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Thread: Disappointing Public Surplus Auction Experience

  1. #1

    Disappointing Public Surplus Auction Experience

    I had a disappointing experience recently with a Public Surplus auction that still has me scratching my head. Out of over 30 bids mine ended up the highest and was successful winning the auction. Within hours after paying for the item in full the credit card transaction was refunded. I called the seller soon afterwards and was informed that they made a mistake and failed to include a reserve amount. No other explanation was given and stated they didn't have to honor the transaction. They have since relisted the item with a reserve. Anyone else have this experience?
    Last edited by Steve Mathews; 03-06-2020 at 5:53 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Never had that happen, but Iíve also never won a lot by being the lowest bidder.

    Surely there is fine print somewhere.

    And it could have been an honest mistake. A box not checked somewhere saying there is a reserve.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Day View Post
    Never had that happen, but Iíve also never won a lot by being the lowest bidder.

    Surely there is fine print somewhere.

    And it could have been an honest mistake. A box not checked somewhere saying there is a reserve.
    LOL at my mistake (since corrected) about being the lowest bidder. Sure, mistakes may take place but handling only 2 auction items over a 9 day period with a number of bidders asking questions has me wondering if something else is going on. Why didn't they catch it earlier? Add to that the winning bid was not out of line with what the same item has sold for previously. I had to drive a couple of hours one way to do an inspection, which makes it more aggravating.

  4. #4
    This seems possibly illegal. I'm sure they would have taken your money if it had been a mistake on your part. I would review the language of the auction agreement you signed, and if there's no obvious out, and it's a significant amount of money I would consider a lawyer or small claims court.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    3,987
    Depends on laws in your country but, in general, government entities are able to say opps! and promise not to do it again. I doubt any court will force another government group to honor a typo. How much is the reserve price compared to you high bid? within 10-20% probably cheaper not to relist and pay someone to read all the new bids, pay to re-advertise etc.
    I may have misread our post. Was this a auction run by a private company or was it run by a government agency? If it is a private company go to court for sure.
    Bill D
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 03-07-2020 at 12:04 AM.

  6. #6
    I don't know the reserve they intended to place on the auction. After looking more closely at the terms of the auction it appears that bids could be withdrawn by the seller. But as mentioned before the auction ended with me as the high bidder, they notified me by email that I was the winner and I promptly paid them through the auction site according to the seller's instructions. I don't see anything in the terms allowing them to cancel the sale, especially after being paid. Although they refunded my credit card for the full amount they have yet to return the deposit. At this point I'm not inclined to let them off the hook. If I can't get a lawyer to handle the situation I may follow through with small claims since it involves a little less than $5k.

  7. #7
    I also have had a BAD experience with an Army surplus auction , had a government employ , who was a friend and a good person , do the paper work to get a bidding number . when I arrived at the Army base for the auction , no one on base knew where the auction was being held ? that should have tipped me , the bidders are selected . anyway went to pay master office - figured they knew where things were going on at the base. was a 12,000 acre base. Was given directions to where the auction was , arrived to find the auction was being held in a secured fenced enclosure . Had to check in at gate to enter , if they don't want other bidders attend ing the auction , no way are you getting into the bidding area. lesson learned I left and found a great restaurant and enjoyed a very good meal - after the meal , which I enjoyed very much - so disappointment of not getting into the bidding area for auction was still an enjoyable outing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    Auctions are hit and miss. Usually the on-line auctions seam to have their act together more than local ones. I went to one at a naval base and it was a total train wreck. It wasn't the navy putting it on but a contractor. There was no coordination between the two so just getting on the base was an issue. Then there was parking once buyers found the correct warehouse. Very few bidders so stuff went cheap. All I could think of was how much more they could have made if they had organized it better. But it's taxpayer money so they probably didn't care.

    I have bought several pieces of equipment through on-line auctions and had no problems. But I have never been brave enough to buy something and have it shipped to me. Most places will not properly package an item so you need to deal with middle man who will. Both buyer's premium and reserve price have always been pointed out clearly.

    Too bad you didn't win your item(s). Not sure how much higher the reserve was but if it didn't get close they should take that as a sign that the reserve price is too high or they aren't doing a good enough job marketing the auction.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=Alex Zeller;2998921

    ...Too bad you didn't win your item(s). Not sure how much higher the reserve was but if it didn't get close they should take that as a sign that the reserve price is too high or they aren't doing a good enough job marketing the auction.[/QUOTE]

    I actually did win the auction with the high bid and paid for it in full. The reason the seller gave for backing out of the sale was they supposedly made a mistake and didn't include a reserve. I don't know if the seller made the mistake or the auction house didn't follow through with the seller's request.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mathews View Post
    I actually did win the auction with the high bid and paid for it in full. The reason the seller gave for backing out of the sale was they supposedly made a mistake and didn't include a reserve. I don't know if the seller made the mistake or the auction house didn't follow through with the seller's request.
    You won but didn't win. A win would be if you got a piece of equipment for the winning bid price. Anyway still too bad you didn't go home with what you thought you won. There are some good deals that can be found. I recently picked up a 3hp Canadian made shaper with a US made motor for $200 (including buyer's fee, loading fee, and tax) and a PM66 table saw for a little over $230.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    calif /sonoma county
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    146
    i lost an ebay win and still bummed .i won the bid on a demolition hammer and bits . felt like the bits alone would cover my cost .seller reply's he cannot find it or such .i tried to let it go but sure seems slinky .

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Cedar Park, TX (NW Austin)
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    Quote Originally Posted by joseph f merz View Post
    i lost an ebay win and still bummed .i won the bid on a demolition hammer and bits . felt like the bits alone would cover my cost .seller reply's he cannot find it or such .i tried to let it go but sure seems slinky .
    The same happened to me on a piece of art I purchased... or tried. EBay seller mentioned he thought it would sell for more and later said he could not find it.

  13. #13
    I'd read the bidding terms carefully and consider my options. Based on the online auction rules I have read, if the roles were reversed and you won the auction and then found a better price elsewhere you would be still be required to honour your bid, pay for it and remove it from the auction site within the specified time. If you do get a do over why should they?

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    I'd read the bidding terms carefully and consider my options. Based on the online auction rules I have read, if the roles were reversed and you won the auction and then found a better price elsewhere you would be still be required to honour your bid, pay for it and remove it from the auction site within the specified time. If you do get a do over why should they?

    again I ask, what country ?
    Bill D
    Modesto, California ,USA

  15. #15
    Normally the auctioneer has great latitude that's why an Auctioneers reputation is so important. When dealing with the government they have even more discretion and when they gave you your money back they are done.
    Example Dayton Ohio sold some land for $40,000.they then realized that the land was worth much more. Months later they went to a judge and got the auction nullified then resold the parcel for $1.3 million. As a taxpayer I'm glad they got more money but as a buyer that seems wrong but that's the way the law is

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