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Susan is disappointed with her auction — and the auctioneer she hired. She wants recourse for monies not turned over, property not accounted for or other contractual obligations not fulfilled. She contacts the state auctioneer association for help and doesn’t get any …

It is not unusual for an auctioneer association executive director, officer and/or director to receive a communication from a consumer about some [alleged] auctioneer misconduct. However, in the United States, this type of call/email/text/message is largely misplaced — as auctioneer associations don’t license auctioneers nor meaningfully discipline them.

Auctioneer associations are clubs where auctioneers elect to join for their own betterment. These associations typically have a code of ethics or the like that members are sworn to follow, but outside of expulsion by the club, the association has little other power to assist a member of the public feeling harmed.

The pubic has essentially two avenues for grievances against auctioneers to be heard or acted upon:

  • In a “license state” the state’s licensing agency can hear a complaint and render rulings including suspension of license, revocation of license, fines, additional education, publication of the wrongdoer/wrongdoing and/or issue a letter of reprimand or the like. As well, many license states have recovery fund or bonding requirements which may provide for lost monies to be paid out to a claimant.
  • In a “non-license” state (and even in license states,) a complaint can be directed to the courts in the form of a lawsuit. These cases typically begin at the county or local level, and can rise to state courts, appellate courts, federal courts and even three times the Supreme Court of the United States.

Here we discussed auctioneer licensing and the advantages/disadvantages of such, including that consumers have two possible avenues of recourse in “license states:” https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/12/25/auctioneer-licensing-good-or-bad/. Is our system of auctioneer regulation in the United States appropriate? Most tend to think so.

We have also discussed the [basically] two types of auctioneer licensing regulatory agencies where some are more concerned with protecting the public (including auctioneers) and others are more concerned with protecting themselves: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/two-types-of-auctioneer-regulators/. Most believe no regulation is better than bad regulation.

However, calling the state association director, officer or board member will likely result in a referral to a state agency, an attorney, or both. State auctioneer associations (nor the National Auctioneers Association) has any power to suspend, revoke or direct funds to be paid out to a claimant as associations don’t license nor otherwise regulate the auctioneer profession nor the auction business.

Auctioneers are generally trustworthy, ethical practitioners; if you as a seller or buyer have a problem with an auctioneer or auction, don’t bother calling their state auctioneer association nor the National Auctioneers Association for financial redemption or disciplinary issues. Rather, contact their state licensing agency or a local attorney for assistance.

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, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.