Author Topic: Auction Etiquette - bidding on an item, when you have no idea what it is?  (Read 4376 times)

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hobish

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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.
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high dudgeon

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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.

Granny Takes a Trip

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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.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 05:06:28 PM by lucretia »
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high dudgeon

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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!

shhh its me

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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.

Harlow

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Removing my post because I didn't mean to sound so rude. I apologize to Lucretia.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 05:55:27 PM by Harlow »

M-theory

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She said she would have had trouble not decking him, not that she would have decked him. No need to be sanctimonious.

Harlow

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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.


Evil Duckie

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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.

BettyDraper

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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.


Kimblee

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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.

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.)
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Poppea

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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.

LifeOnPluto

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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. 

kareng57

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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.

Granny Takes a Trip

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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.
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