Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: LifeOnPluto on August 08, 2010, 10:22:36 PM

Title: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on August 08, 2010, 10:22:36 PM
Yesterday, DF and I went to an auction with our friend "Fred". This auction was for a deceased estate, and there was a lot of old items there. In particular, there were old tools and equipment that are quite rare and collectable. Many of these items would not be instantly recognisable by your average, modern 21st century-dweller.

DF and I left early, but Fred (who is a keen collecter of old items like these) stayed behind. Afterwards, he told us what happened.

Old and Collectable Doodad Number 1 was up for bidding. Fred and several other collecters in the crowd put their bids in. But unfortunately, at the last minute, this random guy yelled out a figure that was significantly higher than the other bids. As a result, he won the Doodad. Fred and the others simply could not match his price.

When he received the Doodad, the guy turned to Fred and the other people standing nearby, and asked "So what actually IS this thing? How does it work?"  It turned out that he'd only bid for it, because he thought it "looked interesting".

This happened several more times. The next Old and Collectible Doodad would be presented. Fred and the other collecters would eagerly bid, but Random Guy would jump in with a high figure, and win the item. Then he'd turn to the people nearby, waving the item around, and say "Gee, so what's THIS one? What do I do with it? I have no idea what it is! Do any of you blokes know?" etc etc.

After the auction, Fred and the other collecters virtually left empty-handed, while the random guy with the deep pockets walked away with a bunch of old items that he had no idea about. Fred was extremely annoyed, as he knew he would have been able to give the items a good home. He could have restored them, displayed them, and even used them.

What are your opinions on the random guy's actions? I'm guessing it falls under the category of "annoying, but not rude". But I'm interested to hear people's thoughts.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: MadMadge43 on August 08, 2010, 10:29:07 PM
I very rarely say annoying but not rude, but I think this is a case.

If he has the money to buy a bunch of stuff only because other people want it, well then that's life. He probably thinks he's "investing". I think in the end it won't bring him any joy to have it and since he out bid people who knew it's worth he probably won't make any money either. What a shame.

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Dragonflymom on August 08, 2010, 10:43:45 PM
Possibly mildly annoying, but definitely not rude to outbid others at an auction even if he's not completely sure what they are.

It's also possible that he bought them intending them for gifts for someone who collects old equipment like this and perhaps they will actually be going to a good home.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: ShadesOfGrey on August 08, 2010, 10:45:49 PM
I agree - annoying, but not rude. 
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: shhh its me on August 08, 2010, 10:55:48 PM
  I can't even say firmly annoying , the constant asking might have been attention seeking and a little naanaa but saying this a "great I will love it forever" after winning every bid would be the same thing.  Just not knowing and winning is more like a first time golfer beating you game after game it's annoying but they aren't being annoying.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Unusual Banana on August 08, 2010, 10:59:22 PM
I don't think it really makes a difference that the guy didn't know anything about the items. Just because he didn't know what they were when he bought them doesn't mean he won't give them a good home--he did find them interesting, maybe interesting enough that he'll do some research on them to find out what they are and how to restore them and end up becoming a collector himself. If Fred is extremely annoyed about this but wouldn't care if a rich collector bought all the items leaving none for Fred and the other collectors I think that's a bit snobby.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: shhh its me on August 08, 2010, 11:37:04 PM
  You also have to consider that auctions are being held in part to generate fund for the deceased estate , which may be the sole source of funds for a destitute widow, kids etc.  If people said to themselves "I am willing to pay $1000 for that , the highest big is $200 but since I've won the last 3 items I'll bow out of this bid to be gracious" the estate would loss the money.   I've heard that sometimes as a form of "non-charity charity" people will overbid "worthless" items at estate sales for the purpose of helping the family
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: blarg314 on August 09, 2010, 12:08:50 AM

Annoying to the collectors, but not rude - knowledge or appreciation of what you are buying is not required at an auction, or most other sales for that matter.

