We usually don’t report on penny auction sites since they are not legally considered to be gambling related in most countries but we’ve been keeping an eye on the penny auction industry for a while and thought we would issue a warning about Bidrivals.com to avoid people getting scammed.
A Short Introduction of Bidrivals.com
Bidrivals is a penny auction website that launched back in 2009 and it has offices and companies set up in Malta, Australia and USA. They were once one of the most popular penny auction sites in the world with an Alexa rank as low as 4000 but lately they have been struggling to attract new traffic and their Alexa rank is currently in the 25.000 range. Since their launch in 2009 there has been a few complaints every now and again about them taking long to ship the items won in their auctions but in the end it seems like they have always come through for the customer as I haven’t found a single topic online where a customer claims that they never received their price.
The Current Developments at Bidrivals
We’ve been keeping our eyes on a couple of penny auction sites over the last three months as we’ve been planning to potentially add a section about penny auctions here at GamblingNerd.com, Bidrivals.com is one of the sites that we have been taking a hard look at over that time.
Back in January when we started looking at Bidrivals there were no real complaints about their auctions over the space of a couple of months. There was the occasional customer complaining on Yahoo! Answers and Ask.com over the long delivery times but in the end it seems they always ended up getting their items shipped to them.
It wasn’t until very recently that issues started to arise that showed that Bidrivals are probably in deep trouble and are unable to make good on delivering bought items to their clients. Over the last week there have been several complaints on their Facebook page from customers claiming they have waited since January for items to be delivered. From what we understand there haven’t been any items shipped to Bidrivals customers since January other than small items like perfumes and handbags. High value items such as cameras, iPads and computers seem to have been completely put on hold.
Below is a screenshot of one of the complaints from the Bidrivals.com Facebook page:
Bidrivals Website is Shut Down and Facebook Page Deleted
What makes us believe that Bidrivals just turned into a major scam operation is the fact that their auctions are “temporarily put on hold” due to “maintenance updates”. This message has been showing up on their website for the past 8 hours and it’s by far the longest downtime they have had in a long time. But that isn’t the only cause for concern. When we tried to visit their Facebook page which had over 28.000 likes we noticed that we got redirected to the homepage of Facebook which indicates that the team behind Bidrivals have deleted their Facebook page which was previously located at http://www.facebook.com/BidRivals. Personally I can’t see any reason behind the deleting the Facebook fan page other than trying to keep Bidrivals customers from communicating with each other during this “temporary downtime”. Since they have decided to make the move to completely delete their Facebook page I personally don’t see them ever returning to the business. The only question that remains is whether they will make good with their clients and refund their bids and ship the products that they have either won in auction or straight up paid for using the “Buy it Now” option.
How to Take Action Against Bidrivals.com
Since Bidrivals have offices and companies located in at least three different countries there are a couple of different routes you can take in order to put some pressure on them to deliver items if you have won auctions there and you are still waiting for them to be delivered.
Over at PennyAuctionWatch.com they have a huge list of where you can turn in cases like these in their Scam Reporting Directory but since the Bidrivals head office is located in Malta you also have the option of turning to the Consumer Complaints Department in Malta.
Opening Paypal Disputes and Chargebacks Against Bidrivals
Since it has been reported that Bidrivals have completely started to ignore emails sent to their support and delivery departments over the last couple of days and they have deleted their Facebook page in an attempt to prevent customers from getting in contact with each other I would suggest that anyone that has been waiting for an item for over the 28 days stated in their terms and conditions should initiate a chargeback with their credit card provider if they have bought items using their credit card or initiate a Paypal dispute if they have been using Paypal.
When it comes to Paypal transactions you have up to 45 days to file a Paypal dispute and since the support at Bidrivals are missing in action at the moment I suggest you file a dispute instead of waiting for them to reply to prevent that time limit to pass which would mean you would be unable to file a dispute.
We would love to hear your comments on Bidrivals if you are a customer waiting for items to be delivered and hopefully this post will become a way of Bidrivals customers to have an opportunity to discuss the current issue while their Facebook page has been deleted. If you have any questions related to filing a Paypal dispute, chargeback or any other type of complaint just drop a comment in the field below and we will try to help you out to the best of our abilities.
