Proxibid should conceal maximum bids

Every now and then we offer constructive criticism, and this post concerns a bidding component that may be under reconsideration, and that is, sharing the maximum bid for a lot when that item appears on the digital block. We’re happy to have learned that Proxibid is working on this problem, which is yet another reason why we support the portal.

We believe that Proxibid is the best auction portal in the business because of the company’s technical expertise coupled with over-the-top customer and sales service. As its redesign indicates, the company’s success has to do largely with making the online auction experience as realistic as the onsite one. It does this with video, sound and nifty bidder windows.

We have had lingering concerns about sharing maximum bids with auctioneers when items come on the block. Not that we do not trust our Honor Roll companies or NAA-member firms; we do, with a few exceptions. We know the temptation to raise bids on lots that will sell below retail.

And we have posted several articles about high reserves and opening bids, such as this one.

Increasingly we have been reading terms of service like this one: The auctioneer may open bidding on any lot by placing a bid on behalf of the consignor. (That’s pretty close to shill-bidding, illegal in some states.)

Other service terms that in recent weeks have appeared more frequently allow the auctioneer to open bids at any level he sees fit.

If the auctioneer knows the maximum bid on a lot, then these service terms legally allow him to automatically raise the bid to the top level for any item.

This is not how auctions operate. Imagine if the onsite auctioneer had super-human powers, able to look at faces in the room and see maximum dollar signs glowing on their foreheads.

We know that Proxibid is aware of these issues and is working on a fix.

If changes are forthcoming, there may be some pushback from auctioneers about not viewing maximum bids. But they should be patient, because a policy like this will eventually mean more bidders for most auction houses within 3-6 months, as word spreads about the even playing field.

There are technological issues, too, in accomplishing this goal. We know the digital challenges but also feel a solution to the maximum-bid issue, which we presented here, will be a win-win-win situation for auctioneer, bidder and Proxibid.

Here’s why: The closer we can get on the Web to mirroring the real auction experience–where nothing is certain, by the way–the more trustworthy online maximum bids will become. That will dramatically increase the number of bidders at any Proxibid auction. It’s tantamount to have 200 rather than 100 bidders in the room in an onsite session.

That means more profit.

Proxibid’s unbridled success has been in mimicking technologically the online auction so that it provides the allure of the onsite one. We are more enthusiastic than ever about the company because it continues to work hard at achieving fairness and generating excitement in the traditional auction experience.

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.


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