Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

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eucalyptus
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Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am

bringatrailer.com, the online auto auction site, has been mentioned here several times recently. If you haven't heard of it, BAT lists the kinds of vintage, classic and otherwise special cars likely to be of interest to enthusiasts - from Mercedes station wagons to Honda S2000s to Ferraris. I subscribe to and really enjoy BAT's "Daily Mail" advertising their live auctions. BAT can be pretty addicting.

BAT has received favorable publicity from major auto and other media outlets. The site's founder has been quoted as an expert on auto market trends. Well-known and respected US vintage/classic car brokers now sell very valuable cars on the site.

I've personally bought and sold on BAT. A basic listing on BAT costs $99. For only $350, you get the listing plus a professional photographer to take a couple hundred beautiful photos of your car. Buyers pay a 5% commission - a bargain compared to the 10% you might pay at a traditional major classic/vintage car auction.

So, is BAT the perfect place to sell or buy a car? Has the car auction industry and the status quo for trading vintage, classic and special cars been utterly and forever disrupted?

I think BAT is pretty cool. But I recently had a disappointing experience selling through BAT - I'll describe it, and BAT's response, below - that made me think it might be worthwhile to discuss some of the pitfalls associated with buying and selling on a platform that is recommended by and to bogleheads.

Here are a few things I think you should know before you buy or sell through BAT. Some of this is covered in their FAQ.

Your car may not be accepted. The standards are vague. They're not looking for run-of-the-mill used cars.

If your car is accepted, they won't tell you when your auction will go live. They'll pick the date.

They seem to have some idiosyncratic listing conventions: for example, if your odometer has rolled over they'll insist that your car's mileage be listed with the caveat "TMU," even if the true mileage is in fact known.

Your car will get 7 days of marketing, period.

Buyers, do you have a bidding strategy that's worked for you on other auction sites - for example, bidding in the last few seconds of an auction? Your bid may not be accepted. This was the source of my unpleasant experience with BAT. At the end of my car's auction, three bidders claimed their last minute bids weren't accepted by BAT.

I complained immediately, and BAT quickly replied that they'd looked into the issue - even reached out to a couple of the disappointed bidders - and concluded that BAT wasn't responsible for the bidding issues. I have no way of knowing whether BAT investigated anything, or how thoroughly they investigated, if they in fact did anything. I do believe that my car realized, at BAT's auction, a hammer price thousands of dollars less than it would have in a real world auction. Among other things, a couple days after the auction, a disappointed bidder offered $3,000 over hammer price to the winning bidder.

All of this is unnecessary. There's no point in sniping on BAT! BAT has a great anti-sniping feature: the auction clock resets to two minutes whenever a bid is received inside two minutes. Terrific idea! Why keep it a secret? Not making the clock reset feature clear on the bidding page cost both me and BAT money in my auction. Silly.

BAT told me that one bidder's computer "clock" was not "synched" to theirs. I'm willing to bet that a vanishingly small number of BAT bidders know they should "synch" their "clocks." Advice about synching is absolutely buried, almost at the very end of BAT's FAQ.

If you're interested in BAT's FAQ, by the way, go to BAT's site and look for it. You'll need to scroll waaaaay down the page to find a tiny link at the very bottom. Why hide the FAQ?

BAT is very proud of its comments feature; during the auction, comments can be made by any site member. BAT has a comments guide - again, hard to find. I've seen first-rate comments posted by experts, including during the auction of my car. Of course, there also are trolls and "experts" who will challenge your car, your bidders, etc. Someone may attempt to hijack your auction by inserting strictly-against-the-rules contact information for a similar car on offer. Expect to spend your auction's 7 days checking your listing as often as you'd check a baby you just brought home from the hospital.

Want to voice a concern during an auction? Know that BAT may delete your comments. In fairness to BAT, I have no doubt many (most?) of the comments they delete are not constructive and deserve to be binned. Nonetheless, comments critical of BAT and the auction process were deleted at the end of my car's auction, and I have seen comments deleted during other auctions.

Now, the important stuff.

What happens when your auction ends and you've sold your car? What if your buyer refuses to pay? BAT apparently has a completely hands-off policy for that: "The transaction for a vehicle won on BAT is between the buyer and the seller."

What if you win an auction, but your seller disappears? Again: "The transaction for a vehicle won on BaT is between the buyer and the seller."

What if the car is not at all as represented? I think you get the picture. Not BAT's problem. They take the seller's fee up front, and charge the winning bidder's credit card when the auction closes. Thank you, and good night.

Seller reviews? Nope.

