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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Seller says, “Who bought my …?”

We’ve written about auction buyer identity several times:

Our topic today involves that the auction seller (auctioneer’s client) wants to know who bought … something. For example, let’s say a seller consigns an inventory of office equipment including a fairly new Xerox printer/copier.

Post auction, the seller asks the auctioneer who bought the copier — possibly requesting name, address, phone number …

We suspect most auctioneers would not give their seller this information citing either their contract denys such, or just reference the general principle that says this information is “none of their seller’s business.”

On the contrary, we would suggest that it is entirely the seller’s business, as this was the seller’s property and is now that buyer’s property. The auctioneer merely acted as an agent for the seller to put these two parties together.

And further, as an agent for the seller, the auctioneer is to follow all his client’s legal directions — likely even if the consignment contact says buyer information will not be provided. Is it legal for the buyer’s information to be disclosed to the seller? Yes, it is. Is it illegal for an agent to not follow his client’s legal directions? Yes, it is.

Why would a seller want to contact a buyer? Maybe just to congratulate him on his purchase? Probably not — and likely more so to see if he can sell him other similar items and/or complain that the buyer didn’t pay enough.

How can auctioneers deal with this request? Maybe one solution is to facilitate such contact; communicate to the buyer that the seller wishes to contact him and thus enable the buyer to contact the seller. Or, possibly such contact could be by mail only — which would be less potentially bothersome than by email, phone, text or the like.

Of course with an address, I suppose the seller could drive by and knock on the buyer’s door; the merits of a more obscure location may be clear. Too, buyer’s are free to buy as an LLC or corporation, where the business entity is the buyer, and the precise identity of the members or shareholders (or officers) could possibly remain confidential.

Ultimately, if an auction seller wants to contact his or her auction buyer (or just know the identity) it’s up to the seller’s agent (in this case, the auctioneer) to assist with that inquiry. Further, if an auction buyer doesn’t want identified, it’s up to that buyer to make that contact difficult, if not impossible — or facilitate such contact in whatever preferred manner.

Fortunately, most sellers at auction don’t care (nor inquire about) who purchased their property. Knowing the buyer or even contacting the buyer doesn’t change the price or the terms. However, it’s helpful for auctioneers to remember: the auctioneer is working for the client (the seller,) not the other way around …

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. He serves as Distinguished Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.

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