Quite some time ago I tried cigar auction sites and found them to be utter nonsense, but a friend said he gets some pretty good deals there so I decided to give it another try. I spent a couple of hours on the sites over three days to see if there were any deals to be had, and quickly found what I think might be the best strategy. I tried out two sites – Cigar Bid and Cigar Auctioneer – but I found myself preferring Cigar Auctioneer for no particular reason I can identify.
After a few minutes on the sites, I rediscovered the reason I had previously given up on them. Most of the cigars I checked out had been bid up to more than what I could buy them for normally, or so close to that point that the hassle of dealing with an auction didn’t make it worthwhile. In other instances, the starting bid was so high that even if I won at that price, it would not be much of a deal.
But both sites allow you to view all the auctions that are ending that day, and the one day auctions. There I found some fertile ground.
The “normal” auctions are an entire week, and those are the ones that don’t appear to offer much value. I’ll use as an example one of the real deals I got. Cigar Auctioneer was offering a box of Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo cigars, with an opening bid of $70. That would be a good price indeed, since the street price for these cigars is about $160. But the auction had just begun and had seven days to go. In that amount of time, too many people are going to see that offer and bid it up. By that time that auction is over, the cigars will end up going near retail price. And the fact that some auctions start at a dollar doesn’t appear to make much of a difference. With a week to bid on the item, it will still end up near retail price.
But by limiting yourself to the one day auctions and those that are ending today, you eliminate wasting your time on all the cigars that will ultimately sell for retail. Yes, when you look at the auctions that are ending today (as opposed to those that only last one day), you are seeing the conclusion of all those auctions that started seven days ago and likely have been overbid, but you may see a few that have fallen through the cracks. Perhaps you have a favorite cigar that is not popular, or just has not been discovered by the masses. You might pick a deal up at the end of the auction, and you avoided wasting your time on bids early on.
The real deals seemed to come from the one day auctions. I played with these for awhile, and found that even though some of the items had multiple bids, bidding only a dollar more resulted in a successful bid just about every time. This was very telling. Both sites offer automatic bidding. If an item is at $10, and you bid $50, then it enters your bid for $11 and will keep making you the high bidder if anyone else bids, up to your high price of $50.
This means that if the bid was at $10, and my bid of $11 was successful, that means no one had submitted an auto-bid. To get the best price possible, the people bidding on the cigars were doing so in one dollar increments. And therein I found my successful strategy, although “strategy” is probably more of a descriptor than it deserves.
If these bidders have so much time on their hands that they can afford to sit there and bid up the auctions one dollar at a time, God bless them, but I don’t have that kind of time. What I did was to pick out the cigars I wanted, determine what I would be willing to pay for them, and then knocked off another 20% to make it a real deal. So, going back to those Joya de Nicaraguas, those are a favorite of mine, but I can’t even keep up with the review cigars I receive, so I probably would not buy a box. But if I was in a cigar store and they were selling boxes for $100, I’d definitely pick up a box. So, take the $100 price, knock off another 20% to make it a real deal, and I decided to bid $80 for those cigars in a one day auction. At that point, the box had 11 bids, and had been bid up to $55 (apparently this had started at $1), with he auction set to end in about six hours.
I actually bid $83, because people tend to think and bid in even numbers. The first bidder gets priority, so if I bid $80 and an earlier bidder had also bid that amount, he would win the auction. I bid an odd number to hopefully avoid that scenario. When I entered by $83 bid, it was taken at $56, again meaning that everyone was bidding in one dollar increments (otherwise it would have jumped to whatever number was necessary to beat the other auto-bidders).
Then I walked away and never looked at that auction again. I’d set my best price, so there was nothing to watch. I wanted to avoid the temptation of getting caught up in the bidding. A few days later, I received four boxes in the mail, having won four out of seven auctions. I won the box of Joyas for just $75. The other three wins were various samplers. One was a sampler of 12 cigars, that included a $25 lighter. Half the cigars were ones that I recognize and enjoy, and the others were just unknowns. I bid $25, figuring that if I won, I would be getting 12 cigars free with the lighter. I got that one for just $17. The other two were a six-pack and a ten-pack of some of my favorite cigars, and both of those were won for less than $15. At retail, these would have been $42 and $60, respectively.
So deals can definitely be had on the cigar auction sites, if you limit yourself to the auctions that are about to close and keep yourself in control. Interestingly, all three of the auctions I lost were the auctions with the greatest amount of time remaining, and I lost each of them by one dollar. Since they were all successful bids initially, that means I wasn’t beat by other auto-bidders, but rather the people upping the bid one dollar at a time had sufficient time to outbid my auto-bid.
One final tip. If you want to experience the thrill of the auction, you’ll be presented with many opportunities when you visit the “closing today” page. I found I was typically shown at least a dozen auctions that were set to close in the next ten minutes. Feel free to go crazy, but I would not buy anything without checking the price on Famous Smoke Shop’s regular site (the company that runs Cigar Auctioneer). I think the reason so many auctions get overbid is because people are basing their bids on the MSRP, which is shown on the auction page. But, of course, MSRP bears no relation to reality. For example, I was watching the “Rocky Patel Anthology #1” sampler, which showed an MSRP of $123, but the price on Famous Smoke Shop site was $86. Note also that on the Cigar Auctioneer site (and probably on Cigar Bid but I couldn’t find confirmation), if a bid is received in the last two minutes, five minutes are added to the auction, but only ONCE. If you are going to try to snipe a bid, do so just before the last two minutes so you don’t reset the clock.
Posted on August 18th, 2013 by Aaron Morris
Filed under: Bargains, Cigar Facts, Cigars, Reviews | 1 Comment »