What if you buy a car and get, instead of a title nicely endorsed to you, a stack of documents showing a series of transactions: say, a transfer from a private owner to a dealer; a subsequent sale from dealer #1 to dealer #2; then the sale from dealer #2 to you? Make you a little nervous about what the local DMV will say?

Do they make an effort to verify that a car actually exists, and is owned by the seller? I don't know. I hope so. You'd have to work very hard to completely fabricate a car but, as we all know, much worse happens every day on the internet.

My bottom line: if you're at all interested in cars, you should definitely give BAT a look. As I mentioned, I truly enjoy BAT's Daily Mail. I believe the site is a big plus for the world of car collecting. But it's not perfect, as the somewhat fawning reviews might make you think. It's not a substitute for the major auction houses like RM Sotheby's or Gooding - not even close. Like many sites, it caters to the American dread of dealing face to face with anyone. And it's like other online services in another way - BAT's apparent desire to stay away from the heart of the deal for some reason reminds me of Uber's claim that it's not a taxi company - the common theme is, "we just put people together, get paid and leave." You may like that, but I don't.

I welcome the BAT competitors pouring into the market, most notably Hemmings. RM Sotheby's is conducting occasional online auctions. More recently, advertisements for auctions from companies like "pcarmarket" and "Before the Lane" have appeared in my inbox, the former referred by one of the country's most respected vintage car brokers. Let's hope the competition makes BAT and all the other players more bidder and seller friendly, and maybe even brings in players willing to help buyers and sellers actually wrap up what they were trying to do in the first place - buy and sell cars.
Last edited by eucalyptus on Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

jbmitt
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by jbmitt » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:30 am

This is all good information, but reads like an advertisement. What is actionable?

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:34 am

Not an advertisement at all. I have no affiliation with BAT. It's being recommended here, and has some pitfalls that are not immediately evident. I wrote the post to help bogleheads who may consider the site for car sales or purchases. I actually was very careful, given my bad experience, not to make it negative. Perhaps I went too far. But why does your first instinct have to be to delete something intended to be useful? People are discussing this site, recommending it, right here. Is that not actionable?

Do I wait until the next person recommends the site here, then post this?

Car purchases and sale are discussed here all the time. The site has loads of enthusiasts.

Hoi Polloi
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by Hoi Polloi » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:39 pm

I have been following BaT for several years now (before they transitioned to an auction platform), and find this information very useful. I am considering listing a classic car with them in the spring, so it was good to get your perspective as a seller. Cheers :sharebeer !

Barefoot
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by Barefoot » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:48 pm

I know lots of people who follow BAT, and everyone of them is very aware of the 2 minute anti sniping thing.

I've bid, but never won. When I get ready to bid, I make sure my computer time is synched.

When I'm looking at a listing, I will occasionally get a message to confirm that my time is synched properly.

For the record- no financial interest bla bla bla.

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:52 pm

Barefoot wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:48 pm
I know lots of people who follow BAT, and everyone of them is very aware of the 2 minute anti sniping thing.

I've bid, but never won. When I get ready to bid, I make sure my computer time is synched.

When I'm looking at a listing, I will occasionally get a message to confirm that my time is synched properly.

For the record- no financial interest bla bla bla.
And yet ... ignorance of what "everyone" knows seems to have cost me thousands of dollars and BAT some easy commission money.

I too watch listings and bid and have never noticed anything about synching. Maybe it's time to highlight that just a tad more, for those of us who aren't as clever as everyone you know.
Last edited by eucalyptus on Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

alfaspider
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by alfaspider » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:54 pm

I enjoy the site for entertainment value, although I would still hesitate to buy any classic sight unseen. However, they are far better than traditional classic car auctions (Hagerty/Mechum) and have a nice price range from under $5k to big $$$. It does seem they are still trying to break into the pebble beach tier of classic cars, but I imagine at those levels an auction that is not in-person is a rather tough nut to crack.

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:05 pm

alfaspider wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:54 pm
However, they are far better than traditional classic car auctions (Hagerty/Mechum) and have a nice price range from under $5k to big $$$.

I disagree. Let's pick one - Gooding & Co. When you consign with Gooding, you get David Gooding and a staff of experts who in turn know most of the marque experts worldwide. Your car will be featured in a beautiful print catalog that's widely distributed and on Gooding's site. Depending on the nature of the car, it may receive additional marketing attention, physical mailings, perhaps even its own video. The car will be displayed prior to the auction at the site. Though they will disclaim liability for the car, they will look at it carefully and withdraw it if they find a problem. Your car will be presented by one of the best auto auctioneers in the world. They're not likely to miss a last second bid. They actually care what happens after the auction. If you're the seller, you can be reasonably confident Gooding will collect the money owed and send it to you; their bidder contract provides for attorneys fees and interest, I believe. If you're the buyer, you at least know they have the car and title in their possession. BAT offers none of that. Is that level of service for sellers expensive? Are entry to the roped off bidders area, the paddle and the champagne costly? You bet. I've sold a car through Gooding, and would never have considered BAT for the job. BAT simply can't compete.

alfaspider
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by alfaspider » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:12 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:05 pm
alfaspider wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:54 pm
However, they are far better than traditional classic car auctions (Hagerty/Mechum) and have a nice price range from under $5k to big $$$.

