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Posted by Jonathan Levinger  
Auctions
May 15, 2010 11:43AM
About the auctions, if this is to work there should be some strict rules; rare species category should contain rare species not Calcite, Quartz etc. Display mineral specimens should show mineral specimens not the tumbled stones and carving rough, cutting stones and gems should be in the category provided for this only. Already this auction attempt looks worst than eBay.
If it can be kept clean and to the subject it will bring in serious collectors, otherwise it will be a site for junkies to post their barbarous soliciting in a way telephone soliciting is done.
I may sound very orthodox in my views but being to strict is better than anarchy.
I believe that we could in the realm of minerals and fossils beat eBay by leaps if only we think straight and keep away from flea market attitude.
So jump on the bandwagon and do some thinking.
Re: Auctions
May 15, 2010 07:06PM
Here is a copy of what David said about auctions;
from an example of this can be seen in the auctions - which I don't believe any of the managers are very interested in policing - if anyone is interested in doing this, Jolyon would probably like to hear from you).
I would be willing to help but first we have to set the goals and rules.
I have made some attempts to do that for the Thumbnail collectors forum in order to display only thumbnails and indicate if they are available or not. There I simply sent a comment to every inappropriate picture.
In the case of the auctions it is more complex task but could be done.
avatar Re: Auctions
May 15, 2010 10:18PM
I agree with you that minerals should be posted in the proper category, no quartz , calcite etc. in the rare mineral etc. Ideally it should be up to the person posting not a moderator, but it would probably not take care of all the wrong postings. I don't know if is carelessness, or that person thinking he will get their item noticed more, or a misunderstanding of the terms. Posting your item in the wrong category could and will probably cost you a sale or cause much lower bidding. Some interested in only tumbled items will not look in the mineral section and people interested only in fine crystals will not bid on the item. I am sure everybody has plenty of things to do so finding a moderator may be difficult. It may take several people taking turns. I don't know what the answer is.
avatar Re: Auctions
May 15, 2010 10:58PM
    
I watched this a bit and had been reluctant to interfere with seller's designations, but I bit the bullet earlier and rearranged a few, as someone else did a day or so ago. It seems to me that the only way to make an auction site a go to place is to post good minerals without ridiculous reserves.
Re: Auctions
May 17, 2010 03:59PM
If you look at every mineral related category on eBay you will easily get my point. I was one of very few on eBay in 2000.
Looking for a specimen in say display specimens would produce a list of 90% display specimens and few that I would rather hide or re trim or split in few displayable pieces.
By 2005 there would be about 50 times as many items and 50% had nothing to do with the category. Right now it is even worst despite the fact that eBay is trying to learn about this (Mineral) section and do some improvement. Problem with their solution is that instead of some policing they are simply adding more category and encouraging people to list in more than one, of course to make more money. They make the money on listing fees and consider final sale fees as a bonus. So I hardly ever look for specimens on eBay.
Now why is so many people that list in the wrong category is simple, it is a greed driven simpletons view that if you can slap your information on to every ones face as often as possible you will eventually run in some suckers that will buy. Greed has no scruples and has no interest in anything but profit. While lots of you will say oh that is stupid way to reason and there must be only few people that will do it, have a look at eBay or even closer at our auctions here and see what was listed in the rare species and what in display specimens.
Auctions would have to be strictly policed right from the beginning or it will become a cheap flea market bazaar useful only to those that care less about this noble site.
I am not discussing the prices, that is up to every vendor to shape according to his own experience and targeted clientele.
avatar Re: Auctions
May 19, 2010 06:41PM
    
It apears to me that tthe auctions are dead in the water and that a buy it now for a fixed price(reasonable) is the only way to revive this. If mindat charged a flat fee of .25 per listing pre paid. So say you pay mindat $5 and you get 20 listings. If they were paid in advance rater than after, this could generate some significant revenue i think and make it worth while. Otherwise I dont see this going anywhere. I think that if members pages had an area for this it would be a good format. To show what you have in your collection not for sale and an area of what is for sale.

Ariel
Re: Auctions
May 19, 2010 08:43PM
Auctions are fun and working for some individual dealers but this are well managed.
I like to see minerals changing hands as easily as possible and mindat making money in the process.
I think that I should transfer this topic to the auction page where it belongs and we can continue to discuss it from there.
avatar Re: Auctions
May 19, 2010 10:43PM
    
Folks,
the mindat auctions are drop dead at the moment. Too many issues (as missing buy now, and some other data entering stuff) and IMO too much stuff comparable to the lower end at ebay in the wrong categories, as Jonathan said. Of course there must be a space for tumbled stones etc but if it is up to the seller to list in the category this will lead to nothing long term. To get rid of the high reserves there must be a listing fee depending on start price .. also a fixed percentage after sale for mindat too. I am a regular at another well designed and splendid working specialized mineral auction site and i would NEVER change focus to mindat auctins at the moment although i have have to pay the fees at "my" site now etc. .. but the good moderation is benign to my auctions and i am not reluctant to pay for this.
As far as for now ... very reluctant to post auctions here. I see great danger of mindat being transferred from an excellent database and educational site to a flea market. The idea of a selling section on members pages isn´t bad, all could be compiled on an auction/selling page. But as it works now it won´t work well IMO.

