You are an online auctioneer and you know that online platforms sometimes aren’t reliable. As such, your attorney has told you to include in your terms, “We are not responsible for the online platform’s performance,” or similar language.
Correct, you as the auctioneer don’t want to be responsible for any of that — primarily because much (if not all) of that is out of your control. But what is in your control and likely your responsibility? Your behavior in response to any platform outages.
When the system goes down, and bidders can’t bid, what is your response? What if within 3 days of closing? What if within 1 day of closing? What about 5 minutes before closing? Do you stop,, suspend, cancel, reschedule, postpone … or conclude the auction as soon as possible and call it a day?
Further, it would seem to us that you would talk with your sellers to obtain their thoughts, as well as secure their consent to the new plan. As well, bidders would have to notified of any subsequent bidding opportunities.
We did previously write that if your platform indicates, “You can bid from the comfort of your home …” and you can’t, that bidder could have a claim against your expressed warranty of service availability: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/bid-from-the-comfort-of-your-home-or-office/.
Online auctioneers are advised to sit down before any problems occur and play this simple but prudent game: “What if the platform goes down … what if bids are/aren’t already placed … what if only some of the platform’s service is/isn’t available … what if only some lots are effected rather than all?”
The public (including sellers and bidders) generally understands Internet outages, and to a lesser degree understands sporadic platform outages, but are not understanding of bad decisions, poor planning nor lack of communication.
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.