Auction Etiquette: What Bidders Need To Know

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Sometimes, an auction can seem like a free-for-all. It is a fast-paced process, there are plenty of people milling around, and there may not be all that much in the way of direction. Worst of all, not everyone is always on the same page. There are horrendous breaches of etiquette that you’ll come across during an auction, and that will frustrate you, the auction crowd, and the auctioneers themselves. These breaches of etiquette are rude in the least, while some border on criminal. So what do you need to know?

  1. Keep Your Conversation Low: Communication is vital during an auction, and both the bidders and auctioneers need to be able to communicate without having to shout over folks talking about nothing important to the auction. The bidders need to hear, so they can stop or proceed as necessary. The auctioneers, on the other hand, need to talk all day – if they have to raise their voice, its more strain. Yu don’t like it when someone makes your job unnecessarily harder to do, do you? Keep your talking low, or take it away from the bidding area.
  2. Don’t Mess With Lots: Auctioneers put lots together for a reason. Every bidder should have the same chance to bid on the same lots. Unfortunately, auction-goers sometimes breach etiquette by moving objects from one lot to another to benefit themselves. Not only is this against etiquette, it is borderline criminal, and morally no better than shoplifting. If caught, you may be banned or prosecuted depending on the auction service.
  3. Don’t Artificially Push Bids Up: If you don’t actually want items, its poor form to push up bids for no good reason. Unfortunately, some auction-goers seem to get a kick out of pushing prices up and then ducking out, with no intention of trying to make a successful bid. Don’t bid on anything you don’t intend on following through with.
  4. Avoid Overly Affirmative Actions if You Don’t Want To Bid: Auctioneers are always on the lookout for bids, and they now that some folks want to be stealthy in their bidding. Even if you don’t know what is being auctioned, an eager head bob or hand motion in a conversation could be taken as you wanting to enter a bid without making a big deal about it.
  5. Proper Grooming: First off, cleanliness is valued by everyone. You could be in close proximity to other folks in stifling warm weather for hours – make sure to shower up and put on some deodorant. Beyond that, concentrate on functional clothing. If you have long hair, tie it off, as fidgeting with your hair or shaking your head to get hair out of your face can be taken as an affirmative bid by an attentive auctioneer.
  6. Don’t Bad Mouth Items: Many times, these auctions are fairly intimate affairs, and the sellers may be nearby. You might think something is trash, but you needn’t say it – its bad form. Don’t forget that someone is going to buy that lot as well, so not only are you insulting the seller, but the potential buyer as well.
  7. Don’t Bad Mouth Other Bidders Either: The same goes for other bidders, who are likely known to each other, and you all are likely to see each other on a regular basis. If you think someone has overbid for an item, don’t vocalize it – they paid a price they are comfortable with, and that’s their business, not yours.
  8. Finalize Your Purchases Promptly: As soon as possible after you have finished your bid, pay for your item. It will also help you out, and help you beat the rush once the auction has concluded. It will also help the auctioneers chase down whoever owes them still.
  9. Don’t Push the Auctioneer Along: Every lot will come up when it is scheduled – don’t push the auctioneer along to get to a lot that you’re hoping to bid on. Auctioneers have a pacing they prefer to stick with, and they set up the timing of lots with the crowd in mind. Being pushy will likely get you admonished, if not thrown out or blackballed. Just wait your turn.
  10. Don’t Steal: It is sad that this has to be said, and has to constantly be repeated, but stealing from your fellow auction-goers is a huge breach of etiquette, and against the law. Plenty vindictive bidders have gone and taken an item they sought or intentionally damaged it. If you are that person, take a good long look in the mirror. Also, consider yourself lucky that you haven’t had to deal with retribution, but don’t be surprised when it comes – you’ve earned it.

Keep these points of auction etiquette in mind when you head out, and you will find that you can have an enjoyable time, and might even make friends with some of the auction circuit regulars. Auctions can be really fun and interesting events, but breaches of etiquette can really bring them down. Don’t be that person.


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