Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Geroge Roman Auctioneers, Kiko Auctioneers, Byce Auctions, Baer Auctions, Boardman Auction Gallery, Jeff Anglin, Paul Bassinger...and more!

Locally these are among the most active auctioneers. These auctioneers typically run at least one auction a week and many of them run multiple auctions every week. Each of them is unique in how they conduct an auction and each, in my opinion, exhibit a high degree of professionalism.

Recently, there has been a rash of postings on Craigslist on how expensive, corrupt and unprofessional auctioneers are. In addition the writer(s) have complained about buyers premiums and misrepresentations of items being sold. So what about all of this? Are they all corrupt? Do they charge too much? Are they unprofessional? The answer to all of these questions is a categorical no.

I have been attending auctions for over 35 years now. I can tell you that at times even I questioned whether an auctioneer was on the level or not. The truest answer is the people making these outrageous statements are most likely uninformed or bitter because they did not get an item that they desired.

Uninformed, anyone attending an auction needs to know that the auctioneer is not working for the buyer. Their primary responsibility is to obtain the highest prices possible for the seller. Do they always get the maximum...NO! Is it possible to get the maximum on every item being sold? No, not really, but they are required to try. So whenever you get the feeling that the auctioneer has something against you because he is calling the bid for so long, you need to understand that it is his responsibility to do so. Again, he works for the seller, not for you.

Do auctioneers ever make misstatements about items being sold? Sure, no one, not even me, the acknowledged expert, knows everything. I make mistakes every day. Auctioneers are human, they miss marks, they miss chips, they miss cracks and yes they occasionally describe an item as being one thing when it is actually another. The bottom line is BUYER BEWARE! Its not that they are trying to deceive. It is the buyers responsibility to check the items prior to their purchase. Virtually all auctioneers (definitely all that I have listed) have previews where you have 1-2 hours to look at all of the items being offered for sale. If you don't look at the items it is not the auctioneers fault it is yours. In spite of all of this, many of the auctioneers will take back items that were not as described and resale them. DON'T COUNT ON THIS! They don't have to resale the item even if they described it wrong. This being said it is always to your advantage to have a good relationship with the auctioneers and their staff. Bottom line if you don't know, don't bid.

Tied bids. There is no such thing as far as the state of Ohio's auction laws go. The item is considered sold when the auctioneer makes a clear indication that it is sold. If one of his helpers has your bid and the auctioneer has someone Else's bid, guess who looses, YOU. So if you don't think that the auctioneer has your bid, ask. No one will ever be mad at you for making sure that you are on the bid.

Missed bids scenario two. Winkin, blinkin and nod. When there are over 200 people in attendance at an auction it can be difficult to catch bids. Physical distractions, changes in shade and light and people milling about are only a few of the reasons that bids are missed. Trying to be discreet in your bidding is foolishness. If the auctioneer does not see you winking than you are just shit out of luck. You are far better off to jump up and down naked to get his attention than to wiggle your nose in the hope that he will catch it and your competition won't.

Buyers premiums are the result of increasing costs, lower prices realized and in actuality are part of the contractual agreement between the auctioneer and the seller. These changes have made it very difficult for auctioneers to conduct auctions the old fashion way, without any premiums. The reality is that very few auctions can be conducted by charging a seller the traditional 20% that was the standard for years. If you take a typical auction grossing around $6000 this is how it would fall out. At 20% commission ($1200) the auctioneer has to pay help ($350), advertising ($650), signs ($100), supplies ($30) and a variety of other expenses. Simple math on even this very easy example shows the auctioneer making a whopping $70. Not bad for three days work. Would you do it?

The contractual agreement between the auctioneer and the seller essentially moves a portion of the selling expense to the buyer. That 10% means that the auctioneer will be able to eat and live another day. This is important to him because if he doesn't worry about it no one else will. Now instead of making $70, with the additional 10% he makes $670. Wow! Almost $15 per hour. How will he stand the prosperity. And still none of this takes into account the other expenses. Licensing, computers, insurance, taxes..........

Just so you know I am not writing this a a complaint. I am writing it so that all of you realize the relative difficulty auctioneers have to make a living. It is hard work and comes with low pay. The most productive auctioneers do not make a living selling household items and antiques. They make a living by being very diversified. Real estate, cars, appraisals and just about anything else they can pick up to supplement the sales. So whenever you feel about complaining about how auctioneers are ripping you off, I would recommend taking a proactive approach to your complaints, CHOOSE ANOTHER HOBBY. They really don't need or want you. Just go away.

Finally, if you have a complaint or problem, talk to the auctioneer. Most of the time these minor issues can be fixed with little or no problem. The licensing division will ultimately take care of the true "bad apples" in the auction business.

1 comment:

  1. I understand that as a buyer I am responsible for being informed and viewing an item before bidding. That being said, there is at least one auctioneer in this area who (either intentionally or not) misidentifies items very routinely. I am not talking about missing a chip here or there, but something more on the lines of identifying a dagger as “authentic Nazi,” when it is clearly marked “Made in Japan,” on the blade. I would chalk something like this up to an honest mistake if it didn't happen every week. He will take the time to look through a magnifying glass to properly identify the date on a coin, but then misses something like that. I also love when this same auctioneer “guarantees,” something, when we know that he really doesn’t. He guarantees that an item can be sold for X number of dollars, that it is 100% completely authentic, that it is gold even though it isn’t marked, etc etc. I have always steered clear of these items, and have learned to take what this auctioneer says with a grain of salt. But i feel that this auctioneer should be careful; in the business world, if you guarantee something, you better be able to back it up.