We’ve been in the auction business for many years. First, it was cash and checks, then it became cash, checks and/or credit cards and then later it became cash, credit cards, debit cards, wire transfer and/or PayPal … in other words, we have tried to keep up with commerce generally in the United States.
We wrote prior about us beginning to accept credit cards 27 years ago and some of those early challenges — which have largely been mitigated since https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/credit-card-surcharge-mess-for-auctioneers/.
For auctioneers and sellers, it is simply risk versus reward. What payment methods allow for the most bidders and/or the best bidders, and what payment methods result in a substantial risk of breaches of contract or uncollected funds?
In addition to the payment methods we accept, some auctioneers take foreign currency, cashless commerce via mobile phones and other electronic devices (such as Apple Pay) and other electronic funds transfers — it depends on the property being sold and the marketplace.
Generally across the United States, credit and debit card usage is preferred by over 80% of the population. Many under 30 years old have a checking account, but exclusively use a debit card instead of a check. Cash is still used in most — but not all — markets.
As I fly around the country, I can only use credit or debit to order a drink on an airplane; rental cars require a credit card; self-serve parking at my home airport requires a credit card as well. It would seem to us that here in 2020, auctioneers should accept at minimum cash, credit cards and debit cards.
I was talking to an auctioneer who only accepts cash and checks at his auction. I mentioned credit and debit cards and he told me, “I can’t afford the equipment and I have no real need to accept credit cards …” I offered him that, “You really can’t afford to not accept credit and debit cards.”
Whatever market you are in — and depending upon what type of property you’re selling and to who — decide what payment methods you’ll accept from the customer’s standpoint. Ask yourself how your buyers would prefer to (or need to) pay for their purchases.
It’s not “I don’t want to accept credit cards” but rather “My customers want to use credit cards,” or whatever payment method they may prefer. Making it easier for the buyers to pay allows for higher prices and more net return to your clients.
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.