28th June 2012 – Today as I visited the Bidrivals website I noticed that whoever put the site live had stopped resetting the timers and the auctions are now once again live with customers bidding and winning auctions. I can’t for the life of my understand why anyone is bidding at the moment because even if they still have bids on the site that they are using they still have to pay for the final auction price and the delivery costs, and it’s pretty obvious by now that they will never get anything that they pay for anyway.
I decided to make a video that is showing that the auctions are currently being held at Bidrivals even though the company is still in liquidation.
We will make sure to update this post as soon as more information is made available to us.
22nd June 2012 – Just as I was completely convinced that this shady, shady, story had come to an end I was made aware by several people posting comments here that the Bidrivals site was now back up and running again. I know this site has become the place to go for the latest updates on the Bidrivals scam but in this particular case I have no real information to give, all I can do is to speculate at this point. I will try to dig a bit deeper into this and get some facts for you all but until then all I can provide is my own theory.
In the name of research I bought a single bid at Bidrivals today in order to find out where the money is going. Below are the details that come up when I paid with Paypal:
This transaction will appear on your statement as PayPal *BIDRIVALS.
Now since I have already made a deposit and got this information there is no need for anyone else to buy bids at Bidrivals. Don’t make the same mistake as last time, don’t buy any bids until you have seen that items are starting to be delivered (even though I very much doubt that will ever happen).
From the information I was given at the creditors meeting on the 14th of July it was understood that Vikash was now in control of the software and back-end of Bidrivals (he might be in control of the domain as well but I’m not sure about that). So the only person with the ability to get the website live right now would be Vikash Roopram.
The dream scenario for everyone involved would be that Vikash and Jonas Nordlund have worked out a way for Vikash to honor the original deal and that’s why the website is now back up and running. But I wouldn’t put too much hope into that scenario.
I am working hard on trying to get some concrete information on this new development and as soon as I know what’s going on I will update this post. If any of you readers out there have any information of value please do post it in the comment section below.
15th of June – As I promised last week I did attend the liquidation meeting for Bidrivals at the Palace Hotel in Malta and I will give you all the information about what was said in this latest update.
No Money Left in the Company
It probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to you that Jonas Nordlund was not present in person during this meeting but instead we had to speak to him over a poorly set up Skype call. At the beginning of the meeting we were presented with the amount of money owed to creditors and the amount of money available in the company.
Amount owed to creditors: €1.217.000 (Yes, that’s over a million Euros)
Amount of money in the company: €28.000 (Yes, that’s all they have left)
As you can see there is a gap of about €1.2 million between the money owed and the money available in the companies bank accounts. It should be very clear to everyone by now that customers are not going to be able to get a single cent back and they won’t see any products shipped either.
Vikash Roopram is Out of the Picture
The deal made with Vikash Roopram is a huge mess and I hope I will able to explain what’s going on with that deal in a way that you will all understand.
According to Jonas Nordlund the deal with Vikash is off. This is because Vikash have apparently backed out of the deal and refuse to honor the contract he had signed. Since Vikash is refusing to honor the deal they had there is no way that Bidrivals customers will get the items as was promised by Vikash on several occasions previously. This is first hand information from the meeting I attended so it’s pretty safe to assume that the person posting on Facebook under the username “Bid Rivals” has been lying to the customers. This Facebook account that supposedly belonged to Vikash has now been deleted.
Since this deal is now out of the question and there is no other buyer there is no way for Bidrivals customers to get what they are owed. There will be no refunds of money and there will be no delivery of items. If you haven’t filed chargebacks before then it’s crucial that you do this now.
I have requested a copy of the contract between Jonas Nordlund and Vikash Roopram and hopefully I will be able to get my hands on it early next week and post it here on the site.
The Creditors Appointed Their Own Liquidator
The creditors did not want to go with the liquidator nominated by Jonas Nordlund and decided to appoint their own liquidator instead. The person nominated by Jonas Nordlund was Ian Vella Galea but the creditors decided to go with Robert Borg as the liquidator.
Bidrivals Has Not Been Profitable Since 2009
During the meeting Mr. Nordlund mentioned that Bidrivals was only profitable for a very brief period during 2009 and it has been making a constant loss since then. This contradicts the claims by Vikash Roopram since he said the reason why he bought the company is because it had been making a constant profit over the last 2 years.
Employees Have Not Been Paid
The majority of the people present at the meeting were former employees at Bidrivals who had not been paid. The amounts owed to to the individual employees ranged between €8.000 and €14.000.
