Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Auction Buyer: Caveat Emptor!

auction items
Photo: (c) 2015, Linda Pogue

Let the Auction Buyer Beware: Caveat Emptor!

I've mentioned in past articles that we enjoy going to auctions. Today, I am writing about buying electronics at auctions. In previous auctions, I have purchased a floor lamp for my living room (works great and gives me the light I need to work in my recliner on occasion), waffle irons (one worked and the other didn't), tea maker (missing the pitcher), mixer, radio, record player, and much more.

Many of these items were purchased to resell. I knew they worked, because they were plugged in and working at the auction. However, there are times when electronics are not plugged in. If there is not a place to plug in an item, you are taking a chance. Even if it does work, it may not work correctly when you get it home.

One of the waffle irons mentioned above was in an estate auction. It was clean, the plates still had the nonstick coating, and it had not been scratched. It looked like it had never been used, so I took a chance that it would work. It did, but this is not always a good guess. After all, it could look like it hadn't been used simply because it never worked.

The second waffle iron I bought, I plugged in and knew it heated up. Unfortunately, when I got it home and tried it, even though it worked, it did not work correctly. Some people buy appliances at auction to repair or use as parts, so it was returned to auction at another time for someone to purchase and repair.

The mixer I bought works great, but the retracting cord will not stay out. This is not too much of an issue. I just clipped the cord with an office clip to keep it from rolling back inside. The tea maker works great. After purchasing the pitcher that goes with it, it cost me just $8 compared to over $50 to buy it new. The radio and record player were brand new and were resold a long while back.

Many times, small kitchen appliances are sold in a lot, so you may get some that work and some that do not. Or, as in the case of the tea maker, you may get the machine, but not the pot. Somehow the pot got into a different lot. The price is usually between $1 and $5, so sometimes it is worth taking a risk if you are buying for reselling.

In the end, it comes down to caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. There are seldom guarantees at an auction, and even when there are, you have to take them with a grain of salt. After all, the auctioneer is only repeating what he has been told, and he may not have been told everything.

Buying anything at auction is a risk--even if it looks brand new and unopened. There are no guarantees, and if it doesn't work, you can't just return it for your money. You can resell it at another auction, and you may even get more than you paid for it, but chances are you will get less. However, if you know it doesn't work and don't let the auctioneer know, at the very least, you are not being kind. At worst, it could be considered fraud.

Caveat emptor!

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