Kaufman Realty No Longer on Proxibid

kaufman

This week we received the sad news that one of our consistently top-rated houses, Kaufman Realty and Auctions, no longer will be calling sessions interactively on Proxibid. Click the photo above to see the email blast that we received.

Kaufman increasingly was securing top consignments with good photographs. The company averaged two major auctions per month on Proxibid.

Those looking for the company can still bid online through its website at www.kaufman-auctions.com. You will have to create a new username and password as the Proxibid data will not apply in the new bidding platform.

A company spokesperson apologized for the change in online bidding providers but noted that the contract with Proxibid expired at the beginning of the year with an increase in charges per auction. So Kaufman decided it was no longer feasible to use Proxibid services.

Word about fee hikes is nothing new, as this seems to be happening in several venues associated with numismatics. PCGS, for instance, has raised its holdering fees. Several top auctions, including Stacks-Bowers, Heritage and Teletrade have raised their buyer’s premiums to 17.5%. Proxibid also has extensive technology to maintain and upgrade to keep pace with the buying public.

Nonetheless, we hope those serving our industry, including Proxibid, hold the line on fee increases in the future to preserve and expand the collecting hobby, especially during questionable economic times.

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.

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.

Auctions that Aren’t

allthemarbles
Click the above picture to expand

We grow weary with seeing so-called auctions like this on Proxibid. Coins open at or near retail. Buyer’s fee is high. Auctioneer sees maximum bids and can shill bid at will. These aren’t auctions. They’re online coin stores.

This auction company routinely opens at or near retail, charges a higher buyer’s fee, sees maximum bids and can shill bid to raise the price higher. Why are these so-called auctions on Proxibid?

We recommend against bidding with any company that sees maximum bids and allows auctioneering or consignor bidding. There are plenty of real auctions on Proxbid, in which there are no reserves, low opening bids, low buyer’s fee and good shipping. We don’t list any auction that sees maximum bids or allows shill bidding in our top rankings in the right sidebar.

If you want to patronize auctions like the one above, we recommend against Proxibid and for Heritage, Teletrade and Great Collections. They offer superior service, especially shipping. The same coin below sold recently at Heritage very near the above company’s opening bid.

heritagesale

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.

On the Block: Southwest Bullion Rolls Out 0% Buyer’s Fee, Flat-Rate Shipping

Southwest Bullion, located in Houston, Texas, has rolled out a 0% buyer’s fee with flat-rate USPS shipping, APN clearance with no maximum-bid-viewing or consignor bidding.

By Justin Quinn, licensed auctioneer

The coin market has for many years been stricken with a BUYERS PREMIUM fee structure that supposedly only really benefits the seller, but in our opinion, leaves buyers with a bad taste in their mouths. Being one of the nation’s largest coin buyers ourselves, we know first hand how high buyer’s premiums, as well as minimum lot fees and excessive shipping and handling fees, affect our own buying and the negative effect those “fees” have on the personal enjoyment of coin collecting. We realized recently how much time we spend “backing out” buyers premiums and fees from our bids, fiddling all through the auction with the calculator.

Like most others, our business started as a hobby. We simply enjoyed collecting coins, but that hobby soon turned into a full-scale business with customers, orders to fulfill, customer service needs, and most of all the need for more inventory to supply our steady demand for quality products. In order to keep up with the demand we started buying from auction sites ourselves and companies (most all having a buyers premium).

As our business grew, we tried to find a sales model that would work for us, and frankly it was easy to NOT “reinvent the wheel” so to speak, following suit to our competition and their methods. We too charged a buyers premium (with minimum lot fees) and followed that industry standard for awhile, but that’s NOT what our customers or even dealer/customers wanted.

They didn’t hesitate to tell us either!

So, as customers continued to complain about our BP & fees (just as we complained about those same fees at Heritage, Teletrade and others), we realized that what the customers really wanted was for the seller to pay those fees just like on eBay! Let’s face it, without happy buyers, we as dealers wouldn’t have any business at all.

We want our customers to feel comfortable buying from us with the knowledge that we will not be charged outrageous buyers fees, shipping fees, or other hidden fees on invoice after the auction. We also want our buyers to know that they can bid without having to calculate fees on every push of a bid button. We want to bring back the hobbyist and the collector who like attending auctions for the enjoyment with a fully transparent market.

The reason so many people use eBay is due to eBay policy forcing sellers to pay the sales expenses and allow their customers to buy with an “all inclusive bid,” which equates to a wider customer base who are willing to buy products for the product itself (at full market value), instead of always searching for the least amount of fees associated with an item they want to purchase.

