This is the last in the five-part series on Proxibid vs. eBay. Our first post covered our initial bidding experience. The second post compared shipping between the two portals. The third installment covered IT functions and payment options. The fourth discussed consignments and lot descriptions. This tallies the results and announces where Proxiblog will do more business in the future.
When it comes to photography, eBay is the clear winner. We encourage Proxibid sellers to continue enhancing their photos, the most important component in online bidding. Rare is the auction house on Proxibid that has numismatic quality photos. Currently among the best are Key Date Coins, Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and Capitol Coin Auctions.
When it comes to shipping, eBay again is the clear winner. We encourage Proxibid to hold auction houses to shipping standards rather than the hit-and-miss service terms currently on the portal. To its credit, Proxibid is doing all it can in this category with a new partnership announced May 22 with uShip. Currently among the fastest Proxibid shippers with quality numismatic packing are Key Date Coins and Silvertowne Auctions. Many others ship within a week. Sellers on eBay often ship for free within days whereas Proxibid auctioneers generally resent anything to do with shipping, one of the key factors hindering Proxibid’s popularity in numismatic circles. Bad photos and worse shipping drive buyers to eBay.
When it comes to IT considerations, we prefer Proxibid since it has fixed remaining glitches from the recent redesign, especially on browsers meant for speed rather than pop-up security precautions (i.e. Internet Explorer). eBay’s IT is just too cumbersome given the vast coin consignments by sellers requiring numerous attempts at narrowing searches. It is possible not to find lots on eBay even though they are there unless the bidder guesses the precise word combinations–often complicated by eBay quality control rules on lot descriptions and sellers’ general ignorance (“tarnished” silver eagles rather than “toned,” for example). Moreover, Proxibid’s Customer Service and IT divisions work collaboratively to fix technical problems for bidder and seller alike.
When it comes to payment options, Proxibid’s APN clearance is vastly superior and less intrusive than PayPal. PayPal is invasive, tapping into bidders’ bank accounts after $2000 has been reached on credit cards. Many coin buyers use credit cards for the reward points. Moreover, PayPal takes longer to correct problems and sometimes causes problems itself, as happened to us regularly in the past and as happened once again within the first two weeks of buying on eBay. (We paid using PayPal; eBay stated that we paid; but the seller never received payment, forcing us to repay again and then comb bank accounts for double billing.) If bad photos and worse shipping drive Proxibidders to eBay, then PayPal should drive buyers to Proxibid. Auction houses on Proxibid that use PayPal need to think twice about that because we hesitate every time we see that on service terms. (Sellers on eBay with credit card options are our favorites.)
When it comes to quality consignments, it’s a tie. While eBay has vast consignments in every numismatic category, it would seem to outshine Proxibid’s 70 or so coin auctions per month. But the problem is two-fold on eBay: First, you have to find the item by searching titles and descriptions–increasingly narrowing searches when the default is “all categories” (a veritable nightmare of lots; and eBay’s IT, search options and subpar quality control hinder bidders, especially if you are searching for bargain coins at best prices, such as might be found in the eBay-banned PCI or SEGs holders, for example.)
Finally, when it comes to bargains–the most important consideration for coin buyers searching online for acquisitions–Proxibid beats eBay, time after time. eBay items often open with bids over retail (with “best offers” considered). Also, because there are thousands of bidders at any second on eBay, using sophisticated “sniper” programs to steal coins at the last moment, lots usually are won over wholesale and often over retail. Ironically, however, Proxibid surpasses eBay only if buyers are numismatically savvy and have the education and/or experience to overcome hyped lot descriptions and poor photography viewed too frequently on the portal and displayed for all to see on our “Boos and Booyahs” page.
Of course, those shortcomings explain why we created Proxiblog in the first place in May 2011. We wanted to protect the hobby adding detailed quality control to complement Proxibid’s then mostly hidden standards. At times we argued with Proxibid, we challenged its quality control, and we continue to hold auction companies accountable, praising best practices and exposing worst. And in the process, Proxibid’s quality control has taken step-after-step to even the bidding playing field and to be more transparent about auctioneer practices. We applaud Jason Nielsen in particular for overseeing quality control and taking measures into hand to rate auction houses with badges and even charge auction houses for violations of the Unified User Agreement.
Finally, a viewer of this blog asked about problem resolution. True, eBay has made strides in that, complicated at times with PayPal. Its community rules are transparent for all to see. Proxibid’s rules are less transparent, but can be found in the Unified User Agreement. The edge here again does to Proxibid for its greatest asset, and that is, Customer Service. There is no better. You get personalized individualized telephone service with a helpful agent who has been trained to serve the customer above all. We know several agents by name. We keep encouraging Proxibid to recognize and reward these agents who are Proxibid’s greatest asset.
Because of that, and the ability to secure choice coins at bargain prices, we will continue to purchase more in Proxibid auctions of top houses listed on the sidebar to the right and in our Honor Rolls.
We encourage eBay bidders to try Proxibid (and vice versa) and report their own comparisons in the comment section below.