Cheers
Roger
avatar Re: Auctions
May 20, 2010 12:58AM
One thing sellers need is the capacity to edit listings and especially relist at reduced prices, else you have to completely start the listing again. Buy-it-now would be good too. There are some good items going through, but with very low sales rates for some reason.

Regards,
Ralph
avatar Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 04:05PM
What drives me away from an individual auction is the hidden reserve. I won't waste my time watching and bidding to find out even though I have the high bid, I didn't reach the hidden reserve. I don't know what the point is especially on Mindat auctions. I guess on Ebay it is a way to reduce your listing cost but then there is an extra fee for setting a reserve. I haven't bought or sold on Ebay for a long time so maybe it is different now. I have been looking at Mindat auctions and considering bidding but don't want to play the reserve game. A Buy it now price would be good. I am also considering listing as well when I get some time so I hope it stays.
Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 07:00PM
    
Here are some barriers that have prevented me from bidding on mindats auctions:

1. Eliminate the hidden reserve since it is perceived as a waste of time to potential
bidders.
2. A "Buy me now" capability would help.
3. Too many poor specimens have a much too high starting price (if they do not have reserve).
Remember that this is an auction and the starting prices should be low. It seems that too many
sellers use the retail price as their starting price.
4. When an item is fairly priced, high shipping costs can double or trebble the final price.
Sellers with multiple listings should consider consolidating shipping charges to reduce the
per item shipping costs if a buyer buys multiple items.
5. Since buying based on a photo can be risky, a return policy would help. If a seller is
not willing to give a full refund, he/she should realize that the asking price should be much
lower because of the risk to the buyer.
6. Many mindat folks are serious collectors and expect to see good photos of good or rare
specimens at competitive total prices, including shipping. I do not believe that junk or average
specimens of common species will sell on Mindat.

It seems to me that some sellers have tried to unload their poor and not saleable specimens on
Minat at retail or higher prices. That is bad for Mindat and I believe that had a lot to do with many
people loosing interest in the auctions. John S.
sharath
Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 10:50PM
problems with auctions:

1.very poor quality minerals

2. very poor quality minerals

3. photos are very small, you need to go into each on every page individually to look at the larger image. needs more time. a waste of time when a large fraction of the listings are actually junk.

4. no clear-cut policy : return/ shipping charge / where will it be posted from

5. appears the forum has been taken over by trash dealers rather than private collectors. pre-payment will not only make money for mindat but ask drive away the unscrupulos elements.

6. reserve price should be disclosed.

7. extent/nature of damage or incompleteness of crystallization should be clearly noted. Other sellers have to compulsorily state "No damage" or "Complete crystallization". Other wise, a cube in photo may actually be a wedge in real; also damages absent in photogenic face may be present on the pheriphery.

opinion:

1. you should expect sellers to list at very low price. you cannot expect him/her to incur loss.but the start price/reserve should be reasonable say 25-50% of retail. or there should be a buy it now price or a page where specimens can be sold for fixed prices rather than

2. may be users (even if they are not buyers) can be allowed to comment on listings. this way bad listings will get thrashed. people can comment on the quality of the minerals/ price. this will serve as a means for moderation.
avatar Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 11:01PM
Here are my thoughts:


> 1. Eliminate the hidden reserve since it is perceived as a waste
> of time to potential bidders.

I'm starting to agree with this. Sellers like the reserve feature, but bidders universally hate them. Perhaps we should try removing it for now.

> 2. A "Buy me now" capability would help.

I wasn't particularly keen on doing this before, but it is (apart from your point 1) the most requested addition - I think we may need to add it.

> 3. Too many poor specimens have a much too high starting price (if they do not have reserve).
> Remember that this is an auction and the starting prices should be low. It seems that too many
> sellers use the retail price as their starting price.

This is the problem of running auctions for free, sellers have no risk so can price things ridiculously. Other than charging for the auctions (which we're not ready to do yet) I'm not sure how we'd deal with this.


> 4. When an item is fairly priced, high shipping costs can double or trebble the final price.
> Sellers with multiple listings should consider consolidating shipping charges to reduce the
> per item shipping costs if a buyer buys multiple items.

I would expect all sellers to combine items and consolidate shipping charges whether they say this in their conditions or not, in fact (unlike ebay), I may make it a condition of sale in the future that sellers agree to this. On ebay people use this as a way of getting round paying ebay their commissions, and I don't want that here! Plus, it's unfair to the buyer.

> 5. Since buying based on a photo can be risky, a return policy would help. If a seller is
> not willing to give a full refund, he/she should realize that the asking price should be much
> lower because of the risk to the buyer.

For auctions the risk is always with the buyer - if you dislike it, then that's too bad. However, if the item is sold as a Mumbojumboite and it's really just quartz, (ie the description is significantly inaccurate) then a refund should be given. Similarly if it is damaged during shipping a refund would be appropriate (alternatively you could negotiate a partial refund).

