Thursday, January 15, 2009
Swoopo - You Clever Little Devil
My son is learning one of life's hard lessons. And it's good for him. He want's a Nintendo DS. He's tried to save up for one before, but like other kids he collects a wad of cash and decides that he'd rather buy something cheaper. Something more...immediate.
But this time I think he's going to make it. He's been saving, and not spending. He's more than half-way to his goal.
But since he has a little of his Old Man in him, he's also spent time trying to find shortcuts--specifically, shortcuts online. He's found shady places that sell his unit for less. Since I offered to chip in for his purchase, I told him I would only chip in if he bought it from a reputable source such as Amazon or Wal-mart.
Today I get a frantic IM. "Dad, look at this, I found a DS for $3!"
They usually run $130. I figured the site he found was a scam, but it's not. Well, sort of.
Swoopo is kind of like legalized gambling. It's brilliant in a Lex Luther kind of way. Here is how it works.
Swoopo has a bunch of brand new stuff. Let's use a Nintendo DS as an example. They sell it on their site for $1. They have a bid button, and a timer that counts backwards. When the timer runs out, the highest bid wins. If you've bid $1, you'll get it for $1.
The catch? Every time you bid, the timer goes up by 15 seconds, the item goes up by 15 cents, and the bid costs you $1. If you don't win, you're still have to pay the money that you spent on bids.
This is exactly like gambling. With legalized gambing, the state makes a lot of money. Some lucky sucker makes a lot of money, and everybody else gets screwed. With Swoopo, the business is making bank (there is a TV up there right now that is selling for $66, going up in penny incriments. It retails for $1,900, so the company has already made $6,600), a few lucky suckers make off with a really good item for dirt cheap, and everybody else is out of a few hard-earned dollars.
So, my dissapointed son is going back to buying things the hard way. Working hard, saving money, and purchasing carefully. Hopefully, lesson learned.