Tuesday, November 16, 2010
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A Penny Spent is a Penny Earned
Save up to 99 percent on brand new laptops, HD TVs, iPods and more. Up to 95 percent off TVs, cameras and other electronics. Cameras, computers, software, GPS at savings up to 99 percent.
Toss aside warnings about something that sounds too good to be true. Penny auctions - the latest craze in online auction sites - make these deals not only true, but commonplace.
A friend brought this concept to my attention. He was literally bubbling with excitement over all the deals he's gotten. Here are just a few:
How in the world can they do it? The concept is actually quite simple.
Bidders must purchase a package of bids at a set price before they can join the bidding party for any product, priced cheap enough to take a risk. Most offer a stated number of free bids with site registration. Once exhausted, you buy a package to continue.
Pricing varies by site. A new user package at www.abcpennyauctions.com allows you 10 bids for $8.50. Once hooked, you can buy a pro-pack of 500 bids for $250.00. Over at www.beezid.com, bit packs come in increments of 30, 50, 100, 200, 350 and 500. Prices range from $0.60 - $0.90 per bid depending on quantity.
With bids in hand, the auction commences. Each item is offered for a specified amount of time at an opening bid of just one penny. Auction end time is extended with each bid placed. When the timer reaches zero, the auction ends. The final player to bid wins the item, paying the final bidding price, shipping and the cost of their pre-purchased bids.
Since bidding is awarded on a basis of time rather than dollar amount, bids are placed in very small incremental amounts, usually a penny.
As I'm writing this article, I'm watching bids on www.beezid.com. An auction for a LG 47" 1800P LED television, valued at $1049.99 is getting down to the wire. The bid amount that's been increasing steadily has just reached $28.78. Someone is going to get a new TV on the cheap. For sake of example, let's say the auction ends at a price of $30. The winner pays the $30, shipping and the cost of their bids.
To have reached that level, 3,000 people must have purchased bids at a minimum of $0.60 for a total of at least $1,800.00. Not all bids were purchased at the minimum level, earning a decent profit for the auctioneer, even if he paid list price for the item. And a great deal for the winner. It's a true win/win situation.
Well, maybe not 100% win/win. If you were one of the bidders along the way that did not end up being the winner, your bids were deducted from your balance and you've helped the winner to a great deal. Be aware this works differently from auctions like eBay where if you lose, you have nothing gained, nothing lost. With a penny auction, when you bid, you'll either be the big winner or will have lost bids (and consequently - money.)
Products offered are brand new in factory-sealed packaging, and carry the full manufacturer's warranty. You're buying reputable products from established companies.
There are literally hundreds of penny auction sites online. Most are legitimate. But anywhere that stands to make a profit you'll also find fraud. Check out several sites before you start your bidding. Make sure you're not turning your money and personal information over to a scammer.
One new penny auction site has created a special coupon for GCFlash readers. Go to www.abcpennyauctions.com and check out their offerings. You'll get five free bids upon registration. When it's time to buy more, enter PAC1105 in the coupon section for 15 percent off your bid package. This coupon is only good for a limited time so act now to get the best deals on your holiday shopping.
I stopped in my tracks when I saw the December 2010 edition of Road & Track Magazine. I don't know if I should blame my Italian heritage or the fact that I bleed 98 octane. But the sleek beauties on the cover were nothing short of magnificent.
The feature article matched the Ferrari 458 Italia against Lamborghini's Gallardo Superleggera. Any matchup between two $230,000+ vehicles is enough to turn heads. Very quickly, I might add, with top speeds reportedly just over 200 mph.
These two Italian legends have epitomized performance throughout their history. Here they were, side by side.
And some lucky guy got to test drive both of them for the article. If you're looking for performance stats, he's the guy who knows. You'll have to buy the magazine.
This article journeys into the resurgence of American Horsepower with its unlikely origin in the twisted hills of Modena, Italy.
Enzo Ferrari wasn't a well-educated man. But his love for cars earned him great success throughout his career. He took a job with a small car company after his military discharge where he served in World War I.
He went on to work for Alfa Romeo, and began driving their racecars. He found his calling.
But the industry faced economic difficulties in the mid-1930s. World War II further set back production of racing vehicles. Eventually, Ferrari setup his own operations.
