Ha ha, yes badly written, so their commission is 22%.....
About a month ago I almost wrote a two page rant about auction houses and what value do they actually bring and what should change to manage the ethics and guidelines on how they operate. Never posted it though, so here is a taste......
My biggest concern is over the years if you read the small print of a lot of auction houses, they seem to be taking less ownership for anything, especially as they are making anywhere between 35% and 60% on each item with buyer's and seller's commission. No longer do they:
- Take any responsibility for descriptions accuracy, it is buyer's responsibility.
- Take any responsibility for condition, it is buyer's responsibility to check for damage, repairs etc.
- Take any responsibility for damage whilst in the auction house to items if caused by a potential buyer.
- Take any responsibility for damage or loss of goods, from the point the hammer goes down, it is down to the buyer to provide insurance cover before collecting.
- Any damage caused by an item being removed, is buyer's responsibility, including to other lots.
- If an item is stated to be something different to what is described, it is down to the buyer to pursue directly with the vendor, the auction house takes no responsibility. They even send details to the seller to make sure they are happy before the sale.
Now I could go on for ever here, but considering a lot of sellers go to an auctioneer and specialist advisor to assess age, condition, value etc, how can it be the seller's responsibility to underwrite this? Apart from anything else, it proves how little auctioneers know. We have all probably had experiences of this, but is inexcusable when they cannot even be bothered to spell known makes of items correctly in their catalogues, e.g. l sold a Beswick large figure recently and it was described as Berwick, probably due to auto spell, issue being, a lot of people search online now and means this will be missed.
An awful lot of stuff going to auction these days is put in by unscrupulous dealers, hiding damage, repairs, age etc. and one would expect more effort by a dealer to identify. I recently bought some apparent 19th century shop cabinets as described, painted pine with large draws and cup handles. I could not move the items out to see the backs or sides as they had piled large amounts of other items on top. After winning and them being removed, I discover they were made no more than 20 years ago, once seeing the backs... Only recourse to go back to the vendor.
I would never expect auctioneers to know everything, e.g. of our hobby we know they know nothing, but a lot of run of the mill stuff they should and seem to be taking minimal if any ownership for anything...
Feel better now.