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Want to Try Timed Auction Buying But Too Afraid? Here’s What to Expect

Hannah Widdop

The prospect of bidding on an item in your first timed auction can be a daunting one if you don’t know what to expect. Here at Potteries Auctions, we host regular timed online auctions that allow you to access an incredible range of auctions right at your fingertips, and bid from the comfort of your own home on your phone, computer or tablet. So rest assured you’re in capable hands.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about auction buying through a timed auction and what to expect from the experience. You’ll be an experienced online bidder in no time!

What is a timed auction and how does it work?

If you’re already familiar with online auction sites such as eBay, then you’re already aware of how a timed auction works. However if you’re not then don’t fret, we’re here to explain what a timed auction is and how it works.

A timed auction takes place entirely online, with no auctioneer present moderating the sale. Each lot is available to bid on at any time from when the sale is set live, until it ends at a predetermined time. From there, assuming the opening bid reserve has been reached, the highest bidder for each lot will then win the item when the sale finishes.

To bid on an item you’re interested in, you’ll be asked to enter a maximum bid, meaning the maximum price you’re comfortable with and willing to pay for the item. The auction software will then automatically only bid enough to meet the reserve, or to keep the current top bidder in the lead. A bidder’s maximum bids are never shown and cannot be seen by anyone, including the auction house, however as a bidder you can view your own current bid when logged in and viewing the relevant lot. If you do find yourself outbid by somebody else, you’ll receive an email alert, giving you the opportunity to respond and adjust your maximum bid to outbid the current highest bidder if you so choose.

The window for bidding on an item that gains any new bids in its final few minutes will be extended to give any underbidders a chance to counter with a new bid. This is to protect against auction sniping, also known as bid sniping. This is when a bidder, also referred to as a ‘sniper’ in these instances, will place a bid in the last moments of an auction that will likely beat out the current highest bidder and not give any other interested parties time to respond, often guaranteeing them the win. This can be done by an individual, or people sometimes use software that carries this out for them. If another bid is submitted in the final minutes again, the process will repeat, until no further bids are submitted and the time period expires.

While bid sniping isn’t illegal, we like to give our bidders a proper chance at winning the items they’re interested in, keeping the auction fair and more similar to the conduct you’d see at our in-person auction house.

How do I bid on a timed auction with Potteries Auctions?

You first thing you need to do is sign up for a Potteries Auctions live account. Once you’ve done this, be sure to verify your email address (check your junk mail in case the verification email has landed in there!) and basic details such as your name and phone number.

Now you’re ready to register for one of our timed auctions. Head to our auctions page to view our catalogues and to complete your registration for the specific sale you’re interested in. Here, we’ll ask for your payment and address details, as well as your VAT number and company name if you’re VAT exempt. If you need to add a different payment card or address details, you can do so by heading to the My Profile section of your Account.

Once you’ve completed your auction registration, you’ll be able to see which auction(s) you’re registered for in your Account under the My Activity heading. Under My Activity is also where you’ll be able to access your history of bids placed, lots you’ve won and lots you’ve lost, as well as your item Watchlist.

To bid on an item once the timed auction is live, find the lot you’re interested in (we recommend adding it to your Watchlist before the auction commences so that you can find it again easily), enter your maximum bid in the box and then click ‘Place Bid’. Another page will then appear with a ‘Confirm’ button. Click the button and the bid will be submitted. It’s that simple!

We’ll email you in the event that you’re outbid by another potential buyer to give you the chance to respond and bid higher if you wish, so you don’t have to keep sitting and refreshing the page while the auction is ongoing. You can also keep tabs on any bids you’ve placed in the My Activity section of your Account, under Placed Bids.

What are the fees and why do you charge them?

Put simply, we have to charge buyer fees because we’re a business and our staff need to be able to live!

For online payment on successfully won items, we accept Debit card, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal (paying with PayPal will add an extra 5% to your total).

For each lot that you successfully win, we add a Buyer’s Premium to the hammer price which is currently 25% + VAT. This is standard practice for any auctioneer and helps us to cover any administrative costs. We recommend calculating the maximum amount you’re willing to bid on a lot with these additional fees in mind so that you don’t go over budget once it comes to paying for your won items.

If you bid using our own Potteries Auctions live online bidding platform, then you won’t be charged any bidding fees for using our services. So it’s definitely worth signing up if you’re interested in bidding with us!

If you prefer, you can also bid with a third-party bidding website such as The Saleroom, however additional charges can incur for using their services. Please contact each website directly for more information.

We offer an in-house packing and posting service for any won lots and will be happy to give you a quote for your shipping needs if required. Head to our postage service page for more information.

Good luck and happy bidding!

Contact us

Find out more about buying at auction with Potteries Auctions here, or please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any other questions. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is on hand to answer any queries or concerns you may have about buying through a timed online auction. You can also email us at or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100.