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Online Auctions - How do they work?

lwalper

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I know this is kinda sideways about clock repair and may not belong here at all, but I placed a bid on a live auction site for a clock that looked interesting. You could bid before the live auction began, then after the "live" part began the site started scrolling through the various lots for bid. The clock I was looking at was lot #225 (or some such thing) and the lots were being presented every couple of minutes beginning with #1. Do I have to wait for #225 to roll around to be able to bid competitively? That could take hours watching the screen -- ain't gonna happen. Needless to say, I was once the high bidder ($5) and was outbid ($10) for the clock. :confused: Gotta be a better way to find interesting clocks:???:
 

KurtinSA

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I've done it once. And yes, once the live auction starts, you just have to wait for them to cycle up to the one you're interested in. Probably judge the timing by how it takes to go through 10, then another 10. Or you can just avoid all that and put the amount you want to pay and let it ride. You wouldn't be involved in the bidding war, but if the price you're willing to pay ends being high bid, then you're a winner!!

As an aside, I probably won't do that again. While I'm OK with what I got, once I got them shipped, I could see they weren't really what I had hoped. One was a bit of a marriage. There's nothing like being able to see the item in person...can't do that from your keyboard.

Kurt
 

lwalper

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Thanks for that. I'm looking at another one scheduled for a month from now -- lot #6. Maybe I can catch that one:???:
 

ToddT

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I think a lifetime study could be made regarding the psychology of auctions, how they work differently depending on the ending rules, etc. Here are some things I've found to be effective, and have helped me win (and not overpay) a number of auctions for all kinds of things:

1. Bid as late in the auction as possible. By bidding early, you reveal interest in the item. The more people show interest, the more other people get interested and the price goes up. This is one of the reasons the auction sites want people to bid early. And when I say "as late as possible", this could mean at the last minute. Or, you may be only mildly interested, you are going to bed at 9 pm, and the auction ends at 11 pm. So bid just before you go to bed. You may or may not wake up a winner.

2. This is probably the most important - REALLY determine what you are willing to pay, then bid that amount (as late as possible). Most auction sites will proxy-bid, meaning they will keep your bid as low as possible so you can win, but not exceed your maximum. Someone bids $5, I bid $30 but currently have the winning bid at $10. Someone else bids $15, my bid automatically goes to $20. They come back at $25, my bid automatically goes to $30. If the auction ends there, I won for $30. If someone else came back before the auction ended with a $35 bid, then they win, but I didn't overpay.

Determining your real limit is also helpful when you aren't watching the auction to the last second. The current bidding is at $5, you bid $30, then go to bed. In the morning, you'll find out if you won within your limit, or lost (but didn't overpay).

Without determining your true limit, it's too easy to get into a bidding war at the end. "I was willing to spend $75, and I was outbid at $80. I could go $10 more and bid $85." There is also some psychology in that, while you hold the winning bid, you start to feel ownership. When you get outbid, you feel like someone took something away from you and you want it back. How do you get it back? By bidding higher. Next thing you know, you've bid too high. If you win, you still lose. At that point, you are better off losing and not overpaying.

3. Here is a final trick I tend to use, and have won a number of auctions because of this. Let's say I determine my limit is $25. I figure there are other people out there who may set the same limit for themselves. If I'm willing to spend $25, am I willing to spend $1 more? (See rule #2). I'll bid just higher than my limit so that if my limit is the same as that of others, I may still beat them out.

In fact, this very afternoon I go to pick up a clock that I won this way. It's a 1970's school house clock by Seth Thomas, time only. Model E477-005 Golden Rule. It's not a valuable or special clock, but we had one in our house the whole time I was growing up and I don't know what ever became of it. I was willing to go to $25, but bid $26. And won the auction at $26!

There are, of course, all sorts of variations. Maybe I'm looking at two items in the same auction. For one I'm willing to go to $200, and for something else I'm willing to go to $300. In other words, I'm willing to spend $500. I win the first item (for which I was willing to spend $200) for $50. Now I can decide whether it is more important to me to spend no more than $350, or if I'm now willing to go up to $450 on the second item and still not spend more than $500 total. There is, of course, no right or wrong. This is a completely subjective decision based on how you feel about the items in question.

