You may remember our previous blog post about the difficulties faced by former Olympic torchbearers wishing to sell their torches on eBay. Well, in June LOCOG (the London Olympics organisation committee) set up an official auction site for the sale of over 1000 Olympic torches and other items of Olympic memorabilia. The aim of the auction is to raise money to go towards subsidising the cost of the games. The auction has met with great success so far – the torch of David Beckham alone has raised over £13, 000.
The vast number of items up for auction and the relative controversy of the auction means scalabilityand security are especially important. The auction has been criticised in some quarters, and the organisers were no doubt discouraged from using online marketplace eBay due to the shocking degree of abuse received by previous sellers of Olympic torches, something the auction portal was seemingly powerless to prevent. Hosting their own auction site also unquestionably allows LOCOG to save an enormous amount of money that would otherwise have gone towards the exorbitant selling fees demanded by eBay and other such sites.
The official Olympic auction site is by contrast fully protected from abusive behaviour. The site has set its own particular terms and conditions, notably stipulating that the torches must not be used in any way that might bring the Olympic Games “into disrepute”. Their policy clearly states that bidders cannot have a change of heart once they have placed a bid on an item and that a winning bid is final. If a winner cannot pay, the organisers reserve the right to cancel the winning bid and declare the second highest bidder as the auction winner. The site has decided to take payment only through Visa, in recognition of Visa’s “longstanding support” for the Games. All problems are handled by LOCOG and its partner ISL, thus eradicating the red tape and uncertainty of having a third party deal with issues.
The site has also implemented some interesting bidding features. Some of the lots on the site are “multi-unit” – this means there are two or more identical items per lot and thus there can be two or more winners. All multi-unit lots are automatically sold via what the site describes as a “Dutch Auction”, although in reality it is closer to a Second Item Auction. This is an auction where there are multiple winners, all of which are obliged to pay no more than the lowest successful bid.
Whether or not you agree with the aims of the auction, it cannot be denied that the site is evidence of the vastly improved situation of hosting your own auction site as opposed to using an auction portal such as eBay. It has given the organisers greater freedom, allowed them to modify the auction to their own specific requirements, make use of more unusual auction styles, decide their own specific payment methods, stipulate their own terms and conditions and policies, protect against saboteurs, and create an eye-catching site layout that fully matches the Olympics branding. These are all things that would otherwise have been impossible.
You can read about the benefits of running an online auction site and the auction packages we offerhere.