Auction Bidder Notifications

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Rock Island Auction Company is pleased to announce our Bidder Notifications service. This advancement, typically only offered by the largest of online auctions, will send emails to bidders who have elected to receive them notifying them that they have been outbid or tied for the high bid. In the auction before this new service was implemented, we saw a record number of sealed bids, around 21,000! This resulted in hundreds of tie bids for many items, with some items having as many as 50 different bidders. As an auction house, it’s tough to witness so many ties, knowing that people making an earnest run at collectibles they want will not win.

It is a very common scenario for people who tie the winning bid, or come within 90% of it, to not win an item.  Obviously, that can be pretty confusing to know you bid the correct amount, but did not win your lot.  The outbid notifications look to limit this type of scenario, even though it is impossible to eliminate completely.  Here are some of the ways this can happen:

Tie Bids: It’s very possible that two or more absentee bidders bid the same amount (and bid higher than any live bidders). In that case RIAC awards the lot to the first of the tie bids placed. Each bid input into our systems is stamped with date/time it was received. This is why we encourage absentee bidders to give us your bids as soon as possible, since this scenario is very common.

Bid Increments: We treat absentee bids as if the bidder if here live at the auction, trying to buy as cheaply as possible under their maximum amount they have specified in their bid. With that comes the chance that another bidder will beat them to that amount. Here’s an example of how that might happen.

Let’s say that Dan places an absentee bid on a lot for $1,000. Live bidders and other absentee bidders have bid the lot up to $900. At that point, we would advance Dan’s bid on his behalf to $950. If there are no other bids, Dan would win that lot for $950. However, if a competing live bidder bids $1,000, we are obliged to accept that bid. Since Dan has only authorized us to bid up to $1,000, we cannot place another bid for him and the lot would be won by the live bidder even though Dan had the exact same amount in his sealed bid.

As you can see, this is entirely unpredictable and depends on how the live bids fall during the auction.  In the example above, had the live bidding stopped at $900, we would have advanced Dan’s bid to $950. With no other live bidders he would have prevailed. Take note, this is exactly what would happen if there were two live bidders in the audience who both planned to stop at $1,000. One would get it and the other would not.

Preventing this from happening to you is simple. Since we buy for you as cheaply as possible at or below the maximum you specify, be sure you bid the true maximum you would go to if you were bidding live. Ask yourself, “If I was there, and the bid stopped with someone else winning for $1,000, would I go $1,100?” If so, bid a “plus one” or enter the larger amount. You still may fall on the “bad side” of the increment, but the exact same thing might happen if you were bidding live. That’s the nature of an honest auction.

We realize there may be some questions and feedback on this process. This is a new service for us and there may be some changes needed along the way, so we invite your input. For some Frequently Asked Questions that we feel might arise, please continue reading to see if we have covered your question. If not, please feel free to contact us via email or phone at info@rockislandauction.comand 1-800-238-8022, respectively.

Of course, if you’re not interested in receiving these outbid notifications, no action is necessary on your part.  By doing nothing, your account will stay just as it is. You must opt-in to receive these notices and you can switch at any time simply by logging into your account.


Q: Do I have to receive outbid notifications?
A: No. The service is completely optional and you must opt-in to receive them. If you do not want to receive them, do nothing. If you DO elect to receive them, you may turn them off again at any time.

Q: How can I receive outbid notifications?
A: It’s a simple email preference that you can change in your account at any time. Follow these steps.

  1. Go to
  2. Log in to your account.
  3. In the “Email Notification Options” section on the right, click the box next to any email alerts you wish to receive
  4. Changes are saved automatically. No further action is needed.
  5. Go bid!


Q: Will I receive a notice if I am a tied for the high bid?
A: Yes. Remember, in the event of tied sealed bids, the winning bid will be the first of the bids received.  The notification will not tell you if you are the first bid received, only that you are tied for the high bid.

Q: How common is this really?
A: Very. In our February 2015 Regional Firearms Auction we received a record 21,000 sealed bids! On average, that’s six sealed bids per item.  With so much interest comes an astounding number of tie bids, and bids within one bid increment (or 90%) of the highest bidder. Tie bids are exceedingly commonplace.

If you’d like to leave feedback, please feel free to write to us at

Rock Island Auction
7819 42nd Street West
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

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