Now that I've given away my secrets, I hope I'm not bidding against you! Happy Hunting!
 
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lwalper

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I hope I'm not bidding against you
Yeah, I usually wait till the last little bit and bid the extra penny. People frequently stick to round numbers. The extra $.01 is sometimes the difference between winning and losing. The "liveauction" and scrolling through all the various lots was sort of offputting for me.
 

ToddT

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I've only done the live auction via the internet once. If there were items I was mildly interested in, I'd probably bid that morning, go about my day, and learn later if I'd won. In my case, there was a clock I was REALLY interested in. I watched the opening of the auction to get a feel for the pace, checked in a couple of times during the morning to verify where things were, then when it was close, watched through the bidding of the one item I was interested in. I posted my max offer just before they opened the live bidding. A couple other people bid, I was still higher, and it ended. Bidding was over in less than a minute.

I will agree that it rather tied me down for a morning. However, if there are any auctions in which I'm extremely interested, I'll usually try to bid at the very last minute. That way, if others are interested but aren't watching at the end, I may outbid them without them having an opportunity to respond (because they went to bed). Then that goes back to #2 again - What am I REALLY willing to pay? I have a tendency to be influenced by the current bid value. ("It's $10 now. I might get it for $30. I'll bid $50." I bid $50 and am immediately outbid. So I'll go a little higher, and then a little higher. Or I'll bid $50, walk away, it sells for $60, and I later come to realize it really still would have been reasonable even at $100.)

I've drifted a bit. My point was, even if it's a purely on-line auction, if I'm really interested I'll tend to watch to the last minute anyway, so not a lot different than the live auction.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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I usually only leave commission bids. I try to do that direct with the auction house as it is cheaper. However once the auction has started you can still leave commission bid on the saleroom .com.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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I know this is kinda sideways about clock repair and may not belong here at all, but I placed a bid on a live auction site for a clock that looked interesting. You could bid before the live auction began, then after the "live" part began the site started scrolling through the various lots for bid. The clock I was looking at was lot #225 (or some such thing) and the lots were being presented every couple of minutes beginning with #1. Do I have to wait for #225 to roll around to be able to bid competitively? That could take hours watching the screen -- ain't gonna happen. Needless to say, I was once the high bidder ($5) and was outbid ($10) for the clock. :confused: Gotta be a better way to find interesting clocks:???:
Couple of things about auctions in general based upon my anecdotal evidence and personal experience.

Many auction houses now offer on-line bidding though platforms like LiveAuctioneers, invaluable, bidsquare, auction ninja, and others. Auction houses often have their own on-line bidding platform as well. Some used multiple platforms at once. The competition at the auctions using multiple platforms is murder as sometimes > 1000 people are involved at once. I know a couple of local curmudgeons who refuse to go on-line. Frankly, their auctions are suffering because consigners want the best chance of a maximum return.

Many auctions are both "live" and "on-line". That is, there are people bidding in person in the auction room and on the internet.

The on-line option became quite popular during the pandemic. Though associated with some headaches, for example, the site crashing, auctioneers love on-line bidding. It gives their auctions a much wider, sometimes international, audience. Hence, in my experience, it makes bidding much more competitive and there are fewer "sleepers". I routinely now have my butt kicked at auctions. Especially given that some of the smaller local houses around here where one might obtained some nice stuff for resale have become incredibly competitive and expensive.

How do they work? Like any other auction, basically.

First, you preview. Sometimes that's only on-line (some auctioneers only do on-line, other times, the auction is too far away so that may be the only reasonable option), many offer an in-person preview. In the post-Pandemic world, the latter often requires making an appointment.

You then, as have always been the case with auctions, the following options:

1. Don't bid on anything.

2. Leave a left bid. That now includes leaving an on-line left bid, a very popular option. I believe most give you the option to leave a bid on an item any time before it formally opens so if you wish to do the last-minute thing. However, I'm not sure that the last-minute bidding thing is real. People will bid what they want, regardless. I tend not to leave bids on-line. What does indicate interest? Look at the on-line auction listing and see how many people have saved the item to their watch list. I find that a much better gauge of interest. Other ways of doing it are the traditional method of filling out a left bid form and handing it to the auctioneer, hoping that it is executed.

