When Chicago’s CBS 2 went to report on the rash of Better Business Bureau complaints against penny auction sites — which promise bottom-dollar deals on everything from laptops to sports cars but which critics say is nothing but another form of gambling — it probably wasn’t expecting to find out its own news show was being used to promote the very site it was investigating.
But when the CBS 2 reporter went to the homepage of Zbiddy.com, she found a link to a video montage of heavily edited news reports on penny auctions, including a clip from CBS 2.
“Left out of the butchered version was information about the difficulty of winning a hot item,” writes CBS reporter Dorothy Tucker.
“I said if it’s good enough for you, how bad can it be,” one Zbiddy.com user says about seeing the news clip on site. “I was just amazed how they manipulated your report to make this whole thing work for them.”
Someone on the phone at Zbiddy denied CBS 2’s accusations that the website is misleading, saying customers just need to “read everything.”
Zbiddy.com appears to have scrubbed itself of promo videos since being contacted by CBS, but it still has the video at the bottom of this story on its YouTube page.
Meanwhile, the original purpose of the CBS story was to write about how the Better Business Bureau in Chicago has seen a 400% increase in the number of complaints against penny auction sites.
“There are more and more of these sites each and every week, it seems to be. They can be here in America, they can be in Third World companies,” Steve Bernas, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau, said.
Back in March, our investigative in-laws at Consumer Reports put penny auctions under the microscope and found that, “For everyone who gets an amazing deal, many others spend a lot of money only to be disappointed.”
‘Penny Auction’ Websites Generating Complaints [CBSlocal.com]