For the people holding the auction, generally a high price from an ignorant purchaser is better than a low price from a knowledgeable bidder. If they want to sell to someone who appreciates the item, but where cost is not an issue, there are other venues that work better for that.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: DottyG on August 09, 2010, 12:32:48 AM

Annoying to the collectors, but not rude - knowledge or appreciation of what you are buying is not required at an auction, or most other sales for that matter.

For the people holding the auction, generally a high price from an ignorant purchaser is better than a low price from a knowledgeable bidder. If they want to sell to someone who appreciates the item, but where cost is not an issue, there are other venues that work better for that.


Was going to say the same thing, but now I don't need to. So, I'll just say POD.

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Granny Takes a Trip on August 09, 2010, 02:25:44 AM


I am going to go against the grain here, and say that the old guy was rude. Why? Because his broadcasting his lack of knowledge of the piece is a form of bragging, and drawing attention to himself and his buying prowess. It is crass. He is not rude for being rich, and spending money, but he is rude for persitently engaging the disppointed bidders in the repeated foolish conversation.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Akarui Kibuno on August 09, 2010, 03:17:15 AM
I am going to go against the grain here, and say that the old guy was rude. Why? Because his broadcasting his lack of knowledge of the piece is a form of bragging, and drawing attention to himself and his buying prowess. It is crass. He is not rude for being rich, and spending money, but he is rude for persitently engaging the disppointed bidders in the repeated foolish conversation.

POD to this, actually.

Of course the mere act of buying something and spending more money on it than someone else would isn't rude, and buying something someone wanted "more" isn't rude, either. Had that person asked a question once, I would have thought "clueless" but that's not always irritating or rude. But what he did really reads like rubbing it in, and that's rude *and* very annoying.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: sparklestar on August 09, 2010, 05:47:38 AM
I'm in the annoying not rude camp - and here's why:

Let's say it was reversed.  Let's say the winning bidder knows the value of the item and everyone else thinks it's a piece of junk.  He outbids them and gets Old and Collectable Doodad Number 1 for $200 when it's real value is $1,000 because no one else there appreciates what it is.  His knowledge of the situation is fortuitous to him, whereas Random Guy's strength is in his wallet. 

I was at an auction this weekend too.  We bid on a rug that we really liked and could spend up to 150 on.  Bidders flocked round it and it when higher than our maximum very quickly because someone else valued it more highly than what we valued it at - that's how these things works.  You pay what the item is worth to you, not what it's actually worth in a lot of cases. 
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Akarui Kibuno on August 09, 2010, 06:16:55 AM
I'm in the annoying not rude camp - and here's why:

Let's say it was reversed.  Let's say the winning bidder knows the value of the item and everyone else thinks it's a piece of junk.  He outbids them and gets Old and Collectable Doodad Number 1 for $200 when it's real value is $1,000 because no one else there appreciates what it is.  His knowledge of the situation is fortuitous to him, whereas Random Guy's strength is in his wallet. 

I was at an auction this weekend too.  We bid on a rug that we really liked and could spend up to 150 on.  Bidders flocked round it and it when higher than our maximum very quickly because someone else valued it more highly than what we valued it at - that's how these things works.  You pay what the item is worth to you, not what it's actually worth in a lot of cases. 

Actually as I said, this wouldn't be rude.

Being rude is what the guy did, as in "I don't know what it is, I'll buy it anyway, and too bad those guys didn't get it, but oh wait maybe they'll know for this item, and this one, and this one, and thi one too" , thus rubbing it in that he had won the item.

