Billing itself as “the most exciting online auction site in the world,” HotCloseouts2013 is an online auction marketplace that offers standard penny auctions, as well as the ability to purchase items at a “Buy it Now” price. According to the company, they offer completely new, name brand items at a fraction of the cost of retail, and feature “100’s of winners daily.”

HotCloseouts2013 is not listed or rated with the Better Business Bureau, and by all indications, appears to be a clone site for ZBiddy. Online reviews for HotCloseouts2013 are almost wholly negative, with the most common complaints including being charged $99 for a “free” bid pack with no mention of this in the fine print, failure to receive items, and inability to contact customer support.

How HotCloseouts2013 Works

HotCloseouts2013 works as a “reverse auction” site that claims to differentiate itself from the competition by combining the “benefits of e-commerce and online auctions to create an exclusive shopping environment.” As of this time, the site is only available to U.S.-based users, though they claim to be working on international access. According to the company’s website, with the exception of collector’s or antique items, most products sold through HotCloseouts2013 are brand new and include a full manufacturer’s warranty.

In order to start using HotCloseouts2013, you’ll first need to register an account, which includes entering your first and last names, email address, and zip code. After this, you’ll be sent a confirmation email, which you’ll need to verify in order to begin. After confirming and being redirected to your account’s home page, you’ll need to enter your Visa or MasterCard credit card information and purchase a bid pack. It’s important to note here that numerous complaints cite that customers were tricked into purchasing a $99 bid pack, when they thought they were only going to receive a free pack of 25 bids.

In addition to purchased bids, HotCloseouts2013 also offers free bids, which are earned for referring friends, and promo bids, which are very similar to purchased bids, except these expire after a predetermined period of time. After purchasing your bids, you’ll have the ability to participate in four different types of auctions:

  • Penny Auction – The standard auction type, the item’s total price is increased by a penny for every bid placed.
  • Nail Biter Auction – No EZ-Buddy bids are allowed, which means that all bids must be placed manually.
  • Beginner Auction – Only eligible for new users, this can be a great way to get your feet wet. As soon as you win your first auction, you’ll lose the ability to participate in Beginner Auctions.
  • Free to Bid Auction – Operate in the same manner as Penny Auctions, except that no bids are deducted from your account.

Compared to other penny auction sites, HotCloseouts2013 offers a unique feature named EZ-Buddy that will keep an eye on auctions while you’re away from your computer, and will bid on your behalf. Simply choose the amount you’d like EZ-Buddy to bid (more than 2 but less than 25) and when you’d like the bids to occur (e.g. at random intervals, or only when an auction has less than 10 seconds remaining), and it will handle all the remaining work.

All auctions start at $0 and increase in one-cent increments. In other words, every time a HotCloseouts2013 user bids on an item, the final price will go up by one penny. Unlike many other penny auction sites though, if someone places a bid with less than 15 remaining, the time is reset to 15 seconds. What this means is that, despite an auction only having 15 remaining seconds, it could feasibly go on for hours if users continue bidding. In fact, we even read online reviews of this continuing for days.

In addition to auctions, HotCloseouts2013 also offers you the ability to “Buy it Now,” and any bids you’ve already used will be applied to the item’s purchase price.

Once you’ve won an auction and paid for your item, HotCloseouts2013 claims that it will ship within 24 hours. According to the website, if you haven’t claimed an item within seven days of winning an auction, you’ll lose the ability to purchase it at the winning price. HotCloseouts2013 does limit the number of auctions you can win over a certain period of time. Additional details can be found here.

HotCloseouts2013 Pricing, Shipping Costs, & Refund Policy

HotCloseouts2013 is completely free of charge to sign up for, but you’ll need to purchase bid packs in order to participate in auctions. These bid packs include:

  • 100 bids for $59
  • 200 bids for $99
  • 265 bids for $159

Shipping costs vary by item, but are clearly listed at the bottom of each individual auction. However, according to the company’s website, additional shipping charges may be incurred if you live outside the continental U.S., or in a rural location. Currently HotCloseouts2013 only ships to addresses within the U.S.

HotCloseouts2013 does provide returns on items purchased through the site, and refunds include the purchase price and the original shipping costs. However, the item must be unopened, and return shipping costs, as well as bids spent winning the item, are not included.

Bottom Line: Is HotCloseouts2013 a Scam?

Based on our research, HotCloseouts2013 has several very strong indications of being a scam, or at the very least, using deceptive methods of doing business.

A quick online search will reveal hundreds of customer complaints that include never receiving items, being billed $99 for a bid pack when there was no indication that they would be charged, and no replies to numerous support requests. In fact, during our research, there was no link to access Live Chat, despite it being clearly displayed on the HotCloseouts2013 website. However, we were able to locate a customer support telephone number during our research, which is 877-403-6981. Keep in mind that we did not verify if this number was operational.

In addition, though HotCloseouts2013 claims their EZ-Buddy feature makes winning items easier, it just seems like a slick way of quickly blowing through your bid packs. Also, the company claims to provide a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, though we were unable to locate any information about this feature. Lastly, HotCloseouts2013 is really just a clone site for ZBiddy (see our review here), whose online reviews are just as poor.

Overall, we would recommend against signing up for nearly all penny auction sites, HotCloseouts2013 included. If you do decide to “roll the dice” though, be sure to closely monitor your credit card activity, and don’t expect to be able to reach customer support personnel should something go wrong.