How to make an absentee bid

Most auctions accept absentee bids. Sometimes these come from people who live some distance from the auction and are only interested in an item or two, but most of the time they come from local people who have other commitments when the auction is being held. I’ve sold items to people in California and Tennessee from auctions I’ve done here in Indiana, but most of the absentee bids I’ve received have come from local people.

Absentee bids usually come when people look at the auction listing on or the auctioneer’s web page. They see an item they like and contact the auctioneer for more information. If they like what they see and hear but cannot attend the auction, they give an absentee bid. This is the maximum amount they will pay for that item.

Some auctioneers will start the bidding at that amount. I don’t. Sometimes a person will tell me where they want to start their bidding, and I honor that. Otherwise, I will try to get a bid from the floor and then start bidding for the absentee bidder from that point on. If no bids come from the floor, I will set in the person’s absentee bid at an amount we have previously agreed upon. This ensures the absentee bidder is not penalized for not attending the auction.

Some auctioneers will bid up to 10 percent above the maximum bid for the buyer. I do not do that. I once had a person leave a $200.00 bid on a stone jug. It sold for $205.00. When I told her she did not get the jug she was a little frustrated saying she would have given a little more. I explained she gave me a maximum bid, and that was as far as I would go. The next person might have gotten upset if I had exceeded their max bid. Don’t assume the auctioneer can read your mind as to what your max bid really is. At least with me, whatever you tell me is your max bid is the most I will bid on your behalf.

If you are interested in giving an absentee bid, do not wait until an hour before the sale to do so. I’ve come home after a sale to find a call on my phone from someone who wanted to bid on an item. Try to get your absentee bids to the auctioneer as early as possible. Another reason for doing so is there might be two or more people who want to make the same absentee bid for the same amount. The one who makes the bid first will have priority over the others.

Some auctioneers will require an absentee bidder to provide a credit card number in case he or she is the winning bidder. I do not do that although I might in certain situations. If the buyer wants to pay by check, he or she should expect to wait several days for the check to clear payment before the item is shipped. Also, there will be shipping charges added to the final bill. I always take the item to the post office to determine the exact cost to ship it before calling the buyer with the final cost, and when payment is made the item is shipped.

In most cases, making an absentee bid is safe, and most auctioneers will not take advantage of such bids. It is a great way to purchase something at an auction you can not attend.

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