I've never been to a "live" auction, but if I were to be put in such a situation, I'd do my research about the won items in "private" , as in, I surely wouldn't ask the other bidders multiple times.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: demarco on August 09, 2010, 06:27:28 AM
I don't think random guy was rude.  I do find myself wondering whether he actually knew a lot more than he was letting on and that he "ignorance" was part of a strategy. 
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on August 09, 2010, 06:35:27 AM
I don't think it really makes a difference that the guy didn't know anything about the items. Just because he didn't know what they were when he bought them doesn't mean he won't give them a good home--he did find them interesting, maybe interesting enough that he'll do some research on them to find out what they are and how to restore them and end up becoming a collector himself. If Fred is extremely annoyed about this but wouldn't care if a rich collector bought all the items leaving none for Fred and the other collectors I think that's a bit snobby.

Fred would have been fine with a rich collector buying the Doodads, as it's highly likely the Rich Collector would have appreciated the Doodads, and looked after them. What annoyed Fred was the way this guy was laughing and waving the Doodads around, saying stuff like "Golly gee, what is THIS thing? I have no idea what it does!" etc etc.

I'm in the annoying not rude camp - and here's why:

Let's say it was reversed.  Let's say the winning bidder knows the value of the item and everyone else thinks it's a piece of junk.  He outbids them and gets Old and Collectable Doodad Number 1 for $200 when it's real value is $1,000 because no one else there appreciates what it is.  His knowledge of the situation is fortuitous to him, whereas Random Guy's strength is in his wallet. 

I was at an auction this weekend too.  We bid on a rug that we really liked and could spend up to 150 on.  Bidders flocked round it and it when higher than our maximum very quickly because someone else valued it more highly than what we valued it at - that's how these things works.  You pay what the item is worth to you, not what it's actually worth in a lot of cases. 

Actually as I said, this wouldn't be rude.

Being rude is what the guy did, as in "I don't know what it is, I'll buy it anyway, and too bad those guys didn't get it, but oh wait maybe they'll know for this item, and this one, and this one, and thi one too" , thus rubbing it in that he had won the item.

I've never been to a "live" auction, but if I were to be put in such a situation, I'd do my research about the won items in "private" , as in, I surely wouldn't ask the other bidders multiple times.

Akarui, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Fred felt it was inappropriate and insensitive for the guy to be asking the unsuccessful bidders what the items were. He reckoned the guy should have asked the auction staff, or attempted to do some private research.

I don't think random guy was rude.  I do find myself wondering whether he actually knew a lot more than he was letting on and that he "ignorance" was part of a strategy. 

I guess this could be a possibility, but Fred was pretty darn sure the guy was genuinely clueless!
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: sbtier on August 09, 2010, 09:28:31 AM
I don't think the guy was rude on bidding on stuff he didn't recognize, but I think he was rude to question the people he outbid on what the stuff was.  Naughty sbtier thinks the outbid guys should have made stuff, sure it's a octane hextant compressor!
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Bibliophile on August 09, 2010, 09:32:13 AM
I don't think he was rude.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Hushabye on August 09, 2010, 09:35:59 AM
Annoying but not rude.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on August 09, 2010, 10:12:24 AM
If he was shouting his ignorance as a way to make the losing bidders feel even worse, then he was rude.  If just generally clueless, then no.  Since I don't know which he was, I will give him the benefit of a doubt, and say not rude.

But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Aggiesque on August 09, 2010, 10:35:07 AM
If he was bidding *because* he knew it annoyed/bothered the others, it's rude.

If he was bidding because he was interested in the item- weather he knew what it was or not- it's annoying, but not rude, imo.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Carnation on August 09, 2010, 11:56:33 AM
Good grief, he sounds like a jerk.

With money.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Poppea on August 09, 2010, 12:15:06 PM
I think tone is important here.  Was he trying to annoy the collectors or did he buy something he thought looked cool and then wanted to know what it was because he liked it so much?
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: hobish on August 09, 2010, 12:19:21 PM

The item goes to the highest bidder, not the person most interested in the item. That's pretty much the whole point of an auction. The guy didn't do anything wrong.

Good grief, he sounds like a jerk.

With money.

