The new popularity of storage auctions has brought out new buyers in record numbers. This can be a nightmare for professional auction hunters, auctioneers and storage companies alike. Thanks to shows like Auction Hunters and Storage Wars, events that used to draw just a handful of dedicated bidders are now bringing in dozens or even hundreds of spectators, first-timers and hobbyists.
While not a bad thing on its own, this can cause some issues. Bids can go quite high thanks to newbies overbidding for items, and the profit margins for veteran bidders can diminish. Overcrowded auctions cause problems for auctioneers, too. The more people who show up for an auctions, the more time they'll need to look at the available units and bid. This makes the auctions last much longer, which ties up an auctioneer's time and makes auctions less efficient. It can also cause traffic and parking problems for storage facilities that are not equipped to handle large crowds of people.
In order to combat these problems, some auctioneers have started charging cover fees. People interested in attending the auction would need to sign up in advance; people that didn't register in advance of the auction would need to pay an entry fee. Of course, this is a lucrative practice for the auctioneer, but it's not necessarily fair to the bidders. Fortunately, the practice of charging entry fees for auctions is not widespread, but it is something to consider.
If you do happen to find an auction with a cover fee, you need to decide whether it's worth paying out of pocket for the chance to bid or if you'd rather sit the auction out. Depending on your situation, paying a small fee of $10 or so might not be a major inconvenience; others will choose to avoid all of these auctions on principle.