Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions that our team often fields. The most common inquiries stem from accessing your DASHBOARD, as well as general BIDDER/BUYER and SELLER questions. We are attempting to answer these FAQs right here.
Of course, if you have a question that we haven't answered or need further clarification on something, feel free to contact us. Our team is more than happy to help you.
What is my “dashboard”?
Your dashboard is a place that organizes and presents your account information in one, easy-to-access location. You can access all your account information directly from the dashboard — items won, consignments, following, bidding upon, billing info, etc.
How do I access my dashboard?
Accessing your dashboard is as easy as signing in to the BRG system. Simply:
1) Click ”LOGIN” located in the top menu bar of the site.
2) Sign in with your user ID and password (you’ll notice that the word “LOGIN” changes to “WELCOME [YOUR NAME]!”)
3) Click your name and you will be in your dashboard.
From here, you can access your:
BIDS (including items followed),
ORDERS (invoices from your past orders)
ACC (account info including manage payment options, changing password)
CONSIGNMENTS (sold and unsold)
How do I change my credit card on file?
Your credit card information is encrypted so only you can change your billing card preferences. Changing your card is easy. Simply
1) Login to your dashboard;
2) Click on ACC;
3) Choose MANAGE PAYMENT OPTIONS;
4) Click on the + ADD CREDIT/DEBIT CARD button;
5) Enter your details as prompted and then click ADD.
Once the card is added you can choose to make it your primary (or default) card for any future auction’s auto debit.
Why are the bids so low on my sale?
This is perhaps the most commonly asked question we receive. But don't worry. While it may seem like the current bids are very low in the days leading up to the close of your sale, most of the bidding action takes place within the final hours (mainly the last 15-60 minutes) of the closing of any particular lot.
Most bidders will “stalk the site” — in other words, watch their favorite items and maybe place a low bid here or there; but they mainly they just “watch” because they don't want to "show their cards" too early. They wait until the final minutes to bid. That’s when the bidding frenzy starts. So, you will likely see intense bidding once the auction begins to close.
Also, unlike other bidding platforms (i.e., eBay), the BRG online auction system features "extended bidding” (see below, under BIDDERS & BUYERS).
My piece is worth a lot more than $1. Should I set a reserve?
One of the toughest challenges we have is convincing our clients to trust the process of no-reserve auctions. BRG prefers to sell everything without reserves, where all bids begin at $1. This may seem counter-intuitive, but generally speaking, items with reserves (set opening bids) tend to under perform in auction results. The reason for this is that reserves tend to dampen bidder excitement.
Here is our general reasoning: The auction format truly reflects the current market. Items that are better quality will have more interested buyers. More interested buyers means higher bids. It's that simple.
One prime example of the success of this format includes a Rodin bronze bust of St. John the Baptist we recently managed. We set the starting bid at $1. Yes, that’s $1. That same bust sold in our auction for over $455,000!
We also encourage our estate clients to look at the collection as a whole package and not focus on individual valuations. Generally speaking, some pieces might over perform, others will be right where they should be, and some may even under perform. In the end, it's the entire sale total that matters — and the BRG auction managers are usually “spot-on” in their overall valuations and estimates during the initial consultation, so our consignors have a realistic idea what they might expect.
However, there are times when our clients feel more comfortable setting a reserve on a particularly valuable lot. BRG considers this on a case-by-case basis, but generally dissuades our clients from setting reserves. Any lots with reserves are presented to our bidders as an “opening bid” -- in order to preserve full transparency. In other words, if a certain vase has a reserve of $500, the opening bid will be set at $500. The lot remains unsold if no bidders come in at $500 to open the bidding. If someone meets (or exceeds) the $500 opening bid with their maximum bid, then the vase will sell to the highest bidder.
What if something doesn't sell?
With a no-reserve auction (everything starts at $1), our sell-through rate is nearly 100%. Very rarely, though something may not sell. In such cases, a quick conversation with the estate manager will resolve the question.
What's the difference between your auctions and the showroom?
BRG is unique from other estate companies because we offer our sellers and buyers a variety of options for buying and selling estate merchandise. These options include two different buying formats: Online Auctions and the consignment showroom’s Buy/Shop Now feature.
AUCTIONS: BRG offers online auctions. Items sold on the auction platform are sold to the highest bidders -- the bidders set the market price they're willing to pay for any given item. Most bidding begins at $1 and whatever the items sell for, they sell for.