Why?
If he was shouting his ignorance as a way to make the losing bidders feel even worse, then he was rude.  If just generally clueless, then no.  Since I don't know which he was, I will give him the benefit of a doubt, and say not rude.

But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.

Who made this rule, and why is it rude not to follow it?
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Hushabye on August 09, 2010, 12:24:47 PM
And who says he doesn't love it?  Maybe he loved the looks of the items he bought -- sounds like he thought they were cool before he bought them, so why would that change once he knows what they are?
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Sophia on August 09, 2010, 12:25:53 PM
Also, he might have actually known and appreciated the doodads.  It might have been a distraction tactic.  

I have a friend who is a known document expert and collector.  The mere fact that he bids on something raises its perceived value to the knowledgeable bidders.  Even when it is something just for himself.  I have bid in his place while acting slightly ditzy.  

The big jump is another tactic.  People are often willing to pay X amount if the bids inch up to it, but not if the bids just made a big jump to X.  
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: DottyG on August 09, 2010, 12:43:15 PM

The item goes to the highest bidder, not the person most interested in the item. That's pretty much the whole point of an auction. The guy didn't do anything wrong.

Good grief, he sounds like a jerk.

With money.

Why?
If he was shouting his ignorance as a way to make the losing bidders feel even worse, then he was rude.  If just generally clueless, then no.  Since I don't know which he was, I will give him the benefit of a doubt, and say not rude.

But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.

Who made this rule, and why is it rude not to follow it?


I agree 100% with everything Hobish just said.

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Poppea on August 09, 2010, 12:47:57 PM


But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.

Where does it say the guy bought the stuff as an investment? The OP stated that he bought the tools because he thought they looked interesting. How does that translate into buying for an investment?

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: ydpubs on August 09, 2010, 01:11:07 PM
I am going to go against the grain here, and say that the old guy was rude. Why? Because his broadcasting his lack of knowledge of the piece is a form of bragging, and drawing attention to himself and his buying prowess. It is crass. He is not rude for being rich, and spending money, but he is rude for persitently engaging the disppointed bidders in the repeated foolish conversation.

POD to this, actually.

Of course the mere act of buying something and spending more money on it than someone else would isn't rude, and buying something someone wanted "more" isn't rude, either. Had that person asked a question once, I would have thought "clueless" but that's not always irritating or rude. But what he did really reads like rubbing it in, and that's rude *and* very annoying.
Agreed with the above. It really seems as though he were rubbing it in and attention seeking. I find it both annoying and boorishly rude.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on August 09, 2010, 01:18:24 PM


But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.

Where does it say the guy bought the stuff as an investment? The OP stated that he bought the tools because he thought they looked interesting. How does that translate into buying for an investment?



I am sorry!  I was trying to be cute and humorous.  It is no where near rude to buy something as an investment.  I was attempting to imply that if he didn't know what it was, how could he love it (not like my teapot collection, which I stare at with loving eyes every day).  But, really, for all we know, he loves his whatzis as much as I love my new teapot (and really it is adorable).
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: JoanOfArc on August 09, 2010, 02:49:31 PM
He wasn't rude.  I'm an artist and I might go to an auction and buy interesting things to use in my art because I liked the look of the item, not because of their value or use. He might have been annoying to those around him, but annoying isn't rude and neither is buying an item for another purpose than restoring it or collecting it.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: hobish on August 09, 2010, 02:51:42 PM


But he has violated the number one rule of collectors: collect for love and not for an investment.  If the market for the collectible falls apart, but you bought it because you loved it, you can never lose.

Where does it say the guy bought the stuff as an investment? The OP stated that he bought the tools because he thought they looked interesting. How does that translate into buying for an investment?



I am sorry!  I was trying to be cute and humorous.  It is no where near rude to buy something as an investment.  I was attempting to imply that if he didn't know what it was, how could he love it (not like my teapot collection, which I stare at with loving eyes every day).  But, really, for all we know, he loves his whatzis as much as I love my new teapot (and really it is adorable).

