I’ve been involved in 100’s of divorce appraisals. Some marriages as short as a few months, and some as long as 40 years. Nobody gets married with the intent to divorce, but it happens.
Relatedly, auctioneers and auction portals began marrying around 1999 and that trend continues today.
However, just like any marriage, there is divorce. And with some divorces, there is a related lawsuit.
The auctioneer & auction portal marriage we’re talking about is Joe Black, Auctioneer of Black & Black Auctions in Springfield, Missouri signing an agreement with www.youragentbid.com, www.auctionplace.com, www.auctioncode.com and the like (No need to click as these are our fictional names.)
In this marriage, Joe Black finds the clients with property and uploads pictures and descriptions to the auction portal. The portal manages the online auction and then Joe Black collects the money and ships out the property to the new owners.
Of course, Joe Black pays a fee to put property on the auction portal. In concert, the portal allows bidders from all over the world to participate by bidding online via their computer, phone or other electronic device.
What happens when Joe Black becomes unhappy with his auction portal? He can just leave, or he can file a lawsuit. And we’re starting to see these lawsuits materialize and for good reason.
The claims in these lawsuits include:
- Undisclosed fees
- Adhesionary fees
- Poor customer service
- Overall unresponsiveness
- Self-serving business practices
- Deception (untruthfulness)
- Arbitrary and irrational rules
Such claims have merit and are being cited in legal actions.
The other issue for many auctioneers like Joe Black is the auction portal isn’t loyal. When not working for Joe Black, his so-called partner is working for some other auctioneer, and maybe even encouraging bidders to patronize Joe’s competition rather than him?
As well, some portals are now charging the very auctioneers who provided them all the data necessary to operate. For instance, early on Joe Black would advertise his auction with the portal and bidders would register for the auction via the portal. Now that same portal is charging Joe Black to access these same bidders.
Worse yet, some auction portals have decided to find their own sellers (non-auctioneers) and compete with Joe Black heads-up; yes, instead of working with Joe Black, they work to take business away from Joe Black — maybe the worst of offenses.
Certainly an interesting time in the auction industry where auctioneers flocked to get married only to find out their so-called partners were more worried about themselves and couldn’t care less about their auctioneer partner. It seems auctioneers are finally starting to take notice, and some are wanting a divorce.
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 Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.