Online Coin Auctions
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.Visit one of our other blogs:
Some Proxibid Auctioneers Still Violate Rules
Six months ago the auction portal Proxibid, which has a coins and currency category, amended its Unified User Agreement to align with eBay guidelines. This was good news for the hobbyist, and the company was to be commended, especially since its competitors were not mandating the same.
Specifically, coin lots cannot display a value greater than $2,500 unless certified by NGC, PCGS, ANACS or ICG. Coins slabbed by these companies can be listed with numerical grades. While the portal allows coins by other holdering companies, the numerical grade cannot appear in the title, description or item details.
The decision to crack down on hyped descriptions, often involving self-slabbed coins, came in light of a Texas federal court decision that awarded to a fraud victim's estate almost $2 million. You can read about the decision by clicking here.
I had been urging Proxibid to adopt eBay guidelines for several years. I indicated that the Texas fraud case could have larger ramifications on sellers who exaggerate values by noting numerical grades on self-slabbed and bottom-tier holders and associating those inflated grades with values as might be found in the Redbook or CW Coin Values guides.
week I revisited Proxibid to see how many auction companies were
complying with the new rules. The good news is that long-time
Proxibid sellers, including Weaver Coin and Currency Auction,
Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Coin Auction, SilverTowne Auction,
Silver Trades, Star Coin and Currency, Auctions by Wallace, and
several others have been honoring the new rules. So have several new
companies recently selling on the portal.
That alone has improved the buying experience on Proxibid. However, violations of the Unified User Agreement were frequent. Here is a small sampling of what I found:
- Uncertified coins with estimates in the description as high as $125,000-$175,000.
- Coins by bottom-tier slabs listed with numerical grades.
- Values of raw coins with numerical grades listed in titles and descriptions.
To be sure, the bidding playing field has improved on Proxibid since changing its listing rules. However, more work needs to be done.
I see the challenges, of course. Some of these auctioneers violating Proxibid rules are also cross-listing their lots in other portals that do not require eBay-like regulations on coins and currency. Nonetheless, it is high time that Proxibid enforce its rules to enhance its brand of trust. The company took a gentle approach in the beginning, easing auctioneers into the guidelines; but action should be taken now out of fairness to the companies listing lots correctly.
Otherwise the playing field will be uneven not only for
the buyer but for some sellers, too.