Monday, December 11, 2023

Twitter’s Auctioning Off Its Stuff. Should You Buy That Giant Neon Bird?

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Auctioneer at the head of an auction house crowd of buyers.

Image source: Getty Images

What happened

Twitter is having a yard sale. Bidding opened at 7:00 a.m. PT Tuesday morning on over 600 items that the social media giant no longer needs, including electronics, furniture, and kitchen appliances. The online auction runs until 10:00 p.m. PT Wednesday (Jan. 18). Registered bidders can pick up a range of items including industrial espresso machines, cases of face masks, beer dispensers, and a neon Twitter bird.

So what

There’s a certain kudos to owning Twitter’s cast-offs. I mean, who doesn’t want to say their sofa came from Twitter HQ? But if you’ve never shopped at an auction before, there are some serious pitfalls to avoid. For example, there’s no warranty on the electrical appliances in Twitter’s sale, so if it breaks, you’re on your own. Plus, there are some hefty fees and you’ll have to stop by Twitter’s San Francisco offices to pick up any purchases yourself.

On a practical level, the Twitter auction is only open to registered bidders. The items on sale are more suited to small businesses, offices, and restaurants than individual shoppers. The starting prices for many items was $25 to $50, but those have already risen sharply in the first few hours of bidding.

If you’re wondering whether Twitter is using the auction to fill some of the gaps on its balance sheet, an auction house representative told Fortune the money raised would be a drop in the ocean. “They’ve sold for $44 billion, and we’re selling a couple of chairs and desks and computers,” said Nick Dove, of Heritage Global Partners. “So if anyone genuinely thinks that the revenue from selling a couple computers and chairs will pay for the mountain there, then they’re a moron.”

Now what

If Twitter’s sale inspired you to enter the world of auctions, these tips could help ensure the adventure isn’t detrimental to your bank account:

  • Set a budget: Auctions are like sale shopping, or in fact any form of shopping. The best way to save money is to know how much you’re prepared to spend before you start bidding.
  • Plan your purchases: Check out the catalog beforehand to identify items you might buy. A plan will help avoid impulse purchases and let you focus on things you know you need. It also means you can research an appropriate price range.
  • Understand the fees: Auction fees can add up and trip up inexperienced auction attendees. For example, successful bidders in Twitter’s auction will pay an extra 18% on top of the hammer price, plus 8.63% in VAT.

Buying at auction can be a great way to save money and find unusual items, particularly if you’re into vintage pieces. Just be aware that there isn’t much in the way of consumer protection, you may not be able to earn credit card rewards on your purchases, and it’s easy to get carried away and spend more than you intended.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Emma Newbery has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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