SHOP NOW: On the other hand, Black Rock Interiors (BRG’s luxury consignment showroom) features hand-curated estate pieces that are available for outright purchase (buy now). Items in the showroom are sold at a set price (no bidding) determined by the showroom management team. After a predetermined amount of time passes, unsold merchandise begins to be marked down (starting at 20% and eventually going as high as 75% off original prices), just like other consignment shops. Items may be purchased online or in-person at our 50,000 sq. ft. showroom (located at 1720 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport with easy access to exit 25 off I-95). While many of the pieces of merchandise in our showroom are available to purchase online, there are tens of thousands of pieces only available in-person, so we invite you to visit us in-person. You certainly won’t be disappointed because our showroom is spectacular -- even if we do say so ourselves!
What is the difference between shipping and transportation?
BRG differentiates “shipping” from “transportation” of lots as follows ...
SHIPPING: BRG defines "shipping" as the packing, posting, and delivery of items from our location to your location. Typically, BRG does not provide shipping services (see note about jewelry, coins, and select smalls below) — delivery to your residence/business via a third party agency (i.e., UPS, FedX, DHL, etc.) — unless otherwise noted in specific auctions. It is the responsibility of the bidder/buyer to arrange for items to be picked-up, packed, and shipped to their desired location by a third party vendor (UPS, FedX, DHL, etc.). Not all agencies provide packing services, so please be sure to ask when you source your shipping agent. BRG has a list of trusted third party shipping agencies here, but you are free to use whomever you wish.
NOTE: BRG offers USPS flat rate shipping for jewelry, coins and select smalls (items 12” or less in its largest dimension) for an additional fee. It is the responsibility of the bidder/buyer to notify BRG if they wish to use this option. BRG does not automatically ship items without a specific request from the bidder/buyer. This applies to jewelry, coins and select smalls only. Additional fees are charged to cover packing and actual postage rates on jewelry, coins and certain smalls. Because BRG is not in the shipping business, we ask that bidders/buyers allow an extra two weeks or so for BRG to process the USPS orders for shipping.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation, on the other hand, is NOT shipping in the normal sense of the word. Since BRG has multiple locations (Bridgeport, CT; Greenwich, CT; Boston, MA: and Raleigh, NC), we now offer transportation of lots to a location that may be more convenient for pick-up by our bidder audience. If you opt to have items transported to a BRG location, we will carefully transport your items in a BRG truck and you may pick up your lot(s) during designated pick-up dates/times for that specific BRG location (dates and times for pick-ups are clearly listed on the auction landing pages). Because of space limitations at BRG’s locations, items that are transported must be picked-up as scheduled, otherwise they are considered forfeit. Items cannot and will not be stored or held beyond designated pick-up dates.
Transport fees will be added to your account and are charged on a per lot basis — depending on size, weight, fragility, etc. Charges generally range from $5 to $100 per lot. For example, a large piece of furniture (i.e., a sofa) will cost more to transport ($100) than a lot with three books ($5). Likewise, a fragile small 17th century mirror would need more careful handling than a larger wooden decorative crate. Bidders may choose their transportation preferences as they bid on specific items in each auction.
Why do you require a credit card in order for me to bid?
In order to prevent non-qualified bidders from tainting the integrity of our online bidding process, BRG only accepts bids by people whose credit cards are valid, registered and vetted by our credit card processing platform. We require a valid credit card for all bidders (Amex, Discover, Visa, or MasterCard). Additionally, to ensure efficient processing, the primary credit card on file for all winning bidders is charged once the auction closes. The charge will include the hammer price, buyers’ premium, pertinent sales tax, and any associated transportation fees (if bidder opts to have lots transported back to one of the BRG warehouses for pick-up).
Please note: All credit card information is encrypted to the highest levels of safety possible and will not be used or distributed for any other purposes.
How do I keep track of all of the items I’m following and bidding upon?
One of the most useful things about the BRG dashboard is that you can bid and manage what you’re following directly from the dashboard. That way, you don’t need to sift through multiple catalog pages while trying to recall what lots are your favorites or which items you've bid upon. Login to the dashboard and watch the action on only the items you are actively interested in from one convenient location.
What is an “Opening Bid”?
