Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions asked by our Calgary Auction customers.

    What are public auction sales?

    An auction (or auction house) is the public sale or purchase of products through a mutually agreed bidding system. The auctioneer starts at a price typically lower than the suggested retail/resale value and accepts bids from interested attendees or customers. The item is then sold ‘as is’ to the highest bidder. We are proud to be hosting Calgary Auctions since 1995 — learn more about Graham Auctions.

    How does the auction work?

    We hold a wide variety of public auction sales. We host Online Auctions every week.  The sale opens at the beginning of the week, and grows as we upload more product each day to the sale. There is a soft close on Saturday to close that week's auction (until the next week). We sell a wide range of quality furniture, electronics, tools, household items and clothing — followed by our weekly car auction, which runs hundreds of vehicles through the auction ring. We also host Light Industrial and Heavy Equipment Auctions throughout the year.

    • Our auctions are free to sign up.
    • You can register to bid both online or in-person.
    • You can choose to bid online through your desktop or mobile device.
    • Online bidding is available until auction time the morning of our sale. (Typically 8 AM, unless otherwise specified).
    • Customers who prefer to only participate in our online auctions can pick up any items the following week.
    • The live liquidation auction begins at 9 AM and goes until all items have sold.
    • The online car auction starts at approximately 12:30 PM.

    We’re confident you’ll love the awesome deals and unique buying experience. However, if you still feel unsure, we’d love to answer any questions you may have, or help you register in any of our upcoming auctions. Feel free to give us a call during our business hours and one of our staff members would be happy to help you every step of the way.

    Glossary Of Auction Terminology

    What do you call a person / group who runs Auctions?

    An Auctioneer or Auction company is the group or individual conducting or hosting the auction sale. They announce/enforce the rules of the auction and the lots or item(s) being auctioned off. They also call out or acknowledge bids and announce the auction winner. Alternatively, an auction company can contract auctioneers to conduct various auction sales.

    Absentee Bids / Absentee Bidder

    An absentee bid is a form of bidding for customers that are either not able to attend the auction in person. You can place absentee bids at our main office or you can pre-bid for one of our online auctions through our website.

    What is an Auction sale?

    An absentee bid is a form of bidding for customers that are either not able to attend the auction in person. You can place absentee bids at our main office or you can pre-bid for one of our online auctions through our website.

    What are the rules of an Auction sale?

    During an auction sale, there can be a massive variety of assets, goods and services made available for purchase that otherwise would not be under other circumstances. In some instances, certain items may be sold as a group, yet will still be considered as the same lot. Each lot is subject to a separate contract of sale. The sale of an individual lot during the auction sale is complete once the auctioneer announces the highest bidder/auction winner. This may be accomplished in numerous ways, by calling out the winning bid number after the auction direct from the auctioneer/auction staff, or through the customary action of falling the gavel (see below). Prospective or interested buyers can continue bidding until the completion of the sale is announced by the auctioneer. In the event that a seller has not notified the auction company/auctioneer of their intent to reserve the right to bid, he or she may not be permitted to do so under any circumstances. The auctioneer will not accept such bids from the seller or the representative bidding on their behalf during any auction sale contravening this rule.

    What is an Auction Lot?

    An auction lot is a word for an individual or group of items that are offered for sale via auction. Every lot is given a number in the auction catalogue so that it is easy to find and identify for the customers, auctioneers and auction staff.

    What do you call someone who bids at an auction?

    A bidder is a term for an interested buyer or customer who is actively participating in the auction. You can be a bidder by physically participating in a live auction at the auction venue, or you can be a virtual or online bidder by participating in an online auction.

    What is a bid?

    A bid is how auction attendees set and determine the price of the item being sold or auctioned off. Interested buyers bid in ascending increments until a final price is determined. The starting price and bid increments will be determined by the auctioneer based on bidder interest or activity. Being the highest bidder means you are willing to pay more than the other competing buyers, in which case you win the auction item.

    How do I bid?

