Why do timed auctions need to see maximum bids?

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Yesterday we ran a post questioning so-called “no reserve” auctions on Proxibid wherein the auctioneer sees maximum bids and is allowed to shill bid based on the portal’s “transparency” notice. Why is the Omaha-based company allowing timed auctions to see maximum bids when there is no legitimate reason to do so?



This is where the rubber hits the road with Proxibid when compared to eBay. Most of eBay’s auctions are timed. Sellers are forbidden to see maximum bids. Why would they want to, anyway, unless … well, you can figure it out?

EBay does not allow sellers to see maximum bids and quickly shuts down any seller assumed to be engaged in such practices. You can read about shill-bid prevention on eBay by taking the company’s tutorial on the topic.

Policies like this gain our trust. Moreover, we have reported shill bidding suspicions on eBay. The company has checked IP numbers and bingo, the seller was shut down.

But we see no kind of due diligence on Proxibid’s part when it comes to timed auctions that want to see maximum bids.

EBay specifically notes that shill bidding hurts all sellers because it raises suspicions about the entire portal. We wish Proxibid would take a lesson from eBay and ban this and all other spurious practices. Look at it this way: Proxibid has grown in numbers and profits. If it truly wants to live up to its brand of trust, then it has to take action on practices such as these.

Otherwise eBay will continue to gain sellers, especially since its smart-phone technology is vastly superior to Proxibid’s (which continues to develop but not to launch mobile digital access).

We know that our recent posts have criticized Proxibid, which we support. Our intent is not to hinder the company’s progress, but to strengthen its quality control and thereby earn the brand of trust.

We hope auctioneers reading these posts make that case to the company. It’s in their interest as more bidders, including us, buy from eBay.

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.

No Reserve Auctions That Aren’t

noreserve

This so-called no reserve auction has three strikes against it: It’s a timed auction that allows the seller to see maximum bids and raise those bids. The third strike is against Proxibid for allowing this, undermining its brand of trust.



Star Coin and Currency runs genuine “no-reserve” auctions. Jim Haver, owner of Star Coin, states: “We do not view or have access to bidder maximum pre-bids. We also do not allow or bid on lots to increase amounts. All our auctions are $1 start, absolute, no reserve auctions. All items sell to the highest bidder.”

That’s the excitement of an auction, and Proxibid’s technology is programmed to bring that to you in your home.

But auctions like the one in question today not only undermine the purpose of Proxibid’s technology; they undermine tenets of a no-reserve auction.

First of all, a no-reserve auction is just that: all lots start out at $0 or $1 (no high opening bids). Consignors must rely on the auction house to generate an audience where bidders vie for lots on an even playing field.

Second, why does a seller have to see maximum bids in a timed auction, especially if that is labeled “no reserve”?

Third, shill-bidding is one of the worst practices allowed by Proxibid. The company’s service terms prohibit shill bidding; but it relies on its so-called “transparency” policy to sidestep the prohibition. In other words, as long as the bidder is informed, the practice is legal. This would be fine if the company’s brand wasn’t “trust.” To allow it in a timed auction is downright questionable and only hurts Proxibid and other sellers in the end.

As we have reported numerous times this year, Proxibid cannot claim to have a brand of trust and allow these practices. And again as we said it eventually hurts everyone, especially houses like Star Coin and others in the left sidebar, because disgruntled bidders migrate elsewhere, especially to eBay, which acts swiftly when informed its polices have been violated.

Proxibid is content to have a hand’s-off policy on issues like this. Too bad for everyone on the portal.

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.

Best Naturally Toned Coin on Hype-Bay?

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Numismatic exaggeration reached new heights this week on eBay when this attractive but all-too-common toned coin was originally listed at a quarter million dollars. The seller later reduced the price to $5,000 before we could get a screenshot. But we still have the evidence as we emailed the link for later follow-up. See it below.



Here’s how the description read:

    A Truly Spectacular Naturally Toned 2000 Silver Eagle, Graded, Certified, and Encapsulated Mint State 67! This Coin with it’s Eye Popping Color as Slabbed is EXACTLY the way I submitted it for Grading Earlier in Sept. 2014! This Coin is “Fall Out of Your Chair Gorgeous”!! The Rich Color Combinations on the Obverse and Reverse are a True Work of Art–Looks a lot like a Kaleidoscope of Colors!! The BLAZING Colors on this Coin Leave me SPEECHLESS!! I have NEVER Seen any other Coin in any denomination, U.S. or Foreign with Such BREATHTAKING Rainbow Tones! Notice the Lighter Hues Coming Down and Across the Obverse of the Coin. This looks like Rays of Sunlight Coming Down from The Clouds—AMAZING!! Buy it Now Or Make Your Best Offer! This is a Once in a Lifetime Coin for the Fortunate Winner!!

