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All you need to know to start bidding and buying from online auctions.
3 mins

A beginner’s guide to buying from online auctions


If you’re brand new to this exciting world of bidding and buying, don’t be afraid, it’s an exciting, uncomplicated experience. The thrill of winning at auction is one that never gets old!

If you’re not sure where to start, read on.

Take a look around

Explore our lovely website and familiarise yourself with it. The main area you’ll probably want to concentrate on is the live auctions to see what kind of items are on offer right now. You can view the full list or by category if you prefer.

All of our auctions are timed and generally run for between two to four weeks, occasionally longer. Also have a look through all our blog content as you’ll find lots of handy guides and hints and tips, so you’ll be an expert in no time.  


You need to register your details with us before you’re able to bid. It’s a quick and easy sign up and once you’ve completed it, you won’t need to do it again. We need everyone to register to make sure we only receive genuine bids.

Check out the T&Cs

Make sure you read the terms and conditions before you place a bid as by bidding, you’re legally obliged to pay should you win. These are clearly displayed in each auction listing, and we are careful to include the info you need.

Know the costs

These are made very clear as we want our customers to have all the information and don’t have any hidden fees lurking to surprise you at the end. The Buyer’s Premium, or BP, is an auction term meaning the amount that will be added to the hammer price and is paid to us. There is also VAT on the BP which is also displayed when you’re bidding. Apart from that, you’ll need to be mindful of delivery of your purchase which can be discussed with the vendor you’re buying from. You sometimes have the option to collect too, which will save you a delivery bill.


You might be after something in particular or just browsing to see what grabs your attention. Either way once you’ve spotted something you fancy, it’s wise to do your research. Take a look at what the same or similar item has sold for in previous sales, so you know where to pitch your bidding strategy and study the listing. Most should be comprehensive but if you have questions that aren’t answered, drop us a message on our live chat and one of our lovely team will help you out. We can speak to the vendor for you if you have specifics that need investigating.

Know your limit

We always advise you to decide on your maximum spend before you start bidding so you don’t get carried away if you end up with competition for your desired lot. Remember to include the fees we outlined earlier, and you can relax knowing what you’re prepared to spend.

Keep an eye on it

You’ll no doubt want to watch the auction as time ticks away. From start to finish, the process is automated, and you’ll receive email updates relating to any bids, but it’s still good to watch the auction progress when you can. See how much the increments are going up by as it’ll give you a good idea of how much your next bid, should you want to place one, needs to be.

You won’t get sniped!

Waiting until the last few seconds of an auction to make a winning bid is known as bid sniping. It can’t happen here at William George though. If you’re winning and someone comes in and places a bid within the last ten minutes of the auction, the clock will automatically set to ten minutes which gives you time to decide to place a higher bid. Much fairer we think.

You should now know all you need to get bidding. Our live auctions are ready and waiting for you. Good luck!