AT Inbox: What do you think of buyer’s premiums?

I buy a lot at auction and agree that the buyer’s premium is simply greed. It only helps the auction house. Auction houses typically charge a hefty fee to the seller, as much as 30-40 percent. When added to the final hammered selling price, the house makes 47-67 percent, which is much more than the seller makes and they are supplying the merchandise. What a rip-off! For the aforementioned reasons, I buy very little at auction houses.

Donald W. Hurta

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Let’s call the so-called ‘buyer’s premium’ exactly what it is – a buyer’s penalty. The buyer is being penalized for spending money.

On top of that penalty, too many auction houses today are charging the seller on a sliding scale, as high as 50 percent of the sold price. In other words, if an item sells for $50, the auction house receives $25 from the sold price, and then tacks on another 10-20 percent  penalty to the buyer. The result? The auction house receives $30-$35 on a $50 item, and the seller receives only $25. What’s wrong with this picture?

Naturally, the auction house will say that they are trying to dissuade sellers from giving them low priced items, but then these same auction houses will run a “Peddler’s Auction” during the week, and encourage any type of item, no matter what the value. 

To paraphrase one of the other readers, it seems that there is more money to be made as an auctioneer, than as a dealer.

Greed has brought our economy where we are today, and it exists everywhere!

David Williams

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I am a big fan of auctions and auction houses. I think they provide a valuable service. However, I don’t think they should charge any buyer’s penalty. They make enough from the seller’s commission without having to add to the buyer’s cost. Greed is always bad business in the long run. If they don’t change their ways, people will find alternatives.

Kay, via email

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The first time I saw an auction with a buyer’s premium, I couldn’t believe it. It was such a blatant example of corporate greed that I thought that auctions requiring a buyer’s premium would be boycotted. When that didn’t happen, I realized that collectors are compelled to bid on items they need for their collection and would put up with any indignity to get that special item. The auction houses are well aware of this addiction and are exploiting it by requiring a buyer’s premium. Is taking advantage of peoples’ weaknesses ethical? I don’t think so. Thanks for the opportunity to speak out on this practice.

Cathy Dahms

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It’s simple. If you do not like the buyer’s premium do not do business with auction companies that charge a premium. That is what makes America great – you have the right to choose. The only problem is that auction companies that sell quality items to advanced collectors want to charge a premium. The person who will not pay a buyer’s premium is probably a low-end collector. As an auctioneer who has charged a premium for over 15 years, we are proud we sell quality items that warrant a premium. 

Jim Daniel, www.danielauctioncompany.com

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I think it’s a matter of the auction houses saying, "How much will the traffic bear?" As long as people keep paying the buying penalty those costs sure won’t get any lower or go away.

Lynette Mosby

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If you don’t want to pay a buyer’s fee, don’t buy at an auction! All auction houese let customers know well before the auction starts, what the fee will be, so it’s not like it’s a surprise. Do your research ahead of time, do the math yourself, and decide if you really really want the item. No one is forcing you to buy whatever it is that you want at an auction.

Gary Graff

More "fed up" with eBay

I have been an eBay seller since 1998. I am fed up with their attitude and regulations. It is very difficult to find anyone willing to help all sellers. I would appreciate any you can render.

Could you please publish the following address in the Antique Trader for those that would like to complain to the US Dept of Justice Antitrust?
http://www.usdoj.gov/

Steve Keith, Lebanon, Ky.

Click here to sound your opinion on buyer’s premiums in the AntiqueTrader.com message boards.

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