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Beware of fly-by-night online auctions

New companies are emerging, using social media marketing to encourage buyers to bid or make offers on goods, and buyers can be duped into participating in a sale process or so-called auction that is not transparent, legal or safe.

Lockdown restrictions have led to an unprecedented migration to online auctions as a means of selling anything, from property and cars to office furniture and household goods.

New companies are emerging, using social media marketing to encourage buyers to bid or make offers on goods, and buyers can be duped into participating in a sale process or so-called auction that is not transparent, legal or safe.

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Fraud a concern for customers

As a result, the South African Institute of Auctioneers (SAIA) has noticed an uptick in complaints levelled at fly-by-night auctioneers who 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 the bidder realises they are dealing with unprofessional sellers purporting to be bona fide auctioneers, and this should send a clear signal to the public to only deal with professional, registered auctioneers who are members of SAIA. Before committing to a purchase on a so-called auction site, a simple check on the SAIA webpage will dispel any concerns you may have. Our members have remained resilient in the face of the virus and are among the leaders in online auctioneering,” said SAIA chairperson John Cowing.

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

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“Our members are responsible custodians of assets who prescribe to our code of conduct.

“You are well advised to establish who you are dealing with before parting with your money.

“These auctions are putting a strain 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 auctions, but put simply: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

“It also pays to visit the institute’s website (www.auctioneering.co.za) to explore member offerings or phone the hotline on 021 813 6342 or WhatsApp 067 117 7049 with any queries,” concluded John.

Contact Sonja Styger, SAIA secretary, on 021 813 6342, fax 086 660 5276 or at sonja.styger@auctioneering.co.za

   

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