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The AHS Online Auction

  • Subject: The AHS Online Auction
  • From: "Bill Meyer" njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2002 14:56:17 -0500

 Hi Everyone,
         The following message has been passed to me from Don Dean, who is the
AHS Auction Chairman. Don is the guy running the AHS Online Auction now up at
http://auction.hosta.org/auction/auction/default.asp  This message is for
everyone, so if you are on a list other than this one, please pass a copy on
to that list too.

Greetings to all,

The first AHS on-line auction is underway and has proven to be a great success
in some ways but it has fallen short of our goals in others. It has
encountered its share of glitches along the way. Modeled after other
successful sites, it has been designed and created with much forethought and
discussion. It is, however, different in its needs than other on-line
auctions. Much has been learned and discovered as the process evolved, and
more has been learned once it was up and running. The latter has placed plans
for changes in future events into action before this one is completed. This
need for evaluation and adjustment was anticipated; problems, oversights, and
surprises are typical with any first time endeavors of this magnitude.

Many of these problems have been addressed in detail in a recent entry to one
of the robins. Rather than be redundant in trying to restate what I had shared
with him and he relayed, I have copied his message below. I am not on any of
the robins so have not been privy to their content but understand there were a
number of questions and concerns expressed. Please accept my assurance that
the handful of individuals that devoted innumerable hours toward providing the
on-line auction had every intention to making this a fun and enjoyable
experience for all. Some positives have arisen out of what began as apparent

Two volunteers have stepped forward to assist in making this activity work
with positive energy and solutions by volunteering their time. Mike Shadrack
has developed a plan for the BHHS and the UK that can stand as a model for
other local and national groups to follow in resolving the problems of
non-U.S. delivery and use of U.S. funds for those unable to use a Master or
Visa card. The world is evolving toward easier currency exchange. To stay
current so should we. Rudolf Hansen has stepped up to resolve these same
issues for other European Union countries. Bravo and welcome aboard! The
undertaking is far too large for three individuals that have been working on
it to meet everyone's wants and needs. We encourage others to follow suit and
step forward to help design and provide services of delivery within their
respective groups. It is manageable and affordable in this manner. We also
remind all to use the proper government Phytosanitary systems in making these

Plans to change the software to include easy registration and bidding by all
those in and out of the contiguous U.S. are being discussed and considered as
to how and when. Doing so during the running of this particular auction is a
risky endeavor with the amount of data already stored! The address issue is
purely an oversight for which I accept responsibility. I never pulled the
entire menu down during any of the several trial runs after seeing non U.S.
countries listed (ie. Puerto Rico - DUH slightly connected!).

Any inconvenience in placing bids will be cleared up in the future. Providing
more creative individuals step up into a positive role, so too should the
delivery be simplified for those outside the U.S.

Bill Meyer's letter follows. He suggests possible Canada, UK, etc. delivery
only plants. I do not suggest this to donors primarily due to cutting 85-90%
of bidders out of the action and devaluing your plant donation. These auctions
are a great place to establish a high value for your plant. However, it is a
choice the donor will need to make. Since it is a change in the rules stated
in the agreement each bidder made upon registering, MAKE SURE THIS IS CLEARLY
not something we can regulate from this end. The donor may have to straighten
out any misunderstanding resulting from this decision for the auction software
won't when sending out notice to the high bidder. Limiting who may bid is not
possible. It throws our group backwards into the same predicament with intent
and design rather than an inadvertent oversight of the limitations of the
technology being used!

A system with reciprocating international delivery options seems to be in
order. Envision a U.S. and international connection if you would. A liaison
representing each country or continental region where our members reside could
work with a U.S. based individual to act as a collection and redistribution
point. Delivery within each political boundary becomes the standard
expectation for donors and is already standardized (ie. A set rate determined
by weight). Added expenses for added service equal to the cost of the service
(Phytosanitary certificate and additional postage) would then become the
responsibility of the high bidder. It must be sent to the liaison (or their
representative) prior to the plant making the next leg of its journey to a new

Please bear with us as we try to work this out. This is far more complex than
previously imagined.



