The online auction site uBid.com turned eight years old in 2005. It bills itself as “the largest online business (only) to consumer marketplace.” The site specializes in closeout, refurbished, and end-of-life products, as well as new products.
Thanks in part to some defections from eBay, uBid now has more than 3,000 business partners auctioning a wide array of merchandise that ranges from tile saws and jewelry to pet supplies and refurbished computers.
On uBid, most bidding starts at a dollar, and often, no reserve prices have to be met before the item can be won. It also posts shipping charges up front.
The New uBid
Late in 2002, when fraud was running rampant in the online auction industry, uBid “discontinued the ability for everyday consumers to sell on uBid due to counterfeit, stolen and generally untrusted offerings.” The uBid site announced: “Even though we agree with the basic premise that all humans are fundamentally good, a few can ruin it for everyone.”
Now uBid lets only Certified Merchants post merchandise for auction. To become a Certified Merchant, a manufacturer, distributor, or reseller must apply to uBid and prove that they have been in business for at least a year. There is also a $99 application fee, and the approval process includes a Dun & Bradstreet report, credit checks, and verification of trade references.
Merchandise specialists procure most of uBid's auction items, and the company is an authorized dealer of many of the products it posts for auction. It offers manufacturer's warranties, optional extended protection plans, and a return policy on certain brand-name merchandise. Site personnel occasionally make random purchases from uBid auctions to help monitor service quality. The company does not ship to addresses outside the United States, and it accepts only two types of payment: credit cards and debit cards.
Interestingly, uBid operates a million-square-foot warehouse and a call center with more than 200 operators. The call-center operators support customer needs “for all sales, whether shipped from one of our approved suppliers or directly from our warehouse in Naperville, Illinois,” according to uBid. All payments are handled in-house, to minimize the chances of fraud and identity theft. “Your payment information never goes outside of uBid,” the auction site promises.
To learn more about buying and selling on uBid, click on the Help link on the site's main page. This will open the Welcome to uBid Help page.
Going, Going, Gone
The Going, Going, Gone feature guards against a practice known as “bid sniping.” Some buyers love to bid snipe, while others absolutely hate the practice and consider it unfair.
What is “bid sniping”?
Bid sniper software lets buyers watch an auction until its final seconds. Then the software places their bid at the last moment, when no time is left to top it.
The Going, Going, Gone feature automatically extends an auction's closing time if there are bids received within the final ten minutes. The auction continues until no more bids are received in a ten-minute period.
Bid sniping aficionados hate uBid, of course, but potential winning bidders often aren't happy with Going, Gone, Gone, either. They have to watch the end of the auction closely and decide whether to bid higher or bail out if the listing is pushed into overtime. There are no limits on how many times the ten-minute ending period can be restarted by new bids.