POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of St. Louis has issued a warning about an auction house that solicits powersports, RV and marine businesses to send items to its auctions on consignment.
The warning about Midwest Public Auction was prompted by an investigation of complaints from nine states lodged against the auction company since it opened in February 2011.
“Several customers told the BBB that Midwest Auction representatives used misleading sales tactics to obtain business. In some cases, the customers say, they lost tens of thousands of dollars when their consigned items sold for prices that were much lower than promised,” according to the BBB statement.
The principals at MPA have ties to businesses that are facing criminal and disciplinary charges in other states for the same alleged practices.
Midwest Public Auction started doing business from the website MidwestPublicAuction.com, but recently scrapped that web address and now uses invoiceprotectionplan.com.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to anyone considering consigning items to auction companies:
Get a written contract, and read and understand all contract terms before signing. Do not rely on promises or guarantees that are not in writing.
If you are uncomfortable about accepting the lowest bid for your items, make sure a reserve price (the lowest price you are willing to accept) is written into the contract.
A businessman from Elizabethtown, Ky., told the BBB that he consigned 28 motorcycles to MPA last summer. A representative with the auction house assured him that he would get at or near the retail price for the cycles, he said. But they ultimately sold for significantly less than retail prices. He said he lost more than $100,000 in the auction and nearly lost his business, he noted.
The businessman told BBB that shortly before consigning the cycles, he told the company’s salesman: “If this goes south, I’ll lose my house, my business, everything I have.” He said the salesman told him: “Don’t worry. You’ll laugh all the way to the bank.”
In all the cases investigated, MPA said the customers received no written guarantees of minimum bids. The company said customers signed contracts agreeing to accept the highest bids.
Posted by Holly Wagner