Auction Chair

p.s. One more plug for plants! Enter from your own computer, or if you need
assistance, send a description and photo to one of the addresses on the site.

Hi everyone in other countries,

        Sorry to take so long getting back to you on this subject. I had a
problem with my mail not going through to one of the people in the discussion.
Depending on where you live, I may have good news. If you live in the UK or
can get there, the post below mine here will be a pleasant surprise, but I
don't know if anything can be done for those who can't get there. As you'll
see when you read it, Mike Shadrack on behalf of the British Hosta and
Hermerocallis Society will endeavor to make it possible for BHHS members to
bid in the auction.

        The AHS itself is still unable to come up with a workable solution for
this. On their part, the main problem is that the donations already accepted
were accepted on the condition of shipping to be paid by the donor within the
US. All items presently in there with the exception of Brian Skaggs' donations
are there under those terms. Typically, this would cost $5 US or so. Shipping
overseas with the necessary phyto would cost more like $40 US and involve
several hours to track down and get the necessary paperwork. As some plants in
the auction will likely go for less than that $40, it becomes a losing
situation for the AHS to offer to pay for it themselves. Given that this
auction is held and donations are given to help raise funds for the AHS and
specifically its Journal, I'm sure you can see where the problem lies. I don't
see a way out of this problem for the AHS.

         On the other hand, the solution offered by Mike does solve this
problem for UK bidders. I'm sure someone in Canada (Bill Nash maybe?) could
work something out with someone near the border (Ran Lydell maybe) to hold
their plants that they won bids on until they could come over and pick them
up. As for our other European friends and members, talk to each other ---
maybe one of you is coming to the US and could pick up plants won in the
auction, or visiting the UK and could meet with Mike, there, I'm not sure, but
I think the EU has relaxed some of the phyto requirements between member
countries, is this correct?

         There are ways for people to work this out if they really want to. No
one is excluded from the auction because of where they live; it is the matter
of how they can get their plants that is the problem. In these types of
auctions, the AHS only serves as a go-between between bidders and donors.
Successful bidders must reach accommodation with the donor to receive their
plant. Money is refunded if this is not possible, but this may take some time
as payment must be made before the donor is notified of the winning bidder's
name, so do not bid lightly if you are unsure you can arrange payment and that
you can reach reasonable terms with the donor wherever they might live.

        Payment should be possible using credit cards or other ways to
transfer the correct amount in US funds to the AHS, so this should not be too
difficult for the non-US bidder. If payment cannot be made, the donated item
would have to be offered to the next highest bidder, so please be sure you
have a way to transfer funds before you bid. Mike offers a method of payment
below for UK bidders.

        Regarding donations, I don't see why there would be any objection to
plants being donated from people in other countries under the same conditions.
Please check with Auction Chairman Don Dean before doing this at
dedean@ties.k12.mn.us  . Someone across the pond could donate with the
stipulation that only shipping within the EU is included, and other bidders
would have to pick up the plant or make their own arrangements with the donor.
Please familiarize yourselves with the auction rules before going ahead with
this. Canadians could do the same, for shipment only within Canada.

        One problem that unfortunately cannot be solved with this particular
auction is that the auction software is only accepting US addresses. This was
an unintentional oversight due to our being new to working with this software,
and cannot be fixed now that the auction is underway. If you wish to bid or
donate and cannot take advantage of Mike's offer, please contact me
personally, and I will find a way around this problem, and act as a go-between
for you.

        The AHS is, after all, a North American organization, and it does not
have enough members outside of North America to be able to set up the
necessary arrangements for overseas members. All who work for it are
volunteers offering their time and effort to advance the cause. If anyone
would like to volunteer to set up arrangements similar to Mike's for
continental Europe, or other parts of the world, it would be a welcome
addition. Please contact Don Dean at the above address if you wish to offer to
help in this way.

                                    .............Bill Meyer, Public Relations
Director, AHS

 It is evolving and will continue to evolve in a positive direction for all if
we all focus upon positive solutions.

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