Over the span of our auction operations on Proxibid, we have expanded our catalogs from just offering a few bullion coins to a very wide variety of coin and bullion products, as well as jewelry, comics, sports memorabilia and other collectibles. From copper two cent pieces, to rare Morgan dollars, to kilo lunar series coins, we want to bring our broad base of products to the entire collecting and/or dealer community by giving them the ability to buy from a trusted seller, one who keeps their needs as buyers foremost in mind, all with easy no-hassle pricing.

We read recently that the two largest names in the coin auction industry just decided to INCREASE buyers premiums to 17.5% and minimum lots fees to $14-$25/lot, because its better for the “consignors/sellers.” We think that focus is not where it should be! Without happy buyers and bidder participants, those consignors have no market to sell to, and as a buyer ourselves, frankly we’re mad as hell at the fee increase. Not only we will no longer buy from those giant auction houses, but we decided to go 180 degrees in the other direction in our sales effort.

For all the problems eBay presents representing tens of thousands of sellers (some of which are unscrupulous) and a badly abused feedback system against honest sellers, they got this fee structure part right. Fees should be borne by the SELLER, not the buyer, and the growth of the on-eBay coin market proves it. Shipping should not be a profit-center either, and any hidden fees are just unacceptable. We were none to happy to have $40 “shipping and handling” recently added to our “major auction house in Dallas” order the other day. We just feel strongly that these continued high buyer fee arrangements are unacceptable, and know that vast majority of our customers feel the same way we do.

On our upcoming Proxibid auctions, we have decided to employ an ongoing list of catalogs that are “type coin specific” in order to make our auctions more enjoyable to collectors of certain types of coins or bullion items. This is especially important for buyers who don’t want to spend hours waiting for their coin-type lots to come up for sale.

As a buyer, there are certain coins that are generally the area of interest to any particular collector or dealer, and most times they will have to surf through multiple auctions to find just the right coins they are looking for while not being able to be totally interested by one single auction catalog chocked full of their favorite type of coin. We want to give our buyers the ability to sit in one auction with their own area of interest and not miss the lot they want because the entire auction is an area of interest focusing on that specific type of coin.

We are planning to unveil a schedule of catalogs that will cater to almost every type of buyer from the U.S. cent buyer to the rare world bullion buyer, and hopefully in doing so we can gain the business and confidence of all Proxibid coin customers.


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 coin buyers to benefit from higher fees at Heritage, Stacks Bowers

Coin auctioneers on the portal should take advantage of a trend among top numismatic houses Heritage and Stacks Bowers Galleries, which each announced higher buyer’s fees of 17.5%. Combined with new eBay coin rules, which Proxiblog reported in this post, coin auctioneers on the portal should lower Internet buyer’s fees to take advantage of the trend.

Several Proxibid houses in the rankings to the right have 15% or lower buyer’s fees. Currently Teletrade has 15% and GreatCollections, capitalizing on the unfortunate trend of Heritage and Stacks–raising buyer’s fees during a recession–boasts 10% fees. Teletrade not only has a 15% buyer’s fee but also has 0% no reserve auctions every Tuesday.

We admire the competitive spirit of Ian Russell, GreatCollections owner, who also auctions raw collections and lots in addition to coins holdered by top companies. See his latest advertisement (click to expand picture).

We recommend coin auctioneers on the portal go against the trend of raising online buyer’s fees. It makes no sense for Heritage and Stacks to raise their fees when old gold–$5, $10, $20, etc.–is selling with a small premium over bullion.

When consignors get less for their money at houses with high buyer’s fees, because of lack of competition, they will migrate to GreatCollections, Teletrade and, of course, Proxibid.

A final note to Proxibid: Take out more advertisements in numismatic publications showcasing auction houses on the portal with low online buyer’s fees. That will begin the migration to Proxibid and yield results in today’s numismatic market!

New Rankings Reflect Competition

Recently Proxibid reported a 29.3% increase in coins auctions from 2010 to 2011, with a 36% increase in the number of coin auctions in the first quarter of this year. More competition has led to new rankings, as newcomers offer choice consignments with low buyer’s fees and specials. How will your house respond?

Gone are the days when Proxibid auction houses could dictate terms online, ghost-bidding lots, hyping descriptions, posting blurry photographs of only one side of a coin, and charging as much as 22% online fees while lacking APN clearance and using third-party shippers.

In part, Proxiblog has played a role in numismatic quality control. Proxibid also has done its share in creating more of an even playing field, posting APN buttons and transparency notices to alert bidders to houses that see maximum bids or allow consignor and auctioneer bidding.

As a result, we have seen competitive houses such as Silvertowne drop maximum-bid viewing, reclaiming its third-place slot behind Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Western Auction, which finally has overtaken Weaver based on slightly better photography (showing luster) and equally choice consignments.

