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Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 06:27PM
Maggie Wilson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I may be wrong, but I expect there to be no
> difference between an online auction and a live
> one. Quite often at a live auction, the opening
> request for a "reasonable" bid is met with
> silence. The auctioneer drops the price to rock
> bottom, then the bidding starts. Human nature
> kicks in and the fun begins, and often bids rise
> past the first requested price. Sometimes
> considerably higher. And isn't that the reason
> for selling at auction as opposed to a store? To
> get a bidding war started?

Well, that's the point. There is a difference.
If that was the practice here, a seller would start with the price that he
wants and that he openly announced, and if that doesn't work run another auction
with a lower price or simply decide to not sell it.
An auction is an open business, a reserved bid makes it a bit of a "blind auction".
Some customers perhaps like that extra "kick", I don't.

The sellers are not dishonest at all, on the contrary, their motives are pretty obvious ;)

What I'm more worried about is that this "no-risk business" causes the auction to be flooded
by offerings and that the quality suffers because there's no risk on the dealers side.
It might basically turn into an outpost of web shops.
There is also a fee, of course, maybe I'm too pessimistic.
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 07:17PM
us    
I don't think blind auction are dishonest either, I just don't like to bid on them. I would be happy with a way to distinguish between the two types of auctions. This is just my personal feelings, I want to know if I should even being bidding on the item or have a hope of purchasing. I have a budget I follow and there are many specimens I have no business even thinking about bidding on. I may like to look at their picture, but I would prefer to only bid on items that are realistically in my price range. I am getting better at knowing this on my own, but I still often get caught up in wishful thinking. I also don't like to wait to see if my bid meets the reserve and then no one else bids up to my bid and then you never know. Everyone likes to feel that they got a bargain, with blind reserves I don't think you every get that feeling. The only thing I would ask of Jolyon is a quick way to tell if an auction has a blind reserve.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2010 07:18PM by Richard Felicioni.
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 07:25PM
ca    
The idea is to get some bidding going. If one started at the reserve price it is less likely that anyone would bid. How is a no reserve auction going to prevent the auction from being flooded by specimens with high opening prices that no one is going to want to bid on? If you can guarantee bidding on specimens with high opening bids and no reserve that would be awesome!

It is far more likely that without a reserve system poor quality specimens would start flooding the site, specimens that a seller doesn't mind giving away for next to nothing. I sure am not going to put anything up for auction that is really good at a low opening bid without a reserve, and I am not going to waste my time putting something up at a high opening bid that no one is going to bid on either.
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 09:21PM
no    
What about Jolyons suggestions as posted previously in this thread ? If I understand correctly:
1. Allowing for a reserve price but clearly stating that the auction has a reserve price.
2. Reserve prices must not exceed 2X (or 3X ?) opening bid.
3. A fee system based on a fee for listing the specimen + a percentage of the final selling price - if the specimen is sold.

To encourage sellers to have reserve price as opening bid - or not so far above the opening bid - the listing fee could be composed of 3 elements:
A flat rate for all listings + a small percentage of the opening bid + a larger percentage of the difference between the opening bid and the reserve price (if the seller hopes to get a better price by using this option).

Maybe such a compromise could suit everybody. Purchasers can decide if they want to bid on auctions clearly marked as having a reserve knowing that the reserve price cannot be more than x2 or x3 of the opening bid, sellers can choose a reserve price option with a lower opening bid (hoping to get a better price) but pay a bit more for using this option than for using the reserve price as opening bid.

Knut
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 09:48PM
You simply get the bidding going with a good initial price.

> How is a no reserve auction going to prevent the auction
> from being flooded by specimens with high opening prices
> that no one is going to want to bid on?
By being a waste of time and money on the sellers side.

An auction is not supposed to guarantee bids.
Why would I want to guarantee a bid on a specimen, expensive or not?
What would be awesome about that?
If a specimen does not sell, so be it.

How a reserved bid and the minimized risk on the seller's side
is going to prevent the auction from being flooded with bad specimen
is beyond me (which is not to say that there will be "a flood", I don't know,
probably not)

You don't have to open a bid at 0.99, no one is asking you to do that,
that would be stupid.

If this matter is worth all the fuzz - hm......
I'm free to bid or not bid. And I prefer an open business,
so I won't bid on auctions with a reserved bid.
Others may join and play the game, if they like.
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 10:18PM
@Knut
sorry, missed your posting.

