I wanted to take a moment to reach out and explain the technical issues we faced last night.
As a small business, we use a third party program as our online streaming platform for live bidding. This platform is called Hibid. We have been using Hibid since 2015 and until last night not experienced any major technical problems. This platform allows us to integrate the bidding platform within our website – but more importantly does not have a buyer’s premium surcharge so that online bidders pay the same BP that in-house bidders do.
Unfortunately, yesterday we faced the mother of all technical issues. Beginning at approximately 3:30 PM, our clerks noticed that the platform was not performing as it should. It was slow to respond, freezing up and glitching. We took a moment to log out of the program, shut down the browser and relaunch. This “restart” seemed to fix the issues (or so we thought).
At 5:30 PM, the issues began again and by 5:55 PM – online bidding was down completely. We attempted to log on to the platform with another computer and kept getting DNS error messages. We called emergency support and left a message – as all representatives were busy with other calls.
I continued to try to log in and found that the website server had gone down completely. [May I note here that the company chose March 8th from 6 AM – 7 AM central time to do an “update”]. Hibid’s server remained down until 7:11 PM. At which, point we did receive a call from tech support letting us know that they had transitioned to a back-up server. We did log back on and finish the sale.
As you know, our auctions consist of both Live in-house and live online bidders. When the platform crashed yesterday, we faced the difficult reality that we would have to continue auction with in-house bidders only – knowing that we could not see OR execute the pre-bids left by our online bidders – NOR could we advance the bidding with online participation.
What this means for many of our online bidders is that we could not see your pre-bids and therefore were unable to execute them. As we are an absolute auction (handling many estates that must be settled) all lots were sold last night – a significant number with only live in-house bidders.
At the end of the night, we reconciled the auction online (after the auction ended) and found cataloged lots that had pre-bids – because of the issues these lots were sold to in-house bidders. The platform does not allow us to over-ride these bids (post auction) and show the actual price realized and that it went to an in-house “floor” bidder. Therefore, those lots now show “lot was passed” as the status. I understand, as an online bidder, how frustrating that must be.
The bottom line is we lost money, our consignors lost money and MORE IMPORTANTLY this issue left a bad taste in many a bidders’ mouth.
While I will be speaking with AuctionFlex/Hibid today, I am asking that you take a moment and reach out to them (352) 414-1947 or [email protected] and let them know the full impact of their poorly timed update and subsequent server crash.
From our end, we will be looking at ways to have hard copy (non-cloud based) pre-bid back-ups and procedures in place should such an issue arise in the future.
I hope you will accept our sincere apologies for the frustrating experience yesterday and give us another chance at our next auction on March 22nd.
Heather R. Kohler
Gateway Gallery Auction