How does it work?
Individuals and businesses may consign qualifying items to me and I sell them at auction on their behalf. I usually do this through eBay where I can offer them to a worldwide audience of potential bidders. I describe the items clearly and concisely, pointing out features, condition and faults, and take one or more photographs to accompany each description. I then list each item in eBay under one or two categories where I believe it will garner the most attention. If the item sells, the buyer pays me then I ship it or the buyer picks it up.
This is the short answer, so you probably have many questions. Hopefully this web site will answer them all. If, after you've spent some time here, you still have questions remaining, feel free to contact me directly by email or phone.
Why consign your property to a Licensed Auctioneer, and what's the difference between an Auctioneer and an eBay "Trading Assistant"?
Under New Hampshire law 311-B:4 Acts Prohibited, "No person shall engage in auctioneering for a fee or commission unless he has first obtained a license under this chapter." The law is indifferent to the location of the auction and makes no distinction between an auctioneer and an eBay "trading assistant." If the consignment takes place in New Hampshire, then New Hampshire law prevails.
Why should I care whether the person who sells my property is a licensed Auctioneer?
There are two reasons:
First, a licensed auctioneer is tested as to his/her understanding of the applicable laws and regulations related to the auctioneering of your belongings. He/she must renew the license and post a $10,000 bond with the state annually. Any complaints filed against a licensed auctioneer are investigated by the New Hampshire Board of Auctioneers, who have the power to discipline an auctioneer who violates the ethical standards or laws of the state. Discipline can take the form of a suspension or revocation of license, as well as possible action under criminal law. If a dispute develops between you and an unlicensed auctioneer, you're on your own. The state will not help you because it recognizes only licensed auctioneers and considers anyone conducting auctions without a valid current license to be a criminal.
Secondly, when you consign an item to someone to sell, that person often takes possession of the item until it's sold and title transfers to the buyer. Should it be lost, damaged, stolen or destroyed while under the control of the auctioneer, or the auctioneer should die or become unable to function, a licensed auctioneer will make you whole or the state may do so, utilizing the bond posted by the auctioneer, but you're on your on in dealing with an unlicensed auctioneer and the outcome is unlikely to be good for you.
What does it cost?
There's no fee for consigning an item to me and no charge if your item doesn't sell. If your item sells for less than $1000.00 my commission is 35% of the selling price. If your item sells for more than $1000.00, or your item is a motor vehicle, a lower commission is charged according to a sliding scale and is detailed in the high value addendum to the contract. Please take some time to read the contract so you really understand my terms. I've made every effort to keep it simple and clear, but unfortunately you'll need a few minutes to digest it.
Who Pays eBay fees and commissions?
I pay these fees and commissions whether or not your item sells.
Almost anyone with a computer and Internet access can sell on eBay....Why not do it yourself and save my commission?
For the best possible reason: I'm so good at it (modest, too!) that chances are you'll net more AFTER paying my commission than you'd realize if you listed it yourself, paid eBay's fees and saved my commission. And, I'll do the heavy lifting! I bring my considerable expertise to bear in conducting auctions. I write clear concise descriptions, take quality photos with a professional camera and have an enviable eBay reputation for clarity and honesty. In eight years of auctions I've maintained a 99.5% satisfaction rating by the people with whom I've done business. Since bidders don't get to examine the items and depend entirely on photos, description, and feedback rating to judge the quality of the items and the repute of the auctioneer, these factors weigh heavily in the decision making of potential bidders. Whose auctions do you think they'd feel more confident bidding in... mine or yours? Many things are best left to a Pro and I sincerely believe that this is one of them.
How do we establish a business relationship?
If you decide that you'd like to establish a relationship and become a consignor, please read the sample contract and high value/vehicle addendum. If you are comfortable with its provisions, you'll sign up at and be able to bring items to me at Interface for sale at any time you wish during regular business hours. There's no charge to sign up. There's no charge to consign an item. ONLY when an item sells does it cost you anything! You may also consign items that remain in your control, if I agree due to size or weight of the items. ( Please don't show up at Interface with your yacht or combine! ) I'll probably go to your location to photograph them where they are.
