Sold! Auctions move to the Internet
August 25, 1997
Web posted at: 10:43 p.m. EDT (0243 GMT)
From San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Doug Graham wanted to sell a good used
PC. Karen Koyama wanted to buy one.
He sold it on an Internet auction, where she was surfing for
bargains. They swapped a few e-mails and, voila, the old PC
had a new home.
"It was a lot easier than pulling up a paper and calling
people and trying to get in touch with somebody via phone,"
Graham agreed. He had resisted placing a newspaper ad
because his schedule couldn't accommodate a lot of extra
They are just a couple of the people taking advantage of
technology to buy and sell belongings. No longer do you have
to drag your family antiques or antique motherboards to
auction houses and computer scrap stores to unload them;
instead, you can auction them off online.
Computer-related items popular
Hundreds of auctions go up every day on the Internet, with
names like First Auction or CityAuction. Most auction items
are computer-related because, for now, most online users are
frequent computer users.
Unlike the traditional auction room, in which bidders sit
still save to wave little paddles, signifying a bid, computer
bidding is casual and straightforward. Bidders sign on,
register and write in their bids.
Often, auction items may be on the other side of the globe
from their potential buyers. Graham chose CityAuction, a
service that limited his audience to the San Francisco area,
where Karen lives.
Andy Rebele founded CityAuction when he couldn't find what he
wanted in the newspaper. "The buyer can come and try out a
bicycle or test drive a car, or see if the computer or
printer works before actually placing a bid or buying,"
Auctions can last days or even weeks. At the end, the winner
and seller get e-mail notices. If the winner flakes out and
doesn't buy, the items go to the next-highest bidder. The
computer auctioneer's take is 1 percent to 5 percent of the
As with all private sales, there are risks. For some, that
is part of the fun. For most, however, it still means buyer