What can be done for dodgy auction practice?

I was looking to buy fridge/freezer from an auction. This particular auction was supposed to finish at 7pm today and it's clearly stated that it's unreserved auction as per this link https://auctions.hilcoapac.com/auctions/catalog/id/823/Unres...

I noticed most of the items had same bidding amount where all the prices went higher by same amount at the same time. I placed a bid on freezer just 5 sec before auction's end time and it confirmed that I was successful highest bidder, however I didn't win because the system increased the price by $5 and also the counter increased by 10min. For last 30 min, they are increasing the bidding and counter. The item was eventually sold at 155.

See some examples below:

Price is $145 and counter shows 4min 5 sec https://files.ozbargain.com.au/upload/82858/84135/1604310716...
Price is $150 and counter is showing over 8min https://files.ozbargain.com.au/upload/82858/84136/1604310716...

Can their dodgy practice be flagged with any regulatory body?


  • +11

    I don't think this is illegal. It is how allbids.com.au works - any bid increases the time remaining by a few minutes, if it occurs near the end of the auction. It can go forever if people keep bidding.

    • +5

      This, it's the same with lots of auction sites. Also, 22% buyer premium lol. For insurance claim items, what a joke.

      • +3

        I often wonder if people realise exactly what price they're going to end up paying. Take this for example. Final bid - $2500. After GST, and buyers premium - $3355. Or, just buy it brand new with warranty and free delivery from Bing Lee for $56 less.

        • +1

          Yep, auctions sure aren't what they used to be. A whole bunch of people who think they are getting a bargain, and have no idea, driving up prices for everyone else.

    • Sorry I wasn't aware the bidding price will increase time.

      I didn't experience such thing on eBay where I noted that the bidding time never increased even if the amount was increasing(incl last sec increase).

      • +8

        Yes, this is common and it is done to defeat last second bidders hoping to snipe an item. Every bid made in the last few minutes will cause the closing time to increase by a few minutes. The intention is to drive a bidding war at the very end. The aim of the auction is to get the highest price for the seller; so this strategy by the auction sites works well.

        • +2

          Learnt something new today

          Thanks Guys

      • +4

        You need to read the terms and conditions of sites that you are possibly spending thousands of dollars on mate.

      • Grays online works like that.
        If a bid is placed in the last ten minutes of close of auction, it will run another 10 minutes from the last bid.

  • Both pictures have the same price

    • +1


  • People use bots to bid, nothing you can do about it.

    • Except deploy your own bot. There's a couple more escalating steps and then skynet.

  • It's like those penny auctions that go on forever.

  • -2

    I’d try and snipe you for a French door fridge for $150 too. You were doing the exact same thing placing your bid at the last minute, it’s just the pot calling the kettle black. You broke in to steal something and you’re angry you found someone else doing the same thing first.

    • +1

      Not really the same. Sniping is a legitimate method of bidding. (The use of automated tools is a different discussion.) The OP's problem is not reading the T&Cs properly, but this post is education for many, including me.

      • +2

        Well he feels someone else bidding at the last moment is unethical, yet what was he doing still at the auction at the last minute submitting a bid? And then going back and forth for an hour upping bids. He's just mad that his sniping didn't work because someone else was doing it too.

        • +1

          My concern was around increasing the bid time as I had no idea before that it was legally allowed.

          I didn't regret any buy here, as I stopped bidding as soon as I realised the system driven bids are being placed and first allocated time was finished.

          • @Ash-Say: The increased bid time is probably a response to sniping. So I guess it makes sense that you're really mad right now. You clearly wanted it at a price much higher than your first last-second bid, so the five minute buffer per late bid sounds like a great idea.

  • Learnt something new today. Wish ebay implemented this.

    • +1

      Ebay works fine as is. I like the option of putting my best last price in the last 10 seconds. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you dont. I think a fixed end time is fairer. You put your max bid in at any time, and once it ends the highest one wins. when the bid is placed makes no difference.

      • Two things I disagree with here:
        - sniping is possible by using bots. Quite unfair to everyone else.
        - it's reasonable to want to raise the max bid, people change their mind all the time. Sniping disallows that. Not to mention the seller could be missing out on a slightly higher sale price

  • Quite common on many of these auction websites.

    From their Terms and conditions

    (p) Refresh Period means the time between four minutes and one second and four minutes and fifty-nine seconds (inclusive), being the period that the Website’s timing mechanism has entered the fifth minute. For example:

    (i) where a bid is placed at 2:42:00 pm, assuming there are no further bids placed, the auction will close at 2:47:00 pm;

    (ii) where a bid is placed at 2:42:45 pm, assuming there are no further bids placed, the auction will close at 2:47:45 pm;

    (iii) where a bid is placed at 2:44:00 pm, assuming there are no further bids placed, the auction will close at 2:49:00 pm;

  • -1

    Thanks for the education folks………………and I disagree that this is in any way fair, a close time should be as written, not variable. No sour grapes as I wasn't a bidder.

    • +7

      This method is closer to how real life auctions are. Do house and car auctions close at a fixed time? They close when the auctioneer hits the hammer three times. If someone bids just before the third hammer; the count/time restarts and it he/she goes on for another few minutes. Same thing. If someone bids last second, the timer restarts to give others the opportunity to increase their bids or enter the fray.

  • +3

    The auction house has built a system to get maximum return, not to get you cheapest price. As above, it’s just like a live auction where the auctioneer reads the room to asses wether there will be more bids then waits for the last moment to end - extracting the highest sell price.

    It seems many people have forgotten that business is about selling goods or products for the maximum price the market will bear, not the lowest price for the consumer. They spend millions on advertising to convince us that X is worth more than they can make it for.

  • +1

    Fridges are relatively cheap these days… what are you expecting from an auction (to repair the item?).

    Auctions, and I've been to a few… have "spotters" that lurk in amongst the potential buyers. Their job is to filter out whether you are in the business yourself, or simply a mom and dad looking for a bargain.

    You place a bid, and they up the bid, you place a bid, and they up the bid… listen to the "codes" the auctioneer says - it is they who orchestrate the music.

  • I realised the same people crazily bid for products that has zero warranty. I wanted to replace my 20yr plus old 60cm double oven and i bided for
    The electrolux 626dsp oven which rrp $4129,for up to $1000(around $1300 after 22% buyer premium and gst) and for the smeg one which rrp $3800 for $1200
    And i stopped after the biding goes higher and higher and i saw the time extended by 5
    Mins for up to 45mins. I saw the electrolux oven sold for $1800( around $2400 after premium and gst) and smeg sold for $2050( around$2600 after premium and gst). I don’t know those items sold to real people or they were just dummy bids. As we ozbargainers we very well know that if we haggle hard we can get these wall ovens for $2600 mark brand new with full warranty and pay extra to remove the old one too.

    If you guys see the tvs and it systems some of them sold at close to rrp price which was unbelievable

  • Most auctions I went to as a kid with parents you knew there was ZERO warranty or guarantee or anything

  • It was on the news just now!
    What the premium?