Posted: 6/10/2012 9:40:50 AM |
Flirting with disaster
Six plus years ago, I decided to give my son a numismatic gift as a high school graduation present. He was born in 1990, so I though an 1890 cent though dollar Philadelphia mint set, in about MS64, would be nice. In the two and a half years before his graduation I was able to get all but the half dollar.
In the four years since, I have not been able to find a suitable coin to fill that slot. Last week, Heritage had an MS63 that looked okay. I decided to get this over with, even if I had to pay what seems like too much. I entered what I thought was a fair bid. It exceeded the reserve by 33%. But just before the end of internet pre-sale bidding, someone out-bid me. Even without that, I was planning to watch live on-line and bid higher if necessary.
On my way to work on the Tuesday before the auction, I gave my wife the heads-up that I would be up late that Thursday night for that purpose. In the conversation, I mentioned that one has to be careful, because the current bid request can update quickly due to activity at the live event. It is possible that in the time between committing your finger to click for a particular bid amount, that the bid request increases, and you end up clicking for an amount higher than you expected or wanted to bid. Unfortunately, that is not the only danger...
As Thursday night turned to Friday morning on the east coast, I waited. Finally, the lot came up. When it opened, I immediately clicked the Cut Bid button. No joy. Then, with the bit at $1500, and asking for $1600, I clicked the Bid button. Nothing happened for a second or two, until the lot was closed with the $1500 bid winning. What the heck? They say they will wait three seconds, and reopen a lot if necessary to recognize a live internet bid. So I missed out yet again.
What came next was worse. The next lot opened, and the system informed me that it accepted a bid from me! I did not even know what the next lot was! But there I was, "winner" of a lot for $3250 plus BP! It was not just a higher bid than expected, but a higher lot number, despite the fact that the Bid button text did not update to that next lot until a few seconds after I clicked.
First thing Friday morning, I called Heritage to ask them to rectify the situation. I can deal with losing the lot I wanted. But getting a lot on which I did not bid, and that I do not want, is not acceptable. The guy with whom I spoke asked me to send an explanation by email, which I did, and said he would research the situation, talk with his supervisor, and get back to me. Monday morning I called again. He said pretty much the same thing. I waited patiently.
When I read my email at the start of the day this past Friday, what did I find? An email from Heritage late Thursday afternoon saying the lot has been shipped! I had not paid for it! Needless to say, I called again, and spoke with another person. She was going to speak with the supervisor and get back to me.
Finally, late that afternoon, I got the call. Heritage would grant me a "one-time courtesy" and not try to make me pay for that coin. For that I am thankful. But I think their live bidding system, as good as it is, needs some additional protections built in.
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