For the past several months Proxiblog, a major buyer on Proxibid for more than four years, has been bidding more on eBay and less on Proxibid. We analyzed the reasons, and they affect everyone–including our favorite sellers who know if you want to sell on Internet, you have to provide service, from APN clearance to shipping.
Auctioneers who only recently made the belated decision to sell on Internet (because that’s where the coin-buying business is heading) have had it their own way onsite for so many years they just can’t understand the point of catering to the online crowd.
- ALL SALES FINAL, they scream in their service terms.
- SEND US YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION, they demand.
- SHIPPING IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, they yell.
- WE CHARGE HANDLING FEES FOR SHIPPING, they retort.
In sum, they want the same power on Internet that they have in their hometowns.
And Proxibid is allowing this in its own service terms without realizing how it will begin to erode business in the long term. If a dedicated buyer like Proxiblog (which formerly hated eBay which in turn led to the discovery of Proxibid) is stating this, it’s time to take a hard look at Proxibid’s future in the coin business.
If you’re one of our favorite sellers in the right sidebar, you are a veteran understanding how to sell to the digital audience. But this affects you, too.
Here’s why: Major coin buyers (k***n, M***5, T***R, S***O, etc., and there are about a dozen more) increasingly are bidding for the same coins, competing against each other with the discipline to stop bidding beyond their researched maximums. Moreover, returning to eBay, they find that company has made great gains in customer service, requiring important courtesies and rules for online bidding.
Shipping is mostly free or nominal on eBay. There are rules for replicas, counterfeits, hype, etc. eBay bans seller shill bidding. Mostly, however, eBay is not dealing with the arrogance of tardy onsite auctioneers who had it their way for so long they believe they can impose their will online.
When veteran Proxibidders, including yours truly, bid on eBay, we also deplete our numismatic budget there with less to spend on Proxibid.
We hate PayPal, but we deal with it on eBay because too many Proxibid houses refuse to subscribe to APN.
We preferred Proxibid to eBay because of Proxibid’s exemplary customer service department; but eBay has made vast improvements, even there.
In the past 30 days, 65% of our bidding budget went to eBay over Proxibid, and that should sound an alert in the Omaha company.
Take a look at some shipping service terms from new sellers on Proxibid:
- After you have successfully complete your purchase, you will need to make arrangements for pickup or delivery for your parcel.
- Shipping Instructions: [We] do not have a shipping department. If you are in need of a shipper in order to receive your purchases, we have two shippers in our area. … Contact them directly to obtain quotes for the packaging and delivery of your items, or make your own arrangements. Payment for shipping is due directly to the shipper. Please notify us of the shipper you will be using. …
- Shipping Instructions: Shipping cost is the sole responsibility of the buyer. … [H]andling fee of 9.50 will be charged (per boxed item or items) … this is to cover the wrappers wage, bubble, box, tape etc. plus Ins and the shipping cost.
- [We] will not handle payments for shipping. Any special shipping requests must be made directly to The UPS Store. Any claims for damaged or lost items are to be handled through the shipping service, as all sales are final. Please allow up to 10 business days after receipt of full payment, and verification of the receipt of funds, for your purchases to ship.
We can find several more examples in the 30 or so sellers who vend coins on Proxibid at any one time.
This is an early warning post to Proxibid. We have advised them in the past–to the point of establishing a coin and currency category–an indication of how long we have bought on the portal. If it wants to compete with eBay in this category, it has to revise its Unified User Agreement to protect bidders.
- Mandate in-house shipping in a timely manner and hold auctioneers accountable if items are lost en route.
- Ban auctioneer shill bidding. Those transparency disclosures aren’t helping.
- Stop the hype and require sellers to validate value in their lot descriptions from reputable sources.
- Require APN, PayPal or other secure credit-card company for online purchases.
- All sales are NOT final; so demand that auctioneers adhere to the Unified User Agreement in their published service terms, especially as this relates to counterfeit or altered coins.
eBay offers all of the above.
Perhaps when Proxibid starts publishing buyer feedback, it will stop the migration to eBay. We’ll see. We’ll report. We’ll recommend. We want a strong and secure Proxibid coin and currency category.
We trust you do, too.
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.
Out of your four items listed, we have the “all sales final” note in our terms. This is due to issues we have had with people switching out coins and trying to send back, “my kitten clicked the bid button”, my kid logged in and bid or a whole host of other asinine issues that we have to deal with. Things other buyers have no idea about.
We will work with anyone that has a legitimate issue with something we presented incorrectly or miscounted in a roll of coins, etc. Our true buyers know this and don’t misuse that privilege.
Also – unless it is a registered package or one with a lot of insurance we are usually eating the shipping costs to help out our buyers of smaller lots.
You’re one of the best auctioneers on Proxibid.
You have a lot of statements about online coin auctioneers in this blog including that we can “impose their will online”. I have a lot to say.
