Frequently Asked Questions

COVID UPDATE
In recent years, all our auctions have run on an online only basis, hosted on the BidSpotter/i-Bidder platforms. The majority of lots are located at our Manchester auction site.

Throughout the various restrictions and lockdowns as a result of COVID-19, our online auctions have continued to run smoothly however it is important to be aware of the following points.

  • Viewing in person is still strongly recommended and indeed deemed to have taken place by all bidders. Viewing is held in a COVID compliant manner, with sanitising stations, social distancing, mask wearing (visitors and staff) and regular fogging to sanitise the areas concerned.

    Our sales are deemed suitable for trade buyers only and visiting for the purposes of viewing is therefore a business related journey, not personal. It is however impossible for Robson Kay to comment on any individual bidder’s circumstances with regards to whether the journey is acceptable or not.
  • Payment now takes place online only, as our cashiering staff work remotely from home. This means credit card, debit card or bank transfer. Cash is no longer an acceptable form of payment and cards cannot be used in person at our premises to make payment.
  • As with the viewing, collection takes place in a fully COVID compliant manner. For the majority of auctions, bidders wait in their vehicle, in our carpark, for goods to be brought out, following which they can exit their vehicle and load.

    As with viewing, whilst the journey itself is definitively for business purposes, we cannot comment on the specific circumstances of any individual buyer.
  • If any bidder feels uncomfortable with or unable to follow the rules of auction, please do not bid.


What type of assets do you sell by auction?
There is very little that we have not sold in the last 20 years.

Whilst we very regularly sell cars and commercial vehicles, IT and office equipment/furniture, plant & machinery and tradestocks, we have also sold far more unusual items, from planes and boats to the most niche of specialist machinery.

We primarily sell the assets of insolvent companies for insolvency practitioners (Liquidators and Administrators), hence the variety.

Do you sell assets outside auction?
We occasionally advertise physical assets in the Assets For Sale section of our website. We also sometimes sell assets by way of tender. The vast majority of the physical assets that we sell are sold by auction and once assets are advertised for sale by auction, we do not entertain offers to buy goods outside auction.

How often do you hold an auction?
We typically hold between one and three sales per month although the intervals vary greatly depending upon the instructions that we receive. We have been known to hold more than one sale in the same week and there have also been periods as long as six weeks without an auction sale.

Where are the assets located?
The majority of assets are moved to our premises in South Manchester before we then market them for sale, however we sometimes sell assets in situ. This can vary from the odd item (for instance a large production line) or in some instances, leaving the total assets of an insolvent company in situ meaning the entire auction is of goods located at a site other than our own.

How do I know when your next auction sale is?
Please subscribe to our mailing list to receive free regular newsletter updates including details of new auctions and any other opportunities to acquire assets.

Do you sell properties by auction?
We are regularly instructed to sell properties, however this is the one class of asset that we very rarely auction, instead selling most properties by private treaty – please look at the relevant section of our website for details of properties currently on our books.

Do you offer any form of guarantee?
No. We act as agent to insolvency practitioners and often have little information from the previous owners. The goods might not work and/or may be misdescribed, however no warranties or guarantees are offered.

We most strongly recommend that bidders inspect goods to their satisfaction before bidding – no allowance will be made for failure to view.

What is the difference between an online sale and a live sale?
A live auction sale tends to involve a rostrum with an auctioneer, bidders seated in an auction hall and live physical bidding, selling the lots in numerical sequence. Occasionally a "webcast" option is offered which allows one to view a live sale on one's computer and bid remotely.

Like many auctioneers in our sector of the industry however, Robson Kay primarily hold online only auctions meaning that all the bidding is carried out online, with no actual "auctioneer".

Our online sales are hosted by BidSpotter, with a typical sale being marketed for one to three weeks in advance, whilst the bidding itself typically takes place for several days until a fixed time when the bidding ceases.

The first lot typically closes at 12 noon with each successive lot closing at very short intervals (10 – 30 seconds) thereafter.

Can I still view the assets in online sales?
We strongly recommend that bidders only bid on lots they have inspected to their satisfaction and if you cannot attend the official viewing day, we encourage bidders to contact our office to make an appointment to view on an alternative date.

How do I register?
If you have never used the BidSpotter platform before, you will need to register an account with BidSpotter online, which will include setting up a password. Please ensure that you never give your password to anybody who is not authorised to bid on your account as you will be held liable for all bidding activity.

