Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tool Auction

If I postulate that people that go to hardware and tool liquidation auctions are morons, and I went to one, and bought stuff, does that make me an uber moron?

I suppose yes. I went to one the other day, because someone put a flyer in my mailbox announcing a bankruptcy liquidation auction with name brand items listed. Some of which I needed. Or, well, could use. Ok, ok. Wanted. Also, I had never been to an auction before, and wanted to see how they work, and if you really could get great deals.

Upon arrival, I should have been a bit more dubious about the integrity of the whole operation. The flyer stated things like 'bankruptcy' and 'liquidation', and the lorry that parked in the local VFW had, in nice big letters, 'tool auction'. Nowhere on any banner were the words I had seen before that imply 'good stuff' at 'everything must go' prices. Next, walking inside, there weren't the name brands that I was looking for. Mind you, there were some named brands, but not for the items I was interested in.

Now, to get back to the stipulation that auction goers are morons. The auctioneer was quite adept at getting people to bid on non name brand items as if they were purchasing name brand items from a store. Or at least for more than you can get other non name brand items from places like Harbor Freight. Often twice as much.

I was hugely disappointed at how it was run. For some of the items that I was (still) interested in, the auctioneer would group a bunch of 'near the same value' items together - making sure that a highly valuable item was there that he knew multiple people were interested in. Thereby raising the bids to aforementioned astronomical levels. The deal was, that the final bid would set the price for any single item in the set. So, it generally ended up being a higher price for the item I was interested in than an equivalent name brand item at, say, Home Depot, which I can see from my house. So, I didn't raise my bidder's number placard for any of the items in any 'group bid'.

So, you think that maybe, I might have just been an otherwise intelligent person, out of place in a sea of morons. Not so fast. I did end up purchasing 3 items. Two of which it would be exceedingly difficult to argue that I need. An angle grinder - with a bunch of wheels, and a screwdriver set. To my credit (which does not begin to offset the intellectual debt I have acquired), I *almost* didn't purchase them. And, I didn't, per-say, bid on them. I let the others bid it up, then, when the bidding stopped, he asked if anyone else was interested in the given item for the specified price - and I, with at least a small pause, stupidly raised my placard.

The final, and most expensive, item I purchased, am currently crossing my fingers on. It's a generator. To replace the non functional generator that I loaned to a friend. I'm not really upset with it coming back non functional. I've never really liked it. It's the loudest generator I've had the displeasure of standing next to. Not the easiest thing to start either. Now, I had set myself a price limit of $500 for a generator. I figured it was an auction, so I *should* be getting things at *below* retail. In the end, the auctioneer talked up the generator, and people (not me) bid it up to $625. Once the price was set, I hesitated, then gritted my teeth and bought into the auctioneer's tales of awesomeness about this generator.

'Pros': It has the same engine as a beloved Honda generator ('same engine' = same design. It's not actually made by Honda). It's rated for 6500 watts (old one is 5000. Or, in it's current condition, 0 watts). It's 'quiet' (I have yet to hear one running). It's 'worth' over $1500. It has electric start. It has wheels.

Cons: Several grains of salt for the 'pros' (i.e. Who can prove that it is the same design? How 'quite' is it, really?). It is an American Camper brand generator. I've never heard of American Camper.

Hold on now. I'm obviously on the internet. Lets do a Google... Uh oh... Here's one 'find': "AMERICAN CAMPER GENERATOR PARTS. WE JUST BOUGHT A GENERATOR ON LINE AND IT NEEDS PARTS PLEASE HELP". Heh, well, I also found an EBay attempt to sell a 3000 watt American Camper generator for $1200. ...And a 2000 watt one retailing for $250.

So, I'm still holding my breath about if I got a deal, or if I bought a lump of slag. I think I'm afraid to try to start it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, another scam-olicious tactic of the peeps running the auction. They add a 10% auction transaction fee to everything. And, tax too, of course. The 10% fee is to automatically increase their profit margins. Sure, they are very up front about the fee by posting notice of it in the flyer and at the entrance to the auction room, and they even mention it multiple times in the intro before the bidding starts. But then that's the last you hear of it until they add it to your tab when you check out. They tell you about it, but then they want you to forget about it while bidding - which, as far as I can tell is what everyone did.

Conclusion: Yes, indeed, I have moronnitis auctionus. But I don't appear to have as serious a case as most of the other people in the room.

I'm still interested in auctions, but now that I'm no longer a virgin, I expect that I will have the fortitude to get up and walk out of a bad one.

1 comment:

  1. I found a New Tool Auction we site, www.toolfleamarket.com they have no listing fees. And at the end of the Auction they only take 5% not some big Auction site that we all know.
    Any way I thought I would pass this new site on www.toolfleamarket.com the are a new site maybe a moth old but I can tell this is going to be a huge winner. With good quality used tools.

    Noah S.