As a consignment auction house selling coins nearly every week we are shipping about 100 boxes a week. We auction on Thursday and everything is shipped out by Monday at the latest, and we use APN for payments. We have found providing this service in house is definitely the way to go so we can be in control of customer service and handle all issues that arise. We never declare a value (other than face value) or hype.We provide a description and high quality photos so you the bidder can decide. So I agree with you on those points.
The “all sales final” and variations thereof is actually something VISA directly has told us we need at the lot level to avoid chargebacks. It has nothing to do with the authenticity of a coin or other item. What Darron Meares said is very true- we have heard it all. And we as well back all our sales and if something is a replica it is cleared stated, and we do not sell fake coins or items. Everyone has to adhere to the UUA – however this protects buyers not sellers. There are fraudulent bidders as well, and we understand this is the exception and not the norm. There is very little that protects the seller.
As for shill bidding it is illegal and will ruin a reputation quicker than anything. I think there is some confusion on how in house absentee bids are handled that leads internet bidders to think their is shill bidding happening especially in the case of tie bids. I could go on and on about this. We do not allow sellers to bid on their own items. We record our auctions and keep all absentee bid records as proof that the bids were real. Also, I do not believe Ebay is exempt from shill bidding – there are always bad apples in the bunch. Like many rules that are made they are made because of 1 and the other million have to follow them.
We strive to have excellent customer service and love internet bidders- 45% of items sell online! We have many repeat customers from week to week and have a 4.7 out of 5 feedback rating.
The rest is about shipping:
First off, I would like to mention that coins have a small profit margin especially when selling on consignment for a commission. This is very different than selling a coin that you own and are taking all the proceeds. Selling on Proxibid through auction with no reserve does not allow protecting the investment or padding the price to cover fees like shipping. On Ebay and other sites that you set a starting bid or do a buy it now you can be sure you can cover costs like shipping.
Many buyers think the buyer’s premium covers costs. We charge 10% in house and 15% online (5% goes to Proxibid) so really we are getting the same. That 10% is part of our budget.
Shipping is a service provided to buyers and most brick & mortar auction houses that have a live crowd and internet simulcast including Sotheby’s and other top names charge for S&H. This is industry standard. This industry is different than Ebay so you have to compare apples to apples.
Like many you cited we charge all shipping & handling costs to the buyer and we do it at cost. We track every minute spent & piece of packing material used. This may seem extreme but when you actually track it you can see what it really costs. For us it averages 4 minutes for orders like coins and if all our boxes were coins (which they are not many take much longer) that would be 6.6 hours in labor. I don’t know anyone who works for free. So yes, we charge a handling cost – we would not need those employees if we did not do shipping. We have 3 people who average 30 hours total to complete our shipping.
Not all materials are free. And even ones that are free need to be stored and managed. We have an 800sqf area for shipping we would not need. So offering shipping is not cheap. We still however can provide it at a cost that is less than a pack and ship store.(Yes, we have compared)
Some basic shipping coin/currency rules for us are never use envelopes- they can rip open, get stuck in machines and mark coins and get lost more easily. We have had numerous instances of damage and receiving damaged items upsets a buyer more than paying the amount it takes to get it safely.
Also, most companies that do insurance for shipping of precious metals – including coins will only cover these items if the are sent priority mail and with a signature required. Signature is also required by credit card companies and recommended by Proxibid and is good common sense and the best way for all parties even the buyer to be assured of delivery. But signatures cost money$2.35 – $3.85. Insurance costs money – varies based on value. USPS offers the best cost for shipping coins with the small flat rate boxes, especially on items under $50 where insurance is included (only Ebay sellers get a $100 insurance included). So the minimal you pay is $7.60 for a SFR box w/signature required and $50 insurance free.
So it should be noted that shipping 20 coins or 1 coin can be the same base costs with a higher insurance and marginally higher handling fee. the majority of complaints we get are on the $50 or less orders which is understandable because $7.60 is a greater % on a $30 order than a 10.57 charge on a $200 order.
Yes, we value your business and hope you understand the costs and take that into account when bidding. We will store your coins form week to week and ship multiple weeks together to help you save money- but most want their coins right away.
I am not sure how charging actual S&H costs equates to power – “In sum, they want the same power on Internet that they have in their hometowns”
First of all, I know and admire your auction The people like you and Darron are not being addressed in my post. Take a look at what I am advocating for:
In-house shipping in a timely manner.
No shill bidding.
No hype. If you’re stating values, make sure you cite a reputable source.
Require APN or secure payment network.
You can state “All sales are final” and then include exceptions like counterfeits, etc., to keep in line with the User Agreement. (Many auctioneers already do this.)
There is no confusion about shill bidding. It is being done with these transparency notices:
PLEASE READ: At the request of the auction company, this auction permits bids to be placed by the auctioneer, an employee of the auctioneer, or the seller or an agent on the seller’s behalf. While Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement prohibits this behavior, in accordance with UCC 2-328, this auction is permitted to engage in this activity by providing this clear disclosure to you, the bidder.
As for hype, take a look at this:
Auctioneers like you should spend more time on the portal to see how well you are doing by the NAA ethics standards. But please: We know what we are doing, and we have written dozens of articles and warnings about these very topics.