By W. Scott Swenson, CAI, GPPA
I have been a professional auctioneer since 1983 and our company has conducted over 3,000 auctions during that time. This experience provides data, some of which is recorded in the written word and some in the wrinkles on my face. One of the challenges that auctioneers have to deal with on a regular basis is the removal of purchased items by the buyers. We call it Auction Removal or Auction Check-out.
We provide in-depth information (in writing) on how the Auction Removal will happen and what is expected of the buyers and what they should expect from the auction team. This is included in our Auction Terms & Conditions, which the bidder has to agree to online when they register. We also send emails to the bidders when they register online with highlights of the terms & conditions (that they have already agreed to electronically) including the info on removal. We also post the link to the terms & conditions to the online catalog at the top of every page. All of that being said, the data that I referred to earlier tells us one absolute fact: people DO NOT READ information provided, even when it is important.
What Buyers Should Do
We recommend that buyers read everything in the terms & conditions of every auction, because almost all auctions are different. We have never used the exact same terms & conditions for any two auctions. When reading the terms & conditions, make note of the following:
1) What day(s) the removal takes place and during what times. Do you need an appointment?
2) Are those days hard and fast or is late removal available?
3) Is the auction company or the seller providing any equipment or labor to assist with loading?
4) Is there a dock or ramp on site?
Make plans early and don’t wait until the last minute to address removal. Bring a copy of your paid invoice or if you are paying onsite, have exact change or a form of payment approved in the terms & conditions. If you bring cash, have exact change. Make sure you have a vehicle that is appropriate to haul your purchases. Do you need a lift gate or ramp? You may even need to rent a truck or trailer. Is there a forklift or other equipment provided on site that can assist you? If a forklift is provided, it is not going to move things that can be carried by hand by one or two people. Make sure you bring help that can physically help you in loading. Read the description of the item you are bidding on, including the expanded description. If the dimensions may be an issue, read that part of the description. If there are no dimensions, email the auctioneer (days in advance of the closing date) and inquire. We have had people show up at removal in a sports car to pick up a piece of equipment and find out it will not fit. We have also had people show up at removal using crutches, by themselves, to pick up something that requires at least two people to carry it. The auction crew may take pity and help you, but you should never expect that. Bring your own boxes, wrapping materials, tools for disassembly, tie down straps, dollies, etc. Don’t assume it will be provided. At most auctions, the buyer is responsible for all aspects of removal. Do your due diligence and don’t expect the auctioneer to load for you or to hand feed you everything you may need. Remember, this is not retail, so don’t expect retail customer service.
When you hire a shipping company to pick up your purchases, make sure you discuss in detail when they will pick up (making sure it matches a day on the Auction Company’s Terms & Conditions) and in what time frame they will arrive. Many shippers have trucks that need to deliver goods before they have room on their truck to pick up your items. This can cause delays. If possible, get the phone number of the dispatcher who can contact the truck and get better ETA’s. Stay in contact with the auction company and let them know immediately if there are any changes in the ETA of the truck. Remember, if the auctioneer’s terms & conditions say they do not provide shipping, do not expect them to solve your problems for you.
READ the terms & conditions. Do not make assumptions. Contact the auctioneer with questions before the auction is over. Plan to remove your purchases yourself or with help you bring. Come early. Be prepared.