Saturday, October 5, 2013

Know What You're Getting Into

I wrote a post recently about here and about what it cost me to win a product from this penny auction. While I've been fortunate enough to win three auctions so far - a GoPro camera, 100 Free Tokens and a Tiffany necklace - it did take a huge amount of my time and energy and whatever savings I had in total probably weren't enough to justify the effort I put into it. 

To some extent as well I feel that customers at this site are at the mercy of the company. You know those terms and conditions you're asked to sign before participating or joining events? They have one here too for this site but who actually reads these things? Well, if you're joining any auction at, you really should.

For example, when I won the Tiffany necklace, I won it for less than a dollar, which to me meant that the company probably lost money on this transaction. The retail value of the necklace was noted to be SGD200 but even computing all the tokens spent on this auction from all participants, it wasn't enough to cover the necklace cost itself. But no matter, right, they must have forecasted they would win in some transactions and lose on some transactions? Well, what happened was this. After winning the auction and promptly paying for the item, I get an email from asking for ID verification of my account. They send me an email on a Friday afternoon and ask for a response by Monday the following week (see below).

Good day and hope this email finds you well.

We will need your full name as in your name in your NRIC for updating your records in our systems. Please reply to this email with the information and we will amend it for you. Be assured that all users' information are treated with the strictest confidentiality - you may cover your NRIC number for added comfort.

Please send us a screenshot of the front and back of your ID for verification.

Kindly take note should we not hear from you by the  16th September 2013, we would return the item to inventory. We will then await your reply with your bank details to refund the bid price plus shipping charge to your bank account.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for visiting us at and have a great day!


Your Team @ Sold

Now there were a couple of things I found objectionable about this. I already won the auction. If they really wanted to verify account ownership, I don't have any issues with that, but they could have done this as part of a regular process. This didn't feel like part of a regular process. And since I had alarm bells ringing in my head about this whole thing I also wanted to know if the email itself was actually valid and really did come from Sold. So I called their hotline to confirm and sent an email and eventually received a response (see below). 

Thank you for your email. We do understand your hesitancy on this matter. We do conduct regular ID verification on all our users to maintain a fair bidding platform for all. Please be assured that your details are treated with the utmost secrecy and we do not share these details with any third parties as some organizations do. We do not mean to offend anyone; however the ID verification process is an important part of our operation to ensure there is no abuse of the system. As stated in our Terms of Use:


5. has the right and at its absolute discretion to verify the identity of each individual user. In the event of being unable to verify or authenticate user identity using reasonable endeavors, then may ask users to provide photo ID, proof of address and other documentation as requires. Should such proof not be provided or should the details not match the user information, has the right to suspend or permanently remove such unverified user accounts and withdraw any auctions won by such users.

Thank you for your cooperation and we await your reply to move forward.

Thank you for visiting us at and have a great day!


Your Team @ Sold

Now thankfully, I gave them the ID verification they required in time but I was stunned to realize that as per the terms and conditions they could just forfeit my auction winning if I hadn't given my ID verification in time.

In any case, it put me off of bidding on the site.

Another example of how well the rules favor the company - if you go on the site now, you'll find a notice to all users to use up all their tokens by October 15 after which all tokens will be forfeited. Strange that I never received any notice of this via email and chanced upon it only on the site. Again I'm sure this is all within the rules, but imagine if you were a user and still had tokens and hadn't visited the site for some time only to come back past deadline to find all your tokens suddenly forfeited. Tokens you would likely had paid for. It's a good thing I've used up all of mine, otherwise this would really put me in a tizzy.

It just goes to show, when you're trying out new things, you really should try to be more aware of what you're getting into.

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