Here’s the original listing from the link embedded in our email:

hypebay1

Toned coins and bullion do get high premiums. The most gorgeous Silver Eagles typically sell for $300 on eBay. The most alluring usually come from old PCI slabs. We bought this for $154 and it slabbed at MS68 at PCGS:

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We purchased this already slabbed at MS68 for $321:

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They’re not for sale, by the way. But, well, we’ll reconsider if anyone is offering $250,000 … or even $5,000!

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.

When “Report the Item” Fails, It Affects Your Bottom Line

1889-O

It is one thing to report the item and another to rely on the auctioneer to change a misleading lot description. If Proxibid’s “report the item” is going to work, the company has to enforce it on easily verified mistakes. This auction company committed several of them. We reported the items multiple times. Nothing was fixed.


If you’re an ethical auctioneer, especially one of our favorites in the left sidebar and think this doesn’t apply to you, keep reading this post to the last paragraph and you’ll see how Proxibid’s failure to enforce changes of this type affects your bottom line.

We certainly understand that typos and unintentional misidentified lots occur on the portal. Auctioneers or their assistants spend a lot of time typing lot descriptions. What we don’t understand is why some auctioneers won’t change mistakes when they are pointed out via Proxibid’s “report the item” link.

Once again, this doesn’t happen on eBay. The lot is taken down. Proxibid’s persistent “hand’s off” policies–if we notify auctioneers, then we have done our job–does little to affirm its brand of trust.

Here’s another misidentified lot that we reported twice:

1889-S

The auctioneer didn’t change the misidentification.

We think Proxibid did send the notifications.

What can be verified is the auctioneer’s terms of service: “All items sold AS IS WHERE IS, all descriptions provided are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as creating any representation or warranty.”

Are you kidding? Does that service term allow an auctioneer to describe base metal as gold? Of course not. These errors fall under Proxibid’s service term “Significantly Not as Described.”

By the way, the 1889-O description was not changed on Proxibid during the auction. It sold for $120, about twice as much as an NGC MS63 1899-O was worth. See the evidence:

1889-O_sold

What’s the easier route, Proxibid? To go through dispute resolution or to require the auctioneer to fix easily identified errors in lot descriptions?

Here’s another thing Proxibid has to think about. The auctioneer may have corrected the wrong date for the live onsite crowd but not the online audience. If so, that meant Proxibidders were bidding up the lot that sold onsite for $120.

Because we care about numismatics and Proxibid, we need to go on record with this final statement: Failing to require fixes of this sort undermines Proxibid’s brand of trust.

And when that happens, our favorite auctioneers in the left sidebar suffer because hobbyists migrate to eBay. We don’t want to see that for best-selling auctioneers or Proxibid, either. We support both.

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.

What To Do If You Buy a Fake Coin Online

What should you do if you purchase a fake coin on Proxibid or eBay and discover it when your options have run out–a few months, or even years, after the sale? What if you buy a counterfeit in a private coin dealer auction online? Or an Internet estate auction?

Portals like Proxibid and eBay have service terms that prevent the selling of fakes. Yet, you can spot dozens on eBay, especially California Gold. You can read about that in Coin World.

In fact, some bloggers routinely post about fakes being sold on eBay. Check out this one.

We buy on Proxibid as well as eBay. Some Proxibid sellers announce that all of their lots are genuine. Here’s an example:

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We especially like “Auctions by Wallace” (screen shot above) because its owner Sheena Wallace understands that all lots must be authentic and that Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement forbids fake coins on the block.

Unfortunately, Auctions by Wallace is the exception on Proxibid. Too many auctioneers on Proxibid and Internet estate and coin sales warn bidders “All Sales Final–No Warranties” in their service terms. When it comes to Proxibid, these auctioneers and their attorneys might read clause 5.16. of Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement:

If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.

Sheena Wallace guarantees her lots are genuine not because of the above clause but because it is the ethical auctioneering thing to do.

