My stuff is worth more!

I was reading complaints about an auction service online yesterday that did not paint that service in a very good light. Customer satisfaction is very important today as it’s easy for people to go online and write complaints about your service that is available for anyone interested to read. When the complaints repeat themselves several times the reader is likely to believe that they are valid. You can never go wrong by going above and beyond to keep your customers happy.

However, there was one complaint registered about that company that I did question simply because I’m in the auction business as well. It was a complaint that appeared numerous times so many casual readers are likely to believe it is valid, and perhaps it was. The complaint had to do with the price people got for their items. It usually went something like this: I gave them a whole house full of antiques, and they didn’t bring anything near what they were worth.

The first question I would have for that person is did they have them appraised to know their value today? There is probably a big difference between what they paid for them and what they are worth today. The price may have gone up or down, but it’s unlikely the value is the same. Without an expert appraisal they don’t know what their items were worth.

A second question I would have is did they discuss with the auctioneer what they felt their items were worth? I sold a building once at auction, and prior to signing a contract he asked me what I thought it should bring. I gave him what I wanted from the building, and he quickly said it would never bring that. He then said what he thought it might possibly bring, and I agreed to that. In fact, there were no bids on the property, but an individual approached the auctioneer after the sale and made an offer which he brought to me. I accepted it. The point is, we had that discussion before agreeing to the auction. I have refused auctions where it was obvious the seller had unrealistic expectations about the value of their property despite what I tried to explain to her.

Third, I wonder if the ones complaining know what the antique market is right now when sold at auction? I doubt most do unless they’ve had that discussion with the auctioneer. The market is down, at least in our part of the nation. One prominent auctioneer has said it’s down by 70% right now. I attend a lot of auctions outside of my own, and no one is getting top dollar for antiques now, especially furniture. Smaller items are still selling well, but people today do not want that ten foot tall secretary sitting in their house. I hate selling beautiful pieces of antique furniture for pennies on the dollar, but that is today’s market. Young people do not want it, and the older ones are reaching the point in their lives where they are trying to get rid of what they already have.

At an auction, an item is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it at that time. No more, no less. Sentimental value seldom comes into play. If two people are interested in an item then it might bring a good price, but if only one is interested in it the price it brings will likely disappoint the seller. The time to discuss this is before you sign the auction contract, not after the item has sold.

Some of the complaints I saw about the auction company were serious complaints. For instance, a complaint some filed were about not receiving their money months after their items sold. At least in our state, auctioneers are required to pay the proceeds of a sale within 30 days. If your state has an auction board that grants licenses to auctioneers they are the people to contact if your payment goes beyond that time. I always pay out within a week of a sale, and my sellers are quite happy with that. I can think of very few valid reasons why any auction company could not do that.

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