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An attorney suggested to me in a court case in which I was hired as an expert witness … that auction previews were subject to the “as-is” standard. I countered that “as-is” applied to the purchase, not the preview.

Let’s say this gentleman in this picture is an interested bidder and he’s climbing on some sort of yellow iron to inspect prior to the auction. He injures himself and when he asks for compensation due to his damages, the auctioneer says, “You were previewing ‘as-is.'”

I’ve attended and conducted countless auctions where I’ve heard auctioneers say “You’re buying everything ‘as-is’ today.” On the contrary, not once have I heard “You’re previewing ‘as-is’ today so be careful.” I suspect I haven’t heard the latter because it doesn’t work that way.

Of course, you as an auctioneer could disclaim any responsibility for injuries during previews, but it would seem to me you would owe your bidder pool — and in a way, society as a whole — a reasonably safe environment when you invite people for inspections.

Do retail stores just leave water on the floor without either cleaning it up and/or putting up caution signs or tape to draw attention to the hazard? They don’t. But auctioneers don’t have to do any of that so long as they disclaim everything? I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s that we’ve used “as-is” and “where-is” so long that we apply it to everything? You get sick from a hot dog sold by your vendor — but you bought it “as-is?” You tripped and fell over a faulty step into the cashier trailer, but you were walking “as-is?” Your bid card was so sharp it cut your hand, but you were registered “as-is?” Really?

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.