Auction targets CPAP
HOUSTON - Move over eBay. There's a new online auction site in cyberspace. CPAPAuction.com--launched in September--offers patients and providers a place to buy and sell new and used CPAP equipment. In its first 30 days, the site received 40,800 hits.
"Patients were swapping equipment on support forums and asking where they could sell equipment," said Johnny Goodman, general manager of parent company US Expediters, which also includes CPAP.com and CPAPtalk.com.
The site works much like other auction sites: Sellers list products with a starting price and optional reserve price. Buyers place a bid and compete to have the winning bid when time is up. Common methods of payment include Paypal, credit card, check and money order. Registering to use the site is $1, listing items is free and CPAPAuction earns 5% on each transaction.
"It is very easy to scan what is available for bid due to specific CPAP categories," said Goodman.
In its first few weeks, 800 registered users placed over 1,000 bids on 350 items offered by 50 sellers.
Because the site is specifically geared toward CPAP, listing items for sale is simple. Sellers use templates with photos, detailed product descriptions and other information. Text can be edited or removed and pictures shown or hidden. For used equipment, sellers must list the condition of the equipment and its packaging, and whether there are pets or smoking in the household.
"We have designed our system so that anyone can quickly and easily list their CPAP product even if they are not very web savvy," said Goodman.
While most major auction sites do not offer prescription items for sale, CPAPAuction.com has created a centralized process in which bidders fax or email their prescriptions-prior to bidding. The prescriptions are kept in a real-time, browseable file. Bidding on prescription items is enforced by category.
"A user with a valid prescription for a CPAP cannot place a bid on a BiPAP and vice versa," said Goodman. "All bidders are vetted as being legally allowed to purchase their prescription product."
Selling HME online has taken hold in the last few years, but that has raised concerns among many in the industry. Last year, ResMed instituted mandatory minimum pricing for its products. The manufacturer feared that online retailers were selling products at too low a price to offer education and service (See HME News, July 2006).
"Our Internet policies were designed to build in the cost of education and care," said Hillary Theakston, director of communications for ResMed. "Patients buying equipment without support (can lead to) poor compliance and that reflects poorly on the industry."
But Goodman said CPAP has its place on the Internet.
"The decision to recycle is up to owners," said Goodman. "I'm sure there is a lot of equipment just gathering dust that bidders would love to buy."