I don’t have much experience of buying at auction and have found the fee structure totally misleading.
An auction item that I am looking at attracts a buyers premium of 23% +VAT
(Why auction houses and estate agents are exempt from advertising the actual price you have to pay is beyond me.)
All well and good except due to the current situation I do not want to be in a room full of people for a few hours so want to bid online.
This adds an extra premium (+VAT) for the auction house to accept an online bid
You then have to register with a website which supplies the online bidding app.
They charge a commission as well.
By the time you add all the commissions and VAT you have to add 33.54% to the bid price to arrive at the invoice price
It all seems rather underhand, why don’t they advertise the true costs?
I went to an auction a few weeks ago for the first time in years (maybe 10 of us, live bidders, plus 5 staff in a rambling hangar/warehouse, so I didn’t feel at risk). The staff had strongly advised me to turn up in person. They said the online process was handled by a third-party intermediary who had hardly any contact with the auctioneers. They made all their money from the bidders (they never met the sellers, obviously) and the feeling was that were gouging said bidders. In the end the charges will have nothing to do with their costs and everything to do with what they can get away with.
This particular house charges 15% +VAT sellers commission
But even this isn’t straightforward there is a minimum charge of £10.00 + VAT whether it sells or not.
There has to be yet another cost of course which is 1.5% + VAT for insurance
Actually they did have a fair bit of military hardware, including bladed stuff which they were keeping in a safe place.
I was after a box of valves. Having checked them out in person I reckoned that, if everything was as good as it might possibly be, the market value (eBay sale price) could have reached £500-600. I watched as the hammer price shot up, entirely due to online bids. It ended at £450. Plus more than 25% buyers’ premium. Plus shipping or collection. Not a way to make, or even save, much money.
The auction house people had turned up at a property to pick up some near valueless old furniture. The late occupant’s daughter was chucking his shed junk into a skip. It included this and another box of valves, and some rare-ish tellies/radios. They forgot the furniture and emptied the skip instead. Its contents made more than a grand. She’d said it was a shame they hadn’t come sooner. This was the third skip she was filling.
I think they (the auctioneers) meant they (the online operators) weren’t involved in dealing with sellers, estimating prices, cataloguing the goods, conducting the sale itself and getting the items into the possession of the buyers. Nor did they (the auctioneers) have any influence over what the online operators charged. They were really only mildly rude about them, but the looks on their faces revealed what they really thought.
Except that auctions that are online realise higher prices than ones that are just held in the saleroom.
Higher prices mean more income in commission to the auction house.
They don’t have to offer online bidding and it would seem that they profit from it, so all they are really complaining about is that someone apart from them is making a profit for what in their eyes is very little.
I used to occasionally go to auctions pre internet days and there were bargains to be had. Picked up all kinds of jewellery and what not, one time a pair of original Lalique plates for £200 - you just can’t do that kind of thing nowadays unfortunately and I no longer bother with auctions since they went online as the final price realised including commission and VAT is rarely good value.
Just like ebay mis-listed online auctions can throw up some gems… I do however agree that bargains are thinner on the ground - year a ago you were up against the odd collector and the antiquarian resellers - now you are up against grip and flip ebay guys too
As a side note
fatfingers.com is a site for misspelled ebay listings - thank me later when the bargain you didn’t need or want arrives .