Apple has stepped up production of its tablet computer, but not to the point of overstock
If the advertisement at right, which popped up in my inbox Tuesday as an e-mail from “Overstock Auction,” looks too good to be true, that’s because it is.
MacBooks aren’t selling for $49.68 and iPads can’t be had for $31.47. Few companies keep as tight a rein on retail prices as Apple AAPL , and besides, it can hardly build iPads fast enough to meet demand. What are the chances one would turn up in an overstock auction?
We checked with Overstock.com OSTK , which pioneered the sale of surplus merchandise on the Internet. Their spokesman disavowed any connection with Swipe Auctions‘ come-on and suggested it might be bait-and-switch spam.
That’s what it looked like to me. And in fact, Wallet Pop‘s Mitch Lipka posted a cautionary report in August about a customer who bid a penny on a Honda Civic at Swipe Bids — a company with the same U.K. mailing address as Swipe Auctions — and got bilked for $150.
It’s impossible to reach Swipe Auctions by phone, but they do offer a live chat service. After identifying myself as a journalist, I had the following conversation with “Gloria”:
This turns out to be fairly typical non-response response from the company. For more on Swipe Auctions — A.K.A. Swipe Bids and BidSauce — check out the long thread devoted to them at the Complaints Board.
If you feel you’ve been ripped off by any penny auction site, you can file a complaint here with the FTC or with your state attorney general.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]