The irritating habits of some Auction Houses are really grating today. It's because I'm sitting on the internet bidding via the Saleroom.com and getting more and more wound up.
If you are going to use the internet to increase sales, for crying out loud give the people on the other end of the string a bit of respect! Sometimes I wonder if auctioneers have any experience of using the internet to bid, or have heard themselves? They should really record their audio and pay it back post sale to hear how rude they can sound. Excruciating.
A particularly bad example is Mallams: as far as I'm concerned they have history at this, and seem to be gettin' worse from what I have been told today. But they are certainly not alone. I guess going for a laugh in the room is a bit like texts; they (usually) can come across in a completely different way.
All auction houses do it a bit, “Come on internet, hurry up” being the least of it. And you know what, quite often its not us being slow: its you. Or out broadband provider, or the saleroom.com, which locks up … your sound drops in and out, you freeze, or disappear for minutes at a time when you want to without telling us what's going on, but somehow its all the bidders fault. You don't hector the bidders in the room in the same way, Oh No. They might bite. Sitting targets, us interwebbers.
Not that this is the least of it, not by a long chalk:
The one I'm “at” today nearly always starts every lot at or over the top estimate. It's obviously policy as all their auctioneers do it. Drives me mad with frustration and almost every time they have to come back down to below the bottom estimate to get going: such a waste of time. Sure, if you've got bids 'on the book' then start appropriately, but otherwise, lets get going rather than waste time, lot after lot after lot.
And that's part of it, sitting on the end of a machine waiting can be a soul destroying job. Please, just get on with it. Add some pace otherwise we drift off. Like I've done to write this. And with internet bidders generally outnumbering in-the-roomers now, surely its time we came first not treated as some inconvenience. I think there's a point about rules here too. I'm not sure if its law or just accepted, but I don't think its 'legal' to have the reserve higher than the bottom estimate. So there really is no excuse for starting over that figure, unless, as I say, you have commissions.
And we pay for the privilege. You Auction Houses may not get the money, I don't know. I imagine it goes to Saleroom.com or EasyLive etc, but you might remember that it costs us extra to sit and listen to your crap.
One thing this lot I'm with today have done is vastly improve their photography. What a difference! I can't compliment them enough on this. A real change in the last few months from where they were last time I bid with them. Now you get three or four good clear pics of each item. It has made such a difference. Compare them with many who either give us a snap from a mobile phone of the item in-situ in the room (covered in other bits and bobs, as I mention here), or don't bother to photograph all of their lots. What DO they think!? Or don't they?
I know auction houses have had it (very very) good over the last few years, but complacency is definitely and very obviously setting in. I believe this will backfire, in fact I'd go as far as to say it has already started. With the announcement of one London auction house going bust this month and another closing down part of its operation, I think there will be others following hard on their heels. The shakedown has begun.
And actually, when I consider how badly you, yes you Mr Auction House, treat your customers, from abusing internet bidders to shitty coffee for those few that go, I won't be at all surprised if you go down because your customers desert you.
Loyalty is hard earned and easily lost. There isn't a high street store in the land that would get away with how some Auction Houses behave, and as they encroach more and more into the retail sector they are going to have to play by those rules. And the retaill sector takes no prisoners. There's much more I could say, and probably will someday, but I think that's enough ranting for today. What about your experiences? Please share – comments very welcome below (I'm genuinely interested)
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