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

goldflake

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.

How to Bid on Proxibid

We bid in auctions in our right sidebar for particular reasons, mostly because they know what the word “auction” means, especially when it comes to coins. Some houses on Proxibid are no better than eBay “Buy It Now” sellers, ensuring that they get the going-rate for a coin. Here’s how you can tell the difference to select your own favorite sellers on the portal.


Here’s the opening bid on an 1881-S Morgan dollar MS64 graded by NGC. This is one of the most common Morgans available today.

openingbid_auctionbid5

You can check the certification number with NGC to identify the exact retail value of this particular coin. NGC says the coin is worth $91.20.

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You can check the latest auction price for this year, date and mint mark slabbed by NGC using CoinFacts. We come up with this screenshot from CoinFacts leading us to a Teletrade auction in which the coin sold for $71.

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This particular seller charges an 18% buyer’s fee and adds $1.75 per lot handling fee, in addition to shipping. If you eliminate shipping, you will be paying $90.25 cents, ironically what you would pay in a local coin shop, saving shipping fees.

It’s perfectly all right to pay over retail in a Proxibid auction if you are competing against another bidder for a desired coin and the seller is conducting a real auction with an even playing field for onsite and online bidders. You are paying for the excitement, which Proxibid technology brings to you in a masterful way. However, in eBay “Buy It Now” like auctions, you may not have that experience because the seller has ensured that you not only won’t “steal” a coin in a real auction; you’ll be paying retail if only one bidder hits the bid button.

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.

Don’t Be Fooled By Copies

We continue to see in Proxibid auctions replicas of coins that are not designated as such in the lot description. Copies, marked or unmarked, plague numismatics, which is why eBay forbids any sale of such on its portal. If you are selling copies for a consignor, you should be aware of US Mint rules and regulations regarding the offering of copied coins to the public. You could be in violation of the US Hobby Protection Act.


Here is a recent example of a Proxibid auction offering a copy of a US Mint coin without describing it as “copy.” (Click to expand photo.)

layfayette_copy1

The word COPY should appear on the obverse, not the reverse. Nonetheless, this coin clearly states COPY on the reverse (again not mentioned in the Proxibid description).

layfayette_copy

Here is a summary of US Mint rules regarding copies. For a detailed description provided by the Mint, click here.

  • Do consult with your attorney before embarking on any activity involving the reproduction of genuine United States coins.
  • Do be aware of existing counterfeiting laws.
  • The Hobby Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2101–2106), requires manufacturers of imitation numismatic items to mark plainly and permanently such items with the word “copy.” Failure to do so may constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission Act.
  • Do not advertise your replica product as a “coin.” The term “coin” is commonly understood to be a piece of metal issued by governmental authority as money or legal tender. Alternative terms such as “replica,” “medal” or “medallion” should be used in order to avoid confusion.
  • Do make it clear in your advertisement and marketing materials that the product offered is a replica.
  • Do include a disclaimer in all advertisements, order forms, web pages and other marketing materials featuring replicas of genuine United States coins. Disclaimers should be placed immediately adjacent to or below the actual photograph of the replica used in the advertisement or marketing material, and should not be buried in “fine print” at the bottom of the advertisement or marketing material.
  • The United States Mint owns copyright in several commemorative and circulating coin designs.

We will continue to bring to Proxibid’s attention violations of US federal law in the selling of replicas and counterfeits, especially California Fractional Gold, which pollutes Proxibid because sellers on eBay have been banned and have found a home in auctioneer consignments. We do not name those auctions in our posts on Proxiblog because ours is an educational site. However, we do report them to Proxibid using the “Report this Item” link. Often, those counterfeits and replicas continue to be sold because the auctioneer refuses to take down the lot. Why does this happen? eBay bans sellers; Proxibid does not, for this infraction.

There are consequences, however, as the US Mint warns.

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.

