Want To Experience Retail Crack? Try Swoopo

Just in case that headline doesn’t make it clear: we do not recommend you try Swoopo, because you do not want to experience retail crack. Stay far, far away from Swoopo. Swoopo will feed into every gambling and spending impulse buried in the irrational parts of your brain, and suck up your money. There’s a reason the site describes itself as “entertainment shopping.”

At Swoopo, you’ll see insanely low prices on auctions of new, expensive stuff like cellphones and computers. You have to buy your bids in packages—40 bids at a time is the lower limit—and each bid costs you 60 cents. (In other words, you’ll have to spend $24 at minimum to stock up on bids each time.) With every bid you place, the auction price creeps up by somewhere from 1 to 24 cents. Oh, also the auction time will be extended, giving others a chance at the bargain.

Because of all of this, it looks like you can get a huge bargain on a new iPhone or laptop. In reality, the odds are far, far higher that you’ll blow your bids incrementally raising the price by such a low amount that others will want in on the auction too. Thousands of dollars can be blown collectively by bidders while the auction price won’t hit $50, which just attracts more bidders.

The Washington Post explains how basically, you’re just participating in an expensive raffle:

What makes Swoopo so fiendishly compelling is the tendency of people to think of the bids that they have already put in as a “sunk cost” — money that they have already put toward buying the item. This is an illusion. The fact that you have already bid 200 times does not mean that your chance of winning on the 201st bid is any higher than it was at the very beginning. A new bidder can come in at any time and at the cost of a mere 60 cents jump into the auction in which you’ve already spent more than $100. The money you’ve put in has gotten you no closer to the goal than a losing raffle ticket.

“At Swoopo, Shopping’s Steep Spiral Into Addiction” [Washington Post]
“How to Win Customers and Influence Browsers” [Retail Wire]
(Photo: Jeff Kubina)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.