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Ritchie Bros. held their first auction in 1958 in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Ken, Dave and John conducted their first of many to follow unreserved auctions. In 2019, Ritchie Bros. reported $1,318,641,000 in total revenue.

Recently, Ritchie Bros. also did something really remarkable. They began offering their “IronClad Assurance” inspection services. Essentially, Ritchie Bros. inspectors conduct a comprehensive review of all auction items and stand behind their findings.

More on these services here: https://www.rbauction.com/buying/ironclad-assurance as well as a summary of the policy below:

Our IronClad Assurance equipment condition certification lets you know that one of our inspectors has personally visited the item, taken pictures and conducted a comprehensive inspection of key systems and components. What you see in the inspection report is what you get when you receive the equipment. If the item you received is not in the condition described in our inspection report, please contact us within one business day of receiving the item. Valid dispute claims will be handled in a mutually beneficial manner. For details, please see our IronClad Assurance Policy.

What could auctioneers all over the world learn from Ritchie Bros.? Bidders and buyers want to feel confident and know what they are buying. Just like almost all other retail, the public wants property for sale described accurately and if they buy it, they want the seller/auctioneer to stand behind it.

In contrast, most auctioneers in the United States (and elsewhere) sell property “as-is, where-is, no warranties, no guarantees” and further even disclaim or assign responsibility for accuracy in any descriptions or representations. Does that sound like what bidders/buyers are looking for?

In other words, could we as an industry do better? The more confident bidders/buyers are in the auction process, the more they will participate and the higher they will bid — in turn, helping sellers and auctioneers make more money. That sounds like a win-win …

We recently wrote about auctioneers behaving “more reasonably” here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/12/02/auctioneers-behaving-more-reasonably/. We also asked if an auction could have a return policy: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/is-it-simply-as-is-with-inspection-and-or-a-return-policy/.

Some auctioneers have confided in me they are considering such changes, and a few have told me they are offering guarantees/warranties as well as a return policy. How are those new policies working out? Most of those auctioneers are telling me the additional bidders/buyers and higher prices have more than paid for the costs of exchanges/refunds.

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.