updated 4/20/2006 6:31:30 PM ET 2006-04-20T22:31:30

Add this to the list of ideas that never would have worked before the Internet: an auction site where you don't have to be the highest bidder to win.

The idea at UniqueAuction.com is to come up with the highest "unusual" bid. So someone who bids 48 cents on an item can beat someone who was willing to pay $15 — as long as no one else also bid exactly 48 cents, and multiple people bid $15.

The site makes money by charging $2 per bid, or $1 for "platinum" members who pay $100 a year. As a result, items go for ridiculously low prices. For example, the maximum price listed for an Xbox 360 game console on the site this week was $4.04.

That makes Ottawa-based UniqueAuction seem more like a raffle than an auction. But brothers Rocky and Arif Mirza, who launched the site in September, contend there's strategy involved because the bid history is viewable, allowing anyone to foil another person's bid by matching it so it is no longer unique.

However, waiting until the end doesn't necessarily increase the odds of success: If an auction ends with no unique bids, then the item goes to the first person who named the price that got the fewest bids.

Things are complicated further because platinum members are allowed to deploy "Mini-Bots" that automatically track all the numbers in play and let users respond with multiple bids at once.

Confused? Apparently enough people aren't. Unique Auction spokesman Scott Ledingham says the site has signed up 10,000 platinum members and raked $3 million in bid fees alone.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments