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:
Shipping still an issue on Internet
Today we’re looking at shipping on HiBid.com, which hosts dozens of coins and currency auctions each week. The portal is a preferred site by estate auctioneers, primarily because they can set their own rules and respond directly to bidders without having to agree to a platform’s terms of service or go through its customer service, as may happen on Proxibid.
Proxibid, still my favorite coin-buying platform, has a Unified User Agreement , patterned after eBay’s guidelines , and has excellent customer service from corporate headquarters in Omaha. If you have an issue, there is always someone there to help you, by phone.
Moreover, on Proxibid, registered auctions typically have reasonable shipping options, although a few auctions charge exorbitant fees. Most sellers on the platform charge for USPS priority mail shipping with a small handling charge.
Increasingly, however, when sellers migrate to HiBid.com, or open auction accounts there, shipping options suffer.
Make no mistake, HiBid.com has many fine features, including lower buyer’s premiums, for the most part. And it’s not the platform’s fault if sellers do not want to ship small items, such as coins.
But buyers must beware.
Here are some auction terms from the Coins and Currency category of HiBid.com. I eliminated auction names but share their shipping notices as written (replete with ALL CAPS):
NO SHIPPING Please call to schedule your pick up. Pick up hours will be Thursday 8AM-5PM and Friday 8AM-2PM
Unless Agreed To Otherwise, PRIOR to Bidding, Auctioneer Will NOT Mail Coins, Direct Pick Up, Photo ID Required on Pick Up Dates.
ALL BUYERS ARE ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ARRANGING AND PAYING FOR ALL PACKING AND SHIPPING OF PURCHASED ITEMS. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT [US] FOR PACKING OR SHIPPING QUOTES OR ASSISTANCE, AS WE DO NOT MAINTAIN AN IN-HOUSE SHIPPING DEPARTMENT - ALL SHIPPING IS OUTSOURCED.
For Pete’s sake, don’t list your catalog on an Internet platform if you do not want to ship or even take calls about shipping.
Recently I looked at a HiBid.com coin auction that featured several gold and expensive slabbed coins. Bids would be hundreds of dollars for many lots. I checked the shipping section in the service terms, which HiBid requires, but learned that the auction house did not ship.
I emailed the house about this policy. Here was the response:
“When you win an item we will send you an invoice and on the bottom of that invoice will be two shippers listed. It is your responsibility to contact them and have them picked up. We do not arrange shipping. If there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.”
It seems the auction house doesn’t want to do much more than take bids over Internet.
Why should anyone bid hundreds of dollars on coins and then ask a third-party shipper to go to the auction house without a bill of sale? Moreover, if auctioneers do not arrange shipping, there is no telling whose coins you might get via that shipper. Finally, contacting the third-party shipper and giving that company your credit card information over the phone is yet another risk of doing business in this manner.
Estate auctioneers are among the slowest to adapt to the Internet, where multitudes of coin buyers do business. That is why I recommend carefully reading terms of service, especially about shipping, before placing a bid on ANY platform, including Proxibid and eBay.