Oh, goodness. I am extra dense today.  :P Thanks.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: high dudgeon on August 09, 2010, 03:07:37 PM
Annoying, not rude. If Fred or the other collectors really wanted the items, they should have paid the going price for them, even if it were higher than expected. But an auction isn't like a Secret Santa where it's guaranteed that everyone will be leaving with at least one prize and the winner isn't obligated to leave some items for the other bidders to purchase. It's just their bad luck that an enthusiastic bidder with deep pockets showed up that day.

I think really all they could do would be to give the winner a business card and tell him if he was ever looking to resell the items, that they are interested and to please contact them. And then let it go.

I also don't think it matters what the objects are, or if the winner knows what they are for. If he liked them enough to pay above market price for them, that's the end of it. He doesn't have to prove his knowledge of the item in order to purchase it, unless that's a condition set by the auctioneer or seller.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Granny Takes a Trip on August 09, 2010, 04:02:55 PM
Annoying, not rude. If Fred or the other collectors really wanted the items, they should have paid the going price for them, even if it were higher than expected. But an auction isn't like a Secret Santa where it's guaranteed that everyone will be leaving with at least one prize and the winner isn't obligated to leave some items for the other bidders to purchase. It's just their bad luck that an enthusiastic bidder with deep pockets showed up that day.

I think really all they could do would be to give the winner a business card and tell him if he was ever looking to resell the items, that they are interested and to please contact them. And then let it go.

I also don't think it matters what the objects are, or if the winner knows what they are for. If he liked them enough to pay above market price for them, that's the end of it. He doesn't have to prove his knowledge of the item in order to purchase it, unless that's a condition set by the auctioneer or seller.

While this, and all responese like it, are quite true, that really doesn't answer my and AK's point. Our point is that it it is rude to flaunt his lack of knowledge. It is a way of saying-"look at meeeeeeeeeeeee. I'm so rich that I just buy things on a whim, even though I have no clue what they are! And I'm going to ask you knowledgeable guys (who are still SOL)  what to do with it. Aren't I a cute eccentric millionaire." Annoying and rude in my book. Congrats to OPs friend. I would have had difficulty not decking him.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: high dudgeon on August 09, 2010, 04:16:43 PM
Or it just could have been enthusiasm and excitement over his new acquisitions. The auction winner doesn't sound like the most mature or socially adept person one could hope to meet, but I think it's taking it too far to ascribe a definite motive to him, especially such a negative one. And either way, it's certainly not worth committing assault and going to jail over!
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: shhh its me on August 09, 2010, 04:23:31 PM
Annoying, not rude. If Fred or the other collectors really wanted the items, they should have paid the going price for them, even if it were higher than expected. But an auction isn't like a Secret Santa where it's guaranteed that everyone will be leaving with at least one prize and the winner isn't obligated to leave some items for the other bidders to purchase. It's just their bad luck that an enthusiastic bidder with deep pockets showed up that day.

I think really all they could do would be to give the winner a business card and tell him if he was ever looking to resell the items, that they are interested and to please contact them. And then let it go.

I also don't think it matters what the objects are, or if the winner knows what they are for. If he liked them enough to pay above market price for them, that's the end of it. He doesn't have to prove his knowledge of the item in order to purchase it, unless that's a condition set by the auctioneer or seller.

While this, and all responese like it, are quite true, that really doesn't answer my and AK's point. Our point is that it it is rude to flaunt his lack of knowledge. It is a way of saying-"look at meeeeeeeeeeeee. I'm so rich that I just buy things on a whim, even though I have no clue what they are! And I'm going to ask you knowledgeable guys (who are still SOL)  what to do with it. Aren't I a cute eccentric millionaire." Annoying and rude in my book. Congrats to OPs friend. I would have had difficulty not decking him.

