March 11, 2023

MacBid review. Buying store returns at auction

Today I want to talk about a company called M@cBid. What this is, is a Pittsburgh based resale company for return products from big retailers Like Amazon, Lowe's, Home Depot etc. MacBid gets all the returns whether they are simply the wrong size or if an item arrives broken. They then put everything on their website and have auctions that the public is allowed to bid on and win.

Picking up merchandise at M@cBid

Now as you can imagine a vast assortment of products get returned to all those major retailers on the daily. I've seen everything on this site from clothing to food products, health & beauty, doors & lighting, vehicle accessories, toys, pet accessories and pretty much anything else except perishable items.

Now the first thing I'm going to tell you here is buyer beware! The main image used in each listing is a stock image from the sale page of where the item retails, but the other pictures are of the actual item in the MacBid warehouse. 

You are allowed to stop in and look at an item and inspect it before you bid on it, and I suggest you do! Unfortunately, as I live over a half hour from the closest location I did not do that. 

In the interest of this post I bought 11 different items off the M@cBid website to pick up at three different locations.

There are 14 different locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and South Carolina. Each location has different items. For instance the McKees rocks location which is closer to the city seems to have a lot more furniture than the others. Also bids can vary by location. Furniture seems to go cheaper at that location and the same items were selling for double in Butler!

I was looking up greenhouses and while the Butler location had none, almost every other location had multiples. Not sure why that is, but many items can be transferred to the store of your choice for a small fee.

Let's talk about multiples before we get into the nitty gritty here. While I was picking up things at the Butler location yesterday I noticed half an aisle full of air fryers ready for pickup. What this tells me is that those are probably all brand new. 

I mean, it just makes sense as it would be really weird for 100 different people to buy and return the same exact item, in the same city at roughly the same time! So when you see several of the same exact item up for auction, there's a good chance these are not broken returns!

I honestly doubt that something is wrong with a half an aisle full of air fryers! So yes, brand new items are available. In fact I bought a pack of three extra large lint roller refills and they are still in their original shrink wrap package. 

However sometimes people do return multiples of a used item and I just saw 3 shovels listed that were all clearly used for a month or more then returned! (some people just suck I suppose, but I digress!)

When I bid on a cat litter cabinet (I'll show you that in a minute) It was the only one of its kind and as such I figured it was a solo return. This means something could be wrong with it or it could have just been someone changing their mind. The site does have pictures of the actual item, so a quick look at those can sometimes tell you if an item is used.

Review of what I bought at MacBid 

So here's what auctions I won: a dressmakers form, an elevated cooling dog bed, a pack of three lint roller refills, a giant bean bag chair, a set of two humane mouse traps, 3 dog cages with canvas liners, a fabric dresser, one dress and a cat litter cabinet.

Quite the assortment right? I did have specific reasons for some of my choices. For instance the dress. One of the problems Amazon has with clothing is that it's sometimes is not true to size so I chose an auction of a dress in my size. 

I'm a pretty firm size medium, maybe even a small sometimes. The dress was a medium but it was way too tight. I barely got it on... Which tells me it was probably returned for not being true to size. It was also covered in pet hair.

So before you buy something off M@cBid you need to consider why it might have been returned. Like the air fryer example earlier: the lint rollers had 2 auctions, the fabric dresser had dozens of auctions with multiples of every size and style, the dog cages had at least 10, the dress forms had 4 (but only 1 in my size), the bean bags had about 6 auctions etc. 

The cat litter cabinet and the dress were solo auctions so I was not surprised by the scratches and clearly tried on dress!

You can buy insurance when you bid. If you buy the insurance which is only a few dollars per auction (based on price, so the insurance on a $500 laptop would be more than a $10 gadget) and if the item is unusable you can return it within 5 days. 

Otherwise there are no returns and sometimes you may get something that's slightly flawed but perfectly useable. 

For instance the cat litter cabinet I bought had some small cuts across the top of it. Now these scratches, while obvious are not worth me returning it and buying a new one for over $100 more lol Plus, they most likely happened at the warehouse, which we'll discuss later.

