Author Topic: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?  (Read 4301 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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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.

MadMadge43

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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.


Dragonflymom

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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.
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ShadesOfGrey

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I agree - annoying, but not rude. 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

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shhh its me

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  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.

Unusual Banana

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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.

shhh its me

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  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

blarg314

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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.

DottyG

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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.


Granny Takes a Trip

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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.
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Akarui Kibuno

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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.
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sparklestar

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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. 

Akarui Kibuno

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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.
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demarco

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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. 

LifeOnPluto

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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!