3. Another method is the phone bid. This is generally an option if there is a live component. You ask the auctioneer to call you when the lot comes up and you bid on the phone. The advantage is that you're not sitting around waiting for a lot to open. However, an auctioneer will NOT execute a phone bid for a low cost item. Generally that's reserved for a big ticket one. Also, I have seen times when the phone bidder(s) can't be reached and they miss out.

4. Go to the auction room and bid, if that's an option.

You complain about having to wait for a lot to come up. There's one local in person only auctioneer in ME where lots are not taken in any particular order. I know the runners there well enough that I can ask them to bring the lot of interest up sooner.

Otherwise, well, that's just plain old tough luck. That's an auction! Many times I've sat for a long time in an uncomfortable folding chair waiting for that 1 thing I wanted. Some on-line platforms allow you to select the option of a notification by your smart phone when your lot is coming up. I wait for the lot to open, doing other things and checking in periodically to see where things are. I also assess the pace of the auctioneer in terms of lots/minute and get an idea of when my lot may be coming up. Usually works for me.

One final wrinkle in the on-line auction which I find intensely annoying. Lots open with a strict time limit when they automatically close UNLESS there is a bid which resets the clock. Like a lingering death.

RM
 
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demoman3955

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Apr 9, 2022
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Couple of things about auctions in general based upon my anecdotal evidence and personal experience.

Many auction houses now offer on-line bidding though platforms like LiveAuctioneers, invaluable, bidsquare, auction ninja, and others. Auction houses often have their own on-line bidding platform as well. Some used multiple platforms at once. The competition at the auctions using multiple platforms is murder as sometimes > 1000 people are involved at once. I know a couple of local curmudgeons who refuse to go on-line. Frankly, their auctions are suffering because consigners want the best chance of a maximum return.

Many auctions are both "live" and "on-line". That is, there are people bidding in person in the auction room and on the internet.

The on-line option became quite popular during the pandemic. Though associated with some headaches, for example, the site crashing, auctioneers love on-line bidding. It gives their auctions a much wider, sometimes international, audience. Hence, in my experience, it makes bidding much more competitive and there are fewer "sleepers". I routinely now have my butt kicked at auctions. Especially given that some of the smaller local houses around here where one might obtained some nice stuff for resale have become incredibly competitive and expensive.

How do they work? Like any other auction, basically.

First, you preview. Sometimes that's only on-line (some auctioneers only do on-line, other times, the auction is too far away so that may be the only reasonable option), many offer an in-person preview. In the post-Pandemic world, the latter often requires making an appointment.

You then, as have always been the case with auctions, the following options:

1. Don't bid on anything.

2. Leave a left bid. That now includes leaving an on-line left bid, a very popular option. I believe most give you the option to leave a bid on an item any time before it formally opens so if you wish to do the last-minute thing. However, I'm not sure that the last-minute bidding thing is real. People will bid what they want, regardless. I tend not to leave bids on-line. What does indicate interest? Look at the on-line auction listing and see how many people have saved the item to their watch list. I find that a much better gauge of interest. Other ways of doing it are the traditional method of filling out a left bid form and handing it to the auctioneer, hoping that it is executed.

3. Another method is the phone bid. This is generally an option if there is a live component. You ask the auctioneer to call you when the lot comes up and you bid on the phone. The advantage is that you're not sitting around waiting for a lot to open. However, an auctioneer will NOT execute a phone bid for a low cost item. Generally that's reserved for a big ticket one. Also, I have seen times when the phone bidder(s) can't be reached and they miss out.

4. Go to the auction room and bid, if that's an option.

You complain about having to wait for a lot to come up. There's one local in person only auctioneer in ME where lots are not taken in any particular order. I know the runners there well enough that I can ask them to bring the lot of interest up sooner.

Otherwise, well, that's just plain old tough luck. That's an auction! Many times I've sat for a long time in an uncomfortable folding chair waiting for that 1 thing I wanted. Some on-line platforms allow you to select the option of a notification by your smart phone when your lot is coming up. I wait for the lot to open, doing other things and checking in periodically to see where things are. I also assess the pace of the auctioneer in terms of lots/minute and get an idea of when my lot may be coming up. Usually works for me.