Products bought at macbid with scratches

Buying the insurance

So in my review of this site I would have to say that you can get some amazing things for a ridiculously low price, but you can also get something damaged. My friend just bought a $40 printer and did not pay for the insurance, she also did not go down to inspect it first. The glass in the copy area was shattered.

My husband told me about some things at his office before I ever bid for anything on M@cBid. One of the guys had bought a few things from the site so they could have coffee, snacks and such. They ended up with a Keurig that only makes a half a cup of coffee every third or fourth time, a microwave that you have to slap to make it work, and a toaster oven that turns off when it wants. 

So my advice when buying any kind of electronics from M@cBid is to pay for the insurance unless you're willing to lose your money. If you purchase the insurance you have 5 days to return the item for a refund no questions asked.

Also some of the retail prices seem to be a little high. The site will pull pictures from Amazon or other retail sites, and a retail price of the item and sometimes they are kind of high. There is a button on each listing that says research product online and when you click that it should go to the actual listing for the item online but sometimes it doesn't. 

If it doesn't go to a listing, usually there's enough information to go ahead and search that info and find it the item that way. Although sometimes it goes to a listing and you get the item and it's not the same one! That happened to me with a Mrs Claus costume. It was not at all the style they linked it too!

How to use M@cbid

The site is pretty straightforward to use. First you have to register, then you can browse and watch items you're interested in.  You have to add your credit card before you can bid for the first time. 

Once you're all set up to bid, set up which locations you want to pick up at. There are some items that can be transferred for a fee, but many other cannot be transferred. You can toggle "on" the transfers button. It's also in the filters when you search.

Pick the item you want to bid on and place your bid. All auctions end in the evening between 6 and around 9 pm, but you can bid any time leading up to the auction.

This is not like eBay as there is NO SNIPING! If you try to swoop in at the last second with a higher bid to win the auction, the clock resets to 2 minutes! That way people can continue their bidding war which can be fun but buyer beware...that fear of loss when you see you're outbid with 2 minutes left to go can lead you to overbid! 

It's the very reason so many of us got good at sniping! We know at the last second we'll go "oh, a few more dollars won't hurt" instead of loosing the item. If you know you're like that, don't watch these auctions end! LOL 

When you bid you can check the box for insurance. It will tell you how much the insurance for this item costs and it is only charged if you win the auction.

You will get an email or alert if you get outbid. Once you win, the items will auto debit from your credit card the next morning. You'll then get a pickup notice and you have 3 days to get to the warehouse to retrieve your items.

If you do not show up within the 3 days the item is considered abandoned and you forfeit it and your money! The last possible pickup date is on each auction, so make sure you can get the item before bidding! 

They will hold the item longer for a fee.

The watch feature

I suggest when you find an item you're interested in to watch every copy of the item. For instance I found the dog cages up for auction and watched six of them. Now there's a pretty good chance when there was 15 of these cages up that they were brand new so I figured it was a safe bet to bid on them.

I screwed up in that I thought it was going to be like eBay. On eBay people will follow five or six items that are identical and if they lose the first one they'll move immediately to the next one and start bidding on that one. So as things end in order, the bids start going up on the later auctions because people were still only willing to pay a certain amount.

Dog cages in boxes from M@cBid

Thinking that was the case I placed four small bids on these cages thinking it was just going to place hold me and I was going to get out bid on almost all of them. I won the first three. I got one cage for $2 and two others for $4 each. Now these are $50 cages and I'm actually going to use them for my chickens so I might be able to use them all. 

Luckily the fourth one ended the following day and somebody outbid me!

So the take away from that experience is to bid on one but make sure you add the rest of the items to your watch list so if you're watching as the auctions going off you can bid up the next one and not have to search for them because it might not find them. 

The search feature is wonky, so don't count on being able to find an item again....just add it to the watch list the minute you see it. You can remove items from the list any time and they do fall off the list shortly after the auction ends.

