If you are in the San Francisco area, maybe you’ve heard the Silvertag.com radio ad where some guy claims he won a Playstation 3 for a little over a dollar. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s possible.
Silvertag.com is a fairly new auction website that isn’t promising to take the place of EBay but really offers an alternative for online shopping that benefits charity. Oh, and the lower bids are winners. Now how in the world can that work?
How It Works
First you’ll need a Paypal account to register onto silvertag.com. You’ll get a 3-day trial subscription that shows up in your Paypal account. Please do not forget this and write down the day it isn’t free anymore just in case you change your mind.
Once you’ve registered and put in the important information, you can start bidding on products that are available. You get a fixed number of bids per day. You can use those bids however you want on the products. You can bid on 1 product 10 times or 10 products 1 time, but you only have a day with those bids. Right now, silvertag.com is giving away 20 bids instead of the usual 10 when you register.
Here’s the tricky part: The lowest, unique bid on the item, once the time expires, is the winner. If you are the only bidder $4.91 on a Playstation 3, and the next lowest bid was $3.29 by 10 people, you win the Playstation 3 because no one else had your bid.
That money, in turn, goes to charity and more products are put up for auction. Your winning bid even includes shipping and handling.
One major positive is that you can win some truly amazing gifts that were donated by legitimate corporations. Nintendo Wii. $100 Best Buy cards and $100 AMEX cards. Ipods. Playstation 3’s. And even a 46-inch Samsung HDTV is up for bids. Some folks have won these prizes for less than 10 bucks. All the featured items I’ve seen on silvertag.com are hot items and usually are worth at least a Benjamin. And, as mentioned earlier, the products go to charity. Right now they are supporting the Lance Armstrong Livestrong charity and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
If you don’t cancel your 3-day trial, the minimum subscription cost is $10 a month via Paypal. You’ve get a fixed number of bids per month (currently 600). You can up your subscription for more bids.
What isn’t so good about this feature is that you’ll have to be a really dedicated bidder to take full advantage of this deal. In my 3-day trial, it was near impossible to use only 20 bids a day to get a bid that no one else has put up. You get instant feedback with your bid like “12 people have made the same bid. Would you like to bid again?” or “You’ve made a unique bid, but there are 200 other bids lower than yours.” That means you pray that 200 more people bid the exact 200 lower than yours so you can win.
It is really a crapshoot, and then you pray that no one else figures out what you’re willing to pay for your prize. In the long run, if you win one of the really good prizes within a month and your bid was less than 10 dollars, you’ve struck it rich. They limit the number of bids so that the pricing doesn’t get out of hand.
Speaking of prizes, I understand they are donations but there aren’t too many to choose from. Maybe this will change as time goes on and they find more donors.
Word of Warning
Beware the 3-day trial. My advice is look at the prizes and their expiration dates before you sign up. If you sign in today, cancel 3 days from now, and the Samsung TV you want expires 4 days later, Silvertag.com doesn’t award you the TV even if you’ve won because you cancelled your subscription.
I can see this site becoming something bigger than it is. And I don’t necessarily think 10 dollars a month is a bad deal for a site supposedly designed for charity. However, I would really want to win a bid and that would take an incredible amount of time and math to make it happen. If you’re in it to win it and you love to bid on stuff, give this place a shot. If not, don’t even start with a 3-day trial.