I disagree. Let's pick one - Gooding & Co. When you consign with Gooding, you get David Gooding and a staff of experts who in turn know most of the marque experts worldwide. Your car will be featured in a beautiful print catalog that's widely distributed and on Gooding's site. Depending on the nature of the car, it may receive additional marketing attention, physical mailings, perhaps even its own video. The car will be displayed prior to the auction at the site. Though they will disclaim liability for the car, they will look at it carefully and withdraw it if they find a problem. Your car will be presented by one of the best auto auctioneers in the world. They actually care what happens after the auction. If you're the seller, you can be reasonably confident Gooding will collect the money owed and send it to you; their bidder contract provides for attorneys fees and interest, I believe. If you're the buyer, you at least know they have the car and title in their possession. BAT offers none of that. Is that level of service for sellers expensive? Are entry to the roped off bidders area, the paddle and the champagne costly? You bet. I've sold a car through Gooding, and would never have considered BAT for the job. BAT simply can't compete.
The traditional auction houses have previously missed fraudulent examples and then refused to take responsibility. For example:

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... p?t=694683

Physical mailings are a 20th century concept. You can post videos through BAT. Again, I think the in-person thing is one spot where BAT cannot compete, and is a reason why the uber high $$$ stuff still goes to traditional auction houses. But paying for champagne and a paddle makes no sense when you are just looking to buy a $5,000 MG and not a $5,000,000 Ferrari.

researcher
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by researcher » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:40 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am
I subscribe to and really enjoy BAT's...
BAT can be pretty addicting.
BAT has received favorable publicity from...
The site's founder has been quoted as an expert on auto market trends...
For only $350, ...take a couple hundred beautiful photos of your car...
Buyers pay a 5% commission - a bargain compared to the...
I think BAT is pretty cool...
you should definitely give BAT a look...
I truly enjoy BAT's Daily Mail...
I believe the site is a big plus for the world of car collecting...
Certainly sounds like an advertisement for this company.

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:27 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:40 pm
eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am
I subscribe to and really enjoy BAT's...
BAT can be pretty addicting.
BAT has received favorable publicity from...
The site's founder has been quoted as an expert on auto market trends...
For only $350, ...take a couple hundred beautiful photos of your car...
Buyers pay a 5% commission - a bargain compared to the...
I think BAT is pretty cool...
you should definitely give BAT a look...
I truly enjoy BAT's Daily Mail...
I believe the site is a big plus for the world of car collecting...
Certainly sounds like an advertisement for this company.

I had a bad experience with BAT. I described it. That experience is why I wrote the post. If I hadn't disclosed my experience, and bent over backwards to be fair, you would have discounted my post as "sour grapes." What do you want, exactly? I personally won't sell a car through them again. I believe they cost me thousands of dollars. I say that in my post. Could I possibly be clearer? But my assumption is a balanced post is better than a bitter one. I guess I'm wrong.

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FlyAF
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by FlyAF » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:34 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:27 pm
researcher wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:40 pm
eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am
I subscribe to and really enjoy BAT's...
BAT can be pretty addicting.
BAT has received favorable publicity from...
The site's founder has been quoted as an expert on auto market trends...
For only $350, ...take a couple hundred beautiful photos of your car...
Buyers pay a 5% commission - a bargain compared to the...
I think BAT is pretty cool...
you should definitely give BAT a look...
I truly enjoy BAT's Daily Mail...
I believe the site is a big plus for the world of car collecting...
Certainly sounds like an advertisement for this company.

I had a bad experience with BAT. I described it. That experience is why I wrote the post. If I hadn't disclosed my experience, and bent over backwards to be fair, you would have discounted my post as "sour grapes." What do you want, exactly? I personally won't sell a car through them again. I believe they cost me thousands of dollars. I say that in my post. Could I possibly be clearer? But my assumption is a balanced post is better than a bitter one. I guess I'm wrong.
Perhaps tell a tale of selling a 22 y/o camry with 279k miles for top dollar would do better on here?

