On the Block: Southwest Bullion Rolls Out 0% Buyer’s Fee, Flat-Rate Shipping

Southwest Bullion, located in Houston, Texas, has rolled out a 0% buyer’s fee with flat-rate USPS shipping, APN clearance with no maximum-bid-viewing or consignor bidding.

By Justin Quinn, licensed auctioneer

The coin market has for many years been stricken with a BUYERS PREMIUM fee structure that supposedly only really benefits the seller, but in our opinion, leaves buyers with a bad taste in their mouths. Being one of the nation’s largest coin buyers ourselves, we know first hand how high buyer’s premiums, as well as minimum lot fees and excessive shipping and handling fees, affect our own buying and the negative effect those “fees” have on the personal enjoyment of coin collecting. We realized recently how much time we spend “backing out” buyers premiums and fees from our bids, fiddling all through the auction with the calculator.

Like most others, our business started as a hobby. We simply enjoyed collecting coins, but that hobby soon turned into a full-scale business with customers, orders to fulfill, customer service needs, and most of all the need for more inventory to supply our steady demand for quality products. In order to keep up with the demand we started buying from auction sites ourselves and companies (most all having a buyers premium).

As our business grew, we tried to find a sales model that would work for us, and frankly it was easy to NOT “reinvent the wheel” so to speak, following suit to our competition and their methods. We too charged a buyers premium (with minimum lot fees) and followed that industry standard for awhile, but that’s NOT what our customers or even dealer/customers wanted.

They didn’t hesitate to tell us either!

So, as customers continued to complain about our BP & fees (just as we complained about those same fees at Heritage, Teletrade and others), we realized that what the customers really wanted was for the seller to pay those fees just like on eBay! Let’s face it, without happy buyers, we as dealers wouldn’t have any business at all.

We want our customers to feel comfortable buying from us with the knowledge that we will not be charged outrageous buyers fees, shipping fees, or other hidden fees on invoice after the auction. We also want our buyers to know that they can bid without having to calculate fees on every push of a bid button. We want to bring back the hobbyist and the collector who like attending auctions for the enjoyment with a fully transparent market.

The reason so many people use eBay is due to eBay policy forcing sellers to pay the sales expenses and allow their customers to buy with an “all inclusive bid,” which equates to a wider customer base who are willing to buy products for the product itself (at full market value), instead of always searching for the least amount of fees associated with an item they want to purchase.

Over the span of our auction operations on Proxibid, we have expanded our catalogs from just offering a few bullion coins to a very wide variety of coin and bullion products, as well as jewelry, comics, sports memorabilia and other collectibles. From copper two cent pieces, to rare Morgan dollars, to kilo lunar series coins, we want to bring our broad base of products to the entire collecting and/or dealer community by giving them the ability to buy from a trusted seller, one who keeps their needs as buyers foremost in mind, all with easy no-hassle pricing.

We read recently that the two largest names in the coin auction industry just decided to INCREASE buyers premiums to 17.5% and minimum lots fees to $14-$25/lot, because its better for the “consignors/sellers.” We think that focus is not where it should be! Without happy buyers and bidder participants, those consignors have no market to sell to, and as a buyer ourselves, frankly we’re mad as hell at the fee increase. Not only we will no longer buy from those giant auction houses, but we decided to go 180 degrees in the other direction in our sales effort.

For all the problems eBay presents representing tens of thousands of sellers (some of which are unscrupulous) and a badly abused feedback system against honest sellers, they got this fee structure part right. Fees should be borne by the SELLER, not the buyer, and the growth of the on-eBay coin market proves it. Shipping should not be a profit-center either, and any hidden fees are just unacceptable. We were none to happy to have $40 “shipping and handling” recently added to our “major auction house in Dallas” order the other day. We just feel strongly that these continued high buyer fee arrangements are unacceptable, and know that vast majority of our customers feel the same way we do.

On our upcoming Proxibid auctions, we have decided to employ an ongoing list of catalogs that are “type coin specific” in order to make our auctions more enjoyable to collectors of certain types of coins or bullion items. This is especially important for buyers who don’t want to spend hours waiting for their coin-type lots to come up for sale.

As a buyer, there are certain coins that are generally the area of interest to any particular collector or dealer, and most times they will have to surf through multiple auctions to find just the right coins they are looking for while not being able to be totally interested by one single auction catalog chocked full of their favorite type of coin. We want to give our buyers the ability to sit in one auction with their own area of interest and not miss the lot they want because the entire auction is an area of interest focusing on that specific type of coin.

We are planning to unveil a schedule of catalogs that will cater to almost every type of buyer from the U.S. cent buyer to the rare world bullion buyer, and hopefully in doing so we can gain the business and confidence of all Proxibid coin customers.

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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