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I’ll continue to ask this when I hear anything like, “I don’t know how we’re going to keep bidders 6′ apart, and insist they all …” If your reason not to conduct an online auction is you never have, that’s not good enough.

If you’re going to tell me, “We just tell them to stay 6′ apart” then I have even more questions. Auctioneers tell bidders to read the terms and conditions, pay their bill, and pick up only certain times …

Auctioneers tell me all the time bidders don’t read the terms and conditions, don’t pay their bill, don’t pick up on time, and don’t do a bunch of other stuff, but sure, they’ll stay 6′ apart because you tell them?

Change is hard. Our first online auctions (other than eBay) were in 2001 or so, and while we have been traditionally live auctioneers, we’ve moved to exclusively online at various times and in light of this pandemic. It wasn’t about us, but rather safety for our bidders and buyers and protection for our sellers.

If a seller tells an auctioneer he or she wants a live auction, it is the duty of the auctioneer to provide advice as to the costs and benefits. Given health risks, turnout uncertainty, and increased legal liability, that counsel should be to consider an online auction and/or delay or cancel the live auction until this pandemic is over.

The online auction world is different than the live auction world, with merely different challenges. But none of those challenges includes keeping bidders 6′ apart, nor masks, hand sanitizer, maximum numbers of bidders per square feet nor the substantial potential of a Coronavirus-related sickness or death.

Lastly, before you’re told there’s this “magical disclaimer” that you can put in your terms and conditions, assigning all the risk of health issues or death to your bidders thus completely absolving you … think again.

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.