|Action||General Regulatory Reduction Initiative|
|Comment Period||Ends 3/15/2023|
To Whom it May Concern,
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute an opinion on deregulating the auction industry in Virginia. My name is Ben Wagner and I am in the farm, garden and heavy equipment industry. I both buy and sell machinery at auction. I spend thousands of dollars a year buying. I trust auctioneers to sell any slow moving inventory. I am not alone; most of my friends in similar businesses buying and selling equipment schedule their time around these auction sales. Auctions are an essential part of our businesses.
As a regular seller and buyer at numerous auctions with many different auctioneers and auction firms, I am concerned that this deregulation attempt is dangerous for Virginia's citizens.
Auctioneers do more than just talk fast, call bids and wear cowboy hats. As sellers, we trust them to represent our "interest" and monetary investment in whatever the item is that we are selling. That item might be a ten cent knick-knack or a $80,000 farm tractor. After that item sells and the buyer takes it home, we trust the auctioneer to deliver to us the dollar results of that sale. Current Virginia licensed auctioneers call that a fiduciary responsibility, and it is a serious concern to hear that deregulating Virginia's auction industry will allow unscrupulous folks to run wild with no thought of that responsibility.
Without the current regulation and licensing, how do I know as a seller that I can trust my $80,000 farm tractor to this cowboy hat-wearing man who shows up with smooth talk and big empty promises? How do I know that I will get paid once he takes both my tractor and the buying customer's money? This is a cause for concern!
The current auctioneer license law requires the use of an escrow account and timely disbursement of funds. The guarantees accountability for these funds. The auctioneer licensing law also require that auctioneers be properly bonded in case an issue arises. These regulations within the auction industry ensure the protection of the public, their assets, and their funds.
These regulations ensure the protection of me as a seller. These regulations allow me to trust auctioneers across the state.
If you will, imagine the chaos that could happen with no licensing and an immoral, unscrupulous, crooked auctioneer. Not only could I be defrauded as a seller who gave up my tractor and never got paid, the buyer also could be defrauded as well with expensive lawsuits, title delivery issues, etc.
With that chaos in the Virginia auction industry, any money and personnel saved by eliminating an auction license could be consumed by investigating potential cases of fraud.
The elimination of the auctioneer license and regulations will open the door to unscrupulous persons in the auction industry. I've seen issues already with unlicensed tag sales, estate sales, and especially online auction companies that have taken advantage of unsuspecting Virginians trying to settle estates or downsize. These unsuspecting Virginians are now looking to the state to help ensure this doesn't happen again.
As a businessman, I can assure you that without the assurance of a real Virginia administered auctioneering license, I will be forced to consider taking my inventory to be sold in states where auctioneers are held responsible for their actions. I'll be one of many sellers who take their property out of state to places where I have at least the reassurance that the auctioneer is under regulation to do his job. The auction industry in Virginia is huge. Millions of dollars trade hands every year through the work of Virginia auctioneers.
As a fellow resident of Virginia, I am sure you want to see this million dollar auction business stay profitable. Auctions bring in tens of thousands of dollars yearly in sales tax revenue to the state. We don't want to see that revenue go across other state lines.
In conclusion, as a seller and buyer at auctions across the state spending thousands of dollar a year both buying and selling equipment, I am firmly against any attempt to deregulate the auction industry in Virginia.
Virginia's licensed auctioneers are currently held to a high standard of professionalism and accountability. I respectfully ask that we keep it that way!
Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have further questions I would be happy to answer them.