Zero % Buyer’s Fee with High Opening Bids

A new auction house on Proxibid is resorting to all-too-common sales pitches, advertising zero percent buying fees but opening bids at retail prices. Citing high grades and retail prices for coins, and then recanting their grading standards in the service terms. Are these auctions, or online coin shops?

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this company has made a bad one on us. It’s another example of the Proxibid sales team signing up sellers without providing sufficient guidelines on service terms.

Yes, we know some of our favorite auctioneers will complain when we complain about the sales team. But there is more at stake here than Proxibid may realize, because once an auction house establishes its selling practices, buyers like us will likely never check back again with an auction house like this.

We’ll just show a few examples.

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Above is an 1890 Morgan said to be deep mirror prooflike, MS64. (Click to expand photo.) The lot description challenges the bidder to “look it up” with an expected hammer price of $2300. Opening bid is $750.

First of all, never rely on any raw coin grading deep mirror prooflike at PCGS or NGC, which is on what this company bases its “expected hammer price.” At zero percent buyer’s fee, a hammer price of $2300 is significantly highly than what 1890 DMPLs MS64 have been selling when graded by PCGS, the harshest grading company in the business. (We know that because we subscribe to CoinFacts to get the latest auction prices.)

Also, there are strict standards for DMPL grades. To learn more, see this article.

Now view the close-up photo of the reverse below.

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We cannot tell from the photo whether this coin has been dipped. Neither can we see entirely clear fields on the reverse (especially at 8 o’clock), which have to reflect an object from the entire surface at six inches away. The most we would ever risk on this coin in auction is $350. If the coin grades proof-like rather than deep mirror, that’s still close to retail price, minus grading fee.

The seller challenges bidders to look it up, but does the company really mean that?

Let’s take the challenge on another lot, an 1875-S 20-cent piece graded MS63 with an opening bid of $1300. (Click to expand photo so that CoinFacts data can be viewed.)

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Retail on this coin is $1375. As CoinFacts shows, this particular coin sold for $1,150 at its last auction appearance at David Lawrence Company. The expected hammer of $1700 is about $300 over retail and current auction prices for similar PCGS coins. The auctioneer is adding a premium for the “CAC” sticker, a fourth-party grader.

We just get the impression that this auction company won’t risk anything in an auction, which is what auctions are about. Sometimes you snag a lot below wholesale. Sometimes you pay above retail. But you don’t set the odds with opening bids like this with a service term that reads: “We do not grade or endorse any grading system, appraisal, or COA. Please examine each item closely, as all sales are final.”

If you’re going to offer zero percent buying fees, then take a risk the way Liberty Shops Auction and Southwest Bullion and Coin do.

We encourage the Proxibid sales team to counsel new companies on the standards that bring the most sales. Oh yes, by the way, both Liberty Shops and Southwest Bullion are top sellers–for good reason, too. When they state zero percent buyer’s fee, they mean it with low opening bids.

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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