    Once you register to participate in one of our public auctions, there are two ways to bid:

    1.) Online Auction - Register in the popup window that appears when entering the auction online. From there, scroll through the auction site until you find an item you’re interested in — click the “Bid” button. You will be taken to a confirmation screen asking you to “Confirm” or “Cancel” your bid. If you have previously attended one of our auctions in Calgary, or are a resident, you should be quickly approved. If you sign up to bid in one of our online auctions with an address outside Alberta — we may attempt direct contact via phone or email before to confirm some details before you are approved to bid. When bidding in one of our Online Auctions on a lot with multiple quantities, you are bidding on all amounts in that lot times the money.

    Eg. Lot 150 Leather Office Chairs x 2 - Current Bid: $25.00

    If bidding online, you would be bidding on two office chairs at $25 each.

    Please note: When confirming your bid, you will enter into a legally binding contract with the auction house. This will cover your successful bid and applicable premiums and taxes to the buyer.

    2.) Live Webcast Auction - If you want to bid in real time at one of our Public Auctions, you can easily do so by registering on our site or by calling our main office. For new buyers, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the bidding process before making a bid. The auctioneer will begin each lot at the lowest viable price for each item and increase in ascending increments (see below) as interested buyers raise their bid numbers to indicate the amount they are willing to pay. This continues until there is only one buyer left, at which point the auctioneer will call out the winning bid number and move onto the next lot. Winning bids are simultaneously being entered into our computer system so that when you are ready to checkout, everything will be prepared for you. We've also prepared this handy guide to help you learn how to bid in an Online Auction.

    Sealed Bid

    Occasionally, the auction house will allow will offer bids for tender by Sealed Bid. Bidders will submit their offers secretly, and the highest offer determines the winner.

    Bid Increments

    A bid increment is the dollar amount that the auctioneer increases bidding based on buyer interest. This can be rounded up or down anytime at the auctioneer's discretion. An example of bid increments might be starting or increasing the increment by $5 for items under $100, or $25 for items valued at $500. As the bid price increases in a bidding war, the increments would increase as well.

    Conditions of Sale

    All purchases are final and subject to our Terms and Conditions, which can be found in the online auction catalogue or on your bid card. Please read these carefully before you register for the auction or make a bid. By registering to bid online or at one of our auctions in person, you are indicating a full understanding and acceptance of these terms.

    What is a Consignor?

    A consignor is a term for an individual, group or business — who are the legal owner of an item that has contracted the auction / auctioneer to act on their behalf in selling their personal property at auction.

    Fair Market Value

    By definition, fair market value is the selling price in which an item or piece of property would sell for on the open market. In this case, a customer might ask, “What is the market value of my car in Canada?” Buying or selling at a car auction is a great way to achieve this as it is a competitive buying environment. We have an industry-savvy auction staff and also offer resources like the Canadian Black Book to help determine a reserve price or starting bid.

    What is an Auction Gavel?

    A gavel is a customary mallet crafted from premium hardwood, fashioned with a decorative handle. Gavels are used in both legislatures and courts of law in Canada and the United States. Still, they are ceremonially used around the world to signify the completion of an auction sale.

    Internet Bidding

    During one of our online auctions, bidders can take part in it. An auction assistant monitors our computer and relays the bid information to the Auctioneer.

    Live & Online Auctions

    For our Liquidation, Vehicle, Light Industrial and Heavy Equipment Auctions, we offer live online bidding via our website. This is so customers that aren’t able to attend the auction can bid in real-time. Online Auctions allow the auctioneer to simultaneously accept online bids against those attending the auction in person.

    Minimum Opening Bid

    The lowest viable price that will be accepted by the auctioneer, this is generally based on the Fair Market Value system (see above).

    Passed, Unsold & Conditional Sales

    When an Auction Lot doesn’t meet its Reserve Price (see below) or the auctioneer does not receive a bid, the item will be passed. We typically attempt to resell any surplus lots that are passed in one of our next upcoming auctions. However, if this is a repeat occurrence on a vehicle or consigned item, we will direct this to the attention of the owner/consignor. If a response is not received on a consigned item within two weeks, the item will either be removed from our warehouse or sold for storage. Under certain circumstances (e.g. Bank Repos & Consigned Vehicles), an auction sale may be completed, and the highest bidder recorded. However, the sale will be marked as a Conditional Sale. This means that the item likely has a reserve price (see above), and the auction staff needs to contact the bank, consignor or owner to verify the offer price before approving the final sale.

