Kentucky Board of Auctioneers Complaint - Claims The Primary Mandate Being The Protection Of The Public Trust!
LOUISVILLE, KY. AUCTIONEERS@KY.GOV, KENTUCKY -- Do you believe the KY Board of Auctioneers protects the public? Guess again! One would think so... and they claim that's their primary mandate on their site ( http://auctioneers.ky.gov/ ) but that's not the case here. I filed five pages of wrongdoing concerning numerous illegalities perpetrated by Thompson & Riley, Ltd Auctioneers / Realtors. The Kentucky Board of Auctioneers "investigated" and then dismissed my complaint. No hearing, no witness testimony... they turned a blind eye to each and every portion of my complaint. Any one of the basic points about which I complained required action by the Board. The more complicated points of my complaint that, with thorough investigation and witness testimony, would have proven fraud and a systematic approach of wrongdoing by Thompson & Riley, Ltd., Auctioneers and Realtors... were also ignored. The Kentucky Board of Auctioneers wouldn't even let it get to the next step of a hearing. Do not, even for a second, believe there is any protection of the public by the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers. Oops... I stand corrected by the annual report of the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers: Between June of 2006 and May of 2007, there were (presumably) at least 1,149 complaints filed (mine was numbered 07-1149) yet only one... ONE auctioneer lost his license!!! Need I say more? In short, watch out if you are dealing with a Kentucky auctioneer.
UPDATE: A comment has been made that my post lacks content. I'm very happy to post more. Here is my initial complaint to the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers:
My life mate passed away in January, 2005. As I just couldn't continue to go on in that house, with our possessions, etc, I contacted Jamie Bates of Thompson & Riley in Lexington, Kentucky to sell everything. Now that it is all over but the shooting, let me tell you about so many illegal and unethical things that they perpetrated. They need to be called to task. They need to be out of business or broke... or both.
Jamie Bates and Julie Smith of Thompson & Riley lied at the point of sale of their Auctioneer and Realtor services. They lied repeatedly (expressed as well as implied) and, when you look at the whole of their performed services, it is very apparent that they lied solely for the purposes of getting my signature on a contract and the keys to the house. And that, they thought, was license to steal... in so many directions.
On the phone Jamie Bates said "Stop everything, stop what you're doing... we are much better at it and we'll take care of everything". When Jamie Bates and Julie Smith of Thompson & Riley Ltd., Realtors/Auctioneers arrived the next day, they spent at least 20 to 30 minutes walking around the house, looking at stuff. Periodically, Jamie peered in doll cabinets where two generations of avid doll collectors' proceeds were on display. Additionally, there were TONS of glassware, porcelains... you name it, there was some, and some categories were extensive. Just prior to the whipping out and signing of the contract, many things were then talked about; the building blocks of my decision to sign the House/Contents Auction Contract. Such things as...
Complete Inventory: Jamie stated he (I assumed he meant his staff) would do a complete inventory of the house while they were "cataloguing and packing" and see that I receive it. Hmmm... it seems the Attorney General of Kentucky agrees... he was to conduct and supply me with a complete inventory. As of this date (months after he thinks our business is concluded) I've received none despite Certified Mail request. What I HAVE received (requested in the same Certified USPS mail) is a check (MONTHS late, according to the Attorney General) for $1,300 and some change... which Jamie and Julie think represents the entire proceeds of the auctions. Simply put, they're either thieves or incredibly inept auctioneers to have gathered less than $1,400 from a house stuffed with vintage doll collections (from two generations), furniture and hundreds if not thousands of pieces of collectibles. Full Disclosure: Lest anyone think I'm painting a picture of a showplace... I'm not. It WAS... a little over a year earlier, and for many years prior to that, but not right then. But the collectibles remained. The doll cabinets, the book cases stuffed with MIB (Mint in Box) dolls and accessories as well as books including many older books. Anyway, the point is that, while the dogs and cats did do damage to the house and some contents (Jamie specifically pointed to the urinated upon sofa and stated that it would be below the line of what would go to auction... and I agreed), there were plenty of items that had no damage whatsoever.
Hauling: Words from Jamie's mouth stated, just prior to the signing of our contract, that hauling/moving services would amount to "$300... $400, tops" and that's all I'd have to pay for. At disbursement of funds, the charges far exceed, by many times over, our agreement. : "$300 - $400, tops" is all I'll have out of pocket because they take care of everything! End result: They charged many times that and took it out before they cut the disbursement check (received recently).