Breaking into the top 10 are Bennett Auction Service with a 9.5% online buyer’s fee, good photography, APN clearance, cheap shipping, and no viewing maximum bids or allowing consignor bidding. However, the house doesn’t specialize in coins, and a consideration in our rankings is the number of coin auctions each house schedules in a month. Silvertowne is among leaders in that category with the best lot descriptions on Proxibid because of veteran numismatist Larry Fuller.

Kaufman Realty also has broken into the top 10 with increasingly accurate lot descriptions, regular coin auctions and improved photography.

Also in the top 10 is Back to the Past Pop Culture Warehouse. This house offers a 10% buyer’s fee, $5 flat rate shipping on coins and good photography. After it viewed Proxiblog, seeing that we advocate for photos on both sides of a coin, Creative Director Scott Lovejoy immediately posted reverses of all coins before an upcoming auction and quickly rose in our rankings.

Our Honor Roll houses now number 88 offering low buyer’s fees, good photography and reasonable shipping. In May 2011, only 11 houses on Proxibid met these criteria.

Other newcomers have risen in our top 21 slots, including Auctions Unlimited and Brian’s Auction Service.

Not all Proxibid coin auctions have responded favorably to the new competition. We no longer purchase coins from them because they refuse to upgrade photography, clinging to harsh service terms and hyping lot descriptions.

Conversely, there are houses whose consignments and in-house practices are so trustworthy that we eagerly await their auctions. These include Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction. While they charge online buyer’s fees between 17-20%, they offer the superior consignments and lot descriptions that stand up to PCGS standards.

Nonetheless, if they took a chance in an auction and reduced their online fees to 15%, we believe their bottom lines would rise significantly in a few months’ time.

Finally, coin auctioneers should realize that mega houses such as Teletrade and Great Collections are in the process of competing with each other and Proxibid. Teletrade offers no-reserve, 0% buyer’s fees on Tuesdays. Great Collections offers 10% with “Buy Now” specials and other enticements.

In an Internet world, like it or not, you are competing with the likes of megahouses (including Heritage). We advise to embrace the competition and figure out creative ways to attract return customers, offering specials and treating online buyers with the same courtesies as your onsite crowd.

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.

Auctioneer Shipping Phobia

We do not know why an auctioneer would use terms of service like the one below, indicating the house was contacted numerous times about the policy but still ignores feedback.

Gone are the days on Proxibid when auctioneers selling coins could dictate terms of service, knowing they had little competition from other houses (such as our top companies in the sidebar rankings to the right.) Why would anyone bother to bid on coins with terms of service like this?

  • “20 % Buyer’s premium is added to all INTERNET purchases. … WE DO NOT HANDLE SHIPPING AND HANDLING PLEASE CONTACT OUR LOCAL UPS TO HANDLE ALL SHIPPING AND HANDLING. … WE DO NOT HANDLE SHIPPING AND HANDLING!!!!!!!! … SHIPPING AND HANDLING IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BUYER!!!!! . ((((WE HAVE PROVIDED THE INFORMATION FOR UPS SHIPPING. UPS WILL PICK UP YOUR ITEMS PACK THEM AND SHIP THEM TO YOU. THEIR PHONE NUMBER IS XXX-XXX-XXXX. STOREXXXX@THEUPSSTORE.COM ASK FOR XXXXX OR XXXXX))) THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU A QUOTE ON SHIPPING AN ITEM YOU ARE INTERESTED IN. YOU THEN CAN BE CONFIDENT WHEN YOU BUY THE ITEM THAT THE SHIPPPING IS RIGHT. !!!!!!! NOTE WHEN USING A SHIPPER IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBLITY TO MAKE SURE THE SHIPPER KNOWS WHAT HE NEEDS TO PICK UP.”

What troubles us about houses with similar terms of service, and there are more than a few on Proxibid, is how this not only affects the bidder but the consignor, too. Why would anyone want to consign coins knowing the house’s policy stated in such stark terms? Doesn’t the house know consignors are scanning Proxibid for the best customer service?

We recommend that all consignors to Proxibid auctions read the terms of service of a potential house before signing any contract. The most competitive houses have low buyer’s fees, sharp photography, flat-rate shipping and other perks that spark ever higher bids between the online and onsite auctions. Also, as we have noted repeatedly, we do not recommend patronizing houses that lack APN clearance or that have APN clearance with third-party shippers.

And one more thing: Why isn’t the Proxibid sales team recommending what we just did in this post? Houses with bidder unfriendly Internet terms also reflect poorly on Proxibid. Competitors continue to point out to us that many Proxibid houses fall far short of quality-control standards as found on Teletrade, Heritage and Great Collections.

It’s not how many houses you sign up, but how many succeed 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.