Michael Baggott

Our correspondent, silver dealer Michael Baggott, says he objects to being forced to make online payments when buying at auction.

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Collection would be fine but then I made the mistake of asking to pay my bill in cash (the total was well under the money laundering thresholds). The immediate reaction of the accounts manager, not one I expected to be honest, was for him to burst out laughing.

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” came the Vicar of Dibley-ish reply after he had gathered himself, “we don’t accept cash any more, not since the pandemic.”

I pointed out that we were no longer in lockdown but that didn’t cut the mustard, I either had to pay online or not at all. Not banking online (I never have or will) means what might be a quite straightforward request in most circumstances becomes onerous, difficult and occasionally impossible.

In this case payment was arranged as they had an online card payment portal, but only just.

The service was otherwise excellent; the head of the business even popped out before the sale with my lot, which was a very kind gesture.

Hidden away

It served though as an example that payment online, usually solely by bank transfer, increasingly seems to be the only method of payment accepted by some salerooms, though this is rarely openly and clearly stated in catalogues, either in print or online.

If it is mentioned it’s often buried on page 12 or 13 of T&Cs, though mostly it’s not mentioned at all.

In salerooms worried about the possibility of fraudulent chargebacks on card transactions has the alternative of cash really become anathema?

Are the dealers of old with bundles of fifties in their pockets now a thing of the past? Are we dinosaurs looking up at the sky only to observe an online payment-sized asteroid heading straight toward us?

I pay my buyer’s premium – 20, 30 or sometimes 40% – and do so happily, even in this instance when I’d bid 10 times the published estimate for the lot, but I’d ask that auctioneers remember that some of us antiques dealers are antiques ourselves and not to penalise us for not moving as quickly into the 21st century as they wished we all had.

Michael Baggott

Silver dealer

Forced to change

Recently, when trying to pay for a lot of books I had bought at an auction house, I was told that they only accepted internet banking settlement and that credit cards were no longer accepted by them though cheques would be fine.

This is the second time I have heard from an auction house that internet banking was now their norm.

I have been forced against my will for various reasons to sign up for internet banking, though I do it with a healthy dose of ill-will, as do many of my friends. However, I have not so far walked into Sainsbury’s and been told that I have to use internet banking – they readily accept my cards.

Have others experienced this phenomenon?

Alan Chalmers

The Tennis Bookshop, Midhurst