Your post was not an advert to anyone that actually read it. I found it informative, some just like to complain about everything. :oops:

stoptothink
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by stoptothink » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:47 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:27 pm
researcher wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:40 pm
eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am
I subscribe to and really enjoy BAT's...
BAT can be pretty addicting.
BAT has received favorable publicity from...
The site's founder has been quoted as an expert on auto market trends...
For only $350, ...take a couple hundred beautiful photos of your car...
Buyers pay a 5% commission - a bargain compared to the...
I think BAT is pretty cool...
you should definitely give BAT a look...
I truly enjoy BAT's Daily Mail...
I believe the site is a big plus for the world of car collecting...
Certainly sounds like an advertisement for this company.

I had a bad experience with BAT. I described it. That experience is why I wrote the post. If I hadn't disclosed my experience, and bent over backwards to be fair, you would have discounted my post as "sour grapes." What do you want, exactly? I personally won't sell a car through them again. I believe they cost me thousands of dollars. I say that in my post. Could I possibly be clearer? But my assumption is a balanced post is better than a bitter one. I guess I'm wrong.
Clearly researcher didn't read the entire post. If you are advertising for BAT, you are really bad at it.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:07 pm

Great information. I've gone on BaT from time to time. Sometimes to laugh at the prices people are paying, sometimes seeing a faked car pointed out by people on a car forum who really know the marque and sometimes to point and show my kids and say "I bought one of those in 1974 for $900 and they're getting 10 grand for it. Whatta buncha suckers.

Personally, I would never buy a car that I didn't first see. I also won't buy from outside of my own state, knowing that the lemon law doesn't cover me in my state in those cases. (our state has lemon law for used cars in case you were going to say that they don't)
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:26 am

alfaspider wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:12 pm
The traditional auction houses have previously missed fraudulent examples and then refused to take responsibility. For example:

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... p?t=694683

Physical mailings are a 20th century concept. You can post videos through BAT. Again, I think the in-person thing is one spot where BAT cannot compete, and is a reason why the uber high $$$ stuff still goes to traditional auction houses. But paying for champagne and a paddle makes no sense when you are just looking to buy a $5,000 MG and not a $5,000,000 Ferrari.


I meant but forgot to include a statement like yours, to the effect that the RW auction houses aren't perfect. Absolutely right, and thank you for saying it.

Yes, physical mailings are a 20th century concept, but then so are relativity and quantum mechanics. Some old concepts have survived that terrible period, and a fortune is still being spent on physical mailings. Check your mailbox over the next few weeks, as Christmas approaches. I understand your point, though - I get many more reminders for real world auctions by email than by snail mail.

Finally, I agree about price points.The major auction houses are not going to take many cars under $100k and those accepted likely would be offered at no reserve. BAT offers a far wider choice of price points.

atikovi
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by atikovi » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:36 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:29 am
What happens when your auction ends and you've sold your car? What if your buyer refuses to pay? BAT apparently has a completely hands-off policy for that: "The transaction for a vehicle won on BAT is between the buyer and the seller."

What if you win an auction, but your seller disappears? Again: "The transaction for a vehicle won on BaT is between the buyer and the seller."

What if the car is not at all as represented? I think you get the picture. Not BAT's problem. They take the seller's fee up front, and charge the winning bidder's credit card when the auction closes.
The buyer's credit card is charged a deposit as you say, so although they may bail, it is incentive to complete the sale. On other venues like Ebay, winning bidders walk away with NO penalty. I've sold probably 100 cars on Ebay the last 20 years but only listed one on BAT 2 years ago, a newer Mercedes S600. It was bid up to like $26,000 with a $30,000 reserve. 2 weeks later I list on Ebay and sell for $31,000. BAT has a much smaller audience and limits the cars it accepts. My main issue is you have no control of the description or format of your listing. You just fill out a form with the basics of the car and they make a write-up. It's also somewhat of an old boys club with established sellers getting the highest bids and a comments section where people love to pick apart a new sellers listing.

itsgot8
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by itsgot8 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:38 am

Eucalyptus,
Have you ever sold a car on eBay? If so, I'd like to hear a comparison between selling cars on the two sites.

Topic Author
eucalyptus
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by eucalyptus » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:44 pm

itsgot8 wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:38 am
Eucalyptus,
Have you ever sold a car on eBay? If so, I'd like to hear a comparison between selling cars on the two sites.
I’ve purchased but never sold on eBay. Sorry I can’t help.

harrington
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Re: Bring A Trailer (car auction website)

Post by harrington » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:25 pm

I had a 1991 Miata in mint condition with under 20,000 miles on the clock. I bought it locally for $7,500 with the intent to resell. I drove it over the summer and listed it on BAT and it brought close to $15,000. Awesome site!!!

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