    Reserve Price

    The Reserve Price is the minimum accepted purchase amount set confidentially between the owner/consignor and the auction house. This means that the auctioneer will not sell any goods or services below the listed reserve price. We accept reserves for our auto auction and offer recommendations based on market value (see above). Reserve prices are not applied during our furniture, electronics, miscellaneous, bank repo (asset liquidation) or salvage auction sales. Once a month, Graham Auctions hosts a monthly No-Reserve Car Auction.

    Ringman / Bidspotter

    A ringman (sometimes referred to as a bidspotter) helps customers communicate with the auctioneer by conveying bids to the attention of the auctioneer. This is especially helpful during a public auction as the crowd can often create miscommunication, or for those who are new to the concept of auction sales.

    What is a Silent Auction?

    Silent Auctions differ from regular auctions. Buyers and attendees will submit their high bids for their item of interest on a ballot or piece of paper that is often waiting out front of each auction lot. The Silent Auction will close at the predetermined time set by the auction coordinators, and the highest bidder on each sheet of paper will be the auction winner for that lot. Silent Auctions are typically used to raise money for a charitable event, social cause or non-profit organization. The silent aspect refers to the fact that there isn't an auctioneer actively selling the goods or services. Still, rather silent bidders participate on their own accord. Silent auctions most commonly utilize fixed bid increments and starting auction price. Newcomers who feel intimidated by the action of a live auction may enjoy the subtle introduction to the auction process by first participating as a silent bidder for a cause that they consider important.

    Terms & Conditions of Sale

    All auction sales are final and are subject to our Terms & Conditions. These conditions can be found in our online auction catalogue, at the reception desk, and also here. Please read the relevant conditions carefully before making a bid. Registering to bid or attending the auction indicates full understanding and acceptance of these terms along with the agreement.

    What is the auction price?

    The auction price is determined based on the last remaining person participating in the sale of a given lot during the auction. This means that the auction winner was willing to pay more for that given item than other interested buyers.

    What is sniping in an Auction?

    Auction sniping is the strategic practice and execution of placing a winning bid or bid that is likely to exceed the current high bid. Auction sniping primarily occurs if the current auction price is hidden, as late as humanly possible during a timed online auction. Auction Snipers are one of the great frustrations of online auction participants and auctioneers alike. Auction sniping typically occurs in the last remaining seconds of an online auction, allowing other interested bidders no time to outbid the sniper.

    What do auctioneers say so fast?

    Auctioneers aren't just talking fast; the craft of the auctioneer is learned and practiced. What they are doing is following a conversational rhythmic pattern of numbers in either ascending or descending order based on the bidding interest of the auction attendees. A good auctioneer will engage potential buyers, keep track of the auction count in real-time during the sale, and simultaneously control their breathing so that they can maintain this pace over extended periods. If you want to see if you have the chops to be an auctioneer, there are dozens of places to attend auction school in Canada or the US, or you can be trained in-house by an auctioneering company. Skilled auctioneers even partake in auction competitions such as the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

    Buyers Premium

    Miscellaneous auction items are subject to a buyer’s premium, which is an additional 10% added to the highest bid. This determines your final purchase price.

    Winning bids in the Car Auction are subject to buyer’s premium based on the following amounts (Vehicles Only):

    Car Auction Sale Price

    Buyers Fee

    Online Buyers Fee

    $0 - $975
    $1000 - $1975
    $2000 - $2975
    $3000 - $3975
    $4000 - $4975
    $5000 and above

    For Calgary Auction Customers

    How do I pick up my purchases?