It’s Game Over
I’m sorry to have to be the one to break this to you but I just don’t see there is any way that Bidrivals customers will be able to get anything out of Bidrivals at this point. The 28.000 Euro in the companies accounts doesn’t even come close to covering what the employees are owed.
If you have any other questions related to Bidrivals and this meeting just drop a comment below with your questions and I will respond to them.
8th of June 2012 – I’m sorry about the lack of updates lately but since the Bidrivals management have gone completely silent there hasn’t been a whole lot to report on. The Bidrivals Facebook page has been taken down once again and the website is still completely down. Things are not looking good.
A few days ago a Bidrivals customer sent me a copy of an email he had got from Bidrivals (or at least I think it’s from Bidrivals since it came from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and not an official address). In this email from Bidrivals there was an attached PDF file that can be viewed by clicking this link.
According to this attachment there is going to be a meeting of the creditors at The Palace Hotel in Sliema, Malta, on the 14th of June 2012 at 10.00.
On the agenda for the meeting are the following two points:
1. To provide a full statement of the affairs of the Company.
2. To appoint a liquidator.
Since the meeting is going to be held in Malta I doubt there are a lot of customers who are going to be able to make the trip to attend this meeting. The upside for all the customers who are unable to attend the meeting is that good old GamblingNerd himself resides in Malta and will be able to attend the meeting on the 14th of June. So if you have any questions that you would like to have answered just post them in the comment field below and I will do my best to get some answers for you. I will do a full writeup on the meeting on the 14th of June to let you all know what was said so make sure to bookmark this page and check back for that information.
I can imagine that the comment section is going to be flooded with questions once word spreads that someone is actually going to attend the meeting so please try to keep it as short as possible and check if your question has been asked already before posting.
25th May 2012 – After a couple of days without any updates from the Bidrivals management they just posted an update on the Facebook page that read:
After some hard days we have managed to keep the law suits under control. I, Vikash Roopram, will honor the liability towards the users of Bidrivals.com and all prizes that are won.
Here is a screenshot of the comment in case they go back and edit their Facebook page again:
The website is also back online and some auctions have been added and will commence 94 hours from now.
From what I understand none of the customers have been contacted by Bidrivals yet regarding their outstanding orders. If any of you reading this are contacted by anyone at Bidrivals please make sure to keep us updated on the process of your orders so that we can all have the latest information.
22nd May 2012 – I am sorry for not having updated this post over the last couple of days but the truth is that there hasn’t been much to report on. Even though the shipping of products due should have started on the 15th of May it seems like nothing has been sent out yet.
What’s even worse is that the new management seems to be having the same kind of problems that the old owners had. The auctions are either not reaching the reserve price (which is flooding user accounts with bonus bids) or they finish at less than 2% of the retail value which means Bidrivals are making a loss on the product.
Today when visiting the Bidrivals.com website we are faced with the same standard downtime message that was present on the site for over 2 weeks under the old ownership. When heading over to the Bidrivals Facebook page we quickly realised that the “temporary downtime” message was just another lie towards the customers.
On their Facebook page they have posted the following message:
Once again Bidrivals have managed to be as cryptic as possible, not even Robert Langdon would be able to decipher what this message actually means for the customers. As always we are left with a lot of questions so I will list them in one by one in old fashion in an attempt to get a Bidrivals rep here to respond.
1. Does “terminate all operations” mean that you are shutting down for good, or do you intend to open up for business again sometime in the future?
2. Will this affect the current deliveries that were in due or are you still going to proceed with the refunds and shipments as promised?
16th May 2012 – Bidrivals were supposed to start shipping the items owed to their customers yesterday but it seems they have not yet started to do so. A lot of people have been asking about this on their Facebook page and the reply from Bidrivals was that they are working on sorting through all the won auctions to see who has been filing for chargebacks and who has not. I’m guessing this process is going to take a while so I wouldn’t expect them to be able to commence the shipping of products anytime this week.
Bidrivals have earlier said that they are willing to work with customers who have made chargebacks and sort out a way for them to still get their items. A lot of people have been asking about this but there is still no clear answer to what the customers will need to do in order to rectify the situation so that they can get their items delivered. We are hoping someone from Bidrivals will be able to come on here and comment on this situation as it would put a lot of peoples minds at ease.
