Auctioneers are known for their distinct voices, a lingo entirely associated with the trade, and so it surprises Proxiblog that many houses–including some of the ones profiled here–do not take advantage of streaming sound to enhance the online bidding experience, especially because the absence of audio can perpetuate distrust.
In a Proxibid session this week, the absence of sound cast doubt on what was happening onsite in an auction.
For those new to online bidding, Proxibid offers audio and video to make live sessions even livelier. Without audio/video, online bidders can only interact with the auctioneer via text in a window panel that showcases the coin on the block and the bids. But there is no guarantee that auctioneers will answer valid questions such as, “Why did you pass on that item?” or “Why aren’t bids appearing on my screen?”
The auctioneer in question here was passing on a few items, even though healthy bids approached retail, with no apparent explanation about any reserves, even when messaged about what was going on. Worse, when one especially high-dollar ultra-rare item came on the block, suddenly the Proxibid window didn’t record bids until the item was sold onsite at a stunning discount–about $800 below wholesale.
I’m sure the auctioneer has a dozen excuses as to why this occurred, ranging from technical glitches to too many messages to handle. And admittedly, all or any of those can be the truth. Nevertheless, by ignoring valid questions concerning his actions, he left the stereotypical impression that he was catering to the onsite audience.
Yes, it is true that auctioneers are mostly capitalists who sell to the highest bidder; but that usually only applies to the company’s owners. Anyone with a license can auctioneer a coin session. Without audio, when issues arise, trust is at stake. Without video, such as Western Auction employs, online bidders cannot see or hear the auctioneer.
Proxiblog is using the above incident with an otherwise reliable auction house as a reminder to online auctioneers to embrace the challenge and cost of technology as a matter of reputation. If you are not using Proxibid audio and video, then you have an ethical obligation to interact via text with online bidders.
Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.