Your Questions & Comments

This page was developed for you to post your questions and comments.

Prior to posting your questions, you should first:
1. Check out the articles.
2. Use the search box in the upper right to search the hundreds of questions that have already been answered.

Answers to the most common questions can be found in my following articles:
Auctioneer Bidding… Is it Legal?
Auction House Bidding & Selling
Auctioneer/Seller Withdraws an Item with Bids. Is It Legal?

Of course, there are many other articles and I would like to encourage you to read them all.

If you don’t find your question has already been answered, use this page for Questions or to leave relevant Comments.

  • I will either answer you on this page or…
  • I may use it as a topic for a New Article in this blog.

1,149 Responses to Your Questions & Comments

  1. Michael Beatrice says:

    Hi I was logged onto an internet auction and I accidentally hit the bid button, I ended up winning the auction because it happened so fast I couldn’t figure out how to retract the bid in time. I immediately contacted the auction house and informed me of the mistake, through e-mail and voice mail, now they want me to either pay for the item plus the buyer’s premium or a 15% restocking fee plus the buyer’s premium. Do I have any recourse ?

    • Michael Beatrice says:

      I informed them of the mistake, I already knew I had made a mistake, sorry for the typo, very upset.

    • Auction Law says:

      I’m having to make some assumptions, but I’m assuming their terms and conditions specify how these types of things are handled. Whether you hit the button by mistake or not is not really a defense if the terms state that a winning bidder must pay a restocking fee. On the other hand, if it does not specify restocking fees, then they can’t arbitrarily charge it. Of course, you can break the contract by not paying, but it could have potential recourse against you, which could fall anywhere in between taking you to court to enforce the contract to banning you from any future auctions.

  2. Jules says:

    Hello. My grandmother recently opted to sell her personal property at an auction. The auction house changed the date of the auction several times, and ultimately did not let us know when the auction was taking place, thus I was unable to attend. When we received our final check and itemized list of items sold at auction, we found most items were unidentifiable due to their vague description, such as ‘misc’, ‘glass’, ‘table’. We also did not see several major furniture items on the list at all. I called and asked about these items and eventually received a callback simply saying, ‘Those items didn’t sell.’ I asked for further documentation of the auction, but was told the sale sheet I received was all they had. The auction was a combination of ‘personal property’ items from my grandmother’s estate as well as other people’s estates. Is the auctioneer required to provide a list of all items that went up for auction, including those that did not sell? And if in fact they did not sell, shouldn’t the items still be my grandmother’s property? Thank you so much for this informative website!

    • Auction Law says:

      The questions you ask would be determined primarily by the contract (I hope there was a contract involved).

      It’s not unusual for many auctions to conduct their sales “on the fly” which means the items may only identified by a consignor number and descriptions are recorded by the clerk during the course of the auction. As auctions are fast paced, such descriptions may be very general, small items with little value may be grouped together (i.e. filled boxes or table full may be identified as boxlot, misc. or table, which would indicate this – although not to be confused with an actual table being sold).

      If the auction company does not provide an inventory at the signing of a contract – which can be very time consuming and most people don’t want to wait – and takes a lot of goods, they may or may not provide a detailed list of items. Of course, it’s not a bad idea for you to inventory your items and provide a list, whether the auction company does or not. Then again, the auction company may still group various items together and their description may not always match yours in the same sort of detail.

      One should always check out the auction company and feel comfortable with any business before turning over their possessions. You should also ask questions and make sure you read any contract before signing, so you know just what you should expect. Of course, if you don’t feel that you can put your trust in any business, you should shop around for one you do trust.

      Concerning items that did not sell… again, this should be spelled out in the contract. In many cases, those items would be returned to the owner. However, some may have contracts specifying that such items would be disposed of if not picked up within a designated timeframe. Again, most all of this should be addressed in the contract.

  3. Terri Moore Cooper says:

    I left some items with an auction house and
    They were supposed to call me back with an
    Auction value so I could decide if I wanted to
    Auction them. They lost my items. Are they legally liable?

    • Auction Law says:

      If they had received the items, most lawyers will likely agree that they have a due diligence to care for the property and may be held liable for loss. Of course, you might need something to show that they had possession of the property.

  4. Silvia F. says:

    I know of an online auction company, with a business license and no auctioneer license. (I understand this is normal). The owners (4) plus another account (owners wife) can see max. bids and bid up bidder’s maximum. This is a weekly ordeal. The owners are accountants and do not work at the auction house but work at their accounting firm. Each Wednesday evening is auction. Bid high during the week and watch the bid price climb. Is this illegal or just frowned upon? This is also done once or twice if there is a private reserve which is completely understandable. Thank you for your Blog, I have learned so much and enjoy reading everything. This has been bothering me for awhile. This has taken the fun out of my online auction experience. Many thanks, Silvia F.

    • Auction Law says:

      In addition to the Auction Business license, there is a also a Florida auctioneer license number on the website and the individual’s information can be found at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=

      In regard to bidding… if the item has a reserved minimum, the seller or their agent may bid on behalf of the reserve price ONLY if such bidding is disclosed to bidders. Upon reviewing the terms and conditions on the website, there doesn’t appear to be any such notice. That would make such bidding illegal.

      Out of curiosity, I might ask how you know that such bidding is occurring?

