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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Announcements made day of sale take precedence?

There might not be any phrase more often seen in auction advertisements, besides “Public Auction,” than:“Announcements made day of sale take precedence over printed material …”

Sometimes it’s “… all prior printed material,” or, “… all prior announcements and printed material,” or, “… any other information either written or oral,” or some other variation, but it all means about the same thing.

In other words, no matter what an auctioneer has stated in the newspaper advertisement, flier or brochure, on a website, postcard or sign, in an email, or discussed on the phone or in person …

What I’m telling you now, no matter what you’re read or heard, contradicts and/or overrides anything I told you before …

A general legal guideline involving virtually any type of advertising, or invitation to participate, is that it is made in “good faith.” That is, in accordance with standards of honesty, trust and sincerity.

I strongly suspect auctioneers started using this phrase when they encountered problems with newspapers. I recall when I began my auction career placing newspaper advertisements for our auctions, only to open the paper every Sunday and see a mistake in virtually every one.

Adding a statement to an auction advertisement indicating that the auctioneer has a right to “correct” any errors, such as the incorrect auction start time, payment methods, or even that a particular furniture piece was not “Old,” but rather “Oak” seemed prudent.

Even after utilizing “camera-ready” copy, errors somehow persisted. Most notably, we had one camera-ready advertisement placed upside-down. We had a great crowd at that auction, prompting us to consider placing more upside-down advertisements in the future, but we thought better.

And, this error-prone newspaper advertisement pattern was more the rule than the exception for auctioneers around the country for decades; essentially, up until the 1990’s.

Nevertheless, today this phrase about “announcements taking precedence” persists — even though there is much less newspaper advertising, and all auction promotion, including newspaper, is far more accurate.

However, I suspect this phrase is still used due to nothing more than habit. In fact, as we interviewed several auctioneers about their use of a like phrase in their advertising, all said, essentially, “We’ve always done it that way.”

Some say that this type of advertising disclaimer allows auctioneers to bait bidders with certain terms, and then switch the terms. Such as, an auction advertised as “without reserve” only to be changed to a “with reserve” auction once everyone is there.

But, this is the exception and not the rule.

Auctioneers are not intrinsically unethical, criminal nor dishonest. On the contrary, they are generally honest, fair dealing and act in good faith. We wrote about this before with the same conclusion:

And, for those interested, we previously wrote about many different auctioneer disclaimers here:

In summary, I would say that in today’s auction marketplace, the public can largely view any statement such as, “Announcements made day of sale take precedence over printed matter” as essentially inconsequential.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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