What items do I accept?
It would be easier to list the types of items I don't accept. Firearms, alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, and other items specifically prohibited by eBay, restricted by UPS or the USPS, or which I consider dangerous to handle are not acceptable. What I do accept includes nearly everything else, provided only that each individual item has a market value of at least $50.00 Sometimes it's possible to make a grouping of items to sell as a lot with an aggregate value of at least $50. For example, a set of china might qualify while single pieces from the set probably wouldn't. This requirement is based on the time required for me to write a description, take, process, and upload photographs, and answer email questions about your item during the auction. Among the items I've sold are antiques, works of art, electronics, jewelry, automobiles, boats, farm equipment, industrial equipment, clothing, sports memorabilia, sterling silver flatware, books, etc. The list is long and growing, and the exclusions are few.
Who decides what an item is worth?
Generally, I first go to eBay and try to find similar items that have recently sold at auction. If I find some, I take the average of those in similar condition to yours and consider that average its "worth." Of course, yours might sell for somewhat more or less , especially if the condition or completeness of your item differs from those that recently sold at auction.
It really doesn't matter what price guides or collectible books quote for values of items. The market, and ONLY the market determines worth!
If your item doesn't lend itself to ready comparison to "like" items sold at auction, I'll do some web research in an effort to determine value. I draw on my own considerable experience and I also consider what YOU think it's worth, since you may know more about it than anyone else. One of a kind items are always hard to value, so your input may be very important. If you have recently had the item professionally appraised, I'll consider that , as well. Once we agree on likely market value, we can move on to actually offering the item for sale.
Why do we need to know in advance what market value is? Why not just auction it and see? How about setting a reserve?
First, let's talk about how auctions work. An auction is a legally binding agreement to sell. The auctioneer offers an item for sale and bidders make escalating offers, competing with each other until the highest bid "wins." There are two common types of auctions: Absolute and Reserve. In an absolute auction, once a bid is accepted by the auctioneer the auction proceeds until the bidding stops, and the high bidder "wins" and takes title to the item once he/she pays for it, regardless of how much or little was bid. In a reserve auction the auctioneer can hold back an item if it fails to reach a hidden dollar amount (reserve) and it won't sell to the highest bidder unless the winning bid equals or exceeds the reserve. Both types of auction have pros and cons. Bidders much prefer absolute auctions because they don't feel they're wasting their time and interest bidding in the hope that they'll meet or exceed the reserve, and feel it's far more likely they'll get a bargain. Sellers prefer reserve auctions because they fear seeing their item go for too little money. In the world of eBay, reserve auctions are often ignored because bidders feel it's not worth their effort to bid in an auction where they're likely not get the item even if they're high bidder when the auction ends. eBay charges extra fees in cases where there's a reserve and it isn't met. So, the seller didn't make the sale, the bidders were frustrated, and the auctioneer is out more money, so the only real "winner'' is eBay who collects an extra fee if the item doesn't sell. What to do? I could start every auction at $1 with no reserve. Many people do, but it's a gamble. Your $100 item might go for $5. You'd have to sell and probably be very unhappy. My alternative to give us both some protection, is to establish a market value then list the item with an opening bid of one half of that amount. That way your $100 item starts at $49.99 with no reserve. (not $50 because the eBay fee scale changes at certain defined increments and $50 is one of them. Staying below an increment saves me a little on the fees I pay eBay.) The bidders are happy to bid because the opening bid is a bargain and they know they won't be stymied by a reserve, and you know that the worst that could happen to you would be for the item to sell for $50 should there be only one bid. By the way, if you take your item to a local live auction, it's almost certain to be an absolute auction. The auctioneer will probably start it very low and it might go for much less than you expected.