  5. Silvia F. says:

    Hi again, I just wrote in to you a couple of hours ago. I was wondering if you do reply to me, could you please leave out the auction house owners jobs I mentioned? Accountants. I don’t want any trouble. (Sorry) Thank you so much. You really are BRILLIANT in all your knowledge and answers. Silvia

  6. tba9999 says:

    Hi. I won an auction on a website that specialize in the sale of original art. Paid for the auction with my credit and received a receipt via email. The next morning I received an email stating that I was no longer the high bidder on the closed auction. When I contacted the company they said they had server problems when the auction was closing and decided to re-open the auction for bids for an additional day. I told them I owned the art because I’d won the auction and paid for the item. They said they refunded my credit card and their terms of service allowed them to re-open an auction if they experience server problems. They have now sold the item to another bidder. Is this legal?

    • Auction Law says:

      Considering this was an online auction and also subject to shipping items, which typically means that the transaction isn’t complete until goods are received by the purchaser, there is little recourse in most cases. Then there is the matter of the auction Terms and Conditions which you also agreed to when you signed up.

      While many think that online auctions are the same as a live auction, there are many differences between them.

  7. kavin says:

    i bid on an online auction there wed page still shows i won the item. but they say it sold to a on site bidder for the same price as i show i won it for. and there was a statement on the bid page that said in a tie bid early bids take precedence. do i have recourse ? is the item mine ?

    • Auction Law says:

      As I have not seen the entire Terms and Conditions, I can only make a few assumptions. First, the “precedence” factor probably relates to the online bidding. Bidding online is often utilized as a way to leave an absentee bid, which is then placed on your behalf in the bidding during a live auction. So, your bid wasn’t placed until the item was actually offered during the live event and if someone on the floor bids the high amount before the absentee bid was noticed, then the floor bid is the one accepted by the auctioneer. The same could apply if it was a simulcast auction (live online & in-house bidders), as the bid first noticed by the auctioneer takes precedence over any other bids… just as if other live bidders all tried bidding the same amount, only one can be acknowledged and accepted by the auctioneer. The only recourse is to bid higher than anyone else is willing to bid, whether it’s a live or online auction.

      I might also note that online bidding is based on software and its particular limitations. So, just because it shows you to be the high bidder, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the winning bidder… it just means you’re the high online bidder. In a live auction, the winning bidder is the one that the auctioneer first noticed and accepted – that may or may not be the online bid. In some cases, in case of a tie between online and live bidders, the floor bidder may have precedence over the online bid. After all, they made the effort to attend in person and more likely to pay for their purchases. This is because there is a significantly higher incident of non-payment from online bidders, thereby increasing the risk of a no-sale due to various factors… whether buyer’s remorse, didn’t read the terms, claims of “not as described” and many others.

  8. Brenda says:

    I own a resale shop and being that I get most of my stuff from storage auctions my inventory is out of hand so I thought about having a live auction , Is it legal for me to do that without an auction house or being a licensed auctioneer ? It would be my own property only. Tia !! Brenda

    • Auction Law says:

      That depends on licensing laws of your state.
      However, there’s a lot more to an auction than just throwing a bunch of stuff out there and expecting a bunch of people to come bid.

  9. Jeremy Adams says:

    I participated in a local online auction that was conducted thru a local Auction house’s online platform. I won the item and was invoiced as the winner. The auction house then claimed they made a mistake in their online system and there were bids higher than mine. The auction house chose not to honer my bid as the winner even though I was recognized as the winner of an absolute auction with all sales final. They then conducted a new auction between me and two other bidders. In the middle of that auction the auction house changed the terms of the bidding increments without notification to all parties. I have filed several complaints with the state licensing board and the BBB. Is there any legal considerations here from taking this issue to small claims court?

    Thanks

    • Jeremy Adams says:

      Sorry I read the post two above mine and wanted to provide additional info. There was no buyers present in my auction. Was clearly defined as absolute online action with local pick up an payment only. I was recognized as the winner by their system and the auction was final. It was the next day they determined I wasn’t the winner due to their error. I feel that if all sales are final & I was invoiced as the winner then I’m the winner.

    • Auction Law says:

      The first question is whether online auctions are regulated by auction laws in your state – most states do not regulate online auctions. This may why the licensing board is not responding your complaints.

      The BBB has no regulatory control over any business. It’s nothing more than a complaint agency. Many business respond to them just retain a good rating. However, note that this does not mean that the customers complaint was rectified to the customer’s satisfaction, but only that the business responded.

      I’m not sure that a small claims court is likely to rule on the basis of auction law. The small claims court is basically for individuals to bring small suits against other over an amount of money owed.

      You might want to talk to an attorney to see what your recourse – if any – would be.

  10. Shannon Kawamura says:

    I won 3 out of 4 similar items on an online auction on Sat. I paid in person on Sunday, I have my invoice stamped “Paid In Full” On Monday morning I receive a call saying that there was a problem with my items. I was told that there was a ‘glitch’ in the system, (on only these 3 out 700-ish items) and that another party had won as well. That other party was willing to pay more for all three items. The owner of the auction house was asking me if i wanted to bid higher as well. I told him I needed to think about it and I’d call later. I was pretty mad. He called back and said the other buyer was anxious to find out my answer. I told him I would compromise and bid higher on 1 of the 3 items and I’d let the other two go. I said I would only go up to the next bid level on the one item. The owner of the auction house then texted me back to let me know that the other bidder outbid me on that 1 item as well. He said they will refund my money. I told him I thought he was shady. I’m wondering now if it was even legal for him to do that?

    • Auction Law says:

      No.
      I don’t what kind of “glitch” in an online auction will sell the same item to two different people. Bids and the time received are logged. There can only be one high bidder.
      I too, think there’s something shady going on.

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