Bidding on Auction Items
By bidding, you are stating that you are ready and willing to purchase that item for your bid amount, plus any shipping charges disclosed in the listing. If you are outbid, or your bid does not meet the seller's reserve price, you are under no obligation to buy. But in all other cases, you are entering a contract with the seller to buy the item, and to deliver payment within the time period specified. If you can't pay, on time, don't bid! Your bids are final and non-retractable.
Reserve Price Auctions
Sellers may choose to set a Reserve Price that is above the minimum starting bid. Bidders can see if an auction has a reserve price, and whether it has been met or not—indicated next to the current bid display in any auction. The actual amount of the reserve price is not shown to bidders, until it has been met or surpassed. The seller is not obligated to sell if the reserve was not met, nor is the high bidder obligated to purchase. If the high bid meets the reserve price, then both parties are obligated to the transaction.
Normally, an auction closes at the scheduled time as displayed within the listing. However, if there are successful bids entered within the last 5 minutes of the closing time, then the auction will go into overtime. The auction is extended until there are no further bids for a continuous 5 minutes. This is similar to an auctioneer continuing to take bids until there is no further interest. For example, if a new bid comes in with 4 minutes left in the auction, then there will be 1 minute of overtime. Unless more bids come in. It is possible for auction to be extended continuously, but the longest overtime so far has been 20 minutes.
Overtime helps dissuade "snipers", or last second bidders. For example, you may have spent considerable time achieving your high bid status at an auction. Without overtime, someone could time their bid entry to within a few seconds of the closing, leaving you without enough time to notice the bid and enter one in response. This is a common practice at online auctions, and unfair because you would not know that this person is waiting to pounce on you. At a live physical auction, at least you can see your competition, and the auctioneer will continue with the auction to give you a chance to respond. This is precisely why Audiogon employs an overtime system at our auctions. We have found that 5 minutes is enough time to receive an outbid email from our system, log in to our site, and place a bid.
So what's the best strategy? If you have the time and enjoy hanging out at online auctions, then wait until the last few minutes of an auction to bid. Your competition will have 5 minutes to respond, but maybe they are not available. On the other hand, if you do not have the time to attend the closing of an auction, then use our Proxy Bidding method (enter the highest price you are willing to pay, which Audiogon will then use to automatically bid for you). Together, these two features save you considerable time online, while still protecting your chances of winning auctions.
What to do after the auction?
Notifications are sent to both the high bidder and the seller after the end of a successful auction. Both the buyer and seller are expected to contact each other via email, within 3 days after the end of the auction. (Email addresses can be found in the notifications). After email contact, phone numbers should be exchanged between the buyer and the seller. We recommend that you speak over the phone before sending payment, or before shipping merchandise.
Once contact has begun, the payment arrangements, shipping arrangements, and expected dates should be settled upon. The goal is to complete the transaction within 10 days of auction closing. This may vary a little, depending on payment type, how long to wait to clear, when seller can get the item to carrier, etc. Basically, the specific dates should be worked out between the buyer and seller, and each party should follow through with their part of the schedule. Plan to exchange several emails or phone contacts, updating the other party with every step.
Audiogon members are expected to conduct business with the honor system in mind. All members in good standing have shown their integrity by registering, and following through with any commitments they have made. But we are all human, and mistakes and miscommunication can lead to disputes. If you find yourself in a situation where you and another member are at a disagreement, contact us. While we cannot promise a satisfactory resolution, we will try to contact both parties and help mediate the situation. Any illegal activities, breaking of a contract, or outright statements of falsehood should be reported to us immediately. Audiogon staff will cooperate with any law enforcement agencies, and at the least terminate the offender's membership.
With our 50 years of combined experience, we have found that most audiophiles are exceptionally honest, and trustworthy people. Perhaps this is a quirk that is necessary to be a true audio nut, or perhaps a camaraderie is felt between fellow audiophiles. Whatever the reason, we are extremely confident that members of the Audiogon community will behave in an honest manner, and be able to resolve any minor differences by themselves.