Won lots lose interactivity–what gives Proxibid?

petpeeve

Proxibid usually enhances technology when updating programs, but this “new” feature is a step backwards for bidders–loss of interactivity on winnings, preventing you from viewing pictures of what you won or determining which auctioneer offered best consignments in the past.

Heritage does it. Teletrade does it. Even eBay does it–allowing bidders to see past lots won. Proxibid used to do it, but has eliminated that feature, adding more data–such as Internet premium–but losing interactivity, the best advertisement for auction houses. Now bidders must go to the site of each auction and delve into the archives, searching for a photo. Some bidders need that photo to ensure that they get the lots that they won.

But Proxibid has done away with that. (Click on photo below to expand.)

proxibid_bidding

We’re flummoxed. How could this possibly be a safety concern? Why take away interactivity when it provides a detailed record of each sale? Look at all the information that Teletrade gives its bidders. (Click on photo below to expand.)

teletrade_bidding

We hope that Proxibid or blue-ribbon badge auctioneers realize how loss of interactivity in an interactive world takes away from the company’s reputation as being tech-savvy, and sets it back about a decade when other auction portals didn’t allow bid winners to keep track of their purchased lots.

We realize that large-size photos such as many of our top houses use in sales take up a lot of space, but we’re advocating for thumbnails still available in the archives.

Let’s restore that function!

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.

Proxibid Enhances Photo Magnification

iCollector has it. eBay has it. And now Proxibid has it, the ability to enlarge thumbnails merely by sliding the mouse over the photo.

This is a great technology for coins, because die varieties need close inspection.

One glitch seems to be hovering over the photo, liking what you see and then trying to click to expand the whole shebang. In the first few seconds, the program doesn’t know what you want to do–magnify the thumbnail or go to expanded version.

Eventually it decides on the expanded version because a click trumps a mouseover in the tech world.

But that’s a small price to pay for the innovation.

Now we need auctioneers to upgrade their photography so that images are sharp and expandable, showing both sides of the coin.

In the online trade, photography is everything.

We continue to encourage Proxibid to award a badge for photography.

And we continue to love “Proxibid Live.” This new tech feature is part of an eventual revamp that began with Proxibid’s redesign.

We applaud that kind of continuous improvement!

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.

Registered Mail is Slow … But Secure

One of our favorite auctioneers sent us a note last week concerning a bidder complaint that shipping was slow, requesting a tracking number. The package contained more than $1000 in won lots, so the auction house sent it registered.

“This package was sent Registered Mail so that in itself slows down shipping,” our auctioneer told us. “It was a $1320.00 order, so we felt it was better to go Registered. We don’t charge extra to ship–whatever the Post Offices charges is what we bill–and we have no control over that.”

The auctioneer added that many people have encountered shipping problems buying on eBay “and are worried about their packages. I understand that. However, with a major storm in this guy’s part of the world, the auction only being last Wednesday and it shipping Registered Mail it’s going to take a little longer.”

Registered mail has to be signed off and handled at each postal station. That makes it secure because the Post Office knows exactly where it has been and who has handled it.

Bidders on the receiving end will have a difficult time understanding why they cannot track those packages with a Registered Mail number as they might with “delivery confirmation.”

USPS is very careful with Registered Mail. It doesn’t want a third party waiting to intercept your goods. So you’ll get delivery confirmation once the package is safely in your hands.

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.

Badge for Bidders?

While we’re happy about the new badge system for auction companies, including the gold ribbon for a strategic partnership, we’re hoping that Proxibid may soon honor or reward the lifeblood of its portal: the bidder.

Bidders on eBay get stars and, more important, eBay Bucks. Teletrade bidders get Gold Rewards. We know Proxibid has much to handle, coordinating all those auctions; but sometimes we feel that all Proxibidders get are credit card bills, email blasts, and reminders to spend more.

Maybe we’re biased. We do bid a lot now and then. But let’s look at it from the auctioneer’s perspective. While badges and partnerships are good for bidding, the portal is relying on auctioneers to offer specials–and we’ve seen far too few of those lately. In fact, it’s been months since we wrote about that in this post.

