Auction Closing Update

Since our inception five years ago, we have been proponents of the 15-minute rule governing the entire auction as the most fair and effective of the existing internet auction closing methods.  We felt that the 15-minute method favored the person willing to pay the most for the item they wanted, regardless of budgetary issues or preferred bidding strategy – which rewarded both the bidder and the consignor of that item.

But we also recognized that this method was certainly not the most convenient.  Like the rest of the hobby, we have watched as each of our last four auctions closed after 6AM on Sunday morning – which is entirely too late.

The first time it happened, we chalked it up to a fluke and decided to wait and see.  The second time, however, we started to analyze what was happening – who was bidding, how they were bidding, and why.  We analyzed bidding data, made lots of phone calls, and asked lots of questions.  While some bidders felt we were ignoring a frustrating situation, we were not – we were learning.

Through our analysis, we discovered a few things:

  • In each of our late-running auctions, an enormous percentage of the bidding is actually over by 2AM.  For instance, about 94% of the last auction was over by 2, with just 6% of the items receiving bids after that time.  Despite this, many bidders feel the need to stay up all night with the auction in case they are outbid.  This frustrates people, and we completely understand why.
  • On some items, there are bidders who prefer doing their bidding after all the “action” is over and the bidding is down to just a few serious bidders.  Late into the night, they are often calling our offices, asking very specific questions about the items that interest them, trying to put together trades with other collectors that might help them afford to place another bid, or doing other research, working against the clock.  As a result, every auction has a few items that have spirited bidding late into the night.
  • Just the same, we have also found that there are people who, because the auction is still open so early in the morning, are waking up and placing bids, often outbidding a person who has been the high bidder well into the night.  Sometimes, a customer has been high bidder for several days, only to be outbid at 5:30 AM because the auction is still open.  We agree with bidders who think this is unfair.

One other thing we discovered:

  • We don’t like being up until 6AM any more than you do.

Other auction houses have tried a number of closing methods – lot-by-lot, hard close, simply starting the extended bidding period earlier, etc.  We commend them for their forward-thinking methods, but we’ve said for years that we felt that the other existing closing methods create different sets of problems that can hurt bidders and consignors alike.

As such, we’re trying to invent something new.  We are pleased to introduce to you a brand-new auction closing method we are calling the Double Overtime Close.

The Double Overtime method has been developed after nearly two years of extensive analysis into the bidding habits of online bidders – both in our auction and in others.

Ultimately, we wanted a closing method that accomplished the following:

  • We wanted the lots where true bidding had subsided to close, without impacting the small number of lots where bidding remained brisk well into the night.  If you’re high bidder on a lot that hasn’t had any activity, you should be able to go to bed without worrying someone will outbid you hours – or even days – after real bidding activity has stopped.
  • Lots where bidding was still active needed to remain open until actual, active bidders were finished placing their bids, regardless of the hour.  If you’re slugging it out with someone on a lot, you should be able to bid until you’re done bidding.
  • The “max bid” feature needed to remain a viable option for those Love of the Game bidders who are comfortable using that method of bidding.  It’s safe, it’s effective, and we are proud to offer a trustworthy max bid system.
  • The auction closing format could not be structured in a way that shut out legitimate buyers allocating their bids based on a budget, and could not close out bidders who were interested in multiple items but can only bid one item at a time (in other words, no hard close, and no lot-by-lot close).
  • We did not want to eliminate any of the excitement of the type of auction “events” we try to facilitate at LOTG, with multiple unique items attracting the interest of a host of bidders.

We feel the Double Overtime method accomplishes all of this.  Here’s how it works:

  • The auction will enter into the Extended (“Overtime”) Bidding period at 9:00 PM eastern time on the closing night, same as always.  The 15-minute rule will be in effect, and if the auction happens to close before 2:00 AM due to the 15-minute rule, then the auction is closed.  In order to bid on a lot when Extended Bidding begins, you need to have a bid placed on it before 9PM on closing day.
  • At 2:00 AM Eastern time (11:00 PM West Coast time), any item that has not received a bid for the past 60 minutes or longer will close.  For all those items – the overwhelming majority of the items in the auction – bidding will be over.  The high bidders will be the winners, and can go to sleep.
  • The remaining items still open will remain open, going into what we’re calling “Double Overtime.”  The “Double Overtime” period will remain in effect until none of the remaining items have received a bid for 15 minutes.  Should we communicate a Fair Warning by email, and the auction will close no more than 15 minutes after the email is sent.

This new method allows bidders who are actively bidding on open lots to continue to do so as long as they like, while allowing everyone else to go to bed with the knowledge that their lots have closed and bidding is over.

We are committed to this closing method for our Fall, 2017 auction.  Should our continuing analysis indicate that 2:00 AM Overtime could be moved up or that the 60-minute time frame can be narrowed without negatively impacting bidders, we plan to do that with future auctions.

Our Fall, 2017 auction will be the first auction in the hobby to close under this method.  We ask you to please be patient with us through any glitches or hiccups that may occur, and we also ask you to be patient over the next few auctions as we tweak the Double Overtime closing times.  We want to continue to be the most trustworthy, bidder-friendly auction in the hobby, and this is another step towards doing that.

As always, thanks go to the entire collecting community for its trust, its confidence, and in this case, its assistance in building an entirely new closing method.


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