Many Proxibid auctioneers (as well as eBay mega-sellers and auction houses) are members of the National Auctioneers Association. Before they post service terms, they might want to read their Ethics Code, particularly this. …

For the rest of the article, click here.

Proxiblog Publishes New Book on Coin Auctioneering

Click book cover to place order

Online Coin Auctioneering:
for dealers, estate and eBay sellers

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This book is intended for estate auctioneers considering or already selling on a portal such as AuctionZip, iCollector or Proxibid. The advice in this new work also pertains to eBay and coin dealer auctions. No matter if you are a mega-seller or beginner, you’ll soon learn that the largest and littlest online coin auctions have these things in common:

    1. They secure top consignments of the most desirable coins.
    2. They secure those consignments with no or minimal seller fees.
    3. They feature sharp, expandable photos of all lots.
    4. They fill out lot descriptions completely and accurately.
    5. They understand numismatics and do not exaggerate condition or worth.
    6. They have safe venues for use of credit cards or PayPal to make online buying secure and convenient.
    7. They have low or NO opening bids or reserves.
    8. They ship cheaply, safely and quickly.
    9. They accept returns on counterfeit and doctored coins.
    10. They focus on customer satisfaction and resolve disputes amicably.

If you’re going to sell coins online, you have to understand Internet and other considerations that you must master to vend lots via a global platform. You also must become a numismatist rather than a hobbyist or estate auctioneer because you’re selling U.S. Mint and world mint products in raw condition or perhaps holdered by any number of companies. You must know how to grade, how to price, and how to describe lots. More important, you must master digital photography—the chief component of successful online sales. Finally, you have to know the business, from fake coins to dispute resolution.

This book covers it all. Written by nationally known numismatist Michael Bugeja, who writes for Coin World, reports for Coin Update News and is a member of the Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee of the US Mint, Online Coin Auctioneering is an indispensable guide. Download a copy from Amazon Kindle today!

eBay Boo Revisited

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The eBay seller who exaggerated the worth of a common artificially colored Silver Eagle may have seen the light about real value, dropping his “buy it now” bid from $1789 to under $20, although he still insists this is museum quality worth $1875 in a condition that qualifies for “Best Museum Quality Period.”


We at Proxiblog navigate eBay for fun sometimes, just to see how some sellers try to obscure value in their lots.

If you see anything similar on Proxibid, just post a comment and we’ll get on it!

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.

eBay Boo!

We spend a lot of time on Proxibid and so disclose hyped lots on occasion, but little on the portal compares to the exaggerations that can be found on eBay, as in this example. The first photo is how the lot is billed to sellers. How many exaggerations do you see? The second photo discloses the number that we see. (Click photo to emlarge.)


This eBayer makes wild claims. How many do you see?

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We find five exaggerations:

  1. Not brilliant uncirculated but doctored.
  2. Plain uncirculated and not mint state plus plus plus.
  3. Not Registry worthy, as this coin does not merit any official grade.
  4. Not “monster rainbow” but toned; it takes three colors to be rainbow, and this has only two.
  5. Not “Best museum quality period!” but silver melt.

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More than ever, with enhanced quality control on Proxibid, it is important to know and note true condition of coins. You’re not an auctioneer if you schedule coin sessions regularly on Proxibid: You’re a coin dealer. So know the trade.

As for eBay, well, we peruse it on occasion for sport!

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.

EARLY WARNING: eBay shipping has it all over Proxibid

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.

Think again.

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.

Fool’s Gold Comes to Proxibid

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Vials of gold flake typically hold no gold or low grade gold that disappears in an acid test or disintegrates to near nothing if melted.


Look at the opening bid here, $250, with the caption: “100 large 4″ vials gold flakes. Much taller and wider than ebay vials. Gold quality varies. Not for melting.”

EBay has been notorious in selling these near worthless vials of gold. It’s not fool’s gold (pyrite) but fools do buy it thinking they are going to make a fortune.

Gold flake like this is used in food decoration.

(NOTE: Of course, we do not encourage anyone to eat gold flakes sold on Proxibid or to use them as food coloring. There is a reason: We cannot know if the contents are really gold or mixed with an alloy or some other base metal. Pure gold is inert and will pass through the body. Alloys aren’t. Click here for more information.)

See this eBay guide for additional information.

Auctioneers shouldn’t offer it; bidders shouldn’t buy it. That’s our recommendation.

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.