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Intimidating the Competition (Penny Auction Power Bidding)

Look at the puny little girly-bidder! Are you going to use your skinny little clicking finger to place a bid? (We hope some of you have seen the old SNL duo Hanz and Franz or we’re probably going to be in trouble here!)

Would you believe it if we told you that penny auction sites are home to some bullies? Yup. Just like the playground from when you were a kid. It’s not fun . . . unless you’re the bully of course.

Penny auction intimidation is also known as Power Bidding. It’s a tactic that is used, and misused, all the time. One thing is for certain, this tactic is often blamed for driving prices on auctions up AND ruining the experience for other bidders.

But hey, we’re all grownups right? We have to deal with it.

What Is Penny Auction Power Bidding?

There are three main types of power bidding:

  • Power bidding is a technique where a bidder intentionally bids in a very aggressive manner.
  • Short-term power bidding is when the bidder bids IMMEDIATELY after another bidder places their bid. Often they do not wait for the time to run out. This is used to give the impression that no matter what you bid, the power bidder is going to immediately bid higher, so you’d better save yourself the money and give up now.
  • Long-term power bidding occurs when a single bidder continues to bid on the same item over a long period of time. In this sense, the idea is that it doesn’t matter how long you stick around, this person is going to be there and continue bidding.

Whatever kind of power bidding you encounter, these bidders always use HUGE amounts of bids to win.

Why Do Bidders Use This Tactic

Why do bullies scream and yell? To intimidate.

There is more going on here than just short term intimidation. Power bidders also like to build a reputation on the various sites. Think about going up against a power bidder in a close auction, getting destroyed and then seeing them enter another auction that you’re engaged in. You might think twice about placing more bids.

That’s what power bidders are counting on.

They hope that their actions make you believe that bidding against them is going to cost you a fortune in bids AND you’re going to lose anyway.

These bidders are very tough to deal with. You can’t see anything other than their bids. You have no idea if they are a Scrooge-like millionaire who loves ruining other people’s lives or if they are some kid using their parent’s credit card to wreak havoc.

Either way, you have to deal with the fact that they’re on these sites and they aren’t going anywhere.

What Are the Effects of Power Bidding?

First, and most obvious, your blood pressure is going to rise!

In all seriousness, this type of bidding causes the prices of auctions to increase. This is particularly eventful when you have more than one power bidder in the same auction. It can quickly turn into a smash-fest that can go on for days. No lie.

It is a common complaint and problem on penny auction sites that power bidders are “taking over”. The better penny auction sites out there don’t want that to happen and they combat it by limiting the number of bids one person can win in certain amounts of time. That can help to limit the impact that power bidders can have on the rest of us.

How to Compete with Power Bidders

We wish there was a way to deal with this, but there really isn’t. The only bidders who can really hang with power bidders is other power bidders. When you come across a power bidder the only choice is to stand up and punch them in the face and go all in or bow out and come back at a later time and hope they’ve burned out.


Look, for beginners, it may not seem fair, but really, the best thing to do is to avoid the power bidders. It just makes sense to avoid getting into “pissing contests” with power bidders.

Stick to some beginner auctions, gain some experience and be prepared to deal with the power bidders when you get into some of the bigger, more experience auctions.

Experienced Bidders

The other way to deal with a power bidder is to be smart about it. Let the other bidders in the room do the heavy lifting for you. If you enter an auction and you know there is an obvious power bidder hanging out, don’t jump right in. Never bid until the clock is almost at 0:00. Allow other bidders in the room to place their bids and draw the power bidder out. Jump in only when you see the number of bids starting to slow down and when the power bidder is thinking it’s all over.

This strategy takes a lot of time, but it’s really one of the only ways to approach dealing with a power bidder without losing your shirt.