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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Auction events are often not perfect …


We have been in the auction business 37 years. We’ve run an auction house conducting weekly auctions for 19 years. Additionally, we’ve conducted auctions all across the United States — California to Maine; some of these auctions have been “significant” in nature.

One thing I think we’ve learned over this time is that “auction events are not perfect.” What do we mean by that? We mean just that … things don’t necessarily work absolutely … perfectly.

For example, Bidders don’t get their bids to the auctioneer, property is innocently misdescribed, defects are innocently not disclosed, terms and conditions are not clear or remembered, absentee bids are mishandled, the wrong buyer number is recorded, the wrong price … to name just a few.

There are laws and rules which govern auctions in the United States. There are court cases which further define and guide the auction practice — even three such cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. Yet, issues remain.

What can be done? More (better) laws, more (better) rules? More oversight from state and federal governments? More continuing education for auctioneers? I doubt, even with all that, things would suddenly become perfect.

Perfection is a worthy goal — as Lexus was famous for saying, “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” would not be a bad thing in that every auctioneer should endeavor to get it all perfectly correct live, online and/or simulcast.

This issue is frequently brought up in litigation; for example, let’s say an item of personal property was misdecribed. Was it misdescribed unintentionally, negligently or fraudulently?

Typically the regulatory and common law standard includes that mistakes happen (innocent misrepresentation,) and only in the case of a continued course of misrepresentation (negligent misrepresentation,) or intentional misrepresentation (fraudulent misrepresentation) is an auctioneer more-so liable.

Courts don’t expect perfection. On the other hand, courts take a dim view of negligent and/or fraudulent actions. Thus always genuinely trying to do the right thing is always the best policy as well as continually educating oneself in order to provide the best service possible.

Lastly, it is probably good to remember that the more you as an auctioneer hold yourself out as having particular expertise, that’s the standard to which you will (and should, quite frankly) be judged. We wrote about that here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/the-burden-of-auctioneer-prowess/

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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