Basically I'm all with you in that we need to find a way of preventing mindat
turning into a "all items 0.99" auction, your suggestions might be one way.

Then it will be like this:
Those who have no objections and who join auctions with a reserved bid
know what they do and dealers and customers are happy with it.
Those that don't want to join - like me - will stay away and go to other auctions
and dealers and customers will also be happy.

(I certainly can deal with missing a luxury good once in a while, I won't die from it)
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 24, 2010 11:43PM
Great-looking auction site so far. Would it be possible to show the time remaining in the item's details, the same as it's shown in the overall auction list?
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 02:33PM
ca    
Hello Amir,

First of all a reserve price does not guarantee bids, it only guarantees that if bidding does take place that the seller will not be denied a fair price. Your theory that reserve bids will result in a flood of poor quality items can easily be tested. If you look at current auction items on Mindat and compare the quality of the specimens with reserve prices to those with no reserve, you will find that the quality of the ones with a reserve are higher than those without, exactly the opposite to what you claim!
As for your statement that an opening bid of 99 cents is stupid, it is common practice for retailers to advertise items at low prices ( even below cost) to draw customers into their store in the hope that they will buy something else, something on which the store can make a profit. In a similar way, a 99 cent bid is designed to draws bidders into an auction in the hope that it will stimulate a bidding war to the point where the seller can make a profit.
I fail to see the logic in refusing to bid on something because it has a reserve bid. Are you implying that if an item you liked had an opening bid of say $10 and a hidden reserve of $100 you would not bid on it, but if that same piece had an opening bid of $100 but no reserve you would bid on it?
Since the reserve bid is hidden until someone bids, what would you do if you where the first to bid and then discovered that there was a reserve, would you stop bidding? What if your starting bid was greater than the reserve, would you also stop bidding even thought the reserve would then be redundant?
I think all of you who object to a reserve do so because the reserve simply will not allow you to buy the item at the low price that you want to pay. So spare us all the illogical rationalization and move on.
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 03:30PM
It's not "illogical rationalization", it's annoyance at something that resembles "bait and switch" tactics... too common already in the commercial world. Reiner's analogy with stores enticing buyers in with below-cost items, in the hope that they'll also buy something more profitable, is a faulty analogy because those stores do actually sell the profit-losing item for the low price advertized - they don't switch it on you after you enter the shop and tell you sorry, you can't really have it at that price. That is illegal, in the USA anyway, although plenty of stores do it anyway (which doesn't make it a more honest business practice).
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 04:33PM
ca    
Alfredo,

Bait and Switch? please!! Once a seller puts an item up for auction there is no switch, he must sell the item shown if the reserve is met. The " Loss leader" analogy is perfectly valid because the seller cannot change the reserve price once the item is put up for auction, no more than the retailer can change the price advertised. The only analogy to bait and switch that I can see is the illogical rationalization that somehow once the hidden reserve is revealed ( which is as soon as a bid is placed) it somehow constitutes a switch? It is if though you think you are the only one bidding ( which I am sure is every bidders dream). The fundamental principal of an auction is that the price will change, (or switch) as more bidders place their bids. If you don't like that then stay away from auctions!
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 05:43PM
Reiner, I certainly don't expect an auctioned item to sell for its starting price, but I do expect the starting price to be the starting price. (Strange concept?) When you have a hidden reserve and a starting price, then the starting price is not really the starting price, which is where you trangress the line in honest advertizing. If the seller insists on a hidden reserve, that fact should be clearly stated in the initial offering, and set the "starting price" at zero - Why the sham of any other starting price - a meaningless number?

When I say "bait and switch", I'm not referring to switching the item on sale, but switching the start price, which is in effect what's going on when you have both a "starting price" and a hidden reserve. I'm fully aware that sellers like the current system because it is more likely to incite a bidding war, in which customers run the risk of getting caught up in the emotion of the "fight" and end up paying far more than the market value of the rock - it's a risk, and part of the excitement of auctions. But then I find it rather cynical of sellers to insist on playing these games with their customers while at the same time being unwilling to accept the risk that their item might sell "too cheap". Why should the seller be immune from the risks of auctions? If he's averse to risk, he can sell for fixed prices on his own website.
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 06:29PM
de    
Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Reiner, I certainly don't expect an auctioned item
> to sell for its starting price, but I do expect
> the starting price to be the starting price.
> (Strange concept?) When you have a hidden reserve
> and a starting price, then the starting price is
> not really the starting price, which is where you
> trangress the line in honest advertizing. If the
> seller insists on a hidden reserve, that fact
> should be clearly stated in the initial offering

> Why should the seller be immune from the risks of auctions?

