Whenever there’s an economic downturn two things happen: more measuring instruments get repaired when they should be replaced, and more people start going to auction sales looking for bargains.
Many years ago my father used to go to auctions to pick up some odds and sods, but more often than not, he went to get rid of junk cluttering up the warehouse. He got to know the auctioneers and how the system worked. Despite this he was always amazed at how much people spent to buy junk while thinking they were getting the bargain of the century.
Not much has changed. Every time we get an auction notice we check to see what inspection equipment is being offered. Why? Because we know we’ll get calls before the sale to provide pricing and afterward to repair or calibrate the “bargains” someone bought.
Too many people want to get out there and wrangle a deal. But all too often they don’t know enough about the equipment they are bidding on or how the game is played and end up spending more than they should or buying something that’s not worth having at any price.
Equipment auctions are a specialized business run by professionals who may not know a plug gage from a micrometer, but they do know how to set the sale up and how to work their audience, 90% of which will probably be amateurs. I offer the following notes to level the playing field, and in the next column, what to watch out for when bidding on instruments and related equipment.
Auctions are fun to watch and participate in but only if you know what you are doing, are disciplined in your approach and know exactly what you’ll be getting, if successful.