Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Know Shipping Policies Before You Bid

Shipping policies on eBay are better than what you might find on an auction portal like Proxibid or iCollector. For starters, eBay monitors shipping and rewards best practices.

For instance, sellers automatically receive a 5-star shipping time rating if they expedite shipping or if tracking information is uploaded by the end of the next business day after payment is received.

Proxibid has a rating system, too, for shipping. I can't make much sense of it because auctioneers with terrible shipping policies rarely receive a rating lower than four out of five stars. 

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Here's an example: "Shipping and handling fees are $60.00 per flat rate USPS box, which includes insurance, tracking, and priority 2-3 day shipping."

Suppose you won a $25 Silver Eagle? That will cost you about $90.

Auctioneers who only recently decided to use Internet portals are used to calling the shots on everything--from no charge-backs (even on counterfeit coins) to no shipping whatsoever, requiring buyers to find local businesses like UPS and make arrangements for pick-up.

I do not bid in any Proxibid auction that requires me to contact third-party shippers who will want credit card information. As soon as the auctioneer passes the coins to the shipper (and who knows what happens to the lots then?), the auctioneer no longer is responsible for loss of items. 

When bidding on coins in auction portals, watch out for padded extra charges and handling fees. Here's an auctioneer that charges 79 cents per lot with another fee at 35 cents per minute handling with $3 minimum.

Another auctioneer says he'll do shipping a week after the auction. He charges a $5.00 per box packing fee plus the actual cost of shipping. It makes no sense to charge coin buyers per lot. Auctioneers should want bidders to win many! If anything, discount shipping for multiple lots. And charging for some packing supplies is suspicious, especially when coins are shipped wrapped in torn newspapers or scraps from US Post Office boxes (a violation) and free boxes from that local post office, too.

These are problem shippers. But you'll also find several auctioneers on Proxibid who understand that shipping matters and who do a respectable job.

Several Proxibid auctioneers, like this one, state: "Exact shipping cost will be charged.Sometimes additional postal services or insurance may be added to the invoice if need, based upon value, weight, size and destination."

Some auctioneers charge a flat fee, $5-$8, and ship within 24 hours. 

Those tend to be ones that have repeat business because, as Internet sellers know, customer service is paramount and shipping is the major component of that service.

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