Auctions are improving with technology


Auctions are improving with technology. This was the prediction of John Collingbourne from Pattaya’s Collingbourne Auctioneers during his presentation at the December 6 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. This being the holiday season, many think of Christmas; but it also a time for the Jewish Festival of Light, otherwise known as Chanukah (Hanukkah). Prior to the speaker, Judith Edmonds lit the menorah (8 branched candlestick) as Chanukah began at sunset on this day. She mentioned that the first candle is lit on the beginning day with another candle being lit on each succeeding day. During the menorah lighting, PCEC member Len Levine sang the blessings in Hebrew that is part of the ceremony; afterward Judith provided a translation into English.

The lighting of the candles was followed by the main speaker John Collingbourne. His prediction was that in the not-too-distant future, auctions won’t need an auctioneer to stand in front of a crowd. Instead, he said, auctions will be conducted completely online. John, who was an auctioneer for 30 years in Wales before coming to Pattaya and establishing Collingbourne Auctioneers seven years ago, said the trend is already moving in the online direction.

PCEC member Len Levine sings one of the traditional blessings in Hebrew as fellow member Judith Edmonds lights the Menorah for Chanukah (Hannukah), the Jewish Festival of Lights which starts on December 6 this year.

He pointed out that Collingbourne Auctioneers is using technology to improve their operations. They recently installed a new system on their website, that allows his employees as part of the intake process to assign a number and immediately list an item, along with a photo, directly on to the website. This allows potential buyers to view the item. Further they can call and ask the reserve price (minimum amount set by seller) of an item and can make a “book bid” without having to come to the auction. “More often than not, the book bids get it,” John said.

Collingbourne’s auctions are also streamed live online. Hopefully within a month, John explained, you will be able to watch an auction, press a button and bid online. Asked if that won’t take away the excitement of competing bids at a live auction, he said no, because people can still watch the competing online bids. But, they still want people to come and enjoy the overall ambience of the live auction.

MC Roy Albiston presents John Collingbourne with the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation for his presentation.

John noted that Collingbourne Auctioneers handles a variety of auctions. Currently, he said, there are a lot of household, bar, office and restaurant clearances in Pattaya. Further, “A lot of people now are saying we’ve had enough of Thailand, what do we do?” He mentioned that many people who plan to leave Thailand want to stay in their house until the day they go to the airport. So Collingbourne Auctioneers arranges with them to wait until they’re gone, and then go to their house to pick up everything and take it to his auction house. After the auction, the money is sent to the seller, wherever they might be in the world.

Property sales are also on the rise in Pattaya, according to John. He said a year ago people wouldn’t sell their house or condo because of the falling prices. Now, however, people are beginning to realize that prices probably won’t go up in the near future. Further houses that cost 12 million baht to build are now selling for 5 million. He expects a large “fire sale” on property to start again around next February.

John said his company also handles bereavement clearances, and sometimes discover valuable items that the sellers were unaware of. He mentioned that recently, while they were inventorying items for a bereavement sale, he saw a plastic sheet covering a table. When the plastic sheet was removed, it revealed a table that, although it had many stains, was a beautiful Victorian table and would auction for a higher price.

John gave some tips for prospective sellers and buyers. He said for a seller, setting a proper reserve price is very important. It shouldn’t be too low, but it can’t be too high, or the item won’t sell. He said the reserve price is up to the seller, but he tries to work with each seller to help them if they’re unsure of an item’s value.

For buyers, he cautioned that they be sure to test the item as soon as they get it home, and bring it back immediately if they think it’s defective. If they wait for a few days, they probably won’t be able to get a refund because the money has already been paid to the seller.

He said that they now test items that come in to be sure they are in working order. This became policy because they once had a guy who owned several properties who would buy a new water heater for one of his units, clean up the old one, put it in the box that the new one came in, and bring it to auction offered as a new one. But the buyer wouldn’t discover it wasn’t a new one until several weeks later when they tried to install it.

After the presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Judith Edmonds to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.

For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at