In the past Proxibid gave away prizes. That was fun. But it also was a promotion and did little to encourage return bidders and ever higher rollers.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. For each new registrant, award $10 in Proxibucks.
  2. For each $1,000 spent on the portal each month, award 1% cash back on the next single auction purchase of $500 or more.
  3. For each $10,000 spent on the portal each quarter, award 2% cash back for the next single auction purchase of $1,000 or more.
  4. For each $100,000 spent on the portal each year, award 3% cash back.

If Proxibid doesn’t want to do cash, then offer free tickets on this Proxibid site.

We think encouraging return and ever higher bidding will be a bonanza for Proxibid as it has been for its rivals. (This week’s posts are sponsored by Teletrade; watch for its specials announced tomorrow–a chance to win gold coins for everyone who bids in the auction.)

We appreciate Proxibid’s focus on quality control. And we honestly feel this is the a terrific place to purchase coins and find bargains. But it’s time to honor bidders with something more than “Congratulations! You are approved to bid in this auction” 🙂

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.

Proxiblog Boos eBay–Booyah!

Proxiblog viewers are used to our most popular page, and that is, “Boos and Booyahs!” Have you ever wondered how auctioneer counterparts on eBay would fare if your trusted numismatist spent a week on that portal and recorded some Boos? Now you can find out.

What amazed us in our time on eBay was how awful some lot descriptions actually were–as off-the-mark as anything on Proxibid–despite eBay having strict rules about what holders and grades can be mentioned in the title and lot description and a general ban on replica coins.

You can read a full report at Coin Update News by clicking here.

Proxibid vs. eBay, Part II: Shipping

Proxiblog spent the past few weeks winning lots on eBay to compare the experience with Proxibid. We wrote about that initially in this post. We continue this week with more posts in the series, noting the comparison between the two portals in terms of coins, shipping, photography and service.

The first thing you notice scanning eBay for coins is the quality of the photographs, as covered earlier. Then, of course, is the selection–tens of thousands of U.S. and World coins on the world’s biggest numismatic portal. The second article in our series focuses on shipping. Later this week we’ll discuss search functions, payment, and bargains with a final post adding up the tally so bidders can determine what portal suits their needs and auctioneers can assess the quality of the competition.

No doubt about it: When it comes to shipping, eBay has it all over Proxibid in coin auctions. To be sure, several of our top houses ship quickly and professionally. Silvertowne and Key Date Coins, for instance, ship within a day or two and use quality numismatic materials, including coin bubble wrap packing rather than grocery bag remnants or shredded paper (creates a mess when packages are opened).

Moreover, eBay keeps bidders informed at every phase of the shipping process. Click to expand this example below:

In many cases, eBay sellers ship for free. To be sure, shipping is included in the cost of “buy it now” items; but in timed auctions, the buyer actually is getting free shipping almost always with tracking and delivery confirmation.

Once again we applaud Proxibid for instituting badges, including one on shipping. But terms of service like these can come as a shock to eBay bidders trying out Proxibid’s coin and currency page:

    Special Terms of Sale
    PLEASE READ: This auction company has requested and been granted access to see all bids placed including any maximum pre-bids. This auction is permitted to engage in this activity by providing this clear disclosure to you, the bidder.
    Internet Buyer’s Premium: 22 %
    Sales Tax: 5.00000% – Tax may apply to the total invoice, including Buyer’s Premium
    SHIPPING COST IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BUYER: Our staff may assist but is not responsible for packing, handling, or shipping your purchases. Invoice must be paid in full before orders will be shipped. Actual Shipping costs will be charged to credit card separately and are non-refundable. Items are shipped in the order that full payment is received. NOTE: Due to Amount of Items Sold in Our Auctions It May Take 7-14 Days For the Items to be Shipped From When Payment Is Received. Your shipper will be required to produce identification and authorization from you to have your property released to them as your agent.

We encourage Proxibid to set minimum requirements for shipping. In the past, when Proxibid was developing the Coins and Currency page, it was important to sign up clients. The sales team has done a marvelous job with that, and the Omaha-based company has recently enhanced its team with four new executives, as announced on June 13. But new auction house additions to the Proxibid family need to understand basic service obligations, especially for smalls like coins.

