BigDeal: Scam or Great Money-Saver?

What's the Big Deal About BigDeal.com?

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With the holidays coming up, people are going to be looking for discounts, and they’re going to be doing so online. One site, which many are likely to come across is BigDeal.com. This is an online auction site, which the company describes as "social gaming meets e-commerce" or "Zynga meets eBay". It’s claimed about 40,000 customers since launching in November of last year, and its traffic is growing steadily. 

There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the site in the past. BigDeal CEO Nicolas Darveau-Garneau shared some thoughts on this controversy with WebProNews. 

Garneau Talks BigDeal.com"There has been some confusion and misconception about how paid auction sites work and whether or not they provide a safe shopping environment for the consumer," Darveau-Garneau tells us. "We’d like consumers to know that we designed and engineered BigDeal.com from the ground up to provide them with just that. Shopping with us is fun, risk-free, and enables shoppers to win up to 95% off on brand new items – think PS3, iPod, jewelry, handbags, and more!"

Earlier this year, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, who had an advertising partnership with BigDeal, wrote after terminating the partnership, "BigDeal offers a service that is completely legal, and is backed by very well known venture capitalists. On the surface we shouldn’t have any issues with working with them. But the service is, in my opinion, at best misleading and at worst little more than a scam."

Judging from the comments on tha piece, Arrington is not alone in his assessment. 

Darveau-Garneau says, "In a November 2009 New York Times article, journalist Brad Stone points out that BigDeal.com has ‘taken all the risk out of the bidded auction game.’ It’s a mantra we’ve had in place since our inception and we’re continuing to lead the way in this multi-million dollar industry by pioneering a number of unique features not found on other similar sites. Some of these include our ‘Loyalty Store’ concept, new social integration features, and specific shopping categories that enhance the shopper’s experience."

"The way to think about BigDeal.com is this:  play a fun game to win 75%-95% off an item. If you don’t win, buy it at about the same price you would have paid anyway. We have over 50,000 paying members and have 40,000 auctions won so far, so I guess we must be doing something right!"

How BigDeal.com Works

BigDeal’s members purchase the right to bid on items. Bids cost $0.75 each.  Members then compete against each other to win items. Each item begins at $0 with no reserve price, and each bid increases the price of the item by a few pennies and adds a few seconds to the countdown clock. The last one to bid wins the item at that price. The company tells us its average winner gets a 75% saving and over 50% of its winners get 90% or more off.

BigDeal.com - Zynga Meets eBay?

Members that don’t win can buy the item at its retail price. Users also receive loyalty dollars on BigDeal.com. For every $1 spent bidding on the site, they give users $1 in loyalty dollars, which can be used for large discounts in BigDeal’s loyalty store.

Auction winners are likely to get 75% or more off a brand new item, the company claims. Last week, BigDeal introduced a new version of its site, which now features new social integration and product categories. 

Since TechCrunch’s article about the site, BigDeal’s uniques have done nothing but grow. As the holiday season approaches, I wouldn’t expect that to chanage in the near future. 

Have you used BigDeal.com? Tell us what you think about it

BigDeal: Scam or Great Money-Saver?
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  • Dianna Sells

    I don’t see anywhere on the site for redress of auctions gone wrong… I tried over and again to bid on an IPad that would NOT allow me to bid … And this one bidder got it for $8.47 or close to that!!! Makes me furious. ALSO the LOYALTY REWARDS store is a JOKE— selling at LOW percentages off product!! They should offer 50% or GREATER OFF their items!!

  • Royce

    I won 3 times but it went to someone else. I thought the 1st time it must be a tie but after it happened 2other times I ‘m sure this is a scam. Don’t waste your money it is not worth it. They need to be looked into.

  • PB

    For the most part, Big Deals is a means of conducting business, because those who sign up, contract in order to participate. Looks like fun. The bots are part of the do-do of the site. In the end, I think where consumers settle up is what stirs up a brew: you win, or the win-win for everyone is not really a win-win. You get to buy those bonus points at a discount that you bidded on, or your bids that you lost on an item does not count towards the buy it now price or the bids do count towards the buy it now price at the end of the auction or you get to use those redeeming points towards purchase of competively priced goods or gift cards. Folks if you are looking for big deals, shop locally or go reputally well known auction sites. Big deals has the feel of low stakes gambling.

