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Briana has enjoyed auctions since she first attended one at age 7. Since then, she has attended live auctions as well as bid via some online auctions as she satisfies her “auction fix” as she says.

She is also busy. She is a corporate attorney focusing on general business litigation and is also a volunteer at Goodwill Industries where she serves on their board of directors. She can’t always bid in realtime and often leaves absentee bids.

Absentee bids are often the maximum a bidder is willing to pay, and bidders generally expect their bids to be placed similar to how they would bid otherwise. In other words, only pay as much as they need to, not exceeding their maximum limit.

So for a live auction, Briana might tell the auctioneer she is willing to go up to $1,000 on a bracelet while hoping to get it for less. Online, she might put in a maximum bid of $1,000 with this same hope.

Of course, auctioneers and sellers can have varying absentee bid policies and bidders have choices whether to participate or not based upon their impressions of the fairness and equity of those rules.

Briana is sensitive to those policies, noting that she rarely leaves absentee bids of any kind when a minimum amount, starting bid, a fractional opening bid, or a surcharge is required — that is when other realtime bidders don’t have those same requirements.

Our question today involves absentee bids and confidentiality. They can’t be entirely confidential, as whatever mechanism to execute them must know the amounts, but does anyone else need to know?. We would hold not. That is, if you want Briana to participate in your next auction.

Some auctioneers have abused the confidential nature of bidders’ absentee bids. Some bid up to just one bid less than their maximums and some discuss these maximums with other bidders to see if they can procure higher bids — an auction before the auction of sorts.

We all want Briana to bid at our auctions, live and/or online. The better we treat Briana and bidders generally, the more they will participate and the more they will bid and buy. Ironically to some, that’s actually better for our sellers than mistreating Briana and never seeing her 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 Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.