Below is a screenshot of the comment made by Bidrivals on their Facebook page:
15th May 2012 – Bidrivals has been opened for about 24 hours under the new ownership now and we have been noticing a few changes to the auctions. Under the old ownership almost all of the auctions had the buy it now option (with the exception of iPad’s). It seems like the new owners are trying to get away from that strategy and only offer a “pure” penny auction site without the option to “BIN” anything. This is probably good for the company but from a customers point of view it’s pretty awful and it will be hard to find the kind of value that we are used to. While I can understand the new owners wanting to remove the buy it now option to increase their profits I don’t get why they have put a reserve price on all the auctions. To me this is kind of like having the cake and eating it too. Without a buy it now option and a reserve price for every product there is very little value for the customers in these auctions.
Another problem with the reserve price is that there is very little incentive for anyone to bid on an auction before the reserve price is met. Hopefully this is just a temporary thing while they are trying out the system because I can’t see a whole lot of the old customers being interested in auctions with no BIN option and a reserve price an all of the items. It just doesn’t add any value to the customers and there is no point of using a penny auction site without a value added incentive.
14th May 2012 – We are happy to announce that Bidrivals are back in business under new ownership. The new owners have promised to make good on all the outstanding orders placed by customers. According to a statement on their Facebook page they will start sipping the items owed in batches and the deliveries will commence today. Since there is such a huge amount of items owed it will probably take several weeks (or months) before everyone have got all the items they are owed but the upside is that it will happen.
I know I have given Bidrivals a lot of shit for the way this situation has been handled and rightfully so. But this new management seem to have their act together and they are communicating with their customers on a daily basis. They give me the impression that they know what’s important right now and that is to get all the items shipped.
In a recent comment left by Bidrivals here on GamblingNerd.com they said that people who have made chargebacks on their payments will not be getting the items owed but they are willing to work something out. I am still not sure what they mean by this but I’m hoping that if the people who have made chargebacks just send the same amount back they will be able to get their items anyway. This seems like a fair solution in my opinion.
11th May 2012 – Even though we are constantly doing research on the Bidrivals scandal we don’t have any news to report today. We have yet again tried to contact Bidrivals to have one of their representatives come here and reply to the 4 questions we posted in this comment earlier this week but it seems like they have gone silent once again. In a way we can understand that they would put priority to get the site back up and running again (assuming that’s really their intention) but unless they start having clear lines of communication with their customers it’s not going to matter if their site is up or not, because no one will want to use it.
10th May 2012 – The watch dog website PennyAuctionWatch.com got an email from Bidrivals.com CFO Johan Albinsson where he said the website will be back online within 2 weeks with new and attractive auctions. He also said that all customers will get the products that they are due. While it’s great that they are making an effort to make things right with their clients I still don’t see how they are going to sort this mess out since most customers have made chargebacks and filed Paypal disputes by now. We have been trying to contact Bidrivals.com to get some clarification when it comes to this matter but to date we have not yet received a response.
9th May 2012 – According to an email sent out to all Bidrivals customers and a comment left on this page by “Bidrivals Support Manager” it seems like Bidrivals have found a new investor who is going to pump some funds into the company and help it stay alive. Bidrivals have also re-launched the Facebook page that they have previously deleted so customers will be able to post their complaints and concerns over there as well.
In a reply to the comment made by “Bidrivals Support Manager” here at GamblingNerd.com we decided to ask a couple of questions that we are sure all customers would love to have answered. We have emailed the support at Bidrivals and asked them to come back here and reply to the questions. Hopefully they will come back here and respond to them one by one before the end of the week.
8th May 2012 – With the help of a former Bidrivals customer we have managed to get our hands on a copy of the official dissolution papers. The PDF file can be downloaded by clicking on this link.
7th May 2012 – Yesterday evening Bidrivals.com finally updated their website message from the “Temporarily offline for maintenance that has been up since the 26th of April. When visiting the Bidrivals website we are now greeted by the following message (click for large image):
Personally I find it very hard to believe that they are going to be able to make good on all their outstanding orders to their customers as they currently owe huge amounts to both customers and product providers. Another issue is that since they have been left their members completely in the dark since the 26th of April and haven’t been communicating at all with anyone most customers have by now filed chargebacks and Paypal dispute for most of their payments to Bidrivals. So even if they want to make good on their obligations as they say in their new message they now have a huge mess to sort out with all the disputed payments.
Even though it might seem like good news that they put this message up on their site I still wouldn’t get my hopes up on over receiving any items won or bought from Bidrivals. The damage to their brand is already made and there is no way they will ever manage to turn this sinking ship around.
