BigDeal.com is a strange website that really begs for more explanation from the founders about their motivation, though I think it can be summed up as a way to try to disguise gambling as shopping.
My first reaction to the site was to be impressed – at first glance BigDeal is along the lines of an “auction” where participants bid on items as a clock ticks down. Adding 30 seconds to the clock for bids near the end of the timeout period seemed to make it more fair, allowing others to participate.
The incredibly low pricing on things like iPads seemed too good to be true and alas as with most things internet … it was not only too good to be true, it almost seems too bad to be legal.
Participation in this auction is the junky part of BigDeal, because *it costs to bid*, and it can cost a lot. Participants purchase “bid tokens” for 0.75 per token. Since auctions can have an unlimited number of bids the low prices the products finally sell for are not very relevant – bidders may have spent even more than the *full price* on the item simply getting in their bids. BigDeal mitigates this disadvantage to some degree by offering some bidders credits on bid tokens to then purchase items for full price, but I think an average item fetches them a remarkable amount in bid revenue – sometimes far more than the full value of the item.
So Big Deal is not so much shopping as it is gambling. Bidding is betting here, and your odds of winding up with a “big deal” … do not appear to be good at all.
Update: Here’s an January article from TechCrunch that addresses the issues very well in my opinion.