Folks,
this is quite circling the wagons now... i think one should point out some things:

1st without sellers no auctions so i think it is quite important to grant people who sell the minerals to have their concept, to express it and give the reasons why ... talking about honesty or something similar (ridiculous to me) is not useful at all.

2nd the auction "feeling" ... as Jolyon posted before he wouldn´t like to have items start at higher prices as he wants to have the auction feeling. I prefer to start with the fail safe higher price so i wouldn´t lose too much or get at least a break even when listing higher quality specimens. If you count the time to take pictures, set up auctions etc. you still would lose even if you get the price the specimen had costed before. People who make their living with professional selling of minerals also have to pay taxes etc. So i have either the possibility to create the auction feeling and take serious risk to lose money or i will have to open with higher start price (but Jolyon already announced that the listing fee will be significantly higher to do so, certainly no win-win situation).

IMO it is no problem setting up a hidden reserve (and again, i am certainly am not a fan of this) if it is clear that there is one (for instance by a small flag in the auction; at the moment the auctions show if reserve is not met so what the problem) .. people who don´t like are not forced to bid. people who like it may be curious and do bids ... finally the results are counting and the market will regulate itself.

> Why should the seller be immune from the risks of auctions?
Alfredo, if you look at professional auctions, there is always a base (open) reserve .. so the risk is minimal. And i am willing to take the risk for items in the below 25 $ class, but not for a > 500 bucks specimen. I cannot afford that. Period! So again, i would prefer to start such an item at 500 (open reserve, i write this as i may have been misunderstood before, i know what a hidden reserve is ;) ), but if i have to pay high listing fees compared to 0.99 start i am reluctant to do so and also Jolyons preferred auction feeling would be gone then ;) ... so a hidden reserve is certainly an option to increase the auction feeling and to failsafe the seller - i agree that it should be clearly marked if there is a HR but see above.

In general i seem to notice a slight(?) attitude against sellers in the whole discussion... i don´t think there is any need to ... and in dubio winking smiley .. see my 1st point: without sellers no auctions,

cheers
Roger
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 08:43PM
us    
Personally, I don't have a problem with reserves, if used judiciously. I understand a seller's need to minimize risk with certain specimens, though I don't feel they are needed for all auctions. The risk of loss should be a possibility with some auctions, just as with the possibility of furious bidding running the price up to higher than it would be with a normal sale. I think that is what makes an auction exciting, the idea to a buyer that they can get something for a lower amount than if they had bought it outright, and the idea to a seller that they can sell something for a decent amount more than they paid for the item because two or more individuals want the item badly and bid it up. However, let's be reasonable. I don't expect a dealer to list a $500 (or even less, just pulling this number arbitrarily, really it is up to the dealer and their situation) specimen for $.99 with no reserve.

The problem I have is with hidden reserves. The whole idea of it just smacks of too much secrecy to me. I just don't understand why the reserve price can't be listed in the item description, at which point a prospective buyer can read the description, determine if it would or would not be a viable purchase, and make a bid or move on. It just saves time and effort and seems (to me at least) to make good business sense.

As a matter of fact, I bid on an auction item this weekend that I was interested in. As soon as I placed my bid, I found that the item had a hidden reserve, and I was disappointed. For the heck of it, I placed one more higher bid to see where it got me, and found that I still had not met the reserve. At this point I determined that the auction wasn't worth my time and moved on. Now, if that reserve is very close to my bid, I would bid again, if I knew it. Since I don't, I am not bidding again, over and over, until I reach it. It is this aspect that disappoints me. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I understand that everyone is entitled to theirs as well. I just want to get across that I am aware of this concept from a buying and selling perspective, and I hope that some of the sellers out there understand how some buyers feel about it.
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 09:43PM
de    
Scott Sadlocha Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Personally, I don't have a problem with reserves,
> if used judiciously. I understand a seller's need
> to minimize risk with certain specimens, though I
> don't feel they are needed for all auctions. The
> risk of loss should be a possibility with some
> auctions, just as with the possibility of furious
> bidding running the price up to higher than it
> would be with a normal sale.