  • Jennifer, San Diego

    I just participated in my 1st auction on Big Deal.com and am confident that is a scam. I witnessed an unfair auction where a bidder systematically bid 1162 times within 3 seconds of any bid for 14+ hours straight until the bid cost and purchase price precisely equaled the “buy it now” price. Big Deal.com claims that all auctions are 100% human and guarantees that they neither employ nor implement any bots or scripts in their auctions and that they routinely run software to detect such violators. Regardless, I am certain that I did not compete with a live bidder. The paid internet auction concept and business model is very interesting and clever; however, my auction experience was not what it was claimed to be and therefore I definitely would not recommend BigDeal.com unless you don’t mind throwing away $$.

  • Thomas Bak

    BigDeal has managed to incorporate into an internet website the kind of scam by which you used to have to go to a traveling carnival to be burned.

  • Time Wasted

    For the money I invested in the “bidding”, I watched as the “seconds” that posted would just easily from 9 to 8 in less than average second hand clock. It is clear that there are “bots” being used to win the items and many of the bids put the item at or near cost. Don’t waste your money “bidding” when you can use your money to actually purchase an item from a legitimate site without wasting your time trying to hit enter prior to last second…….when ever that may come, perhaps 1/2 second. If anyone truly is winning these items – then I would like to see them on facebook or another real social site promoting this “big deal”.

  • Guest

    It says free account! Totally false.As soon as you open an account,a withdrawal of $75 is withdrawn from your bank account!

  • go for it

    I don’t know the legalities behind this site, I joined it recently and play the game for about 5 hours only bidded 11 times, I immidiatly realized that this people are making money on our stupitity really, I mean and i pad that starts up at 1 cent lastes for about 24 hours by the end of the 24 hours the price is still some where in the range of 60 to 70 bucks most people would think that’s a deal but the reality is they have made $6000.00 by the time they hit the $60.00 mark, I mean in my opinion it’s a legal scam but if you feel it’s worth it hey spent your money and hope the freeking auction ends soon. LOL I will not recomend this sites to my friends.

  • http://BigDeal.com Rand

    While you’re not likely to save money as the bid tokens are never included in the price of purchase until after you purchase, it will satisfy those who are addicted to the “One Arm Bandit” type gambling machine. By the time you add up how much the bid tokens cost and the actual end cost, you will truly find out how close to retail you’ve paid.
    Stay away from this one for sure.

  • Derek

    This is a scam. They make it look legit, but really a good majority of the “people” are bots that bid the item up whenever you do so you can never win. Yes, they are making money – off of our stupidity. Just like someone in another post said.

  • Adam

    Definitely a type of scam in the sense that I’m pretty sure they must be using bots because if you look at the bid history you’ll see some people bidding in excess of 1,000 bids on say, an iPad (retail around $600). Since each bid cost $.75, this “person” has already paid $750 on the chance that he just might win… and that doesn’t count the cost that auction ends at, so even if this person did win, he’ll have paid much more than retail for it. And why does BigDeal exist? Because for that iPad they paid $600 for, they’ll likely make close to 10x that much. In my above example, just one person bid over 1000 times… there were probably at least 70 other bidders averaging 100 bids… so that’s another $5,250 (7000 bids x $.75) BigDeal just made on that iPad. Not a bad return for a $600 investment.

    I think that it’s a scam if it can be proven that the site uses bots (who in their right mind would bid over 1000 times, at $.75 a bid?!). But in reality, it’s genius on the part of BigDeal to get people to pay for an item they most likely will never get (and some people will literally pay full price for the item, and still not get it).

    • Pat

      I don’t consider bigdeal.com an ‘auction,’ it’s more like a lottery (with very good odds because there are relatively few players). On May 21, I bought 50 ‘bid tokens’ for $37.50 then ‘bid’ on additional tokens, accumulating 227 (for an additional cost of $22.50). Then I bid on an iPad2 and won it for $60 (with tax and shipping, $85) in only ten bids. So my total cash outlay of $145 won a $500 iPad2 and I still have 217 tokens to ‘bid’ on other items. Not a bad return on investment–if they actually ship the product!
      By winning several ‘bid packages’, in a matter of a day I’d accumulated more the 200 tokens that effectively cost me around $0.26 each. I’m sure some of these people have been accumulating tokens for so long that their ‘cost per token’ is only fractions of pennies each, which explains why you’ll see people bid 1000s of times for certain highend items.

  • Jim

    Total Ripoff! I PAID $100’s for bids and was OK for awhile then they changed their bidding process (took out the “buy-it now”) so I lost interest. I went back in to try to bid on something and found my bids had EXPIRED!!! I PAID for those bids! I had over $150 in my account and they just took it. I complained to no avail.

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