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While flicking through the hundreds of channels on Sky a couple of years back, my husband happened upon Bid Up, a shopping channel with a difference. Instead of simply buying an item, you could bid on it, a little bit like Ebay only you would phone in your bid. After watching for a while we discovered there was a website that would let us join in the fun, and so we registered and took the plunge, placing several bids, some successful, but most that weren't.
Since the Auctionworld fiasco, bid-up has changed somewhat in format, so this review is going to give slightly different information than many of the others in this section.
The bid-up website can be found at www.bid-up.tv or www.bid.tv (not www.bid-uptv.co.uk like it says in the product description), and on entering the site the homepage is well set out in mainly orange and blue tones. Now if you're using any browser other than Internet Explorer (or MSN explorer), I'm afraid this is as far as you're going to get (even though they claim the site is compatable). This is because the site relies heavily on the Microsoft .NET framework. Much as I hate using IE, I've bit the bullet for this review and ditched Netscape so that I can access the site.
Even using IE and having a 1MB broadband connection, the site is often painfully slow, with lots of downtime, and errors. This can become annoying, especially when you're bidding on something and the site decides it's going to have a tea break.
Other than this the website is actually very well designed and easily navigated, with drop down menus linking to the auctions themselves, as well as the log in and register pages, competitions, meet the auctioneers, help and home pages. The home page also features a direct link to the current live auction, that is being shown on TV.
~~~The TV Channel~~~
Bid-up.tv can also be found on the following television channels :
FreeView : 23 Sky : 644 NTL : 647 Telewest : 745
The channel runs from 8am to 1 am daily and features live auctions throughout this time. Although it's fascinating to watch to begin with, it soon becomes monotonous and the background music really puts my teeth on edge (as do some of the presenters).
~~~How it works~~~
There are three types of auction on the site : rising price, falling price and web exclusive. In order to bid on any of these on-line you will need to register, which is a simple enough process, which involves giving basic personal information, such as your name, address and telephone number, along with your credit or debit card details. Once registered you will be issued with a ten digit security code (that you need to remember) and will be able to choose a four digit PIN code. These will need to be entered each time you log on.
^^Rising Price Auctions^^
In a rising price auction, you are able to enter a maximum amount that you are willing to pay for an item, you can do this in advance of the auction on-line or while the auction is taking place. There used to be a guide price, of what the company said the item was worth , but this has recently disappeared (shortly after Auctionworld was featured on Watchdog), so you need to make your own judgement as to what the item is worth.
Unlike Ebay, you don't receive any notification of being outbid, so if you're desperate for an item, then you will need to be on-line (and watching the TV) so that you can keep up with bidding. Now several of the items will be sold at the same time, but as with Dutch auctions on Ebay, every one will pay the lowest bid amount, so if you bid £100 for something and it sells for £90, then you will only pay £90, or will you???
^^Falling Price Auctions^^
In a falling price auction, there is no option to bid in advance (although there used to be) so you will need to be logged in at the auction time of any item you want. In these auctions the price starts at a high amount and then steadily drops until all the items are sold. When the price is right you simply click the buy now button (assuming you're logged in) and then you will have bought the item. Now I hear you saying, what if the price goes down further ? Well again everyone pays the lowest price, so even if you “drop in” when the price is very high, you will pay the same amount as the last dropper.
These are auctions that are only available on-line, and they come in both the rising and falling variety. However, unlike the TV auctions, there are usually only one or two of the items available and sometimes they finish at a considerably higher price.
~~~What they sell~~~
Bid-up sells a huge variety of goods, from jewellery and watches to electronic equipment and clothing. It's my belief that they mainly sell on bankrupt stock and end of ranges. I've personally bought goods ranging from, gold necklaces, to satin sheets, to power tools. One item that seems to be on several (make that countless) times a day is watches, they must have bought them as a job lot.
Before Christmas they were also selling lots of toys, some of which made excellent presents for the children, however they don't seem to have as many now, which is a shame as my children's birthdays are coming up.
Most of the items we've bought have been excellent quality, we did have one item though that arrived damaged, a wooden dolls house. But as it only needed some window frames glued on, I repaired it myself with the glue gun, I'd also bought from them.
Most of the electronic equipment seems to come from no-name brands, although there are occasional big name bargains to be had.
Most of the prices are reasonable, but on occasion, I have found cheaper by shopping around. My advice would be to look at the upcoming auctions, and then if you find something that takes your fancy, have a look at kelkoo to see how much it would cost from other on-line retailers. Another word of advice, is do not get carried away, chose a maximum price and stick to it. It's all to easy to be outbid, and decide you're not going to lose the item for the sake of a pound, but that pound can quickly turn into £10, £20 or even £100.
I find the delivery charge to be very high, it ranges from £7 to on occasion over £20. And this is per item, there is no way to combine delivery charges. Suddenly that bargain, can actually seem quite expensive. Delivery is also very slow, taking anything from a week upwards, certainly not value for money there then. So remember when you are working out whether you have a bargain or not to add the delivery charge.
To be frank, customer service is appalling. When you have a problem you have three ways to contact bid-up. The first is via an on-line feedback form, just don't expect a reply this week, month or even year, I'm still waiting for a reply from three months ago. The second is to phone them on a national rate number, now I object to phoning on this number, because my telephone package includes all standard rate calls, but not national rate, so I have to pay extra for them. The final method of contact is via the good old royal mail (ha ha), I wrote a letter in November, and still haven't received a reply, so that one doesn't work very well them either.
I have only had one problem with Bid-up, but its a pretty major one, and its not been sorted yet. Basically, they took an amount of money from my bank account for an item, that I neither ordered or received. After querying the amount with them, and sending copies of my bank statement, showing the amount, the matter is still not resolved some three months later. This has left me wishing that I had entered my credit card details and not Debit card, so at least I would have been able to claim my money back from them.
Although the website is well laid out, and I have extensively used it in the past, problems including the fact that I can't access it with my preferred browser, mean that I now rarely visit. I have purchased some good bargains from them in the past, but now prefer to shop around. My husband, however, is addicted to the actual channel, and now he can't access it on-line tends to use the phone to make purchases which adds yet another £1 to the total price (all calls cost a pound).
My advice would be to use this site with caution, try to decide on a maximum amount before you start to bid, and do not go over it. Oh, and if you're bidding on a live auction, it helps to have the channel on, as sometimes the site is so slow that by the time you realise you've been outbid, the auctions finished.
Excellent review. Very explicit, covering every single aspect, with fors & againsts. I have bid and one three items via th tv chanel, only. Didn't realise there was so much more. Congratulations.....elinor
thespurs 10.04.2005 23:20
nice review. virtually every auction seems to be a falling price one these days
kittyfluff 06.03.2005 21:29
I have used bid up before,but I wouldnt do now.They mostly sell over priced tat these days.x