Taking Care of Everything: Did I mention that he said he'd take care of everything??? 6% (plus 3% if/to unaffiliated Realtor) for the house and 20% commission on the contents. With only the exception of hauling charges (see above), they would take care of everything from grass cutting and tree removal to house cleaning and making it presentable for showing. So was all of this a game to build potential Client trust prior to contract signing or were they genuinely looking out for the good of the deal as well as the best interests of the Client? End result: Months went by before receiving ANYTHING from the contents auctions. When I finally heard from them after many, many unreturned phone calls and fax attempts making demand for information/disbursement, I forget the ridiculous amount but I think it was $14 was quoted as the remaining funds from the entire contents of a house less their expenses! When questioned, Julie said that she would see what she could do to get that adjusted, further stating that it would be Jamie's decision but that she would get it to his desk.. They removed grass cutting, for example, and several other things that were already in the 6%. And, even after being reduced, their hauling charges far exceed the price quote offered at the point of signing the contract. It gets worse... I took a trip to Lexington (popped in about a day early and on short notice) to see what was going on. I was looking for auction advertising in the Lexington Herald Leader but never anything that equated to the frequency of auctions that they say were going on. Upon arrival at the house late at night, I find trucks parked in the driveway, stuff scattered around the driveway, things piled up in the garage that, I found out later, were going to the dump. THE DUMP! There was an antique bar cart, open the double doors and out on tracks comes a service tray with glassware at the ready. I'd have guessed from the roaring '20s or maybe late '40s. Either way, it was vintage and it should have been auctioned. Oh! The glassware? The gold rimmed glassware was found in the trash can (some broken, some not) and the bar cart itself was on the pile for the dump! As for house cleaning, there were still leaves from dead house plants on the floor in the den. Yes, they did clean up the house considerably but how anyone can claim to have completed their cleaning task while working around the remaining leaves... is beyond me
EBAY Auctions: Again, just prior to the point of signing the contract with Thompson & Riley, Jamie stated they utilize EBAY for items that would do better in a wider marketplace and that he would take care of all of that (at LEAST implying that he or his people would examine, make appropriate determinations on value and act accordingly). Hmmm... NOT ONE item made it to EBAY. Ever! Upon further examination, according to Ebay: "Member since Dec-05-06"!!! Jamie, of Thompson & Riley, was about to enter into a contract to perform auction services utilizing resources that he didn't possess! Even if he had the best of intentions (planning to set up EBAY and utilize it, beginning with my auctions), he oversold his experience level (read: lied) just to get me to sign the contract and give him the keys to the house. Lied to at the point of sale of his services. Such lies show intent to deceive and profit from the deception... at the direct expense of the Client. Can there be any greater abuse that an Auctioneer can perpetrate?
Lack of Promised Advertising: In addition to EBAY, there are other realms where advertising promised at the time of signing was not produced. One of the stipulations of signing was that the house would be listed on the MLS with pictures and also have a Realtor lock box on the house for showing purposes and, even more importantly, having access to/utilization of the traffic data tracking capabilities built right into the Supra key boxes being used by LBAR. While the MLS listing did eventually appear, there were never any pictures nor did they ever supply a lock box to the house. For an unaffiliated (outside of Thompson & Riley) to be able to show the house, they would have to call Thompson & Riley to get access rather than simply taking their client to show the house. When the marketing remarks on the listing were not to my specifications, I demanded changes. My purpose was to get other Realtors and potential Buyers into the house to get it sold prior to auction. After writing my own marketing remarks and sending them to Julie Smith demanding they be updated, they were, in fact updated but the public access to the listing was restricted so that the house would not show. I know this because Judy, my wife, was a Realtor prior to passing and, as her back office, I was very familiar with the MLS system. Given the fact that Julie Smith had previously given me her Login information, I was able to research the listing history. Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, neither the house auction or contents auctions were advertised in the Herald Leader newspaper or on the Thompson & Riley web site (yet another promise that was not carried out after the signing of the contract). They claimed to be having multiple contents auctions, some stand-alone, some mixed with other clients' belongings... but they were always ambiguous about dates & times. In short, it appears they did everything in their power to restrict the successful potential of the house selling either prior to auction or at the auction itself and, without sufficient advertising, the contents auctions were also doomed to fail. One final point, just to remove any ambiguity, the house failing to sell prior to the auction, the failed auction, the eventual MLS relisting, and the sale being accomplished by Judy Rola (see below)... were these things all designed to extract the highest dollar amount in commissions? It would appear so.
Real Estate Irregularities: There are numerous legal and ethical irregularities in how they conducted business but let's begin here. I had a contract with Thompson & Riley to auction the house (and contents, same single piece of paper). If Thompson & Riley sold it at (or before/after failed) auction, the sales commission would be 6%. If another Realtor; an "outside" Realtor representing a Buyer came before or after a failed auction and a sale was completed, the commission would be another 3% (for a total of 9%) so that the other Realtor could get paid theirs. Fine. I thought it was a little high but Jamie and Julie were so smooth in their comforting talk about how they'll take care of everything... I believed it was worth it to have a trusted party taking care of the house, contents, etc... all under one roof. The so called outside Realtor becomes Judy Rola, the Principal Broker of... wait for it... Thompson & Riley. Just an oversight, you might say? I'm not so sure I understand their (Jamie/Julie/Judy) intent, much less their outcome .. but the bottom line is they doctored a document post client signature, date & time. Specifically, they added Judy Rola to the Agency Agreement after I'd signed and faxed back to them. It's obvious, they did it. It'll take someone sharper than me to figure out exactly why (as if approximately $4,000 - 3% additional commission isn't reason enough for a crook).
