Like many of you, I love perusing all things cars. I wouldn’t consider myself the most intense of car enthusiasts (around here, that would be foolish), but I keeping up with car news, watching automotive Youtube channels, and following automotive Instagram accounts. One of these is Doug DeMuro‘s car auction website, Cars & Bids. One day, while scrolling through Instagram on my lunch break, I noticed a beautiful, brand new Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 on auction. It was remarkably affordable and closed the following day at 3:00 pm, so I thought I’d keep my eye on it. I figured it would end up in a bidding war that would conclude in a massive profit for the seller.
The next day, while sitting here in the Xtreme Xperience office, I opened the auction page back up. With two hours to go, the highest bid on the GT500 was only $75,000.
Let me clarify here that I have never actually used one of these websites beyond looking at what I will never be able to afford.
Here’s what happened next.
1:45 PM. One hour and 15 minutes to go. I decided to login and create an account just to see what it’s like.
1:50 PM. Still at $75K. I figured that the bidding war should get started soon and wondered if I could give it a little nudge. I started to go through the process of submitting a bid. I was very confident that the bidding war would start immediately after I made my bid of $75,500 that I didn’t really read the fine print.
1:55 PM. I made a bid. $75,500. I honestly wasn’t really trying, but there are remarkably few steps to submitting a bid.
That’s when my first twang of nervousness attacked that spot right below my ribs. I started to reread the fine print. “As a reminder, all bids are binding.” Uhoh. “Once you’ve submitted your bid, we place a hold on your credit card for 4.5% of your bid amount until the duration of the auction, in case you end up as the winning bidder.” Oh no. I checked my bank account. Sure enough, there it was, a charge for $3397.50.
2:05 PM. No bidding war. Not even another bid. With 55 minutes to go, I was the winning bid on a brand new GT500. I began to think about how I was going to explain this to my wife. We did not (and do not) have $75,500 sitting around ready to be used on a new car. Oh yeah, a new car that can’t even fit our 10-month-old baby (the backseat doesn’t have enough room to really qualify as a back seat, let alone have enough room for a car seat).
I kept reminding myself that any minute now the bidding war would start and it would all be ok.
2:10 PM. I’ve now hit refresh on my phone about 200 times. No bids.
2:15 PM. I put my phone away to focus on doing work and distract myself. It didn’t work. No bids.
2:20 PM. I began thinking about how we long it would take to refinance our three-unit building for some quick cash….and ultimate bankruptcy. No Bids.
2:25 PM. The twang of nervousness had evolved into a throat-tightening, stomach-sickening, heart-pounding terror. No bids.
2:30 PM. Thirty minutes to go. I confessed to my boss that I had made the bid. He looked up shocked and a little amused. “Are you serious?” I showed him the page. He offered a bit of potential reprieve. “There has to be a reserve. There’s no way it’s being sold for that low,” he said. It wasn’t comforting. No bids.
2:40 PM. Lots of commentary about how this would be the “steal of the century” if it sold for this little. “Sure,” I thought. “It may be a steal, but I still don’t have that kind of money!!!” No bids.
2:45 PM. Fifteen minutes left. Jokes are flying in the comment section about how people probably aren’t bidding because they are scared to be a stupid Mustang owner who crashes their car at a Cars & Coffee event. I was scared to be a Mustang owner whose wife had disowned him and who was living out of said Mustang. No bids.
2:50 PM. Full meltdown happening inside of me. No work is getting done. Just constant refreshing of the window, desperate for someone, anyone to put in a higher bid. My undershirt was soaked, my button up shirt showing signs of nervousness under my arms, and my mouth dry as a desert. No bids.
2:54 PM. $77,000 bid by the best human being on the planet. A true hero. I was off the hook.
The next five minutes were a blur. I was shaking and nervously laughing, thankful that my life was not over. I could go home and tell my wife a funny story about what happened at work instead of having to explain how one tap of my iPhone had changed our lives forever.
3:00 PM. Auction closed. Winning bid, $77,000. That true hero was the ONLY OTHER PERSON to bid after me. I was one $1500 bid away from owning that car.
So here’s what I learned.
1. It is remarkably easy to start bidding. Kudos to Doug and his entire development team at Cars & Bids- it’s no wonder the site is taking off. Casual observers beware – if you get an inkling to bid, don’t do it unless you are really serious. Don’t even start putting in your credit card information as I did.
2. Bids. Are. Final. I scoured the site in that hour looking for a way out. I didn’t find one. I was ready to lie and say that my 10-month-old son had accidentally submitted the bid when I wasn’t looking (submitting a bid is easy, but not that easy).
3. It only takes an accidental $75K commitment to make you realize all that you actually value in life and what you are willing to sacrifice.
4. Friends are great. Once the dust had settled, I began to tell others in the office about what I had done. After a good hearty laugh at my expense, they told me that they would have helped me out if I had needed it.
5. Reserves exist. If you don’t know what a reserve is, it’s the minimum amount that needs to be met for the seller of the auction item to go through with the sale. I didn’t know it at the time, but the reserve on the GT500 was higher than $75,500. It was actually even higher than $77,000 so in the end, the car didn’t sell. I wish I had known that before I took a year off of my life with panic.
Don’t submit a bid on a car auction vehicle you don’t plan on buying. You never know what might or might not happen.
Aaron Winter | Marketing Coordinator