99.9 percent of the time, our lots have an opening bid set at $1. Occasionally, our clients want “reserves” set on select pieces. A reserve is a minimum dollar amount that must be reached before an item can be sold. In order to have full transparency with our bidders, BRG sets any reserves on our lots to show as an opening bid. Here’s an example:
Lot #3 in an auction has a reserve of $500. It will not sell for less than $500, but can certainly sell for more. Other auction houses might start the bidding at a lower number and hope that the $500 reserve is met in the bidding, but they are under no obligation to let their bidders know what the reserve is or when it is met (although many do).
At BRG, this $500 reserve will show as a $500 opening bid. If no one places a bid for $500 or more, the lot will remain unsold. If someone chooses to bid at least $500, the lot is open for bidding and the highest bidder will win the lot.
What is extended bidding & why is it necessary?
Much like bidding during a live auction, the auctioneer generally won't hammer at the first bid. Auctioneers will give other bidders an opportunity to increase their bids until there is no further action/interest in the piece. BRG's system features "extended bidding" in our online auction format because it best mimics live bidding (albeit in a timed format).
The BRG system resets the countdown clock to five (5) minutes on any lots that receive bids within the last five minutes of its closing. This gives other bidders an opportunity to increase their bids if they wish. Once there are no additional bids placed in the last five minutes of a lot's closing, the clock will run out. It's that simple. For example:
Lot #1 is set to close at 8:05 p.m. You are the highest bidder at 8:03 p.m. Another bidder joins the bidding on Lot #1 at 8:03. Even though there are only two minutes left on the clock, because a bid is placed within the last five minutes of closing, the clock resets and the lot will now close at 8:08. If other bids are placed (some by you), the clock will keep resetting until there is no other interest in the lot. When all is said and done, Lot #1 doesn't close until 9:12 because there was a lot of bidding action.
Why do we use extended bidding? In order to create the fairest simulated "real-life" auction scenario possible, we use extended bidding. Sometimes, a bidder thinks that they can place a last second high-bid just as the clock runs out to ensure that they win the lot. This is known as "bid sniping". Unfortunately, bid sniping does not allow other bidders an opportunity to increase their bid if they wish to do so. The fairest way to control bid sniping is to offer extended bidding. (If you've ever bid in any auctions on another very well-known site, chances are you've experienced bid sniping.) Much like a live auction, extended bidding keeps going as long as someone is willing to pay a higher price.
Why was I outbid by an amount less than the next minimum increment?
Sometimes our bidders wonder how they were outbid by an amount lower than the minimum bid increment (see bid increments in our Terms & Conditions). All bidders may place their max bid at anytime. As a result, you may be outbid by what seems to be an incorrect increment. Let us try to give you an example:
Let's say you place your maximum bid of $100 on lot #2 but another buyer wins the lot for $101, even though the next bidding increment is $5, not $1. Here is how this scenario might occur...
It's 4 p.m. on closing day and lot #2 is currently at $15. At 5:10 p.m. you place a maximum bid of $100. There are a few bidders at play and so by the time 5:45 comes around, the current bid is at $78 with you as the highest bidder. At 7:05 p.m. a new bidder joins in and places his maximum bid of $101. Since this new bidder's bid of $101 is above the minimum increment at the time she placed the bid, it is accepted by the system. Since there were no additional bids placed before the countdown clock ran out, the $101 bidder wins the lot because it is higher than your $100 maximum bid.
Sometimes I'm immediately outbid. Why?
Because all maximum bids are "masked" (hidden from other bidders), you do not know what any other bidder's maximum bid may be or when they placed it. Sometimes you will be outbid as soon as you enter your bid. This only occurs when another bidder had a higher maximum bid than yours already "on the board". Your bid set in motion BRG's automatic bidding system which raised the other buyer's bid above yours. The other bidder may have placed their max bid days, hours, or mere moments before you placed yours.
However, if you place a bid and there are no competing bids against your bid, the system WILL NOT immediately go to your maximum bid. In fact, if you are the only bidder by the time the lot closes, you will win the lot for the lowest possible dollar amount (based on whatever the opening bid was for that item), not your max bid. So if you place a max bid of $25 on a lot with an opening bid of $1 and there are no other bidders vying for that lot, you will win it for $1. NOTE: This only happens when there are no competing bids.