One final wrinkle in the on-line auction which I find intensely annoying. Lots open with a strict time limit when they automatically close UNLESS there is a bid which resets the clock. Like a lingering death.

RM
Ive looked at a few online auctions that arent Ebay, and the commission is way too high for me. Ive seen as much as 35%. I feel like im getting ripped off.
 

Bruce Barnes

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When online bidding always consider your ancillary costs, I have seen situations where the transaction was "upside down"
Bruce 2
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Ive looked at a few online auctions that arent Ebay, and the commission is way too high for me. Ive seen as much as 35%. I feel like im getting ripped off.
Yes, excellent point!!

The fees are insane. Gotta figure those in when bidding. Also, shipping which has become outrageous as well.

RM
 
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demoman3955

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Yes, excellent point!!

The fees are insane. Gotta figure those in when bidding. Also, shipping which has become outrageous as well.

RM
Im seeing a lot of auctions that leave it up to the bidder to figure out how to get the item if its bigger then a breadbox. That in itself is a problem for me because we dont have any auctions within 500 miles. 500 miles at 20 MPG is 25 gallons @5 bucks a gallon = 125 bucks one way.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Im seeing a lot of auctions that leave it up to the bidder to figure out how to get the item if its bigger then a breadbox. That in itself is a problem for me because we dont have any auctions within 500 miles. 500 miles at 20 MPG is 25 gallons @5 bucks a gallon = 125 bucks one way.
A lot of auction houses do not offer in house shipping. They do provide a list of shippers who will pick up, pack and ship the object. Obviously, you have to pay in full for the object before it's released and then pay in full for the shipping before it is sent.

Some houses will provide in house packing and shipping. I have found that they do a pretty good job. Those that do will state in the auction description whether they will provide that service for a particular object. Typically, it depends upon the size. That size limit varies. For some, it is rather restricted. For others, I have been pleasantly surprised at what they were willing to handle.

When deciding whether to bid on something, I most certainly consider size and any potential difficulties and costs of shipping. Means that I don't buy furniture and larger things if they will need to be shipped. If the auction is within 50-100 miles, I pick it up. A perfect example of that is the Joseph Ives mirror clock I posted some weeks ago. That would have been difficult to ship. It's huge, heavy and delicate (e.g., consider the vulnerability of that broken arch crest). The weights weigh a ton. I would not have bought it otherwise. Also gave me a few more $$ to bid with as I knew it wasn't going to be shipped.

RM
 

novicetimekeeper

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I am fortunate that I have a range of options with specialist carriers for collecting clocks and antiques. That's within the UK. Sadly Brexit has made it much harder to import from Europe and often it is no longer viable as fees for purchase tax, customs docs, and carriage are now too high.
 

Bruce Barnes

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as we continue down the path of increasing inflation, the effects will be become compounded and the burgeoning online auction markets will become less as the inflationary/recession effects move through the economy and impact all the necessary elements to complete the transaction.
The dollar has been diminishing in value for many years and all you have to do is study the writings of the Austrian economists,Theodore Hayek, et., al., and you can see where we are headed.
My online activity is now basically limited to items that can be delivered at reasonable cost.
Like the Hindu Wheel of Life, we are back from where we commenced, "Cash and Carry"
Bruce 2
 

ToddT

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I have yet to bid on a clock auction where I couldn't pick it up, so have no experience there. Yes, it limits the clocks available to my geographic area (within 100 miles or so). Still, I have a habit of "making the rounds" of several auction sites every couple of days. Every now and again, something nice pops up!
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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I have yet to bid on a clock auction where I couldn't pick it up, so have no experience there. Yes, it limits the clocks available to my geographic area (within 100 miles or so). Still, I have a habit of "making the rounds" of several auction sites every couple of days. Every now and again, something nice pops up!
Sometimes I do stumble upon something at a general antiques show or retail shop. I've posted some examples on the Forums., But, In general, for me, if I want something that I think is worthwhile, auctions are just a fact of life. Some are close enough for pick-up, many require shipping.

Sadly, my 2 local NAWCC chapters offer little choice (almost 100% watches) and what does show up is usually absolutely abysmal.

RM
 

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