Mezed, A Tunisian Auction Site

MezedMezed is a new Tunisian auction site that recently surfaced into the arena of online startups in Tunisia.

A number of Tunisian startups/websites have already been launched to try and push through the idea of online auctions in Tunisia, get it popular, and attempt to make some money out of it. Examples off the top of my head are sites like: MoncefBay and EchriBay.
A lot of these services hang on for a while before fading away into Tunisian internet history now. The auction model just hasn’t taken off and worked up to now, for one reason or another.

Websites that approach the whole buying/selling thing through small classified ads seem to be doing a little better maybe, but nothing we can be proud of and call e-commerce yet, I guess.

Anyway, back to Mezed, the website takes on a new and different approach to the whole auctions system, re-inventing the wheel, and generating a lot of buzz along the way.

Mezed’s system revolves solely around buyers; people can’t sell their stuff on the website, they can only buy stuff that Mezed is selling, products it gets at cheap prices from its partners.

Now to how it works, it’s a bit complicated, but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible: Users get to buy a number of prepaid “bids”, each bid costs 500 millimes to buy and represents the value of 100 millimes. Bids can be bought online using a Tunisian credit card, by transferring mobile phone credit, or by bank transfer or postal money order.

Product auctions start at 0 millimes, and people get to place their bids on this product, augmenting its value by 100 millimes at a time. The counter showing how much time is left until the end of the auction is restarted after each bid.

After the auction ends, the winner receives a phone call or email from Mezed to confirm it, and they have to pay the final auction price as well as the delivery fees by bank transfer or postal money order. They receive the item they won at most after 72 hours.

And that’s about it, with some other little details here or there like gift coupons and other stuff.

Personally, I don’t understand why they had to come up with this whole weird new system of doing things: most people I’ve talked to about this site don’t understand how the whole things works exactly, they don’t get it, they lose patience and interest.

Why do people have to pay for bidding? If they don’t win at the end, why do they have to lose their money for something they didn’t get in the end? And what’s with the whole thing about paying 500 millimes for a bid when it only counts for 100 millimes? Where do the other 400 millimes go? Or is it just psychological so that people don’t feel that they’re paying too much, when they might not even win in the end? Why does the counter get restarted each time a bid is placed? The logical question are endless.

Plus isn’t this supposed to be an online service? So why do final payments have to be made only by bank transfer or postal money order?
And the weirdest of all, why on earth does the website go on “pause” from 9pm to 8am, putting the whole system on standby, as if it were a shop that the shopkeeper closed for the night?

Still things are moving over at this website, and now that it’s in its beginnings, some people are getting their hands on some really good bargains, and items are being sold at really cheap prices, or so it seems at least.

Let’s take an example of this Swatch watch I found on Mezed which is currently at around 35 Dinars, a price they say is much less than its original 182 Dinar price tag. But let’s say the auction actually ends at 35 Dinars; Mezed would have actually made more than the original price on this item.
The true amount of money the website made is: 35×5 (as every bid counts for a fifth of its value) + 35 (the final auction price to be paid) = 210 Dinars.
It’s true someone might be lucky enough to only bid once at the end and then pay 35, therefore getting a great deal, but still a lot of people actually paid more than the original price without anything in return for him to get it.
Personally, I think that’s totally unfair.

In the end what’s obvious is that this startup is making good money off its users, and that it’s generating some buzz around it mainly because of its complicated system and its seemingly bargain prices. But whether users will actually be willing to keep playing along or not will remain to be seen.

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