The Los Angeles Times this week has an interesting piece on auction site Bidz.com – which is surely one of the biggest jewelry sellers on the Internet. According to this presentation, it sells 12,000 items per day, of mostly close-outs. It eventually hopes to be a $1 billion business.
It is easy to see why. Bidz is a fun site. It has impressive technology that lets you see prices increase before your eyes. But the now-public company has found itself on the defensive because of allegations of, among other things, “shill bidding.” Those charges have been disputed, and the company notes they mostly came from a commentator who was short the stock.
The Times article includes the new claim that Bidz’s lab/appraisal service, American International Gemologists, says “it does not physically inspect every appraisal.” I am no appraisal expert, but I think we can all agree, that is not a good way to appraise. After checking out the site myself, I found an item which includes a reference to a “Rapaport” price – for an item that I’ve never seen on the Rapaport list. And I’ve gotten my share of bidz-related spam, which, like all spam, is annoying.
But what is possibly the most damning is the company has an “F” rating from the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau. The company has claimed, in response, that’s an old rating, and the overwhelming majority of its customers are satisfied. That may be true, but … well, obviously, a company that is now a major player in the market has to do better. Again, the LA Times piece is here; I’d be interested in your thoughts.
UPDATE: And this morning brings another item, an emerald and diamond ring, that is compared to “Rapaport.” Who knew he listed such things?