Unfortunately you cannot see your watchlist after the auctions end which kind of sucks because there are several items I watched that I would look for again if I could remember what they are! You also cannot see auctions you didn't win.

MacBid search function 

Let's talk about the search function! Several times on both my phone and my computer I searched for an item using the exact words in the items title from my watch list, and it could not pull up any of the items. 

I mentioned I got a pack of two humane mouse traps, when I was looking at them there were two sets of those and multiple of another style. About an hour before the auction was ready to end, I ran a search for those traps so I could bid on more than one. I could not find any of them! 

Sometimes when I'd refresh the screen they would pop up but then disappear by the time the screen loaded... I've never seen that before with any website, so I'm not sure what that was about.

When searching for the actual name of the product didn't work, I started putting keywords in the search bar. I tried the word pest. As mice are considered pests I thought that might help. It did not but it gave me four pages of results and none of them were pest control products! 

It gave me results for items with the word pet in them. Nest was another word it found items for. Post was the strangest because they showed me depends undergarments for postpartum care!

So basically the search will waste a ton of your time trying to guess that you spelled your search query wrong. Annoying.

The search feature is very clumsy to use. In fact the whole site is kind of awkward to use. You cannot search by ending soonest. You can search an item then put it in your watch list and it'll populate by ending soonest, but you can't just search for what auctions are ending in the next 15 minutes.

That's probably a good thing though, because I would see all these auctions ending for two or $3 and buy everything just because it's a great deal! So maybe that's not such a bad thing lol

There is a section for dollar deals which is basically any auction that hasn't been bid on yet. All auctions start at $1 and there is a filter button at the bottom of the screen that you can choose if you only want to see certain categories. 

Also if you search in the evening and auctions already closed for the day they will still show up in the search results. Like, why would I want that? 

MacBid auction fees

There are 3 fees added to each auction. There is a $2 lot fee charged per auction. You also get charged a 15% buyers premium fee. Now on a $3 item that's not much but when I paid over $70 for the dress form, it added quite a bit to the bill! So you want to take those into consideration before you bid. Also, local sales tax is charged but that's to be expected from anywhere.

Yesterday I drove around to three locations. I went to Pittsburgh Mills first, then to McKees rocks and finally to Butler. Pittsburgh Mills and Butler were absolutely wonderful experiences! Employees were super friendly and helpful as this was my first time I didn't know what I was doing. 

I'm not complaining about the service at McKees rocks, I just thought the employees at the other two were super friendly, nice and went above and beyond to help.

When you get to the location you go inside and you pull up either the app or just the website on a browser on your phone. There's an orange button on the awaiting pickup page that says scan for pickup you let them scan that and then you go down to where it shows exactly where to find each your items. 

Grab a flatbed cart from the front and go looking for your items. Every item is in a lettered aisle, under a numbered section, with a yellow tag on it with the numbers of the lot on it. You grab all your items and take them to the front and they check you out. It's pretty simple!

Products sold on Macbid

So let's talk about what I bought. I bid on one of six giant bean bags. Mine had appeared to have taken the cover out of the box, and replaced it but everything else was still in original packing. There's nothing wrong with it although there was one problem...they gave me the wrong item!

When deciding which one to bid on I looked them all up on Amazon via the links provided. There were 3 different brands and I chose the Amazon brand one because it was the biggest. I won the auction. After I assembled it I realized it had a giant brand name tag on the side of it...the tag had the name from a different auction! 

I had looked this one up and even bid a small amount on it, but didn't pursue it further when I was outbid because it was a foot smaller! The one I bid more on was a larger, more expensive product. That's the one I won, but somehow when I picked up my product, it was the smaller one. I definitely would not have bid this much for the one they gave me!

item from macbid that I wone, and item they said I won

As you can see I won the Amazon brand 5' bean bag. The next image is the 4' bean bag auction that closed just a few minutes earlier. The box my item was in clearly marked 4' and the tag from the auction I won was clearly marked 5'. 

