Proxiblog has received more emails about dropping from our lists all those auction houses that allow consignor- and maximum-bid viewing, in light of transparency notices (warnings) posted by the portal. We encourage all auctioneers that allow seller bidding and who view maximum bids to cease these practices, as nothing is more important than your integrity.
One of our top auctioneers sent this email:
I had an auctioneer tell me his sales dropped from 65% to 10% when he disclosed that he could see the pre-bids for his auctions. I am a staunch proponent of NOT seeing these bids and Proxibid has responded with new disclosures. Our company will not choose to see the pre-bids nor bid on behalf of the seller at our auctions. We have lost business because we don’t allow this activity, but overall we have survived.
Proxiblog also has been corresponding with top houses that allow one or both practices. We sent this email to one of the most progressive companies:
Recently Proxibid began putting up notices about allowing consignors to bid on coins. I noticed that you had such a notice. Nonetheless, I bid as soon as I saw your auction go up. Something made me suspicious that a consignor was running up my bids. Normally, I do not bid on currency. But in this case I bid on (three) lots. Within 30 minutes, those three lots–and no other currency–were bid up. I stopped bidding at that point.
If consignors bid on their wares, and they win the bids, they should end up paying the auction house and Proxibid. For instance, if I consign a coin to you and bid up a $75 Morgan to $100, you should charge me on both ends–10% online buyer’s fee and 5% consignor fee. Thus, a $75 Morgan bought back should cost me $115. Plus I lose the shipping money. And Proxibid still takes its cut.
We were gratified that the auction company took our advice and removed from its most current auction the practice of allowing consignors to bid up their wares.
Other auctioneers have complained about so-called “onsite” sales that are not sales at all but a method to take an item off the block without paying Proxibid fees. You’ll see those items re-listed in future auctions by the company.
We have been bidding on auctions that allow both dubious practices. But we bid less. We never bid more than Grey Sheet. And we’re patronizing other auctions that maintain the tradition of competition.
Finally, we see that other portals, such as iCollector, do not have transparency notices–at least ones we could find (correct us if we are wrong about this). So in the short term auctions that allow consignor- and maximum-bid viewing might feel more comfortable there. In the long term, though, we see Proxibid’s APN clearance, transparency notices and other company rules elevating the Omaha-based company to the highest echelons of online bidding.
And we’ll be there as well to help maintain standards, as we have on this issue from the get-go. See this previous articles on the topic:
Proxibid’s Maximum Bid Issue (Sept. 24, 2011)
Proxibid Should Conceal Maximum Bids (Oct. 26, 2011)
Proxibid Changes Improve Portal (Jan. 28, 2012)
New Rules for Timed Auctions (Feb. 1, 2012)
Consignor and Maximum Bid Policies (Feb. 15, 2012).
Because we have advocated for fair play as well as for auctioneer integrity, we have grown as a site for bidders as well as companies, with more than 11,000 views in the past three months.
For the time being we will not change our policy of listing in rankings those houses that allow these questionable practices. We think Proxibid’s transparency notices, and our posts, will persuade houses that the best practice is the honest practice.
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.
One way to solve this dilemma is to have Proxibid not allow a maximum bid feature. You can be allowed to only bid the next bid increment. The bids that bidders leave with Proxibid are in essence an absentee bid. The same absentee bid brought into a live auction house left on a piece of paper for the auctioneer to bid on your behalf, in your absence, until the competitive bidding stops. The same trust left in absentee bidding should be extended to the auction houses on Proxibid. The maximum bid viewing tool is exactly that. A tool used by trusted auctioneers, to monitor the starting bid, the selected increment, and the representation of the pre bid by ensuring it is represented at various bid increments. The previous assault on this issue and auctioneers who use this tool, I explained it’s necessity in length with examples of two ways the high bidder can lose out on items with Proxibid. Again, i must state that 97% of our 65 auctions in 2011 were bid past the maximum bids in our auctions. With the odds that your bid isn’t high enough has propelled our LIVE audience into numbers we haven’t ever seen. Thanks for the mention of the dubious “ONSITE” bidder that I remain very skeptical of in these LIVE auctions. Most true coin and currency auctions with LIVE & ONSITE bidders rarely allow items to be sold to an internet bidder to begin with. We sell 100% online only to give the home bidders the advantage. This being said, we do understand the concern of the bidder. Again, allowing us to do our job effectively, we will maintain this tool as we have for the last six years. We have seen a 25% increase in registrations since Proxibid instituted this policy. Proxibid and Ebay are two different portals. Great Collections and Ebay are more similar than they are to Proxibid. The LIVE auction feature of the site, legally, allows the auction companies to utilize different tools to execute the sale of a specified lot(s). Next, let’s look at Private Auction Portals and their discriminative practices for what they do and what they see. Heritage, Teletrade, and Great Collections all own their own auction software packages with no oversight, as is provided by Proxibid. Nice piece again Michael!
Thanks, Charles, for expressing a different viewpoint. I can assure Proxiblog viewers that Charles Commander’s Midwest Coins auctions are above board and that he practices what he states. He is an honest, respected auctioneer and friend as are so many Proxibid counterparts. Unfortunately, however, we have encountered other sellers that do not share his values and practices, probably causing Proxibid to take the lead on this issue. Our opinion is that transparency notices are doing their job and that Proxibid’s practices will lead to more bidders coming to this portal than to competitors.
I just want to comment, it is not PROXIBID that create the laws concerning an auctioneer having available of the maximum bid or auctions companies, its staff or sellers bidding on their own items. Both practises have always(?) been illegal. It was simply difficult to prove and it has been accepted in the auction industry by some
. This is all about the ‘electronic’ footprint that selling online leaves. A bidder today if he suspects schil bidding taking place or the auction company placing bids, for themselves or an absentee bidder leaves can clearly prove without difficulty who has bid on each item. So, it is not about an auctioneers personal honesty, it is about the law and the ability for it to be enforced. Lawsuits are starting to arrise do to bidders having a tool to prove there bids are not be held to the laws regarding bidding at any type of auction. Online auctions leaves the footprint, plain and simply.
Once again, Ron, you have enriched the blog post. Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise.
PROXIBID has taken the lead in the industry in protecting the bidders from ‘shill’ bidding. It has been made clear to all their sellers(auction companies) that bidding by the auction company, its staff, sellers or agents is not allowed as by law it is illegal. If an auction company still wishes to use this practice they have to disclose not just on one auction, but all of their auctions that this practice takes place. Also, PROXIBID has taken away the ability for the auction company to see the bidders high bid at any time, they do allow for it if they disclose a second notice to inform the bidders that they can see it. I personally at times would like to bid on items for myself on my auctions or my staff as well, but we are going to respect the ‘law’ and not bid.
Bidders beware, I am not aware on any other auction software or online host for auctioneers that have followed PROXIBIDS lead in this area. So when bidding on other auction sites, do not be afraid to ask the auction company to provide you with bidder history of some select coins you win.
I applaud PROXIBID for taking the lead in this area, now it would be nice for them to put tools in place to help auctioneers with shipping. That would to stop the excessive charges some companies are charging for shipping and handling.
PROXIBID is the leader in providing a safe auction platform for bidders; one just needs to ensure the auction companies that you are buying from takes a ‘BEST PRACTICE’ approach with their business as well.
Thank you, Ron, for expressing your views on this very important topic. I concur.