advertising, agency, agency duties, agent, agreement, auction, Auction Law, auctioneer, auctioneers, auctions, bidders, breach of contract, buyers, client, commission, consent, Internet, lie, live auctions, online, online auction, online auctions, seller, simulcast
We regularly keep an eye on online auction platforms — particularly when they lie and/or if they seem to be violating their fiduciary duties.
Such is the case (again) with http://www.youragentbid.com (Youragentbid) as they continue to contend that they are partnering with large asset auctioneers around the world. In this most recent case, they are offering inventory online during an auctioneer’s significant live auction.
However, a particular Facebook post sheds more light on this so-called partnership. Here’s the quote we saw and captured before it was deleted:
Bid on this car and other cars online instead of fighting the crowds. Click here to bid from the comfort of your home.
Of course, bidders can bid online “from the comfort” of their home or bid live by attending the auction and seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching the auction experience; apparently all that is a bad thing.
Actually, it’s more simple than that. If the bidder buys online the auction platform earns another fee and if the bidder buys live they don’t earn that additional fee. Clearly the auction platform wants the buyers to buy online rather than live because of self-enrichment.
Thus, the central question here is: Is it better for the seller if the bidder bids online rather than live? The answer to this query is the only one that matters … but seemingly is missed by our online auction platform here.
This online auction platform’s aggrandizement violates an agency duty to be loyal to the client. Loyalty demands we put the interests of the client ahead of ours as the auctioneer and platform — the seller’s agents. Further, the online platform arguably has another client — the auctioneer.
It’s important for all online auction platforms to realize they can offer their bidding options, but not encourage bidders to not bid live — as possibly the bidder would pay just as much or more live and/or be less inclined to look at other auction events taking place simultaneously.
Similarly we wrote about AuctionCode.com in 2013 when they were telling bidders to stay home and bid online so they (AuctionCode) could earn more money — but tried to disguise their advice by joking about the weather … https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/baby-its-cold-outside/
Would it be acceptable in my mind for a so-called online auction partner to say, ” … and if you can’t make it to the live auction, bid with us here …?” I think so. In other words, offer this option as just that, without dissing the live auction platform.
Auction platforms won’t be making any changes to their policies due to this analysis. My only hope is that auctioneers discern which platforms are true partners and which one(s) are not — and rather want to solely increase profits and more importantly steal — yes, steal — seller, bidder and buyer information.
Everyone in the auction business wants sellers — they have the property auctioneers and platforms need. But don’t think bidders/buyers aren’t being contended for in the auction platform world — as we noted in a story in 2012: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/whose-buyers-are-they/
We’ve previously written about issues with (somewhat ironically named) Youragentbid:
We suggest if you’re in the auction business you should pay attention if your online auction platform is directing bidders/buyers away from your live event. In fact this is something to be discussed before your next simulcast auction.
* The above account including company names, events, etc. are purely fictional. This scenario has been created solely for educational purposes.
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 Texas 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.