Consumer News

Consumers Continue to Report DealDash for Deceptive, Predatory Practices

Problems persist seven years after complaint against penny auction site.

Consumer News

Consumers Continue to Report DealDash for Deceptive, Predatory Practices

In June 2017, alerted regulators to a pay-to-bid gambling scheme operated by DealDash, which found using a number of deceptive marketing tactics to lure consumers in search of deals to its penny auction site.

Since then, it’s been crickets from the regulators notified, which have failed to take any public action against DealDash. Which is troubling, as continues to hear from consumers who have reported negative experiences with the company.

Here are a few of the consumer complaints about DealDash we’ve received since filing our complaints with the FTC and six state attorneys general nearly seven years ago:

  • In July 2021, a consumer challenged DealDash’s claims to be “the fair and honest bidding site,” saying she lost auctions despite being in the winning position when the countdown timer hit zero. When she complained to DealDash, she said, she received “different answers from different people.”
  • In November 2021, spoke with a consumer who said DealDash took advantage of his retired mother who spent $21,000 on the site, $17,000 of which was spent on bids or bid packs. (Purchasing bids is still required to take part in an auction.) In an interview, he said in one instance his mother bid 4,000 times on a single product using the site’s automatic bidding tool BidBuddy. “I don’t think she realized what she was getting looped into,” the consumer said.
  • In February 2024, a reader also raised concerns over the addictive nature of the “game,” arguing there should be a warning on the site.

Then, last month, received a complaint from a consumer who said his father lost his entire life savings, over $150,000, on DealDash. The consumer wrote:

I believe the website to be deliberately addictive which can take advantage of those with “gambling” issues. My father suffers from advanced Parkinson’s, which apparently impacts decision making in this area.

The consumer said after reviewing his father’s financial documents, he determined most of the money was spent on bids. He said his father mainly bid on electronics and gift cards. When he messaged DealDash through his father’s account to request that it be suspended, the company said that his father was the only person that could do that.

I responded that he wasn’t of sound mind, they again said he’s the only one that could do anything. I couldn’t find any cancel account option at all.

So his father’s DealDash account remains active.

A new TV ad

One of the ways found DealDash luring consumers to its gambling site was through the use of marketing materials that left out the cost of bids in advertised bargains on DealDash, which had the potential to jack up the price by quite a bit.

In a TV ad that is currently airing – and that DealDash has spent more than $22 million on since last April – DealDash notes in the fine print that the advertised deals “include[] the cost of bids.”

If true, that would mean the consumer in the example above paid no more than $6.04 for the Nintendo Switch. However, even if the advertised bargains include the cost of bids, they are still problematic if consumers aren’t typically achieving those kinds of savings on DealDash. And as DealDash previously disclosed in its 2015 Terms of Use:

Most customers will not win auctions and you are on average unlikely to save money using this Site.

And there’s another problem with the ad: DealDash compares the price it says consumers paid with its Buy It Now price. As the company explains the Buy It Now option on its website:

Sometimes you won’t win the auctions you’ve entered. But you can always buy the product at the Buy It Now price and get all the bids from that auction back to your account.

But it’s not a fair comparison, primarily because the Buy It Now price is often inflated. For example, you can buy the Nintendo Switch above directly from Nintendo for $64 less than DealDash’s Buy It Now price.

In fact, DealDash is violating its own updated Terms of Use, which states that Buy It Now prices should not be “used for price comparisons.”

For the avoidance of doubt, DealDash can not guarantee that the ‘Buy it Now & Get your Bids Back’ prices are comparable to prices for which the item is sold through retailers or other merchants elsewhere, and thus the ‘Buy it Now & Get your Bids Back’ pricing should not be seen as a reflection of product value, or used for price comparisons or other similar purposes.

And in the end, the ad doesn’t lead consumers to a legitimate auction site but rather a gambling site predicated on paying to bid on products. reached out to DealDash for comment. Check back for updates.

Find more of our coverage on DealDash here.

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