Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Recent Lang's Auction

Some Thoughts on the Recent Lang's Auction

Here is a disclaimer: I do not in any way work for Lang's, although I consider many of the people that work there to be friends. Additionally, I am suffering from a horrible bout of flu so if this comes off as rambling, I apologize ahead of time.

That being said, there has been a lot of buzz about the Lang's Auction that was held this past weekend, and I thought I'd weigh in with my two cents.

Back when Lang's went to the current format, there was of course a lot of controversy, especially since it meant both the end of "live" bidding as well as the move towards a digital catalog (instead of a bound one).

First, although we may lament that there is not a live auction and an accompanying show, we have to be realistic about life. We can't go back in time. Instead, Live Auctioneers and an on-line auction is what we have. WE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR THIS. Many other auction houses have closed their doors, and we as tackle collectors are fortunate to have a world class auction such as Lang's.

And my experience with the new format (not really new, but over two years old) has been that it is easy to use, with very few glitches. In fact, in many ways it runs more smoothly than a regular auction, in my mind. I think it allows far more people to participate, and potentially get the items they want.

Every auction there are people who have different experiences, who for one reason or another do not get the item they want. This is the nature of the beast. In at least a dozen instances on eBay, I have bid far beyond what the eBay auction ended at and did not win the auction. Why? Who knows? I've also been at live auctions where the auctioneer has ignored my pleading bid and hammered an item that I badly wanted, too. The point is that auctions, whether traditional or on-line, are run by human beings, and human beings make mistakes. We all want a perfect bidding experience, but that is a pipe dream.

What I cannot abide, however, is the idea that some how, some way the system is rigged. Frankly, anyone with any knowledge of back-end databases would know that such thoughts are ridiculous. The sheer audacity to believe that an entire system is rigged just to keep someone from winning a $400 auction is amazing.

Let me put it to you another way: Lang's Auctions are as honest as any auctioneer in any field in America. As Lang's owners Debbie Ganung has recently noted:

I can say unequivocally that Lang’s is an honest auction, and will continue to be so for as long as John and I own it. We work extremely hard to produce the best tackle auctions in the world and to provide exceptional customer service...Every bid is recorded through Live Auctioneers, including the exact time it was received, the IP address of the computer used, and every bid placed by Lang’s technicians on behalf of phone and absentee bidders. There is no way possible to manipulate the online bids.

When you see the bidding starting at your high bid, it means there was another absentee bid one increment below yours. In that case, the bidding would start at your high bid, overbidding the underbidder’s absentee bid. Example: your absentee bid is $400. There is another absentee bid of $375. The bidding will open at $400.

Were there glitches in the on-line auctions? Not in any of the dozen auctions I bid on, but this does not mean they did not happen. I did watch one reel record a 52,000 bid but that very well have been a fault in my interface. Some people have posted that they were high bidder until the end, when the auction sailed past their bid and closed quickly. In cases like this, if you wanted the item(s) I suggest bidding what you're willing to pay to get it in the first place.

If there is an item you absolutely have to have, and fear the internet may go down, you should make a phone bid.. Failing that, leave an absentee bid--which is recorded and viewable in your Live Auctioneers profile. But I strongly suggest a phone bid for those items you desperately want as it gives you the best chance to get it.

The bottom line is this. The vast majority of users have had an easy and pleasant bidding experience with the new system. As for problems, if you've had one, pick up the phone and call Lang's! They answer questions all the time, and will very likely explain to you in no time what happened.

We all need to relax and remember this is fun. And there are little things more fun than having Lang's auction on live in the background as I watch football.

-- Dr. Todd


Unknown said...

Lang's new format is an enjoyable format. It's gotten better every auction, and I suspect that soon we will be looking at the auctioneer in HD and probably the item as well. I have never suspected any dishonesty with Lang's, it's a first class outfit.
There were a couple of glitches on day 1. Once they stopped for approx 5 minutes to get everything back in sync., which was the right thing to do. On another occassion I'm confident that my bid wasn't registering, and I logged off and back on.
I would suggest that the Auctioneer have a large screen in front of him so he can see what the online viewer is looking at. This would put the Auctioneer in sync with the bidding as well.

Unknown said...

Doc - I'm with you - how can you beat sitting at home in your underwear and get an opportunity to buy some great stuff! I've purchased several items in the last couple of years and seen only a couple of very minor glitches - like you said not so different than when the auctioneer misses your bid and ends the item. My hat's off to Debbie, John and the gang for another great event. I wish they were more often!