It's also worth noting that eBay auctions differ from live auctions in an important way. Auctioneers usually start low and then keep the bidding open until interest peters out and some time passes after the last bid. That's the familiar "going, going, gone" with the close often marked by the dropping of the hammer. Once the hammer drops, the auction is over. The high bidder wins and no more bids will be considered. In eBay, the auction is open for a fixed period of time. Most auctions run 7 days, but they can be 1,3,5,7, or 10 days in duration and end EXACTLY that long after they start. So, if I start your item at 10:06:32 PM PST (eBay runs on PST) Tuesday, and it's a 7 day auction, it'll end at precisely 10:06:32 PM PST the next Tuesday regardless of bidding activity. This matters because eBay bidders know it and often wait to bid until the last hour, minute or even, second. So, if you consign an item and little or nothing happens for days, don't worry. It's likely to start jumping near the end.
Sorry to be so long winded but these points are VERY important.
How does the winner pay and get the item?
Generally, the winner may pay with cash, check, money order, charge card or PayPal, which is a funds-handling division of eBay. I require buyers outside the USA and Canada to pay with Cashier's check in US funds or PayPal. On high value items my commission is adjusted upward if the buyer pays with a charge card, so I offer the consignor the option of allowing or not allowing the use of plastic to pay. (see specifics in the addendum to the contract) Once payment has been received and cleared (if it's by check), title transfers to the buyer, and I ship it or the buyer picks it up, usually at Interface, but, in the case of some very large or heavy items, at your location.
Who pays the cost of packing and shipping and who packs and ships?
In my auctions the buyer pays the cost of packing and shipping. When I list an item, I provide a quotation for domestic shipping that includes packaging materials and shipping. I usually ship by UPS ground if the item weighs over 2 pounds or USPS mail if the item weighs less than 2 pounds. I estimate the cost of shipping before I auction the item so I'm sometimes wrong. If I underestimate the cost, I pay the difference between the quoted charge and actual cost. I try to estimate accurately.
The only circumstance under which you might be required to pay any shipping cost would be in the event that you failed to alert me to faults with the item when you consigned it to me and so the buyer chose to return it after the auction. This is another reason why it's so important for you to be honest and accurate in your description to me of the condition of items you consign. I pack items professionally at Interface, where UPS and the mailman pick up daily.
What if you consign and item, I list it and there are no bids?
It happens. For reasons only a psychologist could explain, no one likes to be the first to bid. So, it's possible for hundreds of people to look at your item without any of them actually bidding. In that event, I suggest waiting a week or two and trying again. Millions of people use eBay so it's likely that many fresh eyes will view your item the second time around. If you choose not to try again, or there are no bids again, then you owe nothing and have 30 days to pick up your item at Interface. I absorb the expenses incurred in such a listing effort. Alternatively, you may authorize me to start a new auction with a lower opening bid. Perhaps our evaluation of the market value of the item was too high. Remember, the market determines value!
What if my item is really big or heavy or both?
If the item is either too large or too heavy for economical shipping, the auction will be restricted to those who are willing to come and get the item after the auction. If I have the item, the buyer will pick it up from me at Interface. If the item is too large or heavy for me to handle, I will photograph it at your location, conduct the sale, and then make arrangements with you and the buyer to have him/her pick it up at your location at a time that's convenient for you and the buyer. In a few cases, the buyer may make his/her own arrangements to have the item picked up and transported to him/her. In any case, the buyer will pay me and only AFTER the funds have cleared will the buyer be allowed to pick up the item.
How do you get paid?
Once I've received payment for the item and the funds have been collected, I will mail a check to you within 30 days, as stated in my contract. (or you may choose to pick it up at Interface during regular store hours)
What if the buyer doesn't pay promptly (or at all)?
eBay rules require prompt payment but several factors may prevent that. Sometimes buyers have "buyer's remorse" or a personal crisis might prevent the buyer from paying promptly. I'm usually willing to work with a buyer, but will discuss the situation with you and your decision prevails. If an item isn't paid for, I'll re-list it and it may sell for more or less than the first time. eBay makes it clear that an auction is a legal contract and expects users to behave responsibly, and most do.
What if a potential buyer offers to buy at a fixed price within or outside the auction venue?
If an offer is made during an auction, I'll refuse it. If an offer is made before an auction starts or after it's ended without a bid, I'll pass the offer on to you and accept your decision. In most cases, you'll get more if you proceed with an auction or re-list because the person who made the offer is likely to face competition from others who also want it.