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Of course, we know that “Auction prices” are the prices obtained at public auctions. Our question is more so … What is the message when you are invited to buy at “Auction prices” by the largest auction company on earth?

It’s more or less a given that at a Ritchie Bros. auction, you pay auction prices. They so noted in a recent advertisement suggesting you sign up and bid:

Quality Used Heavy Construction Equipment For Sale at Auction Prices! Sign Up For a Free Account To Start Bidding Online!

We previously wrote about a car dealer advertising “Auction prices” and our thinking then — as it is now — is that this message suggests a possible discount: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/auction-prices/.

Are auction bidders attracted to auctions due to the “prospect of a deal?” We think so, as we coined that phrase maybe 20 years ago and wrote about it here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/auctions-and-an-iowa-corn-field/.

Maybe “auction prices” suggest a possible discount, or fair prices, or “only one bid more than what someone else is willing to pay” but the word “auction” does always get attention. Ritchie Bros. knows that, Wyler Chevrolet knows that, and most all auctioneers know that.

However, a word of caution here. If auctions become more so known for terrible, one-sided, unconscionable terms and conditions and surprisingly high shipping costs, people may start to look for alternatives — and some already are.

Auctions now compete against easy, “click-to-buy,” free and fast shipping, warranties, guarantees, return policies, and at minimum a level playing field or even rules favoring buyers.

Auctions may never get there, but difficult, delayed, costly and slow shipping with no warranties, guarantees nor return policies (and a boat-load of disclaimers and waivers) won’t likely continue to attract more bidders, and worse yet leads to further unnecessary litigation.

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.