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Here’s the problem. The law allows (but does not require) auctioneers to lie. We can indeed say, “Sold!” (in certain specific circumstances) and not mean it — in other words, from a perception standpoint … we’re lying.

Who else in commerce lies to customers and gets away with it? If Walmart is advertising a sale, and then you get there and they aren’t — aren’t you upset? If the local tire store says you can buy 4 tires for the price of 3, but your bill shows full price for all 4, aren’t you upset?

Auctioneers are in a fight for their lives in terms of credibility in the marketplace and most rank us around 17% in terms of the percentage of people who think we’re honest and ethical (along with attorneys, real estate agents and labor union leaders …)

Is anyone surprised when an auctioneer says, “Sold!” and then suddenly says, “No, I’m sorry, I have a higher bid over here …” that anyone’s upset? I sure would be and I know most people would be (and are) too.

So it’s being suggested — by some attorneys and some auctioneers no less — that auctioneers project to the public that we can lie. “The law says you can, so you should” is the message. Actually, it really doesn’t matter what the law says if the perception is we’re lying.

As we have discussed previously, in the cases cited as evidence that the bid can be reopened (we can lie) come from lawsuits. What’s routinely missed is that those who were “lied to” were the plaintiffs — they sued essentially because they perceived the auctioneer lied to them.

Here’s that previous writing with those aforementioned court cases https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/auctioneers-you-want-win-in-court-or-stay-out-of-court/ were we proposed staying out of court was better than winning or losing in court.

“But, the UCC 2-328 and UCC 1-302 and this court case, or that court case … and my terms and conditions say … or we’re in Kentucky” You see, the public doesn’t care. Nobody cares. We’re lying — that’s all they know.

Admittedly, I cite court cases and opinions regarding them (without giving anyone specific legal guidance in their particular circumstance) but I’m routinely countered that my opinion doesn’t matter — as those auctioneers prefer to retain the right to lie.

The brilliant auctioneer/presenter/singer/songwriter/evangelist Aaron Traffas wrote about this reopening of the bid from the customer perspective, and came to this same conclusion. I highly recommend you read his stance here: http://www.auctioneertech.com/2016/sold-doesnt-mean-sold/.

Steve Proffitt told us that for one — he thought he could successfully argue that auctioneers could not reopen the bid after, “Sold!” and two — even if you felt differently, you shouldn’t reopen the bid. We wrote about that here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/john-stephen-proffitt-iii-and-your-right-to-reopen-the-bid/.

In 2017, we wrote about how perception matters so much more than reality in lawsuits and in the public domain: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/every-auction-lawsuit-perception-vs-reality/.

It would seem the least we could do is stop lying.

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