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“We have absorbed significant increases in rates, rent, fuel and employer’s tax, among other expenses, since the last review of our commissions over four years ago,” said auctioneer Rupert Toovey.

“Competition for the better collections, especially in London, is also putting pressure on our seller’s commission averages. Despite the strong start to the year [they are reporting their best-ever first quarter with sales totalling some £1.2m from January to March 2009], our fees must now rise in order for us to maintain and improve the quality of our service to both sellers and buyers.”