I contacted the site and was informed I could bring it in and have a manager decide if they'll take a return or not. They don't normally accept returns unless you buy the insurance but they had tagged the wrong item, so there's a good chance they'd accept it.

I bid on 1 of 4 dressmakers forms. The box did not even appear to be opened, although there was no directions or anything like that. It works perfectly fine and doesn't appear to have been used.

I bid on one of many dog beds. It's an elevated dog bed with a mesh bottom for airflow... I have an Australian Shepherd he tends to run hot! This is the one I was dreading putting together! The box was utterly smashed. 

I was sure something was going to be missing and this was going to be something that had been used for several months before being returned. I was wrong! It was brand new and all the pieces were inside along with instructions.

As you can see, Ruger loves it! It is an elevated cooling bed with mesh for the bed part to allow airflow. Aussies run warm so this will be perfect for summer!

Dog o dog bed from macbid

The three dog cages that I'm going to use for the chickens were completely brand new. The lint roller refills were completely brand new.

The cat litter cupboard appeared to be new when I picked it up as it was packed neatly in the box like it came from the factory. When I took it out however, there were some small scratches on the top piece. I think the scratches happened at M@cBid though, since they do like to cut a hole in the top of the box so they can show a picture of the item color. The scratches fit the cut out pattern. 

Seems a shame for them to ruin a perfectly good item but I guess that's faster than actually removing said item from box then re-boxing it. All the pieces, hardware and instructions were included. It works perfectly fine!

The dress was too tight. It does not run true to size, and I'm going to guess that's why it was returned. It's also a sort of flimsy material and was covered in pet hair. Definitely a return somebody tried on and it didn't fit.

The mousetraps seem to be perfectly fine. I've used a lot of safe traps over the years and they don't seem to have any problems or have ever been used.

The fabric dresser is the only thing I haven't put together yet. I got this for my son because he (for some unknown reason) does not want a new bedroom set for his new apartment. It looks to be a plastic tubing frame, and then it has drawers that are sort of like those fabric bins you put on shelves. I can update this after he gets it put together. There were dozens of these on the site though, so I doubt that they have been used and returned.

M@CBid sells damaged items

First of all there is a damaged category. What I've found is that 100% of items marked damaged are in fact damaged. However, a good amount of items not marked damaged are still damaged! 

I bought several items that ended up being broken and after I took the item home I looked at the listing for it and noticed the pictures were taken so you can't see the damage.

For instance this cat carrier is caved in and cracked on the corner that is under the box flap in the listing picture. Now why would you not show that unless you were trying to pass off damaged items as not damaged? The box is completely opened, so there's no reason to not show both flaps open! Except for the fact that nobody would bid as high on a broken item.

Now the website does recommend you check the items out before you bid and that's obviously a good idea. BUT if they didn't have a damaged category one would assume all the items might be damaged, but since there is a damaged category it gives you a false sense of security! 

I also got a dog blow dryer with a broken off power button, a set of cardboard file boxes that had got completely soaking wet on one side (and had only been photographed partially for the site so you couldn't see the damaged part) and 2 different tea sets that were missing parts. 

M@CBid Review

That was a whole lot of words to tell you that I really love this site but it does have it's downfalls. For instance I got the wrong item and the difference between a vacuum packed box of bean bag filling and one fully fluffed out is too big to fit in my car! So do I keep it and kiss the $55 goodbye or go through the ordeal of returning it in the husbands truck?

Some items are broke, some items are used which are not broke, some items are new and some items descriptions are guesses. I just saw a tea set that was not the same one as in the stock photo. The tea pot in the box was clearly square, the one in the image round.

I have purchased the insurance on a desk chair I won this weekend, so I'll update if I have to use it to return the item. (nope, it was perfect) I think insurance is a smart investment for all electronics and things with multiple pieces. 

It's a fun site but it can really be a time suck, especially since the search function can be time consuming with all it's guesses. Have you used MacBid yet? Let me know in the comments how it went!


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