Not Awesome At All: Dealers Pose As Individuals on Awesome Joe Auctions

Jan 2020 | Auction Observations, Under The Hood

January 24th Update:  While you may find GuysWithRides brutally honest at times, we’d like everyone to know us as also being fair and balanced.  Earlier this week, Rudy received a very cordial phone call from Lance Miller, the Co-Owner of Carlisle Events, regarding our initial assessment of their new Auction Site “Awesome Joe Auctions” we first posted on December 4th.  Lance thanked us for our candid review of their new website and as a follow-up provided the e-mail below addressing all of our original points.  The entire team at Carlisle Events from Lance on down continues to impress us and while we don’t agree on some principals (i.e. GuysWithRides is and will always remain dealer-free versus Carlisle Events), its refreshing to have an open-and-candid dialogue that respects each other’s opinions.

Here’s Lance Miller’s unedited e-mail response from this past Wednesday:

Rudy,

It was a pleasure speaking with you earlier today. I appreciate your taking the time to discuss the article regarding Awesome Joe Auctions along with recent AZ auction action and your Cadillac project.

Per our discussion I’ve read your article titled “Not Awesome At All: Dealers Pose As Individuals on Awesome Joe Auctions”.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for writing an article about AwesomeJoeAuctions.com.  Having been involved in the automotive business for as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed many great articles, some not-so-great articles and some in which I highly disagree.  This was our first event with our new partnership and this particular article provides great points and input that will definitely help us improve our efforts, for this we are grateful!

We address many concerns after each Carlisle Auction and each event we host in Carlisle, fortunately compliments always outweigh the concerns. However, it’s concerns and questions that allow us to improve the most.  I’m a firm believer that the only way you learn, grow and succeed is by listening to your customers. In this case, the article brought up some extremely valid points that I’d like to take a moment to address:

  • First and foremost, the title of the article. Dealers aren’t posing as private sellers at all. In fact, this was OUR mistake.  As I mentioned this was our first time out of the gate, so to speak.  New system, new forms, new everything.  Sometimes there are kinks that you simply don’t find until you go live. This was one such incident.  We have a box that the dealer or privateer can click that identifies them as one or the other.  Every one of the dealers you mentioned did just that. However, our system didn’t reflect this on the front end of our system.  This change will be implemented in the very near future. Thank you for making us aware!!!
  • Questioning the partnership of Carlisle Auctions/Carlisle Events and AwesomeJoeAuctions.com – I wouldn’t be taking the time to touch base if we weren’t 100% committed to our partnership with AJA. You brought up some excellent points about using logos/brands to better help showcase the partnership, I concur 100% and this will be something we will be updating.  Once again, thanks for the feedback.
  • “We predict this site will quickly become just another classic car website littered with largely dealer offerings crowding the few private party listings they manage to secure.” – We’ll do our best to ensure everyone that uses AwesomeJoeAuctions.com departs happy. We do this with our core business and we’ve been enjoying long-lasting automotive and business relationships for nearly 50 years. We have no desire of stopping anytime soon. With feedback such as this article and others that write to us directly, we will stay at the forefront because we pride ourselves on reading every single message, note or letter that we receive.  It’s the best way to learn and we never stop learning!  Everyone involved in this project, from the coders to the Carlisle Auctions car specialists takes pride in our newest venture as we’ve all put forth a lot of time an energy towards creating something new and exciting! It’s certainly not perfect, but I can personally assure you we’ll continue to do everything we can to make it the very best it can be.  We will and have always had the automotive hobby’s support in letting us know how we can improve their experience which in turn allows us to improve.

Again, I’m looking forward to meeting you at Spring Carlisle which is quickly approaching. Hopefully we score some great weather!

I appreciate your time and support. If you’d like to speak directly, my cell number is _________. Any and all feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

Thanks again for your time.

Sincerely,

Lance

Lance Miller | Co-Owner

Carlisle Events”

 

Our original post from December 4th:

We first learned about the latest collector car auction site Awesome Joe from an e-mail Blast Carlisle Auctions sent.  Based on first impressions, Awesome Joe Auctions  (“AJA”) comes across as a solid contender to go up against the likes of Bring A Trailer and another recent newcomer Hemmings Auctions.  More surprising was learning this new site based in Delaware partnered with collector car powerhouse Carlisle Auctions.  However, more research on our part has us wondering how much of a “partnership” versus simply being able to use the Carlisle brand this play is.  Two facts have us wondering:  First, the Carlisle Auctions site does not list Awesome Joe anywhere nor provides a link.  It may be too early, but then again having a link to a partner auction site might cannibalize sales from Carlisle’s primary venue.  Second, while they list the fact in their recent press release, no where on the Awesome Joe Auctions website is a link pointing Carlisle Auctions at this point.  While we can understand why Carlisle doesn’t feature AJA on their website just yet, we’re surprised that Awesome Joe doesn’t leverage that fact on their home page.  Unless, of course, they can’t.