Competition flared between Ferrari and cross-town rival Ferruccio Lamborghini. Where Ferrari built cars for both the road and track, Lamborghini focused solely on racing. The rivalry motivated both builders to outdo each other in creating new, innovative offerings.
Ferrari's road program was successful, but never intended to be the focus of his efforts. It was merely a way to pay for his racing ventures.
In 1962, Ferrari entertained thoughts of selling off his road vehicle division. He approached Ford Motor Company, claiming to be an admirer of Henry Ford. What a coup for Ford. Their offer of $10 million was accepted.
But Ferrari reneged on the deal, creating another rival in the process. Henry Ford II declared that he would beat them where it hurt - on the track.
He hired Carroll Shelby to design a car to compete against them for the race at LeMans. The result was the legendary Cobra. Ford's place in racing was secured.
Fast forward past the fuel crisis, economic crisis and downfall of America's Big Three automakers. Today, Ford is unveiling a new engine that will be tested under some of the harshest conditions known to man - the Tecate Baja 1000.
Ford is entering a 2011 Ford F-150 with an EcoBoost on the famed off-road event taking place this weekend. It will face the same challenges as the rugged drivers who run the SCORE series with temperature swings from just above freezing to over 100 degrees F during the 30 hour race.
The same model engine will also be tested at a lumber company in Oregon, working as a log skidder dragging logs weighing thousands of pounds up steep grades.
From Oregon, the same truck heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway where it will tow a pair of Sprint Cup Ford Fusions for 24 hours around the 1.5 mile oval track. It will reach speeds of excess of 90 mph, stopping only for tires and fuel.
It will then be torn down for viewers to get an inside look as part of a documentary series shown on the Discovery Channel.
The 3.5 li engine with twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection runs on regular gas. Once again, proving what it means to be Ford Tough.
Meanwhile, American rivalries remain heated.
Chevrolet has reached an agreement to once again provide engines for the Indy Racing League series beginning in 2012. Owner Roger Penske is the first team to make the move back to an American product. Honda currently is the sole engine provider in the series.
Nascar's Nationwide Series drivers will pilot Ford Mustangs and Dodge Challengers on the track in 2011. The cars were tested at several tracks this year in preparation. The return marks a change from a common template where entries by all manufacturers look identical. These new cars maintain their identity and look wicked evil in race trim.
So why would a manufacturer's success depend on racing ventures? It's all about performance. If a car can hold up under race conditions, maintaining speeds in excess of 150 mph for three or four hundred miles, think how well it will run under daily driving conditions.
Performance equals quality. Unfortunately, that's an area that had been lacking in U.S. made vehicles. But we live and we learn. And, hopefully, end up better for the experience. It sure looks like that's true with our cars.
Consumer spending continued to rise above expectations. Retail sales increased 1.2 percent in October after a 0.7 percent increase in September. This beats analyst's projections for another 0.7 percent increase. Sales, excluding autos, rose by 0.4 percent after a 0.5 percent increase in September. Sales of autos and auto parts jumped by 5.0 percent in October. So sales in food & beverage, gasoline stations, clothing, sporting goods & hobby, general merchandise, non-store retailers, and food services & drinking places continue to support the economy. Furniture dipped, but after several strong gains. Declines were also seen in electronics, health & personal care stores, and in miscellaneous store retailers. The housing sector is still slow in its recovery.
Inflation at the producer was lower than expected in September, brought down by discounts in motor vehicle prices. The overall Producer Price Index inflation rate held steady at 0.4 percent in October, coming in significantly below the consensus forecast for a 0.8 percent increase. The drop was led by a 3.0 percent drop in passenger car prices and a 4.3 percent decrease in light truck prices. Overall, producer prices for finished goods are softer than expected, but inflation upstream is notably hotter.
Industrial production was also soft in October, caused by a sharp drop in utilities output. Manufacturing rose nicely, with and without the autos component. Overall production was unchanged in October, following a 0.2 percent slip in September. The October boost fell short of the median market forecast for a 0.3 percent gain.
Finally, the home builders' housing market index rose one point in November to 16. Buying expectations rose two points, offset by a one-point downward revision to October. This slow growth suggests the housing sector continues to inch upward after stimulus incentives ended in June.
Overall, continued slow growth economic indicators. My cup is filling!
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