8.99
  • 3rd Millenium Guardian Angel candleholder, starting bid $49
  • Russian KGB watch $39

Want more details on how to use Amazon? See our Online Auctions at Learnlots.

thumbup.gif (947 bytes) CNET Auctions

New! CNET has started offering auctions, focused on their specialties (desktop computers, monitors, storage). These auctions live under the same umbrella as the rest of the CNET information about hardware, software, games, Internet life, Web building, and high tech jobs. So you can go back and forth to get reviews and articles about a product before bidding. For instance, CNET reviews digital cameras and reports street prices; if you like one, you can go to the auction area and see if anyone is offering a better deal.

You'll find lots of electronics and computer gear in 18 categories, such as digital cameras, memory, monitors, and printers. Many of these items are not bid on, so if you spot one you really like, you may win on your first bid. Watch out for the reserved price ones, where the seller secretly sets a price that you have to meet with your bid, but you don’t know what that price is. (These auctions are marked R, which probably means: Kids should not try these).

Best deals are auctions for multiple items, from stores, rather than individuals. Linux for $6.95, for instance. Registration is free. BidAssist lets you set a top price you are willing to pay, and then this robot submits one bid after another, to keep you ahead of the competition- up to your maximum. This way you don’t have to keep coming back every few hours to see what is happening in the auction. Tip: check other users’ feedback on a seller before bidding.


  • Computer with AMD K6-2 500MHZ with 64MB RAM, 13G hard drive, 44x CD drive, with Windows 98, bid $381
  • Dutch auction for a 400 MMX PC with a 15" monitor
  • Imagic computer system, 400 MHZ, with Corel Suite, bidding starts at $1
  • Microsoft Intellimouse for $15
  • Pioneer 6x DVD Drive with 32x CD drive, starting bid $79.95
  • Seagate 27Gigabyte SCSI hard disk, starting at $1

Want more details on how to use CNET auctions? See our Online Auctions at Learnlots.

thumbup.gif (947 bytes)  Egghead + Onsale

This is the software company that gave up its physical stores to concentrate on the Web. Egghead has just bought Onsale Auctions, so the site is now a Plus: Egghead+Online. The site is also a combo. One part is a store, with a big selection in computer products, software, electronics ing eneral, printers, and networking products. The other part offers auctions on a wider range of items, such as sports and fitness gear, vacations and travel, as well as electronics and computers. The site also includes material from a company called Surplus Direct, with items such as an HP ScanJet IICX Color Flatbed Scanner (24 bit) for $89. Good product descriptions here. Excellent shipping information, with plenty of methods and ways to keep the cost down.

  • 7-day Hawaiian vacation in backwaters of Waikiki, with airfare from L.A. and submarine ride for two, current bid $719
  • ADI6P 19" Color Monitor, .22mmDP, 1600/1200, Pc/Mac $302
  • Dish Network 2710 System with Free Vacation, $49
  • eMachine eTower desktop (Cyrix MII 300, 32MB, 2.1GB HD, 24X CD, 56K, Win 98 ) bids starting at $1, current bids $200.
  • One Hawaiian flower per month, $9
  • Sony CCD-TR516 Hi8 Camcorder with Color Viewer, $349

thumbup.gif (947 bytes) Lycoshop Auctions

With millions of folks pouring through the Lycos portal every day, this site is bound to grow into a major auction house.

Lycos Auctions are already worth trolling if you have a yearning for a particular item, and an idea of what a good price would be. They have a full list of categories, from art and antiques through Beanie Babies to toys, travel, and vehicles. Plus, they have partnered with Skinner, a regular auctioneer, to sell haute couture clothing, jewelry, and expensive ceramics, in a special subsection at

The Lycos auction includes personal classified ads ("Divorced Must Sell Or Wife Gets It"), tickets from cruise lines, computer gear from retailers and wholesalers (indicated with a yellow star), and, of course, Pokemon cards.

You can set up a Watch List, have their Auction Agent bid for you, post a lot of items for sale throught heir Mass Uploader, and use an Escrow Service for more expensive items.

thumbup.gif (947 bytes)  UBid

Compared to wide-open sites like eBay, UBid exercises more control over who can put an item up to auction. They vet a merchant’s bank account, insist on knowing a few of the things the merchant will offer for sale, and UBid often warehouses the items themselves, so that they can guarantee shipping, the moment you win a bid, because they dock your credit card immediately, and ship within 24 hours. This approach should keep the number of complaints down, since so often the problems with auctions arise with the individuals who buy and sell.

There are lots of Dutch auctions, because merchants put up five, ten, fifteen of the same items for auction, and unless the product is super hot, there may not be enough people bidding to go beyond the starting price. So if you want a used garden hose from a neighbor, don’t try UBid, but this is the place if you want their specialties—electronics, cds, and computers—or new appliances, art, bicycles, housewares, sports gear, travel, or trading cards.

They offer so many auctions that you will be grateful for the filters, such as Top 10 Specials, Auctions Closing this Hour, and a way to browse subcategories before you get bombarded with auctions. You can get advance news of auctions of items you are interested in.

  • Bushnell, Inc. 600X60 Rotary Power Refractor Telescope with Deluxe Hardwood Tripod, next bid $39
  • Samsonite American Tourister 300SC 5-Piece Luggage Set (Olive), current bid $269
  • 1980 poster for Taittinger champagne, current bid $799

Want more details on how to use UBid auctions? See our Online Auctions at Learnlots.

  Want to know more about auction sites?  Check out our Auction updates.

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