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In St. Louis, MO
Customers Of Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers Describe Payment Nightmares, BBB Warns
BBB is alerting consumers to be extremely cautious when consigning auction items to Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers after some consigners waited months to be paid for sold items.
December 04, 2013

Ivey-Selkirk buildingSt. Louis, Mo., Dec. 4, 2013 – Customers of Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers say they have been frustrated for months in their attempts to collect overdue payments from the Clayton auction house, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

“This is ridiculous,” said a man from Webster, N.Y., who says the business has owed him $17,000 since May. He said he consigned 300 lots of watches, jewelry and other items to Ivey-Selkirk nearly a year ago, but has yet to be paid. “They have really hurt us,” he said.

Ivey-Selkirk has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible.  More than 40 BBB complaints have been filed against the company in the past 36 months, most involving either late payment or nonpayment for auction consignments.

BBB issued a warning on Ivey-Selkirk in June 2011 over similar concerns.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said, “This appears to be an ongoing issue with this business. Based on Ivey-Selkirk’s history, people might want to think long and hard before turning over their valuables to this company.”

Ivey-Selkirk has been an institution in the St. Louis area for generations, running auctions here for nearly 200 years. In the last three years, the numbers of consumer complaints have jumped dramatically.

In June 2011, several customers told BBB their payments were delayed six months or longer. Some said they finally received payment only after filing complaints with BBB or threatening to take their complaints to the media. In some cases, consumers hired an attorney or appeared at Ivey-Selkirk’s office in person to demand their money.

At that time, owner Malcolm F. Ivey said that he hoped an “improving economy will allow us to resume a timely payment basis with all of our clients.”  He said he expected the number of complaints to decrease. BBB has taken 10 complaints in 2011, 17 in 2012 and 14 to date in 2013.

Ivey-Selkirk’s website, www.iveyselkirk.com, calls the firm the second oldest auction house in the United States. It says it has “established a reputation for its international exposure with mid-western sensibilities.”

The New York businessman said he consigned items to the auction house in December 2012 and early January 2013, and they were sold in auctions in February, April and May. The company notified him in June that he was due almost $17,000 from the sales. Thus far, he has received $400, despite numerous phone calls and emails to the business.

A former St. Louisan now living in Berkeley, Calif., said Ivey-Selkirk owed her about $8,000 for estate items sold between November 2012 and March 2013. She said payment was promised in six to eight weeks, but she did not receive the money for more than 12 weeks.  She said she received payment only after telling Malcolm Ivey that she had seen a news story about BBB’s earlier warning and intended to turn to BBB for help in her case.

A man from Creve Coeur said he had been a loyal customer of the auction house for many years, spending an estimated $500,000 on auction items.  In February, he consigned a designer table and four chairs that the firm sold for about $400 in a May auction.  He said he received his payment in October, but only after notifying BBB and representatives of the media that he could not get payment from Ivey-Selkirk.

A woman from Clayton said she and her husband consigned an antique airplane propeller to the auction house for an April auction, intending to sell several pieces of expensive art through the company later. But when their $187 payment was delayed three months beyond what was promised, they decided to consign the artwork with another auction house.

In September, two other consignors sued Ivey-Selkirk in St. Louis County for nonpayment for dozens of auction items, including antique silver, artwork, furniture and collectibles that were consigned in August and November 2012. In one of the cases, Malcolm Ivey emailed the customer in February 2013 that the last of her property was sold in December 2012 and “we will be distributing the proceeds later this month.”

Malcolm Ivey said the auction house has taken several steps to speed payments to consignors. He said Ivey-Selkirk has increased its settlement date to 45 to 60 business days from 30 to 45 days after the auction, encouraged slow-paying buyers to pay more quickly and attempted “to improve our capital position to expedite the settlement process.”

He said that it has been taking longer for credit card companies to reimburse the company for payment and noted that online bidding from international buyers has delayed payments because of “various currencies and language obstacles.”

BBB offers the following tips when consigning items to an auction house:

  • To get the best price for your items, consign to an auction company that specializes in the types of items you are selling. For instance, antique furniture often will bring the highest prices at auction houses experienced in selling antiques; toys and collectibles often sell best through auction houses that have dealt in those items in the past.
  • Ask for an appraisal. If the appraisal is less than what you believe your items are worth, you might want to look for another way to sell them.
  • Read any contract carefully. The contract usually will specify exactly what percentage of the auction price you will receive and how long you will wait for payment.
  • Understand that any appraisal is just an estimate. The sale price of an item may be higher or lower.
  • Get a company’s BBB Business Review by contacting BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, communications@stlouisbbb.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org

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