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The second part of our insider's guide on the top tips for becoming an expert at buying at online auctions
4 Mins

Top tips for buying at online auctions: part 2

Jacob Margiotta
Jacob Margiotta

Welcome to the second of our two-parter on all you need to become a skilled online auction buyer. Here we share some more of our insider tips to help you bid and buy like a pro.

Target identified

Ok, so you’ve finally found what you’ve been looking for…what now?

There’s a lot of information on the page and the first thing to identify is the buyer’s premium. This is the fee payable to the auction house and is added to your bid. It’s displayed as a % of your bid and can be found in each lot immediately below where you enter your bid. In this example it is 22% - as highlighted below…


This figure is always subject to VAT at 20%.

In the example above the current bid is £120. The total invoice would therefore be worked out as follows:

  • Bid Price £120
  • Buyer’s Premium £26.40
  • VAT on Buyer’s Premium £5.28

Total to pay £151.68

Sometimes, particularly in commercial auctions there is VAT to pay on the goods as well. If this is the case, then it will detail that immediately below the Buyer’s Premium. In this case, you will note there is no such charge.

The other aspect to consider are any costs associated with delivery or collection.

By scrolling further down into the description of the lot which appears below the images, you will be able to discover more about your options for delivery and collection.

Soak it all up…

Take your time to read through all the detail in the text of the description. This will include where available any specific information such as shipping estimates, special collection terms and other pertinent details that will help you make an informed decision on bidding and budget.

Underneath the main body of the description are 3 fields which are present with every lot, namely whether the item is New or Used, the first part of the postcode where the item is located and whether the item is delivery only, collection only or available for either delivery or collection.

The location postcode is there to allow you to consider if the town is a manageable distance where delivery is not possible. You can also consider contacting a third-party courier to collect on your behalf and build any quote into your budget. Nothing worse than finding out you’ve got to drive from Land’s End to John O’Groats to collect your new tie pin!

Decide on your budget

So now you know how to accurately calculate what your expenditure is going to be based on the current bidding. That’s handy as you are going to need to set yourself a sensible upper limit, so you don’t get carried away and break the bank! After all, if your partner spots a big transaction in the joint account you’re going to have to explain yourself!

Set a Max bid!

The best way to avoid going over budget is to use the Maximum bid feature…

This means you can view the catalogue well before the end date and place your maximum bid against any lots you wish. The system will then automatically bid for you, ensuring it places the lowest possible bid to keep you leading up to and never exceeding the maximum amount you put in.

If someone goes beyond your max bid then you might lose out, but you won’t overspend. Of course, watching the auction close out is the exciting part, so temptation to keep fighting for that lot will be there but the max bid function is your best way of staying in control. You win some, you lose some.

Da-Da Da-Da Duddle-a-da… Dong!

Unlike eBay where you will regularly lose out at the last second by someone using ‘sniping’ software and grabbing a lot from under your nose, we use an alternative method at the close of the auction. This means if someone places a bid on a lot when there are 10 minutes or less remaining on the clock, it will reset to 10 minutes again to give you another chance to decide if you want to bid again.

Don’t be phased by it – it’s the fairest way. It can result in some lengthy battles in the closing stages but that’s the fun part!

What happens next?

If when the hammer drops you are the highest bidder, and the bidding has met the sellers reserve price, then congratulations!

You will receive a payment request via email within an hour of the final lot of the auction closing. There are occasions where this time could be longer but 95% of auctions will be finalised that quickly.

You can pay by card for any invoices under £1000. Keep your eyes peeled for updates as we are looking to raise this figure in the near future…

For anything over £1000 you can send a bank transfer and when you’ve settled up, you’ll get another email called a “Collection Note” containing all the information you need to arrange your collection or delivery.

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