Facebook Live Auctions
A guide for first time buyers
By Amanda Valentino of Sun and Moon Auction Market
The goal of this article is to help explain what Facebook Live auctions are and how they work. It is not specific to one group or seller in particular and is only meant as a general overview and guideline to shopping Facebook Live auctions. It will cover what Facebook Live is, the process of bidding and buying, some of the vernacular, and general etiquette. Many of the things discussed are overall explanations. As you visit more Facebook Live Auctions, you will find no two auctions to be the same. Some have different rules, different shipping etc. Be sure to check with all new sellers about their specific rules prior to bidding.
What is Facebook Live? According to Wordstream.com “Facebook Live is a live video streaming feature on Facebook that allows you to broadcast a live video out to your audience through your company page or personal profile.” (1.) That means that sellers can show you their goods in real time, minus a slight lag. What a number of entrepreneuring individuals have done is taken the live platform and utilized it to sell or auction items without going through the auction house, some of which can charge a signification percentage of the sale. Facebook Live is not perfect. It has lag, can be glitchy, comments disappear, etc. This article will delve into those things as you read along.
Bidding and Buying
The process of bidding is much the same as any regular auction. The seller starts things off by giving a starting bid. A customer watching the live then offers the starting bid. The next person offers a higher amount. In these types of auctions, typically it goes in single $1 increments until a certain dollar amount is reached (depends on seller), after which bids are then increased to $2, $5, or $10 increments. In a live auction, the bids are offered in the comments. Jane D will bid B8. John D will then bid C9. It is common practice to include a letter before the numerical value in order to reduce the chance of your comment being lost. Facebook algorithms, in an attempt to make the comment section more streamline, hide certain types of comments. Using a letter as a prefix helps reduce that.
People experience Live streams in different ways. Depending on your internet speed, you may have a little longer lag than another person. Lag can be anywhere from 5-30 seconds. It averages around 15 seconds. So occasionally, one person may see their bid of an equal amount come in before another person, while that other person sees their bid first. For that reason, the seller will always go by what they see on their live video at the time of the auction. In most cases, you can ask for a screen shot of what the seller is seeing if you want proof the seller is going by what is on the seller’s screen. You will have to ask for it at that time though because you can only scroll up so far during a live, and when posted, it may not be in that same order. The seller will be able to send you the screen shot they took at that moment, but it will only be after the show before they send it, otherwise they will lose the live.
At some point, preferably before you begin bidding, you will need to send your email address, name and zip code to the seller. The seller will email you an invoice with your winnings and shipping costs. Different sellers have different pay-by dates. Some require it right away. Others give up to 5 days. Some may not have any deadline at all. If you are not going to be able to pay your invoice in the allotted time, you should reach out to the seller to make arrangements. Please remember that bidding is a verbal contract to purchase and should be honored as such.
Once your invoice is paid (most use PayPal), the seller will then ship out your items to you. Different groups have different rules about shipping deadlines. Check with the individuals for specific times. If you shop multiple auctions from the same person, they may be willing to hold your items and combine to save on shipping. Some people don’t do that. Each seller is different. You are responsible for communicating any questions you have to that particular seller. Shipping times are under the shipping companies (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc) control. Sellers are not able to control shipping times once an item has been given to the shipping company. Both you and the seller should work together on lost/damaged packages. Delivered packages are the responsibility of the postal service and customer. Once a package is marked delivered, sellers are not liable. Sellers that ship through PayPal have tracking numbers automatically attached to their original invoice and can be found there. Sellers who ship in person at the postal service can manually message you the tracking number should you request it.
For your safety, it is highly recommended that you only shop with sellers that offer invoices. Some sellers might ask you to pay with friends and family option with PayPal or with Facebook money transfers. While there are multiple programs out there for sending an invoice, it is not recommended you purchase from a seller that does not send you some kind of invoice for your purchases. If you were to pay by the PayPal friends and family option instead of PayPal invoice or if you were to CashApp someone and something goes wrong with your delivery, you won’t have any way to appeal that and get a refund if one is called for.
There are some things that are considered rude, inappropriate, or disruptive during an auction. While each seller may feel differently about these things, these are generally considered common protocol.
1: Offering your own starting price. Sellers have a reason for their prices. Please do not offer your own starting price and please do not offer counter starting prices. Even if offered in the spirit of assistance, unless specifically asked for, those suggestions are not welcome. After a show is concluded, if a piece did not sell, you can message a seller with your own offer if they will allow it.
2: Complaining or making disparaging remarks about the starting prices or prices in general. Comments regarding that are rude and unnecessary. If you are not satisfied with the prices, you can approach the seller by message after a show is concluded or shop elsewhere. There are plenty of sellers live at any given time.
3: Please refrain from fighting or making insulting remarks about other buyers or sellers during a live show. There will be people that bid higher than you on some things. That is the point of an auction. The more successful a seller is, the more they are able to bring to each auction. NO POLITICS. Keep it friendly. Again, private message a seller with any concerns or the person with whom you have an issue. Do not disrupt the live.
4: Please do not bombard the seller with messages during a live. The only thing you should be private messaging the seller about during a live is your email address for invoicing. All else can wait till after the live. The reason for waiting is that during a live, notification pop up over the screen, slow the auction stream down, and are distracting.
5: You might see other sellers commenting a single letter, punctuation, or emoticon. Those kind of posted comments actually help push the feed along and maintain a connection. You are not required to make those posts if you do not want to, as there is no obligation. Some sellers may feel as if it’s a distraction. As stated before, each auction is different.
6: Shrill bidding is one of the fastest ways to damage sales for a seller. Shrill bidding is when a family member, friend, or even well intentioned customer offers higher bids just so the seller can get more for an item, all with the intent of not paying for the item. It is strictly against the rules in any group. If a seller asks you to participate in that, please report them to a group admin immediately.
7: Please do not ask sellers for their source. If they want to share that information, they will.
8: If you happen to be a back up bidder and the item you wanted is gone, please comment “pass” so that the auction is not held up waiting for you to respond. Also, if you are back up bidder, please wait your turn before announcing which item you want until bidding is complete and the highest bidder has made their selections.
9: Shipping is shipping. You are welcome to discuss options such as combining shipping but the cost of shipping can include shipping and handling fees. Handling is what it cost to package your treasures properly so that they arrive to you in the condition you expect. If you feel there has been an error in the cost of shipping, of course reach out to the seller.
There are a number of terms or you may come across. This is by no means the whole list. As you watch more and more auctions, the lingo will become more familiar to you.
BIN = Buy It Now
BRB = Be right back
SB = Staring bid
Bid = Price offered
Gold/silver tone = not sterling or real gold
Faux = Imitation
Choice = The highest bid has the right to choose as many items at that price as they wish.
Back up choice = The next highest bidder can choose from what is left and so on.
Sweep = The winning bidder is claiming all the choices in a choice bid
Pass = You do not want that item.
Costume = Jewelry not made of precious metals such as gold or sterling silver though some costume can contain real semi-precious stones such as turquoise, jade, agate, etc
Signed = A piece of jewelry, much like any art, that signed by the maker/designer.
Craft/scraft = Mainly means broken jewelry that can be repurposed