Last March, David N gave us all a summary of his visit to a J. Wood & Co auction of the inventory of Earl’s Cycle Center. In it, he noted some potentially concerning behavior regarding how some representatives of the auction house were bidding on bikes.
David’s specific quote (though I recommend you read the whole thing):
“On some bikes, the auctioneer was the high bidder complete with his own bidder’s number. Yes, the bidder was the guy in the staff shirt holding the flag. I’m turned off by this because I can’t know. Am I bidding against the house? Is there a secret reserve? Is the auctioneer bidding for a larger commission? The auctioneer is the seller’s agent. On the other hand, if the auctioneer’s bid was for an absentee or phone bidder, that was far from obvious. The appearances chill my bidding.”
This week, I was politely contacted by Jerry Wood, and I think it’s only fair that I share it with you:
Good morning Abhi,
My name is Jerry Wood, the principal at J. Wood & Co Auctioneers. I was just made aware of the negative report on our Earl’s Cycle auction over a year ago. I read the report by David N and the featured Comment from Rod after a customer alerted me that there was a bad report out there.
I am a life-long motorcyclist (I raced for 48 years) and spent the last 40 years building a solid reputation for running honest auctions. I was very unhappy with the negative report, a lot of with what was clearly misunderstandings by the reporter and the person who made the featured comment who I understand did not even attend.
We do not bid for the seller in any case, even against a reserve. If you read the terms of some of the other auction companies, you will read that they reserve the right to bid for the seller, we do not. My feeling has always been to honestly represent the price other people will pay. If I say “I have a thousand” and I don’t, I just lied and that is fraud.
The main gripe was bidding by the auction company to protect the buyer. That did not happen. I am a cheap New England Yankee and we don’t pay the temporary help who helps at the auctions a whole lot. They are there because they love motorcycles. At the beginning of the auction, we read the terms that your reporter missed, we explain the whole deal. We explain that anyone can bid and that applies to our help. They will pay for and take the motorcycle away like any other buyer.
The “Auctioneers”, myself and Steve Dance, did not bid on any motorcycles although we could have under the rules. Some of our help won bids and they did pay for them and take them away. In no case did any of us buy a bike back for Earl’s.
Another point out of focus was the comments that because of various conditions, online bidders may be disappointed. We did not have on-line bidding for that reason! I don’t want unhappy people and I think it is a bad idea to bid on an old motorcycle that you have not looked at.
I would like very much for your readers to know that: We do not lie, we do not have on-line bidding where it is not appropriate and we do not bid for the seller, reserve or not. We strongly encourage everyone to look carefully at a bike before you bid on it.
Very truly yours,