If you’re looking for a deal — and who isn’t? — the auction site of the provincial government never closes.
The site, bcauction.ca, launched in December 2004, now has 45,000 registered bidders with 380 new bidders signing up every month, according to the Ministry of Citizens’ Services. Just between April 2012 and February 2013, it sold nearly $6 million worth of used and surplus goods no longer wanted by the province, from cars to kitchenware.
This past week saw nearly 600 items listed for sale — from two giant rolls (we’re talking 762 metres each) of Reynolds Wrap in Prince George that had garnered a high bid of $12.72 as of Friday afternoon to a street sweeper in Vernon that closed Thursday with a bid of $15,600 beating 29 others.
One stellar item — and it still can be yours — is a ladies’ 1 carat diamond ring with a high bid of $2,802 out of 52, valued by Nugget Jewellers of Victoria at a replacement value of $10,235. For the guys, there’s a Breitling Chronograph Crosswind Watch with three bids and a high of $2,093.
Those two items are among 33 items, almost all from Victoria, listed under the category Police Recovered / Seized & Found Property. Browsers can search using keywords or through product groups from antiques and collectibles to electronics, office supplies, tools, boats, and scientific equipment.
Since 2005-6, sales have risen steadily to total nearly $45 million, ministry figures show.That’s in addition to the more modest sums at traditional cash and carry auctions on Glanford Avenue in Victoria, Surrey and Prince George.
As far as the jewelry goes, Const. Mike Russell of the Victoria Police Department isn’t sure where the items originated. Without a police file number to accompany each of them, they would be tough to trace.
Victoria could also take in surrounding police forces, and some of the property could be from owners the police could not locate, Russell said.
The big advantage to the online auction, of course, is that bidders can buy items from not only B.C. but across Canada via their laptops and get many of them delivered the door. (The Reynolds Wrap will cost $20 to deliver in B.C.)
So if you’re still touchy-feely about the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, several 40-foot-long “scenery banners” were hitting $30-something, while a box of Olympic lanyards is starting out at 50 cents.
Always wanted insulated fluorescent orange coveralls? If you’re a 44-tall, the latest of 14 bids has them at $42.90. For triple-E size 9.5 oil- and chemical-resistant men’s Sierra shoes — just name your price.
Informally, items expected to fetch less than $50 are not posted, said one ministry staffer, but bids lower than that abound.
On the other end of the scale, the Civil Forfeiture Office liquidates forfeited assets, including vehicles, through the B.C. Auction website. Those items are identified as forfeited to the province.
At least two vehicles seized by the office in connection to criminal activity are currently for sale. They include a rebuilt 1998 Toyota Camry CE in Surrey to be sold by 10 p.m. Monday. The high bid of 34 submitted by Friday was $1,525.
For the garage that has everything, what about your own ambulance — a 2003 Ford with 353,678 kilometres on it could still be yours, with the last of 10 bids at $3,650.
Cost to register with B.C. Auction: Free to anyone 19 and over with an email address
How it works: The system compares your bids to others and lets you know immediately if your bid is too low. By bidding high to get what you want, you’ll pay only a pre-arranged increment over the next highest bidder.
Range of the increments: 50 cents to $100
Is HST charged on used goods: Yes, if the seller holds a business licence.
Can bids be rescinded: No.
What if you won’t pay: Your account gets cancelled.
How long to get the goods: The province will ship within 48 hours of receiving payment for many items.
Can purchased items be returned: No.
Number of items sold since 2005-2006: 98,333
Sales total since 2005-2006: $44.73 million
For more information: bcauction.ca
In person: Government-surplus cash-and-carry sales are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4234 Glanford Ave., Saanich. Tel.: 250- 952-4439
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