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Many auctioneers are advocating for some type of centralized list (database) of bad bidders — bidders who bid and don’t pay, use stolen credit cards, receive property and commence a chargeback, etc. — particularly for online auctions.

We’ve written about so-called bad bidders numerous times including here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/should-we-let-that-bidder-bid/. There are indeed bad bidders — to varying degrees — bordering on good bidders.

Are there any risks of putting a bad bidder into a database for everyone to see? There might be. Defamation involves false statements that harm a person’s reputation. Libel is a written defamatory statement. Slander is an oral defamatory statement.

A database with 100’s or 1,000’s of “bad bidders” will certainly risk one or more being falsely accused, with no “due process” or court oversite to determine “guilt” or “innocence.” I wouldn’t want to be the owner nor contributor to a software list of bad bidders, becoming potentially liable for defamation.

Who decides? A bad bidder with one auctioneer could be a good bidder with another auctioneer. Could auctioneers report bidders as “bad” for reasons other than they are actually “bad?” Ex-wife? Ex-husband? A bidder that routinely bids against the auctioneer for the same items?

Additionally, what exactly is being collected in this database? Name? Address? Phone number? Email? Credit card numbers? Some of this information may be considered confidential and not to be shared outside of one particular auctioneer’s purview.

If such a database was created, is the bad bidder information verified? Can the bad bidder appeal his placement in this database? Is there any way for a bad bidder to become a good bidder and be removed from this list?

Does a bad bidder get notice he/she is on the list? How is a bad bidder notified? Does a bad bidder have to contact the database administrator to see how to be removed from the list? Are auctioneers notified if someone is restored to a good bidder?

Too, is this list essentially binary? Are bidders/buyers either good or bad? Some auction platforms rate bidders — is that a better way? https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/01/17/banning-your-or-their-past-bidder/.

Lastly, I wonder how auctioneers would feel if sellers, bidders, and buyers created a “bad auctioneer” list. Actually, I don’t wonder at all.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.