For 'buy-it-now' style auctions, full distance sale rights would apply, which would mean you have the right to a full refund if the specimen is returned within 10 days of receipt.

The official policy that we will support is that sellers should refund specimen cost PLUS the original postage costs to ship the specimen out (regardless of whether the reason for return was incorrect description or just because the customer didn't like it), however the seller does not have any obligation to refund the cost of returning the specimen to the seller - this should be borne by the buyer and should be done in no less of a secure way than the original specimen was sent (so if it was sent to you by recorded delivery, that's what you should use to send it back).

If however the fault was the original seller (for example, he sends the wrong specimen, or significant damage was not described), then I would expect the seller to make good the return postage cost as well. HOWEVER, where it is something that would be regarded as an 'honest' mistake (and most mineral misidentifications would come under this category), the dealer would not be obliged to refund the cost of return.

These will be a minimum requirement from all sellers who participate in mindat auctions. These rules are not yet in place, but they will be soon. Sellers may of course offer greater guarantees to their customers (ie always offering to refund return postage cost), but that is up to them.


> 6. Many mindat folks are serious collectors and expect to see good photos of good or rare
> specimens at competitive total prices, including shipping. I do not believe that junk or average
> specimens of common species will sell on Mindat.

They may sell if the starting price and delivery cost are reasonable - but I agree it's not really what the auctions are for.

Jolyon
avatar Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 11:15PM
    
Sharath, the auctions do state where the item is located, most sellers quote shipping costs, some quote info on returns, yes further work needs to be done we've waited a few years to get this far & seeing as they've only been running a few months it will be a while before finalized. BTW you have to be a registered member for 3 months before you can make a comment on any auction but we don't need to see slanging matches of peoples opinions as you suggest 'thrashed' this will just put of buyers & sellers & defeat the object.

:)
avatar Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 11:20PM
    
I like the ideas for change.
Keep up the hard work, I would love to see this devolope as mindat has.
As soon as my new camera comes in, I plan on listing some pieces.
Adam K
avatar Re: Auctions
May 21, 2010 11:22PM
    
Jolyon

Will we be able to do our own web hosting of photos & html descriptions ?

:)
avatar Re: Auctions
May 22, 2010 12:33AM
> Will we be able to do our own web hosting of photos & html descriptions ?

No, too many security implications for me to deal with.

Jolyon
avatar Re: Auctions
May 22, 2010 05:44PM
Thanks Jolyon for the comments. Good ideas. I think the main points like hidden reserves and guarantees are the most important. These protect the seller. Things like the prices being too high and low quality will work themselves out. If the prices are too high and the quality too low for the price, they won't sell and the seller will either not try again or try at a lower price. What is too high to some may not be too high to someone so why not ask. I sometimes think people who use hidden reserves here and on Ebay are just feeling out the market and trying to see what their item is worth which is unfair to the bidder and a waste or time. If they don't want to sell their item for less that $100 then that should be the starting price. If it is worth that or more someone will bid on it. The old saying is true, "An item is only worth what someone is willing to pay",
avatar Re: Auctions
May 22, 2010 09:20PM
I have participated in the auctions in the past and have been fortunate to sell 16 specimens to 8 different buyers. Most buyers have told me through email contact that they were pleased with their purchase. Some sort of feedback or seller rating through the auction site would be very helpful to both sellers and future buyers. Both seller and buyer have to complete a form to conclude the sale - why not make this information available.

As a buyer myself, I hate hidden reserves and choose not to use them. I believe the starting prices on my listings were quite fair based on what I would be happy to let the specimen go for. In most cases, this price was considerably lower than what a full-time dealer would offer for a similar piece. But 25% lower is too low. Most items sell with only one or maybe two bids, so essentially the site isn't really functioning like an auction. I'm not sure if this is related to the low number of potential bidders, the amount of poor quality material, or other reasons, but the end result is that with one bidder, the starting price is a "buy it now" price.

Lastly, after contacting the buyer to arrange for payment and shipping on two sold items (not included in the above 16), I never heard back from the buyer. Why would someone bid on a specimen if they didn't intend to complete the transaction?

I have no problem with the proposed changes to the site as I already adhere to the proposed rules, but I would like to see the feedback issue addressed.

Michael Shaw
sharath
Re: Auctions
May 23, 2010 12:27AM
Completely agree with Slater. There should be a mechanism to protect the seller from loss and the buyer from wasting his/her time. A disclosed reserve along with a buy it now option would be ideal. The auction in the present form appears to allow 'testing the market'.

and Debbie thanks for your comments. I haven't bought anything from the auction yet. Whenever a good specimen is listed it unfortunately fall outside my theme. And yes the auction is still a baby and needs to grow; and that needs feedback and criticism.

I'm strongly intersted in the success of this auction as it allows a private collector to sell his/her specimens directly to another collector and thus reduce cost. As your collection grows there are bound to be doubles,ones that no longer fit your theme etc. A dealer would only pay half or less the going price. This auction has the potential to get a better price for the seller while letting the buyer have it for less than the going. A fair bargain for both. This can also be a good forum for field collectors to sell excess. Yes, I know, field collector seldom let go their stuff. Thats because they are offered nickles and dime.
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