On the Block: Chris Fisher, Auctioneer

Note: Occasionally Proxiblog will post “On the Block,” allowing auctioneers to speak their minds about selling coins online. We begin with Chris Fisher, owner of Fisher’s Auction and Appraisal in Edgewater, Florida.

I truly believe that the overwhelming percentage of buyers and sellers are good and decent people. As with any other endeavor, there is a small percentage of people who really make you think about conducting another online auction.

We have had a few issues over the years. Most are due to people not understanding the processes behind selling via an online venue such as Proxibid, and a small but seemingly increasing percentage of people who are engaging in out-and-out fraud.

I really don’t have that many issues with the coins that I sell. The reason for this is that I have a person who is very knowledgeable doing our catalogs and can describe the coins for me. It may cost a few hundred dollars per auction, but it is worth it.

One of the biggest costs involved in conducting online auctions is credit card fees. I am a little guy and it still cost me over $1000 – $2000 every month in fees just from online bidders. Unpaid merchandise usually accounts for another $300 to $1000. It might not seem like a lot of money to a lot of people but it means a lot to us.

Online bidders are very important to us. We truly appreciate every legitimate bidder that signs up for our auctions. Please note that most of these problems occur because of a very small percentage of bidders just don’t realize what is going on, not because they are intentionally trying to cause problems.

    1. 1. Please provide us with valid contact info. If you are like me and are rarely home, please provide another contact phone number.
      2. I am a bidder at other auctioneers’ online auctions. I really do understand what it means to be a bidder. I understand that it is easier to keep a bidder than it is to buy a new one. I will do everything within reason to treat you right. I will attempt to ship your items in the most cost effective manner.
      3. Online bidding has a lot of variables. Just because you left a maximum pre-bid of $100 and another bidder got it does not mean that we are trying to give you the shaft. The computer may have had you at $95 and the next bid would be $100. We would not under any circumstances bump your bid to $100. You have just came in on the “Back Side of the Bidding”. There is nothing we can do about it. We are sorry but it does happen.
      4. Why do we charge 17% for online bidding? Our normal buyers fee is 10% to our house bidders. Proxibid charges us 5% for everything that is sold to online bidders. Our credit card processors charge us significantly more of a percentage when we do not swipe the credit cards and type them in manually. The extra 2% does not cover the complete cost, but it does offset it for the most part.
      5. If you use a spam blocker please add us to your safe senders list so that we can contact you via email.
      6. If you have a question about an item, please contact us before you bid. Most auctioneers love talking to potential bidders and we don’t mind answering your questions before the auction. You questions actually help us to learn more about our items and allow us to serve you better.
      7. Please do not ask us to circumvent Proxibid and let you do a phone bid on a $50 item just so you can save $3.50 in buyers fees. Also, if you ask us to call you for a phone bid, please have a realistic idea as to the value of a particular item. While it is remotely possible, it is highly unlikely that you are going to win an item with a legitimate value of $20,000 for $1,000 at a properly promoted auction. Please make realistic starting bids.
      8. We have no control over internet speed or service availability. One of the downsides to bidding online is that you the bidder must have done your homework before the auction. It is important that you have an idea of what you are willing to pay for an item. We move quickly at our auctions selling an item on the average every 30-45 seconds. If you (or us, or anywhere in between) has a slow connection, you will lose the item. It moves just as quickly in the gallery.
      9. Most auctioneers DO NOT give preference to the in house bidders. Most of us are die hard capitalists and we try to give preference to the person who is willing to pay the most for a given item. I do not care if you are in my gallery or online. Please do not call me screaming about me missing your online bid. Please refer to number 6 above.
      10. Believe it or not, our in house bidders feel as though the online bidders have an advantage over them. They feel as though they have to pay 6.5% sales tax that you do not have to pay, plus they take the time and expense to drive to the auction. We have regular bidders who will not attend an auction that we conduct online because of the unfair advantage you possess in their eyes.
  • Now for the things that don’t happen often, but drive us nuts.

    • 1. People whose credit cards are no good. We really do not like chasing our money. Proxibid only allows us a few days to report non-paying bidders. I used to just eat these bad debts, but after getting nailed by more than a few of these people I do not hesitate to report them to Proxibid. If this means that they cannot bid at another auction, I am sorry.
      2. People who do not read the terms and conditions or feel as they don’t pertain to them. When we say that we do not accept checks, we really mean it. For us the reason is that in most of our contracts with our sellers we MUST pay them within 7 days after the auction. If they mail us a check and we deposit it, it takes more than 7 days to determine if that check is good. They have just put us in breach of contract with our clients as I cannot pay them for the items that they purchased.
      3. It is getting to the point that we are considering sending out all our packages requiring adult signatures to receive them. We have had people claiming that they have not received their items when we have proof from USPS or UPS that items were delivered. We did our job in getting the package to the buyer. When they do a chargeback on their credit card, the merchant rarely wins as the credit card companies almost always side with the customer. In most cases I believe that this is out and out fraud on the part of the bidder as I am certain they do have the merchandise.
      4. People who arbitrarily do a chargeback 2-3 months down the road for no reason. No phone calls or emails, nothing. We get a notice out of the blue that the purchase is being disputed. We try to contact the customer and they will not respond. And then they keep the merchandise. Again, the credit card companies tend to side with the card holders most of the time. When I have to drive to Georgia to retrieve $4800 worth of merchandise it gives me a lot of drive time to think of what I am going to say, and I get more P.O.’d every mile I drive. By the time I get there the Marine in me really comes to the surface.
      5. Claiming that an item was broken, or fake and then sending us back a totally different item. We mark items such as glass, etc. with a hidden mark. We have a pretty good idea what we had as we handled it 15-20 times before we sent it out. This is out-and-out theft on the part of the bidder.

    Postscript: If you are an auctioneer who wants to share views in “On the Block,” leave your email in a comment. We’ll be in touch. Rules are simple: Explain your practices and perspectives as proactively as possible, as our intent is to share information to make the online buying experience as pleasurable and profitable as possible for auctioneer, consignor and buyer. “On the Block” is not a venue to challenge Proxiblog’s “Honor Roll” standards.

    Proxiblog is an independent entity with no ties to Proxibid. We promote the ethics of the National Auctioneers Association and American Numismatic Association.

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