I had a rough experience with an auction house recently.
They have taken things in, sold them and not sent any reports without chasing. They've attributed things to my account that are nothing to do with me, and approx half the items I put in have gone unaccountably missing. The whole thing has been like that Belgian Airline, SABENA; Such A Bad Experience Never Again. I am angered by their behaviour and my immediate reaction was that I wanted you to know just how appalling they are (I've underplayed it, believe you me).
So I came up with the idea of an auction review app, so that we could all share our experience but in such a way that we can continue to trade there, because frankly such a crap auction house (those listings that did occur were inaccurate and very very poor) will have sleepers and I want to buy them, not end up barred for the nil stars review they deserve. However I'm persuaded by those that know that managing a review site will lead to a complete melt down and it simply won't work as I envisage it. So I'm keeping their name to myself and, sorry, but unless you ask me for recommendations, you'll have to take it on the chin if they mess you up even half as badly as they messed me about.
This episode reminds me of dealings I had with a now defunct Berkshire auction house called Cameo.
It became clear that they were becoming dodgy when they kept coming up with excuses to avoid paying about £800 to me and my then (business) partner. Luckily he took the bull by the proverbial and we went down and stood over them while they wrote the cheque, which didn't bounce. Sadly several dozen other people weren't so lucky. If they got a cheque at all it was made of rubber. The boss ended up in prison for fraud and it was well deserved. Stupid man: he had a good business there, but greed and colossal idiocy overtook him and it all fell apart. He was fraudulent from the outset, mind. I'm not casting that at the latest fandango, but the similarities are eyebrow raising.
Then, just this week, I went to an auction house that I have used in the past. While not exactly fraudulent I had felt they were sailing very very close to the wind sometimes in their attributions and eventually, back in the day, my (same business, same) partner and I decided to avoid them. Especially when they took on a certain porter.
But I read that they had changed hands two or three years ago and so it was bound, BOUND, to be better right?
Of course it was.
So I bought some things online. I toddled up there to collect and ….lo and behold its still all the same people in charge. So it was only a paper buyout, in my view. It was one generation to the next within the family. And that's another auctioneers I won't be recommending.
But the first bunch: I have recommended them to to about three people. I promise you I will never ever recommend them again to anyone except sworn enemies and Donny Trump, but I feel bad that I'm keeping schtum about them. People should know. My view is that they, the first lot, should not be trading.
A friend of mine in the 'trade' recently predicted the failure of many mainly medium sized auction houses: the market is glutted with them while available stock is reducing all the time. Maybe he was right and this nasty taste I've been left with is actually the smell of the worst of them in their death throws. An animal is at its most dangerous when about to die.
Whatever the truth of this, if you buy or sell at auction, tread very carefully. Please. And if, like me you're a dealer and consider yourself an auction pro, I bet you've got tales that are almost identical. Bad, isn't it? Or is it? Will the public find out that they are being ripped off and turn back to shops? Faint hope!