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Re: Julia auction

Posted by Dan on Monday, 10 July 2017, at 3:31 p.m., in response to Re: Julia auction, posted by Mr. Peabody on Thursday, 25 December 2014, at 4:42 a.m.

I came across this older posting and thought I would give a response in case anyone else reads this. I work at RIAC and while I know little about firearms compared to others here, I do work in the IT department and manage the database and write much of the software here. I am not going to comment on the point of the original thread that started this debate either as that is not my area of knowledge.

What I can comment on are the few folks here that are speaking out about the absentee bidding at here at RIAC. I am not commenting on Mr. Julia’s auction.

I can address this topic because I deal with the data and reports involving bidders and bidding and have for years. I can understand why Mr. Peabody and others here might feel as if anytime they place absentee bids the auction house spends all their money or their max bid amount. I suppose I might feel that way if I did not have the background that I have and I placed a few bids each auction, won an item or two for my max amount and it seems to happen every auction I bid in.

I'm sure that many people in the past who have read anonymous posts on the internet, or somebody who knows somebody type thing said this or that. The truth is there are 5 auctioneers here, the company owner does the least of the auctioneering anymore. I know there is no collusion going on between the auctioneers and other staff to spend all our bidders’ money. That is just nonsense.

If you consider the facts and data you will find that there is no intent to artificially bid up the lot to the bidder’s maximum amount. That seems like a good way to lose absentee bidders pretty quick.

Consider these things I have observed over the years.

Generally when people bid many are knowledgeable of the items value and they bid somewhere in the neighborhood of what the item is worth. So having large gaps in the bid amounts especially on popular items rarely exists. If you know an item is worth $XXX and you bid in accordance to that value don’t you think others do too? If you bid slightly more than the value ($XXX + 1) odds are in many cases it will take all the bid money to win.

Absentee bidding is by far the most popular way of bidding here at RIAC. Back in 2012 we received over 64,000 bids combined for all five auctions in the year. This year we are on track to do over 100,000 bids across all auctions. We now have auctions that get as many as 30,000 bids just on our website (Feb. 2017)! Combine that with the people in attendance and the live bidding on ProxiBid and Invaluable. On many items that leaves little room for you to win at a low price or many times a slightly above value bid. Don’t get me wrong these are auctions and deals to happen every auction. While it does occur it is not the norm.

There are hundreds of tie bids each and every auction. If you are tied, you have to pay your full bid amount. That is why we tell the bidders bid early - the earliest bid wins if tied with other absentee bidders.

There are hundreds of lots sold each auction that force the high bidder to spend all his money. We review this info regularly with a report built for this. The auctioneers typically announce the number of ties to make all aware in an effort to combat the reason I am writing this.

Bid volume: I looked at the Feb. 2017 auction we had not long ago. 53% of the lots had 5 or more bids, 20% of the lots had 10 or more bids, and so on up to as many as 48 bids on one lot. We recently had an online only auction and had one lot with 72 bids. I’m sure many who win these sought after lots feel the auctioneer spent all their money.

I looked at our last auction over 1/3 of the lots sold for under the max absentee bid amount. There were over 4300 lots in that auction, considering 20,000 plus bids I would say many bidders did well. You cannot gauge your experience a few times and call fraud.

If you submit 10 good bids and win 1 item for your max bid, you should feel like you did well rather than feel someone intently took all your money. I have seen people who bid on the low side of value and throw in 50-100 bids, win 1 or 2 items for their max bid amount and don’t understand why all their bid money was spent on that lot, instead of realizing that they placed a bunch of low bids and there is heavy competition at those levels.

With all of this said, you will have a hard time finding another auction house that tries to inform and help our bidders like we do. Absentee bidding data is very guarded information. At least it is here at RIAC. Even so we are as transparent as we can be with information to our customers. I don’t recall seeing data like we put out after each auction from the other main gun auction houses. Number of bids, number of phone bids, number of bidders from overseas and a variety of other stats we put out.

With RIAC you get information like:

‘Bidder Notifications’ if you sign up for these you will be emailed a report of your bid standing several items before the auction begins so you can see if you are outbid or tied.

‘Item Views’ and ‘Bid Activity’ rating on our website catalog. While we do not have the website sophistication of eBay (At least not yet. We continue to work on giving more info to bidders all the time. It’s a lot of work to get full featured), we do show customers the traffic a catalog item has had and if the bidding is average, active or very active. Why do we do these things? To help our customers. When there are as many as 10,000 guns in one auction, we feel it allows customers to find and bid on other similar guns if you are outbid or the item has very active bidding activity (like 72 bids, you might want to up your bid amount if you really want it or find a similar item in another lot).

Nightly successful/unsuccessful email updates for bidders during the auction itself.

There are more we do, but this is enough to make my point. From what I can see from other firearms auction houses: place your bid and wait until the auction is over.

You can always phone bid if you feel more in control, and we encourage that if you really, really want something. In the last Feb auction we had to have 40 phone lines available each day due to all the phone bidders. The point is bidding is heavy at RIAC, nobody here acts in an unethical way toward bidders as implied by some….we have plenty of business doing things the right way.

I hope this shed some light on this topic with reason and data.


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