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Fair Go: June 12

Published: 2:42PM Wednesday June 12, 2013 Source: Fair Go

Is that TradeMe bid legit?

Reporter: Gordon Harcourt

Massive fake bidding scam on TradeMe


It's the last moments of your TradeMe auction. You're about to get that car or shoes or whatever. Then, ping!  A new bid. Dammit. Up you bid again.

But hang on - how do you know that bid was legit?

An Auckland car dealer has just been fined $42,000 for the biggest ever episode of shill bidding - fake bidding - on TradeMe.

So how do you spot it, and how do you protect yourself?

Trademe says it's very difficult to spot but $1 car auctions should be treated with extra caution.   Trademe investigators busted the car dealer after a complaint.  The Auto Co (Millennium) Ltd placed more than 7500 fake or shill bids on more than 500 auctions.  

In one case a car sold for $10,000.  The last genuine bid was $2000.

The Auto Co boss admitted the offending and paid a $122,000 settlement to TradeMe and its customers.  He was kicked off TradeMe for good, and the business collapsed.  Then the Commerce Commission prosecuted and that fine was handed down.  Bad business all round!

What about other types of auctions.  If you're at the real estate auction, how do you know that phone bidder is genuine?  Are those online bidders at the car auction really online?

Shill bidding is illegal.  Vendor bidding is not.  That's where the vendor (the person selling) can bid themselves to drive up the bidding, but only up to the reserve price.  The auctioneer can also do it on their behalf.  Beyond the reserve it's likely to be unlawful.  A proposed new law will make it compulsory for you to be told vendor bidding is happening, who is doing it, and when each bid is placed.

That new law will also create a specific criminal offence of shill bidding.  It's already illegal under the Fair Trading Act, being "conduct liable to mislead the public".

In case you're wondering, a shill is a conman's assistant - someone posing as an enthusiastic customer so as to excite interest in some dodgy snake oil.



Reporter: Mark Crysell

Back in March Tournament issued a parking breach to an Auckland motorist. When entering the licence plate details for the offending vehicle the officer entered an alphabetical 'O' instead of a numerical zero and the fine for 65 dollars was mistakenly sent to Layton Glover in Lower Hutt.

A friend of Layton's got Tournament on the phone and they promised to rectify the problem but a month later Layton was issued with a further notice and an additional charge for late payment. Again Tournament apologised but a month later a final demand arrived for Layton. Back on the phone again and it's definitely sorted, said Tournament but two weeks later the debt collectors were were in touch.

Tournament says this was all the result of a new computer system and a clerical error. They say Layton's breach has been wiped and Fair Go has made sure there's nothing adverse on Layton's credit file.

Shopping Questions

Reporter: Pippa Wetzell 

New Zealander's spent $3.5 billion on clothes and shoes last year, so we're pretty keen shoppers but how clued up are we when it comes to our rights taking stuff back.  We take to the streets to see what you had to say.  And we meet Luda, she wanted to exchange a pair of shoes her terminally ill mother had bought her but the shop refused.  Legally, they were well within their rights but retailers we talk to think that a bit of discretion would have been a good idea and talk about the need for great customer service when there's so much pressure from online shopping.

 The Consumer Guarantees Act specifies that goods must be of acceptable quality.

That means when the goods -

do what they are made to do

are fit for all the purposes that the goods are normally used for

do not have any small faults

are acceptable in appearance and finish

are safe to use

are durable.

 For more information on your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act click here

Rangi Update

Reporter: Mark Crysell

We follow up last week's story on Navy diver Rangi Ehu and his troublesome Ford. What is the generous new offer he receives? 

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