Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have led to an unprecedented migration to online auctions as a means of selling anything from properties and cars to office furniture and even household goods. New companies are emerging, using social media marketing to encourage buyers to bid or make offers on goods. Buyers in the agricultural industry can be duped into participating in a sale process or so-called auction that is not transparent, legal, or safe.

As a result, the South African Institute of Auctioneers (SAIA), has noticed an uptick in complaints levelled at fly-by-night auctioneers that do not fulfil their obligations to deliver goods or choose to provide alternative goods that are not what the customers bid for. There have also been reports of problems associated with the refunding of deposits where these are required.

“Unfortunately, it is only when problems arise that bidders realise they are dealing with unprofessional sellers purporting to be bona fide auctioneers.  This should send a clear message to the public to only deal with professional, registered auctioneers who are members of SAIA.

Know who you are dealing with

“Before committing to purchase on a so-called auction site, a simple check on the SAIA web page will dispel any concerns you may have. Our members have remained resilient in the face of the pandemic and are among the leaders in online auctioneering,” says SAIA chairperson, John Cowing.

He continues to say the institute’s members comply with all requirements to ensure honest and fair auctions. Most will display their membership credentials on their website, which can be verified by SAIA’s office if the bidder has any doubt.

“Our members are responsible custodians of assets, who prescribe to our code of conduct. You are well advised to establish whom you are dealing with before parting with your money. These auctions are putting a stain on our industry and we hope in time, with legislation, we will be able to eradicate these illicit traders.

“While we actively promote the growth of the industry and the uptake of new technologies, we do not support these organised crime syndicates. You can often find bargains at auction but, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It also pays to go to the institute’s website, www.auctioneering.co.za, to explore member offerings. Alternatively, phone the hotline on 021 813 6342 or WhatsApp 067 117 7049 with any queries,” concludes John. – Press release, SAIA