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Top advice from the experts on how to buy from online auctions.
3 Mins

What to look out for when buying at auction

Jacob Margiotta
Jacob Margiotta

If you’re new to the world of online auctions, then welcome! It’s an exciting place to uncover a world of treasures that other shoppers are sure to miss, but don’t rush in like a bull in digital china shop… follow these tips to avoid some of the pitfalls made by first time bidders!

Get ahead of the game

Online auction catalogues are published well in advance of the closing date of the auction. At William George, the catalogue will be visible for at least two weeks. Ample time for you to browse and identify your target early! Read the description carefully, submit any additional queries and do your research before the day the auction closes.

Knowledge is power, and we want to help you make informed bidding decisions. Buyer’s remorse, like a bad hangover, is no fun for anyone.

Check the logistics work

Items are often available at heavily discounted prices, but it’s worth checking out any conditions around collection deadlines. Each auction will have its own terms, so just double check you can pay and collect items on time and know where you might have to travel.

Here we encourage our sellers to offer favourable delivery on items, especially in the current climate, to prevent any unnecessary travel, but it’s just good sense to review the terms of any auction so there are no surprises. You won’t fit Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ in the back of a Fiesta. As always, our live chat is open if you’re not sure!

Understand the fee structure

There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve bagged a bargain, only to be hit with unexpected charges. We make no effort to disguise the fees applicable to our auctions, so once you’ve found the lot that ticks all the boxes, make sure you know what you’ll pay on top of your bid.

There are 4 elements to consider:

  • First is your winning bid of course.
  • Then you’ll want to know if there is VAT to pay on the goods you have won. This is dictated by the seller and clearly labelled next to the space where you enter your bid.
  • Next up is the buyer’s premium, typically 20-25% + VAT.
  • The fourth and final cost to consider is the delivery charge. Some lots are offered with free delivery, others will incur an additional charge, and this will be detailed in the description of the lot.

Get permission from the bill payer 

Once you know you’re happy with the lot, the logistics and the fees, then it’s time to set a budget you’re happy with. Some lots are worth fighting for, others will come again. We love a bidding war, but we don’t love it when you spend more than you can afford, and neither will you.

Using the max bid feature is the most sensible way to do it. Enter the highest amount you would be happy to bid and let the computer do it for you. It will automatically bid up to your maximum when someone else outbids you and it will never go above the limit you set, ensuring you have the best chance of winning at the lowest price possible.

Sit back and enjoy!

Max bid or not, you’ll want to be there when the lot closes to see the action unfold and feel that excitement you get at auction that you can’t replicate in a shop! If you’re worried about being tempted to bid over your budget, then put on some oven gloves like Ross and Rachel in Friends so you can’t hit the keyboard and kick back while the clocks ticks down.

If someone places a bid in the final 10 minutes, the clock will reset to 10 minutes giving everyone a fair chance to win and stopping people winning items from under your nose at the last second, so grab a cuppa or a glass of wine (not too many mind) and shop with confidence new auction friends!

Ready to shop? check out our auctions and see what we can tempt you with today.