auction, auctioneer, auctioneers, auctions, FedEx, postage, ship, shipping, UPS, USPS
For some live auctioneers and many online auctioneers, shipping is becoming more and more expensive. As such, sometimes the shipping exceeds the purchase price of the lot. For example, this stuffed animal was sold at an online auction for $3.00, and the shipping cost was an additional $42.50.
As a result, the buyer paid $45.50 for a $3.00 item. The buyer wanted this bear for his granddaughter’s birthday, but not at $45.50. Nonetheless, he spent the $45.50 and she was thrilled with her birthday gift.
We’ve experienced this phenomenon in our series of large toy auctions with lots ranging in value from $2.00 to as high as $4,945.00, with many of our prices being depressed online as the shipping was significant — sometimes even more than some lots were worth. We of course advised our clients and they understood the unfortunate reality.
This shipping issue is not unique to auctions. For any property requiring boxing, packing, shipping … or even a container, pallet, or rollback type delivery, costs are way up. As a result, we advise:
- Auctioneers should provide approximate shipping costs when possible before bids are placed.
- Buyers should research and consider the shipping costs before bidding and buying.
Oftentimes for auctioneers … it’s the buyer’s surprise at shipping costs, rather than the buyer bidding knowledgeable of those additional fees. Again, for our aforementioned series of toy auctions, we advised on the website the potential range of shipping costs for selected items.
We’ve stated affirmatively that every auctioneer selling online (and live) should provide shipping. That can be that the auctioneer ships, or allows the buyer to arrange such. https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/04/08/youre-selling-online-and-you-dont-ship/.
Yes, costs of supplies, fuel, and shipping services continue to rise. Yet, auction buyers rightly expect shipping options and if you don’t ship nor allow the buyer to arrange it, you are not serving your seller.
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.
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The local online auction house promotes their services by advertising “shipping available”. What they actually offer is a $15 added handling charge to drop the item at the shipping store, leaving buyer to pay packing & shipping fees as dictated by that entity. A potential seller (me) asked, “doesn’t that get expensive” and the auctioneer said “It doesn’t matter, the buyer pays that”, as if it’s of no consequence. Maybe your bear buyer paid that $45 bill, but will he ever buy from you again?
I’ve retired now, but part of my ebay years was being an expert on finding economical packing supplies, safe & efficient packing, and knowing how to get the most bang for the buck from shipping services. Every listing I posted had either a Flat Rate or Calculated Rate based on size / weight / buyers zip code, that was locked in and guaranteed to buyer at the time of sale. No shipping surprises equals happy return customers! And if done right, it covers the cost & adds a bit to the bottom line.
Many online auctions have some lots that are justifiably “no shipping available / pickup only”. For smaller items of reasonable value it seems a shipping calculator built into the auction software, or at least a way to show a Flat Rate shipping cost up front, would benefit buyers, sellers, and auctioneers.