Once you have set up your BidSpotter account, you can then add in details of one or more credit/debit card which can be used in a variety of different ways, including registration and payment.

Each time you wish to bid in a specific auction, whether a Robson Kay sale or a sale being held by another auctioneer on BidSpotter, you will need to "sign up" to that sale. Each auctioneer uses a slightly different method of approving bidders and may actually vary the rules from auction to auction. In the instance of Robson Kay auctions on BidSpotter, you are required to select a card which is then checked with the card provider electronically to ensure the address matches up for identification purposes.

We manually approve bidders who pass the security check which means outside office hours you will need to wait until we are next open before you are approved – it is our strong recommendation that you sign up to auctions well in advance.

If we have any doubt as to the identity of a bidder, or if there is a history of non-payment (in Robson Kay auctions or any other auctioneer on BidSpotter) and in particular if you have been blocked by other auctioneers, we normally decline registrations.

We also sometimes send through a payment request, which provides a facility for bidders to leave a refundable deposit.

Please ensure that you read all the rules before signing up to any auction and in particular that you are able to pay by one of the approved methods and collect in time.

Do you deliver?
No. It is up to purchasers to provide necessary labour, lifting tackle, vehicles and anything else required to remove the goods.

We would suggest that buyers of small items contact Mail Boxes on 0161 445 0444 who can arrange to package and post goods out, with buyers paying Mail Boxes directly for same.

Please note that we do not package goods, load goods, put labels on goods, etc. We are frequently asked by buyers to make an exception for them and we would courteously suggest that all bidders ensure they are prepared to make the necessary arrangements for carriage/collection before they bid, as refusal by Robson Kay to assist can offend.

We do offer buyers the use of our forklift truck and driver to assist with the loading of goods at our premises (which is subject to a small charge), however we will only load items that our driver considers a safe load. We will not under any circumstances load items onto a pallet prior to loading the pallet itself nor do we offer any other form of assistance with collections/loading other than the aforementioned use of the forklift truck.

It is not uncommon for buyers to send carriers, various forms of vehicles with drivers, etc who have not been properly briefed and expect us to load onto their vehicles. We would again reiterate that we do not assist with carriage and buyers must ensure prior to bidding that they are capable of arranging collection of goods from where they lie.

Can I sell my goods through Robson Kay?
No, we normally only accept goods from insolvency practitioners and finance companies although we do consider occasional one-off sales, particularly as a result of factory closures, restructuring, downsizing, etc.

What are acceptable forms of payment?
We take credit/debit cards (no surcharge) or bank transfer as acceptable forms of payment. We do not take cash, cheques, or bank drafts.

Can I change my mind after I have bid?
No. A bid is a legally binding commitment. Please also note that should you give your BidSpotter password to anyone else, whether a family member, a business colleague or a friend, you will be held liable to pay for the goods that are bid upon.

Do you have reserves?
The nature of online auctions is such that we have to put a reserve price on every lot, however the vast majority of lots have a nominal reserve equivalent to the opening (minimum bid) price.

We do occasionally have larger reserves to protect our clients, especially if selling goods which have outstanding finance. Please note that we sometimes lower the reserve level during an auction and you therefore may bid on a lot which shows "reserve not met" but later during the sale, see a change to "reserve met".

Please bear in mind when bidding that an item you may think you have not been successful upon (as the reserve looks not to be met) may indeed become yours at a later stage if we drop the reserve.

What surcharges are applied to the hammer price?
The vast majority of lots we sell are subject to a buyer's premium, which is normally 17.5% plus VAT although every lot will have a note next to it on the BidSpotter website confirming the level of the buyer's premium.

Most lots are also subject to VAT on the hammer price, however sometimes the seller is not registered for VAT and/or the goods themselves are zero rated. In such instances, the descriptions will indicate same, however the VAT on the buyer's premium is always charged, regardless of whether the item itself is subject to VAT or not.

Do you exempt items from VAT for exporters?
We are happy in principle for exporters not to pay VAT, however:

  • The VAT on the buyer's premium can never be zero rated under any circumstances.
  • We will ordinarily require bidders to pay a deposit amount equivalent to the VAT which we then refund when we receive the appropriate paperwork.
  • If you register for the sale using a UK address, we can never refund the VAT under any circumstances whatsoever.
  • We reserve the right to charge a £50 administrative fee for dealing with export-related VAT refunds, which means on purchases of a low financial level, it is often not cost-effective for the purchaser.
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