Auction Buying Guide - Page 2


Final inspection before bidding

The Auction

Sometime around 10am the actual auction will begin. They will auction one game off at a time in a winding path that will take them through the entire warehouse over the course of the next 5-10 hours. Depending on how  the auctioneers are running that day it can go quick or painfully slow.

The actual bidding process is very easy, you see a game you want - raise your card to bid. If that was all there was to it, you wouldn't be reading this guide so lets go into how it really works.

The first thing to realize is that Auctions are designed to suck as much money as possible from the bidders. The Auctioneers get a percentage of the final hammer price from both you and the seller, so every extra dollar counts. First and foremost, keep your wits about you. Set a maximum price in your head and don't go above that. If you only pay what you think an item is worth it will be almost impossible for you to get ripped off. But still, lets look at the ways you can in fact, get ripped off.

Shill Bidding

First off this is perfectly legal. They will tell you straight up that anybody in the room can bid including the auctioneers, the owner.. anyone! For those who don't know Shill bidding is when the owner of the machine being auctioned bids against you to raise the price. The owner will try to bid you up as much as possible, he may even "win" his own machine which is called a "Buyback". While the auction house does charge a fee for "Buybacks" some operators who bring a large number of machines may pay almost nothing for a Buyback so there's really no reason why they won't shill the machine up to a price they are happy with. After awhile you can tell who owns which machine and sometimes its easier to just ask them flat out before the auction how much they want to avoid getting into a shill war. Is there anyway to avoid shill bidding? Not really. Your best bet is to not encourage it. Don't look overly excited about a piece thus inviting shill bids. Bid slowly and always appear to be one step away from backing out. (There is a use for agressive bidding as well, but lets keep it simple upfront). If the price rises above your maxium, back out and don't get stung overpaying.

Shadow Bidding

During an auction there will be a large group of people huddled in one small area. Its very hard to see one side from the other thus its sometimes impossible to see who you are bidding against. Unfortunately the Auctioneers take advantage of this with a little tactic called "Shadow Bidding". Basically they will accept your bid then they will immediately accept a counter bid from the other side of the crowd. Problem is there is no counter bid! They will do this especially during the early part of the bidding where the bids are coming quickly. This is one reason to be carefull about agressive bidding. If it seems like you'll re-bid endlessly expect the Auctioneer to take advantage. Is this legal? Well anyone can bid can't they? I guess the shadow bid is the Auctioneer himself bidding, who knows but it happens almost every auction and frequently. How do you avoid it? Keep your eyes peeled. If you think you got shadow bid, wait before re-bidding. Normally once the Auctioneer realizes that your not going to bite he will eventually say something like "where's my bidder?" he will then "lose" his higher bidder and come back to you. I don't know how many times I had the high bid, was outbid only to have the auctioneer then point to me and say "you won it!" after a few minutes. If this happens to you make sure you only pay your last high bid and not the shadow bid price! Sometimes they'll try to get you to agree to the shadow bid to squeeze a few extra dollars!

I know the above sounds fairly shady, and while it is to a point, its the nature of these sort of auctions. Don't get paranoid and don't be afraid, just always know whats going on. Don't get suckered and don't pay more than you think something is worth and you'll always end up fine. Also keep in mind that the Auctioneers themselves know little about most games and will probably misrepresent them. If this is done by accident or on purpose, thats up for debate. "Working all the way" means the machine has a picture, even if its a blurry picture with only red. Every dead game was "working yesterday", all of the games are "rare" and sold for 5x their current going amount "in california" and every auction is a "steal" and they are constantly amazed that they even bother to come to Florida with the prices we pay. Most of the time its all in good fun, but keep in mind you are expected to know what you are bidding on - thats what the preview is for. Also Super Auctions is pretty good about helping you out. If you somehow manage to bid on the wrong machine or have serious buyers remorse, they will let you back out if you stop them within 1 machine. So as long as they haven't moved passed the machine next to yours, they will backup and re-auction it at no charge to you. They don't have to do this! Anything passed that and your stuck. In some cases they will re-auction the machine later for you, but you pay the difference in sales prices! Moral of the story is, don't bid unless you want it.



Unfortunately, some games don't make it home

Winning and leaving

After you win an auction, you will be able to pay for it at the front desk. They will give you a receipt and you will be able to take the game out. If you need help moving the machine there are always a few "roadies" or helpers available, but keep in mind they work for tips so have a few bucks handy for them. Sometimes these guys can be overly agressive and try to help even if you don't need it, don't be afraid to decline.

After you are done with all of your bidding feel free to leave at anytime. Auctions can go on well into the night (this never happens anymore unfortunately) depending on how many machines are available. Keep in mind though, sometimes the best deals come at the end.

General Tips and Hints

Auctions tend to run hot or cold. At some auctions prices will be very good, at others they will be very high. Much of this depends on the number of machines available, the makeup of the crowd and other factors. Don't be afraid to walk away empty handed if prices are skewing too high. There's always another auction around the corner. On the flip side know when prices are running low and take advantage, you don't know when this sort of opportunity will present itself again!

Avoid bidding on the first or last machine if there are multiple copies of the same game at an auction. The first one tends to go high because people don't know the proper price point and you flush out the people who just "have to have one". The last machine can skew high because its your last chance to own this title. Ones in the middle usually go cheaper.

You can get some rediculous deals at the end of an auction. Late in the day everyone has spent their money and packed up. Operators don't want to haul any more machines back than they have to so they will let some of their games go cheap. Also, the auctions usually put the better games in the front rows leaving the older less desirable games in the back. These games (typically known as "Dead Row" since most of the non-working games also end up here) can go for almost nothing. I've seen working games in good condition go for $5.00. Keep in mind you aren't going to find the super popular titles back here, but if you are just looking for a cabinet or a cheap game, this is your best bet.

If there is anyway you can bring a handcart or a dolly, do so. While you can usually borrow one at the auction, it can be a pain. The auction house usually has a few they lend out, but expect a wait.

For the benefit of everyone else, don't back your truck up to the loading area until you have your machine[s] ready to go. There is nothing more annoying that somebody with a pickup parked in front of the only loading dock holding everyone up while he just starts on packing up his games. In an ideal situation you should be loaded and out within a few minutes of pulling up.

Make sure you are bidding on what you think you are bidding on. It's not uncommon for games to be brought to auction that are hacked up to appear to be complete when they are not. Pinball machines with only christmas lights in the backbox, Arcade Games being run off $10 plug-and-play games and other horror stories are not unheard of! Always doublecheck everything and never assume a locked game is complete!l

Further Reading

If you'd still like more information on Auctions, I'd also recommend reading the original Auction Buying FAQ. It's a bit old at this point, but still has some great information. If you have questions, feel free to ask them on our Message Forum.