    So you’ve won your bids either in-person or through our online auction. What now? You will receive an email invoice with a list summarizing your items, quantity of items and purchase prices. We may also reach out to you over the phone. You can pay for your purchase by contacting our main office via phone or email. If you are a previous bidder, we will process your purchase automatically (with your permission). It is then the responsibility of the purchaser to pick up their items in our warehouse Monday-Friday from the hours of 9-5 PM, or Saturday from 8-4 PM.

    We encourage you to pick up your auction items as soon as possible. We will hold your retail items, appliances or furniture in our warehouse for up to three days after the auction. If you don’t pick up your items after two weeks, we will attempt to contact you before then reselling them for storage. We've also prepared this resource about our new Calgary Curbside Pickup initiative.

    What forms of payment does Graham Auctions accept?

    Graham Auctions accepts cash, Certified Cheque, Bank Draft, Money Order, Visa, Mastercard and Interac Debit, Electronic Wire Transfer and E-Transfer.

    Does Graham Auctions offer shipping?

    We can accommodate most shipping requests if arrangements are made by phone or via You will be charged for the costs of shipping plus a small handling fee.

    When can I bring in consignment items to sell in the auction?

    • We accept consignments for our weekly Public Auction on Monday-Tuesday the week of the sale.
    • If you are looking to sell your vehicle in the car auction, you can do so up until 10 AM on the day of the sale.
    • For consignments in our Light Industrial & Heavy Equipment Auction — We have a separate secure storage yard that allows us to take consignment items at any time, contact our Equipment Manager at

    How do I see what’s available in the Upcoming Auctions?

    We’ve made it easy for you to find whatever it is you are looking for — You can search, view and bid on available items as it’s updated throughout the week in our online auction catalogueWe also post updated Product Listings every week, highlighting the featured products / lots for every one of our auction sales.

    Pre-Owned / Open Box / Salvage Items

    In some cases, our products arrive with a previously open box. We test and inspect as many items as we can as our warehouse staff sets up the auction. We do our best to be fully transparent about any damage or wear on an item in the product description of our online auction catalogue.

    All products are sold as-is. It is the responsibility of the buyer to contact the auction staff to inquire/inspect each item or as well as thoroughly read the description before bidding.

    Returns / Exchanges

    We’re passionate about customer service and do our best to help as much as we can. If there is a mistake on our behalf making product declarations on a damaged or defective item, we will do everything we can to make the situation right.

    Are all of your products authentic?

    We’re proud to offer our customers fantastic deals on well-known brands, and all of our online auction products are guaranteed 100% authentic. We do not sell “bootleg” or “reproduction” products.

    Do my auction purchases come with a warranty?

    Unfortunately, we do not offer warranties with our products. This is out of our control. However, we try to counteract this with a very generous refund and exchange policy.

    How long can a vehicle stay in your secure storage yard?

    Buying a vehicle
    If you purchase a vehicle in the car auction, you must pay within two banking days and pick it up within two weeks.

    Selling a vehicle
    When you book your vehicle into the auction, it can stay in our secure storage lot for as long as it takes to sell. This is assuming you are willing to accept offers reflecting Fair Market Value (see above).

    We've prepared this resource to help you buy or sell your car in an auction.

    Do your vehicles run?

    Yes, all vehicles booked into the auto auction must be in running condition unless otherwise stated/declared the buyers.

    What if I buy a vehicle that has a lien on it?

    We run lien/title searches on all vehicles booked into the auction to ensure they are free and clear of all liens and encumbrances. Should there be a lien on any car, we will use the purchase price to pay out the remainder of the lien. If the purchase price does not cover the amount owing, we will notify you as soon as possible and refund the vehicle purchase price.

    What types of products does Graham Auctions sell?

    There are too many to list here. We’ve had everything you can imagine come through our Calgary Public Auction, some of the main categories include:
    We steadily continue to add new products to our auction inventory, don’t forget to check out our online auction catalogue for the latest products coming through the auction!

    Contact Information for Support

    We appreciate the feedback we get from our customers! Making customers happy is our priority. If something doesn’t seem right, reach out and let us know!

    You can contact us with any inquiries at, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    Terms & Conditions / Privacy Policy

    Read our Terms & Conditions + Privacy Policy here.

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