As you will see in other posts this week, Proxibid has advantages over eBay. A final post will determine where Proxiblog will do increasing business in the future.

Stay tuned.


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.

Proxibid vs. eBay, Part I: Two Weeks on eBay

This is the first-part in a five-part series on Proxibid vs. eBay. Our first post covers our initial bidding experience. The second post will compare shipping between the two portals. The third installment will cover IT functions and payment options. The fourth post covers consignments and lot descriptions. The last post discusses which is the best portal to bid on coins.

Almost uniformly, eBay sellers are amateurs and not auctioneers, with a smattering of coin dealers doing mega-business on the portal. Surprisingly, almost every seller has photographs superior to what normally is found on Proxibid. That’s due to eBay’s strict control over photo quality.

Summarized, each eBay listing must include a photo of the coin being sold. “Images that are dark, out of focus, edited, or might be misleading aren’t allowed. Also, stock photos aren’t allowed.”

If buyers are unsatisfied with photos, they can inform eBay quality control.

Expand the picture below to see how this seller promotes his lots via photography.

Concerning counterfeits, the company even provides a link to the Secret Service for more information about illustrations of coins.

I purposefully cut down on my Proxibid purchases and instead sought two types of coins on eBay: toned silver eagles and 1950s double mint sets. I chose these for a reason. Toned silver eagles often are lasered for color or otherwise doctored with chemical treatment. And double mint sets are particularly risky. Paper used by the US Mint naturally tones coin, tempting owners to extract the best rainbow coins and replace them with lesser ones.

I’ll report whether the toned silver eagles are chemically treated. Of the seven that I purchased from different dealers, I won’t be sending in four of them for slabbing because they were obviously artificially toned. I’ll be sending coins in on some of the mint sets, too, to see if circulated coins were put in place of desirable ones.

Some dealers were not selling double mint sets, although they were using that title in their eBay descriptions. Double mint sets include two of every mint, PDS (or 30 coins) in some years. Other sets without S mint marks total 20 coins. Sellers were displaying mint sets that had cherry coins removed, with lesser coins in the paper holders.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was how quickly all the winning lots shipped. I received each of a dozen or more packages within a few days. Clearly, when it comes to shipping, eBay has a big advantage over Proxibid.

Finally, bidding on eBay was fierce. It is difficult to win prime coins without approaching or surpassing retail. And many owners of prime lots opened bids above retail.

More to report on this in future weeks. …

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.

Manipulating Maximum Bids

We reported a dubious practice in apparent violation of Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement involving auction houses setting a reasonable opening bid (usually at or below wholesale) and then shortly before the auction raising the maximum bid to “Reserve Not Met.”

We wrote about this before as a Pet Peeve. Now we’re so peeved we’re calling on Proxibid to stop the practice and charge auction houses that do this a service fee.

It happened again this week. We bid on two dozen lots at or below grey sheet and saw them changed to “Reserve Not Met” a day before the auction. This is the auctioneer’s version of “bid retraction,” and the fact that it happens within hours of an auction is, frankly, troubling.

Proxibid generally does not allow bid retractions, and certainly not hours before a session is called. But that’s what’s happening here–in reverse. Why isn’t this practice in violation of 5.9 of the Unified User Agreement: “Items may be offered with a ‘minimum bid,’ in which case, the Seller agrees to sell the item to the highest bidder who bids at or above the minimum bid price”?

One house in particular posts 300-500 lots each month with the vast majority of those coins selling near retail when buyer’s fee and shipping are added. Many of those lots do not sell at all–a credit to Proxibidders’ numismatic knowledge. For instance, in last week’s auction, 300+ coin lots were marked as “passed” because high reserves were not met.

Even more troubling is the fact that the house in question allows bids to be raised by the auctioneer or employees (ghost bidding) and views all maximum bids. (Of course it does.)

In fairness, it is perfectly legitimate to place high reserves on lots; we’re talking about something altogether different–the few dozen lots that had wholesale reserves (or below) for more than a week but were changed to “reserve not met” and/or passed during the auction.

