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1. Payment method

The most important point he states is that he “registered and agreed to the terms and conditions of the room” – the hallmark of any good auction buyer. It makes you want to listen and assist.

Regarding card-not-present payments (CNP), professional and regulated auction houses should include payment methods in their terms and conditions, and if there are limits to those methods, to avoid confusion.

“You have a choice to bid or not. An auctioneer has the choice to accept it, or not

For the auction house, those limits will be all about risk management and will vary from saleroom to saleroom. At Golding Young, our limit is £500.

Why a limit on cards? The reason is the demon ‘chargeback,’ which is weighted 100% against the auctioneer. The system gives zero protection in cases of fraud and gold scams, and is grossly unfair when dealing with that breed of bad buyer who shouts first and sometimes thinks later.

Chargeback, which allows buyers to ask their card provider to reverse a transaction on their credit or debit card, works as follows: any non-secure payment is open to chargeback, including so-called online ‘secure’ payments.

Liability is anything up to nine months following the transaction, therefore in many cases more than six months after the money has been paid out to the vendor.

This leaves the auctioneer in a position of liability, which has to be managed. I have experienced buyers deciding they can ‘change their mind’, making false claims over condition of items and choosing which terms apply when they decide they have paid too much.

The usual excuses are they can do it on eBay, they know their rights under the Distance Selling Regulations, and so on.

You are given no warning of chargeback coming and no opportunity to stop it. It is immediately taken from the auctioneer’s account on the whim of any buyer’s bank. You are given 14 days to, in effect, prove your innocence, whereas the card holder can say whatever they like.

These events usually land at your busiest time when you have the least opportunity to state your case and action appropriately. You are given zero support by your bank.

2. Posting and packaging

Regarding Mr Dillon’s point about postage and packing, this was brilliantly covered in a recent article ATG article on delivery (ATG No 2295). There is so much more competition in this sector that quality and pricing will continue to improve.

Whether it is done in-house or outsourced is a diversionary argument. The issue is that buyers should receive a quality service at a competitive price.

Overall, my personal advice to all auction buyers is to refer to a saleroom’s terms and conditions, which are the bedrock of any sale.

You have a choice to bid or not.

An auctioneer has the choice to accept it, or not.

Colin R Young

Managing director, Golding Young & Mawer