We have written many times about how auction registration policies need to be fixed prior to the auction event and then remain as such without modification when registering bidders. It would seem to go without saying that your registration policy regards who is granted permission to bid, and who isn’t.
This is without question the best policy that we noted here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/06/24/auctions-equal-footing-binding-alike/. In 2020, The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in Alex Lyon & Son, Sales Managers and Auctioneers, Inc. v. Leach, 844 S.E.2d 120 (W.Va. 2020) held that all bidders must conform to the advertised terms and be on equal footing.
For instance, if your policy is that registered bidders must have picture identification and provide a phone number, anyone without a picture identification or phone number can’t register. It’s important to set the criteria so that the bidder pool is maximized while the risk is minimized: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/02/09/setting-your-auction-bidder-criteria/.
The issue is bidders satisfying the terms would likely have a successful claim against the auctioneer and seller for allowing other bidders to bid against them without satisfying those same terms. So, would a banned bidder have a possible claim against the auctioneer and seller for denying him the right to bid without such expressed in the terms and conditions? We think so.
If a picture identification and phone number are required, then anyone with picture identification and phone number should be granted the right to bid. If an auctioneer banned a bidder with both, that denied person may have a successful claim of essentially wrongful denial of service.
Auctioneers are all too used to registering (and not registering) bidders essentially on a whim. In the current environment, it’s important to firm up registration policies for any auction [event] addressing who can register and who can’t register and maintaining that policy throughout that auction. Auctioneers banning bidders owe any of those banned who inquire the reason why …
Lastly, most auctioneers are selling others’ property, not their own. As such, is it your place to ban bidders unilaterally without consulting with your client? Do your clients have a right to know who you are extending a right to bid, and who you aren’t? Yes, they do. In fact, your clients should know all of your terms and conditions including your bidder registration policy.
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 has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.