As We See It

[Vegas on My Mind]

A Bellagio Conservatory auction goes strangely, hostilely awry

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Object lesson: Bidding on items from the Bellagio Conservatory? Awesome! Dealing with customer service afterward? Not so much.
Sun FIle

This was supposed to be a light-hearted column. Fun. Even a little silly. It never quite works out that way.

For your pleasure, dear reader, I “attended” a live-and-online auction last week where the 140 or so lots all came from the Bellagio’s fabulous Conservatory. There was all sorts of wacky stuff on the block, from a 19-foot-long dragon and 12-foot-tall lantern to a 5-foot tree with creepy face grinning out of it.

I love these weird sorts of only-in-Vegas events. So, I sat back from my home office in Michigan and enjoyed the Tour of Conservatories Past. A lot of old Christmas items appeared, and the auctioneer, with his mesmerizing staccato blitz speech, had some cheekiness to him, as when he tried to sell a 10-foot horse statue, saying, “You can do it! And if we open up the Hacienda again, you’re in luck. Put it in your horse carrier and you’ll get weird looks on the freeway! How much, $300? You don’t have to feed it! … $100, sold! STOLEN!” Of the faux Mount Rushmore, thinking no doubt of former Nevada Lt. Gov. and notorious hoarder Lonnie Hammargren, he quipped, “Very cool to have in your backyard!”

I have no idea if the auction was successful or not. I tallied about $40,000 worth of stuff sold, the most lucrative item being the 60-by-7-foot fully functioning Ferris wheel that went for about $14,000. It seemed like they should’ve been able to get more than $200 for 57 boxes of balloons, but what do I know?

I would have asked. Really. Except then I bought something and the whole thing went off the rails.

It’s tough to sit through an auction and not bid. I went after the 10-foot Christmas candle and thought about the fiberglass polar bears. I almost ended the auction empty-handed, but in the waning moments, they were having trouble generating interest in something mundane, a set of desks.

I bid $5. And I won.

My first hint of trouble came when I called to find out what exactly I had bought—four desks, intact—and how to pay. The instructions said you could pay via cashier’s check or in person with cash. “Do it either way, I don’t give a f*ck,” said Brian Myers, the charming namesake of Brian Myers Auctioneer and Liquidators.

Okay. Weird hostility. But okay. I have no use for four desks, so I put out the call on social media for charities or schools to donate them to. I ultimately settled on Goodwill, because they could pick them up and, surely, get more than $5 for the four of them.

I asked my friend, Amy, to go pay the $6.23 I owed in cash, but the auction site was really far away from her, so I asked if she could bring the money to one of the other addresses on the invoice. “Just have him bring cash,” Myers replied. I asked if she could go to her nearest Nevada State Bank branch and deposit the $6.23 into the account number listed on the invoice for the wire transfer option.

Myers’ reply: “Maybe u don’t understand. Have her bring the cash to me here. No More emails” (punctuation added). I was bewildered, so I tried again, explaining I was a Weekly columnist donating the desks, and that I wouldn’t force my friend to drive all the way down there when she should’ve been able to wire the money. “If that doesn’t work for you, cancel the sale,” I wrote.

To that, Myers answered: “There are terms of sale. Read them and comply.” So I went back and read the terms. Nothing about having to pay cash at the auction location. “What is your problem with having the money deposited?” I asked.

The classy proprietor, contracted by MGM Resorts, ended the exchange thus: “EVERY AUCTION HAS A IDIOT [sic] AND THIS IS YOUR TIME SO PLEASE LEARN TO READ THE TERMS AND MAYBE YOU CAN WRITE A BETTER COLUMN. ENJOY YOUR $6.00 AND WRITE YOUR HEART AWAY. LOOOOOOSER.”

Actually, the loooooosers were the Goodwill folks and whoever must continue to store those desks. I asked MGM Resorts for comment, but nobody replied. And why would they? What would they say?

As for me, I’m donating my fee from this column to Goodwill. Hopefully that’ll cover the loss of those desks and then some. And I will, I promise, be in attendance for the next Vegas-cool BMA auction. Watch this space!

Tags: Opinion
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