Sunday, February 9, 2014

Reasonable or Rip-off?

Every so often, this topic comes around. It's like a bad habit that just won't go away.

Recently, an online glass gallery auction closed. A collector won the high bid on a bottle that measures 8" tall by 2 3/4" wide at the base. It weighs 11 ounces. The hammer price was $70~.

The bidder received their invoice via email. The invoice was in the amount of $100.60. The amount was for the price of the bottle, shipping, plus an 18% buyers fee (reduced to 15% if paid by cash or check - this fee was understood and acknowledged prior to placing a bid).

The Auction conditions of sale read;

"8. Shipping: Shipping, insurance and packaging charges will be added to your bill unless the lots are picked up in person. With the exception of larger items we ship U.S. Mail, registered, 1st Class and insured. Larger items will be shipped via U.P.S. or by freight. When shipping by freight, shipping and packing charges will be billed C.O.D."

The shipping charge on the invoice was $18.oo. Yes, Eighteen Dollars. The buyer took exception to this.
The shipment, including the bottle, packed in an oversized box (providing a minimum of 6" of space between the walls of the container and the bottle) and enough protective wrapping and padding to insure it's survival if dropped out of an aircraft, weighed  in at a total of 1 lb. 15 oz. Just under two pounds...

A check of the USPS rate calculator showed the actual cost of mailing from the east coast to the west coast as $9.97 via USPS Priority 2 day.

Let's summarize; $9.97 actual cost vs. an invoiced amount of $18.00.

When questioned the auction gallery at first failed to respond. Finally after a week, the bidder received the following email;

"The invoice we sent it the amount we are charging." (sic)


1) What would your thoughts be if you got this bill?

2) Is this reasonable or A Rip-off?


Dennis Rogers said...

Bruce, if you are referring to a certain auction house in Pennsylvania, my understanding is that they contract to an outside agency to do their packaging and shipping, and this agency is in the business to make money, hence the high shipping rates. I for one think it is indeed a rip-off, and in the case of lower priced bottles it makes it too expensive to purchase them. I think that the auction house has had many complaints about this, but they don't seem to care. But, if you are referring to a different auction house, I still stand by my comment!

Anonymous said...

Boy can I relate I got a piece of pottery from an eastern auction house about the size of a demijohn which would usually cost 40 bucks not this time because they contracted out the shipping which cost 277 and change so needless to say I`m done with auction houses that contract out the shipping.

Rick Simi said...

Let's not forget why these auction houses are in business - and its not to do the collector a favor.
Personally I think a buyers premium of 18% is literally "sticking it to the buyer" and then to add insult to injury charging 6 times the actual cost of shipping is over the top.

I like to purchase bottles at bottle shows. Yes, there are bottles at auction you would never see at a show but that's something I have come to live with.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you are talking about Glassworks. If you are, I won't deal with them any more. The onlly time I won a bottle from them they screwed me on the postage and didn't say anything about the damage in there description on the bottle I got. Then they wanted me to pay the return shipping.

Anonymous said...

I had the same thing happen a few yrs ago... $30 buck to ship a 75. bottle from back East.... so I knew the high charge wasnt due to the insurance. I called the auction company and spoke w the owner. He told me that they now use another company to do all of their shipping. Ok, I could understand that raising the price... but at the same time, I thought to myself, wow ,,, how lazy !
Anyways, now I think twice before bidding, and only bid on something I've been looking for a long time to find,,,,,knowing that if I win, I'm going to get "ganked" on the shipping !


Anonymous said...

Its a ripoff!! but you also don't have to bid in these auctions. If buyers would boycott a few of these auctions, they would have to change their ways...........

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