Internet auctions can have big merchandise rewards and big money risks. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns of common problems with online auctioneers and penny auctions:
- Undelivered or damaged merchandise on successful bids
- Charges for unanticipated upfront enrollment or user fees
- Ambiguous or misleading contracts or agreements
Some complaints are directed at individual sellers or third-party merchants, while others are aimed at specific auction sites.
Wavee Makes Waves: BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia, Inc. urges caution when doing business with Wavee US, LLC. The Atlanta-based company has an "F" rating due to unanswered and unresolved complaints.
With any online auction, BBB says be vigilant when bidding:
- Research 'Auctioneers' at www.bbb.org. Also, look for seller reviews.
- Carefully review user terms, agreements and privacy policies before signing up.
- Understand bidding policies; save a written copy. Most auctions don't allow returns.
- Shop around. Don't rely on "lowest price" claims.
- Be cautious of ads for celebrity memorabilia or rare items. Ask for paperwork proving the age of an antique or authenticity of an "original" or autograph. Be skeptical of low minimum bids on desirable items.
- Before bidding, establish a top price and stick to it.
- Clarify costs before buying, including charges for shipping or processing.
- Use a credit card or secure online payment service. Never wire cash.
- Ensure payment pages are secure; look for an "s" in "https" in the web address.
- Don't be lured away from auction sites when completing transactions.
- Save receipts and order confirmations. Monitor financial statements for unauthorized charges.
For more tips, read the Federal Trade Commission's guide on Internet Auctions. If misled by an online auction site, file a complaint with the FTC, Internet Crime Complaint Center, and BBB.