Online Auctions - Frequently Asked Questions

Online Auction FAQs

Online auctions are an exciting place to find a variety of lots but how does it all work? Are they safe? How can you get involved?

In this guide, we're going to make the world of online auctions a lot more transparent, so you can understand what happens in different scenarios and what you can expect.

From bidding on the wrong item to not having the necessary means to pay, what are some of the most common questions asked about online auctions?

Q) How does a timed-online auction work?

The auctions which we provide are called timed-online auctions. A timed-online auction is held over the internet and lasts for a specific period of time e.g. 2 days, a week or even a month!

The whole process is automated and bidders are updated via email for the following:

  • If their bid was successful.
  • If they are the leading bidder.

To ensure the auction is maintained, the auction house can set increments to stop obscure bids being placed. To learn more about online auctions, check out our guide: How do online auctions work?

Q) How do I register for an online auction?

To register for online auctions, you'll need to have an account with the platform the auction is held on.

To bid on auctions by William George, you'll need to have an account with the Saleroom, Bidspotter, our own website or i-Bidder.

You'll be prompted to input personal details such as your name, card details and address. Once this has been completed, you'll be able to register for auctions.

If you want to hit the ground running then check out these auction tips and become an auction pro: Mistakes Made by Online Bidders.

Q) Where are the lots located?

To find out where the lot is located, it's usually available on the lot because auctions such as our collective can have multiple locations. 

If you can't find out where the lot is located then give us a ring and we'll be able to help you.

Q) Why is my registration pending?

If you register for an auction but are not confirmed as a bidder, there may be an issue with your account.

These issues can range from personal details not being confirmed to blocks placed on your account by other auction houses.

To ascertain the problem, it's necessary to contact the platform or the auction house you're trying to connect to. Once this has been done and you're aware of the problem, you can then rectify the issue.

Q) What happens if you don't pay?

If you win an item and don’t pay the total amount then this can cause serious issues between you, the seller and the auction house.

There's a time limit for you to pay and/or collect the goods and they are expressed in the important information.

There have been high profile disputes involving some of the biggest auction houses in the world such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The disadvantage of these disputes is the fact that they can reach the courtroom.

To avoid having a negative auction experience, it’s imperative that you are committed to the item you bid on.

Q) What happens if you bid on the wrong item?

If you bid on the wrong item at auction, it’s imperative that you contact the auction house immediately.

There’s no defined process for situations like this because each auction will have terms and conditions which you need to read before you bid.

If a solution is not found, your bid may likely stand. It’s vital that you are on the correct lot before you place your bid because they are legally binding commitments.

Q) If I sell in auction, when do I receive the funds?

As a security measure, we withhold funds to vendors until the winning bidder has received their lot.

When the winning bidder has received their lot and is satisfied, we will begin the process of sending the vendor their funds.

Q) Can I pay by card?


You can pay with card but there is a £1,000 limit.

For any invoices over this figure, you'll need to complete an online bank transfer.

Q) What are your bank details?

Our bank details can be found on all the invoices which winning bidders receive. 

Q) What happens if I win an item at auction?

We invoice the winning bidder with a payment request, via e-mail, on the same day as the close of the auction.

The payment request will detail the amount that will need to be paid to us within 2 working days.

Once we have received payment, we will issue a collection notice to put both the vendor and winning bidder in touch. This enables both parties to arrange collection or dispatch. 

Q) If a bidder wins an item, can they return it?

No, our auctions are not regulated by the Distance Selling Act.

We can accept returns when the item is materially different from what is described in the auction.

If the lot you won is different from what was described, it's important that you contact the vendor and us so we're aware of the situation and can assist if required.

If you're having problems with online bidders, we created this guide which is aimed at improving your selling experience by ensuring you're not making some of the most common mistakes in online selling. Check out our guide: Selling at Auction - Mistakes to Avoid.

Q) How do I get my auction items?

We do not keep the lots consigned to auction. They are held by the vendor.

Once the payment request has been paid, the winning bidder will receive a collection note and this will show the vendor’s name, e-mail address and contact telephone number. 

The winning bidder will then be able to liaise with the vendor about collection or delivery.

Q) How can I do an online auction?

Selling with us is free! and you keep 100% of the hammer!

To understand how we can help you, please get in touch with us to discuss your requirements. 

To register with us, you'll need to go through a free and quick registration process. Once completed, you are allocated an account manager as a central point of contact.

You will then be given access to our selling platform to manage and submit your auction inventory. In addition to this, you be able to make use of various guides to help you sell. An example is here: How to write a good product description.

To learn how we can help you sell at auction, check out the benefits in our guide: Selling at Auction.

Q) How does a live auction work?

A live auction is held in real time. The location of these auctions can be anywhere. For example, in a gallery, showroom, hall or even the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.

With the benefit of technology like the internet, bidders from around the world can log into the auction and bid against people who are physically there. Any bid made online is monitored and revealed to the audience.

The length of time a live auction can last will depend on how many lots are in the catalogue and the level of engagement from bidders.

We provide live auctions with our last event occurring in September 2019.

Q) What is an auction reserve?

Unless stated, all lots will have a reserve. 

A reserve will be the minimum amount that the vendor is willing to sell the lot for. 

A lot can fail to sell at auction and this is because the reserve was not been met. 

Q) Are all auction houses the same?

Auction houses are not the same. Their biggest distinction can be found in their terms and conditions and also the important information.

Before you connect to an auction, it's necessary to acknowledge the auction house you're bidding with as they will have their own terms for that auction.

Remember that you must commit to the lots you bid on so, take a look at the important information and the terms of the auction. 

Despite all auction houses being different, the way to succeed in them isn't! Check out our guide with 10 quick tips: 10 Tips for Bidding in Online Auctions.

Q) Can I get an invoice in a company's name?

In order to get an invoice in a company’s name, you will need to pay the invoice and then email our accounts team for a company VAT invoice.

It's important that you include any amendments such as the company name, change of address, VAT, contact number etc in the email.

Q) Is it safe to buy from online auctions?

It’s safe to bid with William George.

As a member of the NAA (National Auctioneer Association), we operate to a strict code of ethics designed to keep us at the top of the auction world.

Buyers can also be assured that all of our vendors are vetted to ensure they meet our criteria before they can sell with us.

In addition to vendors going through a vetting process, so to do the lots. We're aware of the threat of fake items like watches and items made out of ivory which were are against.

To educate our bidders, we create a series of guides to stop them being caught out. Check out our fake watch guide here: Fake Watch Guide Part 1 (2019)

If you have any questions then you can contact us via e-mail, social media or telephone.

Q) Can I make payments from abroad?

Payments outside the UK can be made but they incur a £10 charge.

For more information about this, do not hesitate to get into touch.

Final Words

We hope this article has helped to answer some of your questions.

If your question does persist then you can get in touch with us via social media, e-mail or by calling us. 

We want every bidder to have the best possible experience and want to work with you to make that happen.

How we achieve is that is through transparency. So, we created this article which is inspired by the questions asked by our online bidders.

If your question still persists then get in touch and we will do our best to help.

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