I can actually agree with that , it would depend on how he announced he ignorance.  "Hey you *stranger that was also bidding* do you know what this is?" over and over or normal voice to the person he was with "I have no idea what this is but it's neat looking"

I said earlier it wasn't his ignorance it was the spectacle.  If he had jumped up and down after ever win and loudly shout "WooT Woot Woot I won again. I love *correct name of obscure widget*" would have been just as rude.  

I'm not trying to split hairs with you I agree that "Look at me!!!" is annoying and in many times rude.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Harlow on August 09, 2010, 04:26:30 PM
Removing my post because I didn't mean to sound so rude. I apologize to Lucretia.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: M-theory on August 09, 2010, 04:29:31 PM
She said she would have had trouble not decking him, not that she would have decked him. No need to be sanctimonious.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Harlow on August 09, 2010, 04:46:26 PM
She said she would have had trouble not decking him, not that she would have decked him. No need to be sanctimonious.

I apologize if I came off as sanctimonious.

I was just shocked . I have now learned I will not post when I'm in shocked mode.

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Evil Duckie on August 09, 2010, 04:48:40 PM
The guy was not rude at all. He was only annoying by continuing to ask what the items were that he just bought in a way that called attention to himself.

Auctions are sales where the highest person bidding wins. Some days items will bring a lot because someone really loves it and really wants it because it looks neat or there are a lot of people who want it and other days the same item will not sale. That is the nature of auctions.

There is no law saying that only serious collectors can bid on an item or that you have to know what it is before bidding. He thought the items looked interesting and was willing to pay X+Y for them when the others there were only willing to pay X therefore he became the new owner instead of the others.

If I think an item looks neat and would fit in my room without really knowing what it is, why would it be wrong to bid and win it? As long as I was not annoying to others after I bought it I should be fine.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: BettyDraper on August 09, 2010, 06:14:36 PM
People make idle chitchat with strangers all the time at interactive events like auctions.  Even if the old guy were more savvy than he let on, there is nothing rude about being competitive and ribbing others.  Irritating and obnoxious, perhaps, but etiquette does not require us to march around like sanitized Stepford People.

In fact my 1963 edition of Amy Vanderbilt devotes five pages to auction etiquette; under "The Country Auction" which I assume this was, vs. a gallery / Sotheby's type thing, she notes:  "The country auction, especially if it is held out of doors, is loud and boisterous, often intimate."

I don't want to quote too much for fear of running afoul of copyright rules but basically she says it's a show in which bidders interact with one another, make side deals etc.

No doubt it's galling to watch good stuff go to a self-congratulatory bigmouth but in the context of the event the old guy wasn't really incorrect.

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Kimblee on August 09, 2010, 06:43:30 PM
I'm in the annoying not rude camp - and here's why:

Let's say it was reversed.  Let's say the winning bidder knows the value of the item and everyone else thinks it's a piece of junk.  He outbids them and gets Old and Collectable Doodad Number 1 for $200 when it's real value is $1,000 because no one else there appreciates what it is.  His knowledge of the situation is fortuitous to him, whereas Random Guy's strength is in his wallet. 

I was at an auction this weekend too.  We bid on a rug that we really liked and could spend up to 150 on.  Bidders flocked round it and it when higher than our maximum very quickly because someone else valued it more highly than what we valued it at - that's how these things works.  You pay what the item is worth to you, not what it's actually worth in a lot of cases. 

Actually as I said, this wouldn't be rude.

Being rude is what the guy did, as in "I don't know what it is, I'll buy it anyway, and too bad those guys didn't get it, but oh wait maybe they'll know for this item, and this one, and this one, and thi one too" , thus rubbing it in that he had won the item.

I've never been to a "live" auction, but if I were to be put in such a situation, I'd do my research about the won items in "private" , as in, I surely wouldn't ask the other bidders multiple times.

Yup. Plus he wanted to use the knowladge of people who DID their research.