Look for Transparency Notices that, Ahem, aren’t Transparent

transparency

Click the above photo to see how transparency notices were displayed for this auction. We dislike companies that state in their service terms that they view maximum bids and allow shill bidding, illegal in some states. Proxibid gets around that by publishing “transparency notices.” Some of those notices are not transparent but buried in the service terms, as the above example documents.


We wish there was a “Report This Auction” hotlink to Proxibid to make complaints about issues like these or terms that violate the Unified User Agreement. The only recourse we have at times is through Proxiblog or by contacting Proxibid’s dedicated quality control and customer service personnel. They ALWAYS listen to concerns like these. And we appreciate them greatly as they have aided our bidders for years now when concerns like these are expressed.

This is how transparency notices should be displayed.

transparency1

But we thought you’d like to know about this problem because it is apt to happen regularly with computer glitches being blamed.

eBay doesn’t allow shill bidding (see photo below). Sellers also cannot see maximum bids. PayPal also guarantees sale, especially if violations can be documented; eBay also provides eBay Bucks for discounts.

Click photo below to expand.

transparency2

We think Proxibid would be enhanced by adopting some of these policies and worrying less about what the sales team thinks, putting stock (literally and figuratively) in its excellent quality control, customer service and promotional divisions. We also think it should award 1 Proxipoint for every dollar spent on the portal with discounts provided to top buyers. Instead, bidders contend with sellers worried about APN and credit card charges.

There are reasons why eBay is the top portal in the world. These are only a few reasons. That said, we do not support eBay but do patronize to the max (pun intended) our favorite sellers listed in the right sidebar, knowing that our experience may differ from yours.

If you appreciated this post, we have a request. We provide Proxiblog for free. We post year round. If you think our service is important or has helped you in the past, as bidder or auctioneer, won’t you consider making a small donation to our scholarship fund? CLICK HERE to access it. We have published hundreds of posts and thousands of photos to keep you informed. Keep us posting with a small donation to offset student debt and help underwrite the next generation of bidders!

Seller Rating System Improves Proxibid


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Our viewers know that we prefer to buy coins on Proxibid than on eBay. Now that the portal has established a seller rating system, we endorse the company even more.

The seller rating system is easy to access. Buyers who have completed a transaction with a seller can rate and provide feedback on their experience. In a news release, Proxibid states, “Seven days after the transaction, buyers will be notified via email of items awaiting feedback in MyProxibid.” Buyers in MyProxibid can rate their experience with the following five questions:

  • Did you receive your item in a timely manner?
  • How reasonable were the Seller’s shipping charges?
  • Did the Seller’s online listing accurately describe the item?
  • How reasonable were the Seller’s fees? (fees other than shipping)
  • Please rate the Seller’s customer service.

See photo below for a sample, clicking to expand:

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Buyers are given a one-time opportunity to rate their experience and submit feedback on each purchase. Feedback must be submitted within 60 days of purchase.

The news release continues:

    Proxibid will collect information from buyers and share with Sellers as it is collected. Once enough information is collected, the ratings will display to buyers on the website. Written feedback will not be displayed publicly on the website. MyProxibid homepage displays an additional count of “Items I’ve Purchased” and link to all items awaiting feedback.

We tested the system today. It works flawlessly. We have a few suggestions, though. The “Return to my Items” link returns the browser to the top of the purchased list, meaning you have to continuously scroll down to continue to leave feedback. If you use the “Back” button of your browser, it returns you to the item where you left off. That’s an easy but essential fix technologically.

Buyers in the Coins and Currency category often purchase multiple lots, especially in bullion. It took us 15 minutes to leave feedback for our recently purchased items. We suggest a small blank, check-mark-able box beside each item so that the buyer can leave one feedback for the entire shipment. That should be optional, though, as some lots are better described than others. That’s why we recommend the check-able box, another easy fix technologically.

Finally, we think the new seller rating system will make our own site more essential. We bristle at what we have been seeing with some newcomers to the portal, charging way above retail and hyping lots. Proxiblog will continue to evaluate the rating system. As for now, we applaud Proxibid and look forward to promoting the portal and our top auction houses to our growing audience!

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.