Should this company be charged a fee for passed lots according to 4.3c of the Unified User Agreement? Passed Lot Fee. If Seller conducts bidding for any lot within an Auction Event without allowing Buyers the opportunity to bid using the Proxibid Services (a “Passed Lot”), Proxibid may in its sole discretion charge Seller a fee per Passed Lot.

Some auction houses with practices like this should open an eBay store. They are not running an auction; they are running an online coin shop on Proxibid. We will never, ever bid with this house again, even if it changes its practices. And we advise all Proxibidders not only to do the same but also to complain to Proxibid’s quality control officials whenever it sees practices that violate the portal’s own service terms.

Voice your complaint or suggestion by contacting the company at this link.

It’s one thing for quality control to hold bidders to service terms and quite another to hold auctioneers. We realize that. We also realize that the sheer number of lots that actually do sell in an auction like this bring revenue to the Omaha-based company. But that’s not the bottom line. Reputation is, especially when the company’s theme (in large part, entirely deserved) is TRUST.

Apparent violations such as this give the entire portal a bad name, and increasingly, in fact, send more of us (including Proxiblog) back to eBay whose quality control is becoming ever stricter and creating an even playing field for bidder and seller alike.

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.

The Problem of Junk Coin Auctions

Auctioneers that schedule “no reserve” junk auctions or begin regular coin auctions with 200+ lots of silver melt and damaged common copper lose the online attention of bidders, who simply sign off and search for better coins and dates elsewhere–increasingly on eBay.

Junk auctions include silver melt coins (including Morgan culls), common date mid to late 19th century low-grade coppers and nickels, clad coins and common mint and proof sets. Some of the latter, sold 40+ years ago, are cheaper to buy today than when they were released by the US Mint.

Other problems with junk auctions include:

  1. Schedule too many, and folks will cease looking at your Proxibid site when you have a bonafide estate coin auction.
  2. Hype “no reserve” on junk auctions without a sufficient number of key dates, etc., and you’ll become known as a coin junk dealer.
  3. Take consignments from coin dealers whose inventory overflows with junk they cannot sell, and you’ll lose money paying Proxibid and labor fees for your auctions.

It has become apparent to us that coin dealer consignments are watering down the allure of Proxibid. Because of eBay rules about quality control, including replicas, graded coins and photography, more coin buyers (including us) are returning to eBay for purchases. If Proxibid’s quality control officer does not do something about subpar to terrible photography on Proxibid, an online venue where photos are everything, then the portal will cease its gains in numismatics.

Proxibid’s loss will be eBay’s gain.

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.

Newcomer Relies on Basics in Successful Online Auction

There was an interesting auction over the weekend by a house conducting its first Proxibid session in tandem with an onsite estate auction. The auctioneer took high-quality pictures but posted coins in holders sideways, neglected to include reverse pictures and just listed the date without the mint mark on rare older coins. And he still achieved retail prices on most of his lots while only charging Proxibidders a 5% online buyer’s fee.

There’s a lesson here that houses scheduling regular coin auctions should take to heart.

This auctioneer advertised for his onsite session in several venues, ensuring that he had a large crowd in his locale. He also knew that Proxibidders would only spur competition, adding another 100 or so bidders to the fray. He didn’t have to charge 15-20% Internet buyer’s fees because he wasn’t relying on coin dealers, had a nifty selection of gold and silver coins from an estate, and didn’t complain about Proxibid fees.

Had he included mint marks and reverse photos, he would have added significantly to his commission.

What’s to learn about this?

Proxibid is an auction portal meant to capture the excitement of an onsite session and convey that to the Internet crowd. It is decidedly not an eBay portal where auctioneers call sessions in their den with a computer. Proxbid technology is good, but it cannot create excitement where there is none in the room.

This rookie online auctioneer also realized that he has to draw people to his sessions with great consignments and otherwise treat the online bidders with the same courtesies as the onsite ones. Finally, he knows the cardinal rule of auctioneering: The more bidders in the house (and/or online), the greater the competition and the higher the bids.

Quality counts more than ever in online auctions, particularly since eBay has instituted new rules ensuring more transparency and information on coins being sold there. However, eBay cannot do what the newcomer did during the weekend, and that is, create excitement on the floor and online.

That’s the allure of Proxibid.

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.