I'm mean though. i would have given him absolutely horrible info and convinced him they were worth thousands more than they really are. That way worst case he never finds a buyer, best case he gets a severe disappointment. (well, I'd be tempted to do this, whether I would do it or not depends on how well I was in control of my mean side that day.)

(Although when I tried to bid on an ivory set of crochet hooks and lost miserably, the winning bidder had no idea what they were. But he offered to let me have one if I would tell him what they were. I told him the truth and refused the hook. They're better as a set, IMHO.)
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Poppea on August 09, 2010, 08:03:11 PM
People make idle chitchat with strangers all the time at interactive events like auctions.  Even if the old guy were more savvy than he let on, there is nothing rude about being competitive and ribbing others.  Irritating and obnoxious, perhaps, but etiquette does not require us to march around like sanitized Stepford People.

In fact my 1963 edition of Amy Vanderbilt devotes five pages to auction etiquette; under "The Country Auction" which I assume this was, vs. a gallery / Sotheby's type thing, she notes:  "The country auction, especially if it is held out of doors, is loud and boisterous, often intimate."

I don't want to quote too much for fear of running afoul of copyright rules but basically she says it's a show in which bidders interact with one another, make side deals etc.

No doubt it's galling to watch good stuff go to a self-congratulatory bigmouth but in the context of the event the old guy wasn't really incorrect.


Very true.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on August 09, 2010, 10:00:33 PM
As the OP, I didn't actually witness it, so can't say exactly what happened. But Fred reckoned that after receiving each Doodad, the guy would turn to the people standing near him (including Fred and the rest of the serious collectors) and do his "So what IS this thing? Does anyone know how it works?" spiel. Fred and the other collectors had been bidding right alongside him, so the guy could not have failed to notice that they were unsuccessful bidders. 
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: kareng57 on August 09, 2010, 10:06:51 PM
I say - maybe awkward and a bit brash, but not rude.  But I'm a bit curious - did the auctioneer/auction house have absolutely no idea of what these tools were?  I'd have thought that they might have given them even a vague label.

Overall I agree though - the whole point of the sale was to get the biggest $$$ value, not to provide the items to those who would treasure them the most.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Granny Takes a Trip on August 10, 2010, 12:22:49 AM


M and Harlow, thank you both. I actually didn't read your comment Harlow, as I've only just come the the thread (I'm in the UK so I was asleep).  I perhaps should clarify that I certainly don't go round hitting people-I was speaking more or less figuratively. I have a short fuse, and a strong case of LSTS (Low Snowflake Tolerance Syndrome) Fortunately for everyone, that stops short of actual violence.
Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: Granny Takes a Trip on August 10, 2010, 12:29:23 AM
Or it just could have been enthusiasm and excitement over his new acquisitions. The auction winner doesn't sound like the most mature or socially adept person one could hope to meet, but I think it's taking it too far to ascribe a definite motive to him, especially such a negative one. And either way, it's certainly not worth committing assault and going to jail over!

I'm not sure-I think that the motive I've ascribed is a very possible one. Even if he was not consciously thinking it,(and it's more than possible that he was) that's still how it would come across to me. I would not have given him the benefit of the doubt, and I would have been seriously annoyed (though I would have stopped short of actual violence-I didn't realise that anyone would take that literally)

Title: Re: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?
Post by: BettyDraper on August 10, 2010, 07:10:57 AM
As the OP, I didn't actually witness it, so can't say exactly what happened. But Fred reckoned that after receiving each Doodad, the guy would turn to the people standing near him (including Fred and the rest of the serious collectors) and do his "So what IS this thing? Does anyone know how it works?" spiel. Fred and the other collectors had been bidding right alongside him, so the guy could not have failed to notice that they were unsuccessful bidders. 

Yes but making a tiresome joke is not rude. 

I've been to many estate auctions and generally one is free to move about -- the crowd generally mills even as the bidding is ongoing and if I don't like what I'm overhearing from bystanders I just mosey along and find another place to stand.