Where's my money, auction house?
October 4, 2012 9:36 AM   Subscribe

What additional steps should I take to get money an auction house owes me?

A local auction house--think country auction, not Sotheby level but established-- accepted for consignment several antiques I wanted to auction off. I signed the consignment form, which said sold items will be paid for in 30 days.

After 50 days from the date of the sale where my pieces were up, I called the auction house to inquire about whether my pieces had been sold. Yes they had. So I asked about my check. I would get it soon, I was told.

Nearly a hundred days after the sale, I still have not received that check. So far:
--I have visited the auction house personally and asked for the boss to get back to me, which he hasn't done.
--I have called twice, asking that the boss get back to me. He hasn't.
--I e-mailed a friendly reminder. He did respond, saying it wasn't all that long!!!
--I waited a week and e-mailed a polite but less friendly reminder that the money owed was well beyond the contracted date. I cc'd the Better Business Bureau (which had resolved several previous complaints with this business) on the e-mail.
--Now I'm about to send a registered letter giving the owner a week's deadline to mail my check, after which "I will explore all legal avenues to get my payment."

So, Mefites, are there other things I should be doing paper trail-wise and officially? I plan to file a Better Business Bureau complaint. But what paperwork should I be gathering or generating? What other recourses should I pursue? (Attorney General? Small Claims Court? File a theft claim with the police for taking my goods without paying me then profiting from their sale.)

Should I do all or some these things simultaneously if the check doesn't come in a week after I send the registered letter? The money owed is about $600.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Small business? I'd be willing to bet they're having cash flow problems. Ordinarily I'd see if the Attorney General would do the work for me, but by the time that happens the business may be defunct. I'd send them a letter saying you will sue them in small claims court for the money plus interest if you do not receive the check within a week (they've had enough time to "mail" it). Then do it. Then you can pursue things with the AG, Yelp, the BBB, Angie's List, etc.
posted by grouse at 9:41 AM on October 4, 2012

What state are you in? Some states require that auctioneers be licensed. If you live in one of those states, look into registering a complaint with whatever regulatory body controls auctioneer licensing.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:43 AM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, does the auctioneer list his auctions on Auctionzip.com? I don't know if they'd do anything, but you could complain to Auctionzip, too.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:47 AM on October 4, 2012

If I were you, I'd probably go in with all your documentation and have a conversation with the boss. I've been known to be confrontational, so YMMV. If that's not your style, small claims court may be the way to handle it, given that the amount you'd collect is worth any cost to you.
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:17 AM on October 4, 2012

Small claims court. Now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Also, once you've filed, call The People's Court and see if they'll hear your case.

You'll get a free trip to NY, and if you win, they'll pay you, so you don't have to worry about bankruptcy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:38 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call your newspapers and TV news crews to see if any of them want to bite. There are probably other people getting ripped off. You could also picket their auctions!
posted by rhizome at 12:00 PM on October 4, 2012

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