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Our question today is: Can auctions be irritating? I’ve held they can be, but when a fellow auctioneer tells me they are, and cause him to look elsewhere to bid or buy, we all need to pay attention.

Jeff Weinberg said …

I think that in the quest to maximize auction revenue, auctioneers often forget that there’s a non-quantifiable “irritation factor” that prevents people from bidding, thus lowering the price drive and total revenue. I know, I won’t bid on auctions for any number of reasons. Some of them include ridiculous shipping restrictions or costs, crazy buyer premiums, auctions that are posted, but bidding doesn’t start for weeks, excessively confusing or restrictive terms… and I’m an auctioneer!

Let’s look at the particulars of Jeff’s claim that he doesn’t bid when one or more of these irritating things are present:

    • Ridiculous shipping restrictions or costs
    • Crazy buyer’s premiums
    • Auctions posted with bidding starting later
    • Excessively confusing or restrictive terms

It is clear that auction shipping policies have become more restrictive and costs continue to rise. It is clear buyer’s premiums continue to increase. I see auctions all the time posted with no way to bid until later.

And there is absolutely no question auction terms and conditions have become more confusing and restrictive — and thus anti-bidder/buyer. It should concern you when a fellow auctioneer notices.

What has caused this trend? It seems to us that auctioneers have taken an approach of, “I can do anything …” without even considering that buyers have choices — and one of those choices is to not participate and/or buy elsewhere. That’s exactly what Jeff is doing.

I’ve asked rhetorically if auctioneers should look at their seller contract and bidder terms and conditions to see if they themselves would acquiesce to such policies? Many auctioneers have told me they wouldn’t. In essence, if you wouldn’t sign it, why would you expect anyone else to sign it?

It was maybe 15 or more years ago when we had our attorney rewrite our real property bidder terms and conditions. It was maybe 2-3 years later when he registered as a bidder at one of our auctions only to ask me if we could delete a few sentences, and rewrite another …

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.