We reviewed AJA’s Listing- and Bidder Agreements and there are two features the new site offers as an attempt to differentiate itself over its competitors:

  1. Sellers do not pay unless the collector vehicle is sold.  Both Bring A Trailer and Hemming Auctions currently charge sellers a flat $99 fee regardless of whether a vehicle sells.  In the event of a successful auction, the seller pays two percent (2%) directly to AJA as a seller’s premium.  Neither BaT nor Hemmings currently charges seller’s premiums.
  2.  The winning bidder pays three percent (3%) of the sale amount directly to AJA as a buyer’s premium.  This is two percent lower than either BaT or Hemmings.

So, in total AJA earns the same five percent as Bring A Trailer and Hemmings.  Unlike those two competitors, sellers on AJA will  pay significantly more than a $99 flat fee.  Specifically, sellers on AJA will be billed $200 for every $10,000 of their collector car’s hammer price.   Most dealers will not balk at paying this as AJA’s rate is much lower than either Carlisle or their traditional competitors charge. However, we wonder whether private sellers will be willing to sign up for higher cost.  We predict this site will quickly become just another classic car website littered with largely dealer offerings crowding the few private party listings they manage to secure.

During our first visit to the Awesome Joe Auction website, not only were we floored by sheer number of vehicles being auctioned at launch, we were shocked all of the listings identified themselves as “Individual Seller.”  How could this new kid on the block have so many auctions for private sellers when Bring a Trailer took nearly a year for the concept to take off and Hemmings still struggles to fill up their docket?  The truth is, they don’t.  We’re able to prove all of the auctions currently listed on the Awesome Joe Auction site as of this writing are dealers posing as individual sellers.

We offer as proof three dealers who combined account for 131 of the 134 (98%) lots offered on the AJA website as of this writing:

First, individual Seller “DelrayAJA” based in Delray Beach, Florida really represents Delray Beach Motors.  Go ahead, compare the inventory on that site to the 47 listings currently on AJA.  What’s laughable is that all the vehicles listed by this poser have pictures taken from the top of the same parking garage. Real awesome, Joe.

In another questionable move, we found one of the pictures of this Maserati even shows the dealer plate.  Real classy, Joe.

Second, individual Seller “Erin Lillard” based in Delray Beach, Florida really represents Primo Classics International based in Lakeland, Florida. Compare Primo’s inventory on their website to the 79 listings currently on AJA and you’ll see that nearly their entire inventory is now up for auction.  C’mon, Joe.

Finally, the “Individual Seller” Distinctive Auto Brokers in Phoenix, Arizona can’t even be bothered to think of an alternative user name to use for the five cars this dealer has posted.  Wow, Joe…wow.

Perhaps the leaders at Awesome Joe aren’t aware of these dealers marking themselves as individual sellers and they will correct the situation.  We highly doubt it.

So what if they have dealers posing as private sellers?  As we’ve mentioned in other articles, this practice hurts the collector car hobby two ways. First, if a dealer tries to pawn themselves off as a private seller, then they have something to hide.  If they are not proud of their reputation, how can you trust the quality of the collector or muscle cars they offer?  Second, if AJA allows this practice to continue, how can bidders trust the company to prevent phantom bids by these same individuals in order to boost the hammer price for their cars?

We’re disappointed to see yet another company spin up a website to auction collector cars and believe people will immediately flock to their site and give them money.  It doesn’t work that way:  just ask Bring a Trailer or Hemmings Auctions.  Unfortunately, the last thing the classic car hobby needs is yet another website pandering to dealers and brokers who hope to leverage the frantic pace of an online auction to artificially drive up the price of their offerings.

Awesome first impression, Joe…

What are your thoughts about this new auction site?  Comment below and let us know!

2 Comments

  1. babysfirstvolvo

    Great write up. I was going to check AJA out until I read this post. I can’t stand dealers. They’re always chasing the money, especially when they think it will come easy.

    Reply
  2. HAL

    I just checked inventory on AJA – March 27, 2020. Many of the listings show individual consignors who are actually part of dealerships – Primo in Lakeland FL and Delray Beach Motors – the inventory of those dealerships are identical with individual consignor listings.

    There is no indication on the AJA site that these are dealers. This definitely feels misleading and will keep me from submitting bids.

    Reply

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