(This is a re-post of the article written in 2014)
In order to continue to inform our auction patrons about bidding and buying at our auctions, we’ve prepared this memorandum regarding the absentee bidding process; how it works, how it can be a useful tool for bidders who cannot attend the auction in person, and how it can happen that an item gets sold to another bidder for a same-bid amount.
Absentee bidding is a service we offer to our buyer clientèle, as well as the option to bid live, online, during the auction, or to bid via phone on items with estimates of $1000 or greater. These services require additional manpower and work on our part, but we feel it is a valuable service and we are pleased to provide these options.
Our company has an established protocol of NOT starting the bidding on any item at an absentee bidder’s maximum amount. Some auction companies’ policies are that the absentee bidder’s maximum bid will be used as the starting bid. We have made our protocol known to both our buyers and sellers for years, and it is our belief that a bid executed competitively (not used as a starting bid amount) will encourage the absentee bidder to bid again, in future auctions, knowing that our service provides the opportunity to bid and buy in good faith.
Therefore, instances can occur where an item sells to another absentee, or floor, bidder for the same amount as an absentee bidder’s maximum bid. This is an example of this situation:
- Bidder A leaves an absentee bid on an item for $200
- Bidder B leaves an absentee bid on an item for $175
- Bidder C is a bidder who is either at auction, or bidding live, online
(Note: $25 increments are used in this value range at our gallery) Since we have two absentee bids, Bidder A’s bid is the top bid, and the bidding will start at $175. This is the amount required for Bidder A to be in first position, the amount equal to, or above, Bidder B’s bid. So, we now have an opening bid of $175, with Bidder A. Then, Bidder C bids $200, and no other bidders put forth a bid. The item would then sell to Bidder C for $200. Bidder A is upset when they learn that the item sold for their high bid amount, but not to them. In this case, Bidder A would have had to have been $225 to raise the bid.
Another scenario that can occur is when the same amount of maximum bid is entered by two separate bidders. In this case, timing takes precedent. For example:
- Bidder D leaves a bid on our web catalogue, 3 days prior to the auction, for $200
- Bidder E leaves a bid at our auction preview, 1 day prior to the auction, for $200
- Bidder F is an online bidder, live during the auction
Bidder D’s bid takes precedence, as it was the first bid entered at that amount. So the bidding starts at $200, with Bidder D’s bid. Bidder F attempts to enter a $200 bid online, but is trumped by Bidder D’s bid, as it was the first bid at that amount, and our internet clerk does not accept Bidder F’s $200 bid, but asks the internet bidder to bid $225. No additional bids are entered, and Bidder D wins the item for $200. Bidder E and Bidder F both think they won the item, as it sold for their high bid amount, yet neither was the winner.
Therefore, we encourage absentee bidders to leave their absolute maximum amount as an absentee bid, as we will execute their bids competitively and in good faith. A bargain-shopper’s absentee bid, a bid well below our pre-auction estimate for an item, has far less chance of winning the item. If the item is something the bidder really wants, the better the bid, the better the chance of winning. However, the possibility STILL can exist of another bidder’s same-bid-amount being the winning bid, as illustrated above.
We appreciate all of our buyer clientele, and we are pleased to provide the opportunity for absentee bidders to still participate in the auction. It is our wish that this article will provide insight into the absentee bidding process, and eliminate confusion regarding how bids are executed.
Thank you for your continued patronage.