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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Grading your online auction

How do bidders view your online (or simulcast) auction when shipping is generally involved? From viewing eBay‘s feedback system, it would appear you are likely judged on at last four criteria:

  1. Accurate descriptions

  2. Reasonable shipping cost

  3. Shipping speed

  4. Communication

For bidders to keep buying at your auction, we would suggest your descriptions are accurate, you charge reasonable shipping fees, you ship soon after the auction closes, and you stay in touch with your winning bidders.

If you as an auctioneer are not providing this level of service, note that your services are being compared (contrasted) with other auctioneers and online platforms that provide a good buyer experience. Bidders and buyers have choices.

Also, sellers have choices, and if your level of service is not what it should be, your seller is also suffering from less participation. Future sellers have choices as well and as such, sellers and buyers benefit from high-quality auctioneer service.

Accurate descriptions appear to be the most troubling for auctioneers who regularly sell “AS IS and WHERE IS” and offer no warranties for what they say or imply. We have noted that auctioneers cannot disclaim what they express (say) and can only disclaim what they imply if they provide a reasonable opportunity for buyer preview.

For those constantly complaining about buyers — maybe you shouldn’t be in the auction business? Auctions without bidders/buyers are lonely places with sellers suffering accordingly. Yes, bidders don’t read terms and conditions, but auctioneers don’t read anything either.

It pays to be forgiving for misunderstandings and courteous even in light of unreasonable demands. Auctions are hardly the only businesses with such issues, and most other businesses seem to accommodate buyers better than most auctioneers — probably explaining most auctioneers’ pronounced friction?

And remember, you sold all that property “AS IS and WHERE IS” purportedly with no warranties, exchanges, or returns. It’s hard to buy at auction, and many don’t quite understand the process and rightly expect some additional accommodation.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and formerly at Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auction Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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