Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 19, 2012

Audience for city Internet auction increases each year

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — The city's of Jacksonville's eBay-inspired online surplus auction — slated to take place toward the end of this month — continues to find an expanding audience undreamed of back in the pre-Internet days of geographic restrictions and time constraints.

In the pre-Internet days, customers were completely at the mercy of sellers to tell them where and when an auction was taking place.

Then, customers had to actually travel to the auction to conduct their business — which was difficult if it was, say, in another country or on a different coast of the United States.

Now, virtually anyone with a keyboard now can learn about an auction and post bids at will, which has been extremely beneficial both for them and for cities such as Jacksonville.

For Jacksonville, this online Internet information revolution has been lucrative. In 2008, the auction raked in $22,838,22 in online auction sales. By 2010, that amount increased to $38,775.

"We've had really good luck with this online auction," City Manager Mo Raissi said Friday.

Jacksonville's surplus this year includes a 2005 Ford F-250 purchased by the city seven years ago for $17,000; a 200-horsepower  Evinrude boat motor  bought 10 years ago for $12,000; a  2006 Lexus CS400 taken during a drug seizure  a few years back and even some lighted Christmas decorations.

If the city will recoup its original investment in the surplus items will be revealed when the auction begins later this month.  The exact time and date will be announced by the city, officials said.

"It is very fun to watch," confided Ben Briley, the city's parks and recreation director.

This year marks the fourth Jacksonville Internet auction, which is conducted on Auctioneer Express.com — a well-known site in municipal circles.

Many cities across the country regularly check the site looking to purchase another city’s surplus.

The city has partnered with the site since the online auctions began back in 2008. Each of of the auction items come with an online listing, pictures, and item specifications. City officials will determine the length of the auction and the minimum acceptable bid for each item.

It is important to note that auctions have been used to sell goods for hundreds of years. Taking this concept to the Internet greatly increased the number of participants and forever altered the marketplace.

Most, if not all, of this is owed to online auction host supreme eBay. An estimated 95 percent of all auctions conducted online in 2005 took place on eBay, which was founded in 1995.

Other online auctioneers include Yahoo, Amazon and others. But eBay is currently reigning king of the online auction.

Because the auction audience continues to increase, it's possible the sales the city takes in from the auction could be greater now than in previous years, officials said.

"It depends on how well we do this year, but that is very possible," Raissi said.

One special feature of Auctioneer Express.com is a five-minute extension policy which makes it more difficult for bidders to “snipe” an item.

Will Cole, public works director for the city said in a previous interview that eBayers regularly wait until the final seconds of an online auction to bid, hoping no one will have time to bid after them.

For instance, if the auction is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. on a given day, people will generally try to place their bid at 2:59 p.m., thinking that no one else will have time to counter-bid during that last minute, Cole has said.

 However, on Auctioneer Express.com they will get a different result. On this site, someone who bids  within the last five minutes of the deadline will find the auction extend another five minutes.

Auction winners must pay cash, and the payment is made in full to the auctioneer. Items that do not receive any bids can either be removed from the site or be re-posted with a lower minimum bid.

All items are sold as-is, and all sales are final, Cole has said. It is the buyer’s responsibility to pick-up their items from the city, he said.

In terms of profit, AuctioneerExpress.com gets 7.5 percent  of all sales made on their site up to $50,000. The site gets 5.5. percent for sales between $50,000 and $10,000, and $3.5 percent for all sales over $100,000.

The items being auctioned this year include a 2000 Ford F-150 extended cab pickup; a 2000 Ford F-150 pickup; a 1999 Ford F-150 pickup;  the aforementioned 2005 Ford F-150; the aforementioned Lexus; and a 1999 Ford crown Vic former police vehicle.

There also is a 1995 international sanitation truck; a 1990 GMS pro patch pot hole truck; the aforementioned boat motor; the aforementioned Christmas decorations; and miscellaneous small motors and equipment.

Not to mention, there are used water meters, scrap metal, a 2003 crown Vic former police vehicle; a 2005 Ford Crown Vic former police vehicle and a 1980 or 1982 John Deer 750 tractor.

There also are several piles of Jacksonville city street signs for sale. Raissi and Briley sorted through one of the piles and held up a few to show to a reporter.