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When I held my very first auction, I remember a woman asking me, “What time will the auction be over?” I smiled and told her I thought maybe 2:00 p.m. but we had no exact ending time — it would be when everything was sold.

Live auctions are a great example of a “soft closing.” Bids are taken and only when nobody else bids for a reasonable time, the item (lot) is closed. Today, live as well as most online auctions work with a soft close.

Therefore, with a soft close, there is no ending time.

Today’s topic involves a disgruntled bidder who noted an online auction ended at 12:00 Noon (with him as the high bidder) but a soft close was utilized causing the auction to extend to 12:17:34. We would hold an “ending time” and a “soft close” are clearly incompatible.

If I’m the high bidder at $750,000 at an online auction ending at 12:00 Noon (suggesting a hard close) and you take further bidding (suggesting a soft close) requiring me to pay $872,500, I’m going to want my item, $122,500 in damages and my attorney fees paid.

This would not be any different than a live auction where I told the crowd the auction would end at a certain time — and then took bids and sold items thereafter; I would expect people to be upset.

We recently wrote about “10 things to know when bidding on your first online auction” here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/10-things-to-know-when-bidding-on-your-first-online-auction/. Maybe this is a good question regardless if this is your first online auction?

Or maybe this particular question shouldn’t really be necessary … as no online auction with a soft close should be stating an ending time — because there isn’t any ending time.

If an ending time is needed in case of no bids, then the software should remove the ending time once a bid is placed — or note further bids need to be placed by a certain (not ending) time in order to [possibly] extend bidding.

We last wrote about auctioneer malpractice leading many auctioneers to consider the bidders to be foolish when actually the auctioneer was making things confusing: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/lot-0-auction-information-confusion/.

If every time a bidder doesn’t understand, we auctioneers automatically think it’s the bidder’s fault — for essentially being dense — we’ll continue to lose bidders which in turn will mean less in proceeds for our sellers.

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.