What is an online auction

Virtual Bargain Hunting: Rules for Online Auctions

If you don't want to experience an expensive flop at auctions on the Internet, you should take a few tips to heart:


If the seller posts his offer on one of the auction platforms, he is generally bound by it. As soon as a buyer has submitted a bid, the provider can only withdraw his offer in special cases, for example if the offered item has been lost or destroyed in the meantime.


What should go under the hammer virtually should be described as precisely as possible. Even in the auction title, it is advisable to name the brand, size and color exactly. Attention: The goods must really have the listed positive properties. In addition, known defects must not be concealed. The offer now also includes a photo - almost nothing works without it at auctions on the Internet.


If you list goods, you pay a fee and, if you sell them, an additional commission. The fees vary - depending on the starting price specified by the seller and the sales price achieved. It is therefore advisable to choose a starting price that is not too high. Under the terms of eBay, these costs are not to be demanded from the buyer.


Most sellers require prepayment by bank transfer or PayPal. If the buyer does not pay, the seller should ask him to transfer the agreed amount within a reasonable period of time - around a week. If the customer does not react to this either, the seller can withdraw from the contract. The seller should notify the auction platform within the allotted time if the buyer does not pay. Auction platforms have rules that must be adhered to in order to get the seller's commission reimbursed in the event of cancellation.

For a small surcharge, purchases can usually be settled via an auctioneer's interim account or an escrow account. The seller only receives his money after the goods have been delivered. Sometimes the buyer even has the right to inspect the goods.


In the case of sales via Internet platforms, the buyer usually bears the shipping costs. With regard to liability for loss or damage to the purchased item, a distinction must be made between:

A so-called mail order purchase is regularly agreed between private individuals. The seller bears the risk of loss or damage to the goods until he has handed them over to a shipping company. If the goods do not reach the buyer, the seller must therefore be able to prove that he has sent them. It is advisable to keep the delivery note of the transport company or to hand in the auctioned goods under witnesses.

If the seller can prove that he has dispatched the goods, he does not need to deliver them again if they are lost or damaged. In such a case, however, the buyer still has to pay for the lost or damaged item. However, he can contact the shipping company if he would like to have his damage reimbursed.

In the relationship between entrepreneur and consumer, the regulation on sales by mail does not apply. In this case, the selling company continues to bear the risk of loss or damage to the purchased item, even after it has been handed over to a shipping company.

Guarantee of private providers

Private sellers can exclude the legally required two-year warranty for their goods. However, this must be clearly indicated, for example by the wording "It is a private sale. The statutory guarantee is excluded". If this exclusion is missing, the private seller will also guarantee that the goods are free of defects for two years.

Private sellers who often offer goods on auction platforms and use identical contract models should be particularly careful when formulating a warranty disclaimer. If the disclaimer is used more than twice in a short period of time, it could be a general terms and conditions. Then the text would have to meet the particularly strict requirements of the general terms and conditions law and should not exclude possible liability for gross negligence.

The exclusion of warranty should therefore be formulated as follows: "It is a private sale. The statutory warranty is excluded. Any claims due to injury to life, body or health as well as gross negligence are not excluded."

Guarantee of commercial providers

Anyone who bids at commercial auctions can insist on the regular warranty rights. If the goods to be auctioned are used items, the entrepreneur can shorten the warranty period to one year. However, this must be done before the contract is concluded. And the entrepreneur must clearly point this out.

In the case of defective goods, customers can request a repair or replacement delivery. If the repair fails twice, you can usually ask for a discount or return the goods and ask for the purchase price back.

Right of withdrawal

Anyone who, as a private consumer, buys goods or services from a commercial provider at Internet auctions can in principle revoke the contract. The entrepreneur must inform the consumer about this in a clear and understandable form before concluding the contract. He must inform him of the conditions, deadlines and the procedure for exercising the right of withdrawal. The entrepreneur does not have to adhere to any particular form. It is therefore sufficient if this information is on the supply side. The deadline for revocation depends on whether the information was correct or incorrect:

  • Proper information prior to the conclusion of the contract, for example via the offer page: The period in which a revocation is possible begins at the earliest with the receipt of the goods. Thereafter, the customer has 14 days to withdraw from the contract.
  • Information about the right of withdrawal: The 14-day period does not start before the entrepreneur has informed the customer of the right of withdrawal.
  • No or incorrect instruction: If the consumer is not informed or not properly informed, the withdrawal period runs a maximum of one year and 14 days from the conclusion of the contract.

However, something of "Private to private" auctioned, a revocation is not possible.