Scott,
thanks a lot for this post ... i am really glad that there is an opinion from the buyers side of view seeing the issues on the seller side .. i missed that a bit. We all should be aware that both sides are tied together very strongly. I really appreciate!

> As a matter of fact, I bid on an auction item this
> weekend that I was interested in. As soon as I
> placed my bid, I found that the item had a hidden
> reserve, and I was disappointed. For the heck of
> it, I placed one more higher bid to see where it
> got me, and found that I still had not met the
> reserve. At this point I determined that the
> auction wasn't worth my time and moved on.

That´s exactly what i was telling .. if you feel this isn´t ok for you or above the budget you want to spend .. you are free to stop and ignore.
But let me point out again: The only compromise between auction/bidding experience and the need for a seller to be on failsafe is a reserve. An open reserve is the actual higher starting price .. may attract less bidders but that is ok for me. If Jolyon wants the auction 'feeling' which is tied to low starts then either the specimens quality will be less or hidden reserves maybe allowed. I repeat: if there is a hidden reserve this should be flagged in the auction. All can see, but no one knows the amount .. i do not find this dishonest but quite interesting .. i did myself bid on such auctons frequently and limited myself to my budget .. if it worked out ok, if not .. also ok.

Now, if
> that reserve is very close to my bid, I would bid
> again, if I knew it. Since I don't, I am not
> bidding again, over and over, until I reach it. It
> is this aspect that disappoints me. Of course,
> this is just my opinion, and I understand that
> everyone is entitled to theirs as well. I just
> want to get across that I am aware of this concept
> from a buying and selling perspective, and I hope
> that some of the sellers out there understand how
> some buyers feel about it.

As a sometimes online-buyer also i can support this of course. But again, when i wasn´t convinced that the reserve is ok for me i stopped bidding. What would be an option and also discussed before is the possibility for a seller to sell the item for the highest bid below reserve as he/she is willing to do. See, it is always a balance between decent gain and losses if you sell minerals, especially if you do this as a hobby (pro´s have to calculate in a different way, but i am not a pro) and i can balance a loss against a gain. I want to improve my collection by this way. So as you wrote above, a reserve (also hidden) maybe needed for some auctions .. but not all. But to look upon a hidden reserve as the evil thing doesn´t make sense to me.

Finally, and as i wrote earlier, quality, service and smooth transactions are the things to convince the buyers, not a reserve/no reserve or else

cheers
Roger
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 09:54PM
ca    
Thanks for your feedback, Scott.

Up until this thread, I was naively unaware of a negative point of view toward reserve bids. And I am still uncertain as to how to approach future listings on "our" e-rocks site. I suppose we could post our items with an invitation to contact us if the customer wishes to know the reserve... but I'm not sure that is satisfactory.... certainly, that is rather inconvenient for last minute shoppers.

Truly an enlightening thread.

Maggie
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 10:01PM
ca    
some more wondering...

at live auction houses, for minerals or household goods or whatever, the auctioneer does not announce the reserve price. At least as far as I know he/she does not. They announce that there IS a reserve, but not WHAT that reserve is.

Why should it be any different online?

But even here, with Mindat auctions in the growing pain stages, once you bid and get the message "reserve not met" ... well, you've got the message! No one is trying to be clever, or deceitful, or otherwise dishonest. It's just basic auction practice.

Maggie
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 10:05PM
de    
Maggie,
full ack
cheers
Roger
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 10:10PM
pl    
Very important is to add an option like "sell similar" - it will be great improvement for sellers.

So many people discuss here but why do you not post auctions with good rocks? Why do you not bid on them? If you really care about this auctions site you should to improve it by your great rocks.

Tom

-------------------------------------
"Spirifer" Geological Society
avatar Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 10:55PM
ca    
I've been bidding, Tomasz... not winning, but I've been bidding! ;)
Re: Mindat Auctions now live!
January 25, 2010 11:14PM
au    
Accurate descriptions are most important, why is a fire agate listed in the opal section???? This may seem minor to some people , but the fact is, that it is incorrect. If details like this are not policed, they will magnify, and contradict the high standards that Mindat has achieved. Apart from that , well done Jolyon, and thanks for the tireless effort. ...... Greg
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