6th May 2012 – A former Bidrivals member that used to go under the alias “TOF7400″ just got a reply to one of his messages left on this french comment board telling him that Bidrivals are currently working on their website and that they would be back online within 5 days. With all the information that is currently available on this matter it’s obvious that this is just another lie. Considering Bidrivals are in dissolution when checking the MFSA register of companies in Malta it’s obvious that they are not going to come back in 5 days. The truth is that they will never be able to return even if they wanted to, this is just a stalling tactic used from their side to avoid chargebacks and Paypal disputes.
5th May 2012 – It seems that a lot of the people who are victims of this Bidrivals scam are currently looking into hiring lawyers in Malta in an attempt to claim their winnings or their money back. One member of the PAW forums had contacted the lawyer firm CC Advocates in Malta but got the reply that they were unable to take on his case at the moment. For those members of Bidrivals.com who are looking into hiring a lawyer in Malta I have found a good list of all the reputable firms and they can be found at Avukati.org. I don’t know if anyone would manage to have any success going after their money/products by going this route but I suppose if you are owed quite a lot of money it’s worth a shot.
4th May 2012 – A member that goes under the alias “Jensen32″ at the PAW forums recently made a post letting everyone know that he had been in contact with the company in Sweden that is providing the iPad’s for Bidrivals and they claim to have no outstanding orders for any iPad’s to be delivered to Bidrivals winners. The company in question is Bazula AB and they can be found here.
3rd May 2012 – A new Facebook group has been opened by one of the scammed victims in this Bidrivals scandal and it can be found here http://www.facebook.com/bidrival. Personally I don’t think this would be the best forum for scammed members to get together as everyone will have to use their real names in order to discuss the issues on Facebook and the whole discussion will be visible to the public. I’m guessing some of the scammed members aren’t too keen on posting about 10.000 Euro losses or more on a public forum where everyone cane see what they are writing about so I would suggest that everyone sticks to the current thread running at the PAW forums or the comment section below this article.
2nd May 2012 – Yesterday a new member who goes under the name of “Smellies” joined the PAW forum to share some interesting information. Apparently this person is the supplier of cosmetics and perfumes for Bidrivals and is the owner of the company that is sending out those items to Bidrivals customers. According to “Smellies” Bidrivals owe his company 8 weeks worth of perfumes that has been auctioned out on the site. This means that not only did Bidrivals auction out items that they didn’t actually own or have in stock but they also had a line of credit with the provider of these products. It’s disgusting to see that Bidrivals have charged people for products and then had another company send them out without paying them.
1st May 2012 – A member of the PAW forums managed to get a reply from a now former employee at Bidrivals by the name of Carl Degiorgio. In the email Carl is saying that he is not in a position to talk about this matter and that all he can say is that this matter is now being handled by third parties. This means that Bidrivals is definitely in liquidation and it’s very far fetched to believe that customers will ever see any of the items they have bought or won.
30th April 2012 – A forum member over at the PennyAuctionWatch.com forum called “ENGINE2011″ made a first post last night where he presented some more information on what’s going on with Bidrivals right now. According to information found on this page Bidrivals are involved in a court case regarding fraud which could explain why they have shut down. Right now there is no proof that the two incidents are related however.
29th April 2012 – One of the team members of GamblingNerd.com met up with a person that has good insight in Bidrivals.com yesterday evening and we learned that they have indeed gone bankrupt and are in the process of moving out of their offices in Malta.
Since our source isn’t an employee at Bidrivals he wasn’t able to tell us what was going to happen with all the outstanding orders that are owed to customers but since they are filing for bankruptcy it’s probably safe to assume that they don’t have any money to fulfill the orders that customers have already paid for.
27th April 2012 – According to this article at PennyAuctionWatch Bidrivals have gone into liquidation. It’s still unclear what this would mean for all the customers that are still waiting for items and gift cards to be delivered but it’s safe to assume that it’s not good news.
26th April 2012 – After some further research I noticed that Bidrivals not only deleted their Facebook page but before they did that they deleted their entire timeline so that no one could go back and see the comments made by other users. I have attached a screenshot of the completely blank Facebook page that appeared before they completely deleted it (click to enlarge).
The recent inability to deliver items is being discussed on a couple of penny auction sites across the web. In the list below you will find a couple of links to recent customer complaints about Bidrivals.com.
Author Profile: Stefan+