Auction Fraud: At about 10:20 AM, my friend Julie (she is also a Realtor by profession but in the Commonwealth of Virginia), who has been helping me past this difficult (devastating) time, received a voice mail message from Julie Smith, Realtor and employee of Thompson & Riley claiming that she was at the house auction in progress and went on to explain how she was bidding... appearing to have a telephone bidder on the line... to help get the price up. As my friend Julie was on an airplane at the time, the call went directly to voice mail and Julie Smith even expressed relief that she had voice mail rather than a live call as it made it easier to conduct her bids without having to interact further with my Julie. In short, I've since learned the term for this is "shill bidding" and is among the dirtiest frauds an auctioneer can perpetrate. But, hang on, it gets worse.... although everyone at the auction was told the house did, in fact, sell that day, it did not. The only reasonable conclusion is that it was a "shill bid" that ended up being the highest and best bid. Caught with their pant's down, as they say. I know people who were at the auction, Jamie said "Sold!" It wasn't. Julie Smith was telling me that it wasn't sold and that they were bringing in Judy Rola, a mover and shaker in real estate and that she would list the house on the MLS. She did, someone drove by, called off the Thompson & Riley sign, and here comes Judy Rola with the Buyer. By the way, remember, she's actually the Principal Broker of Thompson & Riley yet this had never been disclosed to me... well, except for the doctored Agency Agreement which got faxed back to me (later) in with other paperwork (and they WEREN'T seeking my signature on that document, either). Again, this is where I am short on understanding what they were actually trying to accomplish... but Judy Rola first "Listed" the property but then presented the Buyer with her in the capacity of Dual Agents... in fact, both Judy Rola and Julie Smith became Dual Agents. But I'm jumping ahead (see below). And this is pretty confusing... maybe this is yet another opportunity for someone smarter than me to put together the pieces. As outlined here, the larger pieces I've been able to put together so far make for a really ugly picture.
Taking Advantage of a Client: While it was listed with Judy Rola (before the Buyer called), there were concessions being made by Judy, Julie and Jamie (sometimes, Julie was speaking for Jamie and Thompson & Riley... as in "maybe we can leave it at full commission but Jamie can play with the auction numbers (reducing the commission percentage on some items, she said) and make up the difference". After the Buyer rode up but before the price and terms were hammered out, a gentleman from Republic Bank wanted access to the house to see that it was not freezing (it was, for all practical purposes, vacant). Thompson & Riley had moved out most everything, there was still a bed, clothes, etc... but I was not there very often. I just couldn't bare it. I asked Judy to admit him to the property and, as soon as she learned that the gentleman watched over properties for foreclosure accounts, all concessions were off. I was about to lose the house (I carried it, mostly devoid of human occupancy for the better part of two years... but it couldn't continue. It had to go). And, at that moment, so did the concessions. Yeah, on the bigger scope of things, this appears a simple case of a Realtor choosing not to give up some commission. But, if we actually look at the mechanics of what has happened, there was an offer of concessions on the table that was then retracted when they acquired knowledge concerning an adverse situation that the client is experiencing. Where did that money go because of their knowledge? In their pockets. This is actually a cornerstone of the Realtor Client relationship... the Client's belief that the Realtor is working in their best interests... and should they find something that they could use against their client adversely, ESPECIALLY when the profiting party from such use is the Realtor her/himself, that information must be guarded and certainly not acted upon by the Realtor in such a way that they profit at the expense of the Client.
I really had been trying to give Thompson & Riley the benefit of the doubt... it was an excruciating time for me... and they talked such a good game. But, the more I look, the dirtier they are. It's mind boggling to consider how much money they get away with if they do this on a daily basis to other people in their time of most weakness, losing one's spouse, child, parent, whatever the case. What I've witnessed should have them out of business, never to return to a business having to do with public trust. They need to be stripped of all worldly possessions and rights to possessions (past, present, future)... stripped of everything they gained through doing this to me, Judy and others. Ideally, I'd be satisfied with having them out of business, flipping burgers... to pay payroll garnishments. Frankly, there's nothing I'd like better than to get more money than I'd expected and utilize their seized records to pay visits to little old ladies and hand them a check. They weren't up for the fight, they just rolled over and let the Thompson & Riley people have their way... but I'm here to call them to task.
UPDATE: The Kentucky Board of Auctioneers responded that they had investigated and that my complaint was dismissed with prejudice.
I say again: Can anyone keep a straight face while claiming the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers is carrying out their primary mandate of protecting the Public Trust? Is it the least bit reasonable that a coherent person can't find "a strong appearance of a wrongful act" in the above complaint?
As time permits, I'll be publishing EVERYTHING including the responses of Thompson & Riley, Ltd. Auctioneers Realtors.
UPDATE: Several months ago I received a cease & desist letter from a lawyer representing Thompson & Riley, Ltd and its principals Jamie Bates, Julie Smith and Judy Rola claiming I was making defamatory and slanderous statements and that I had 24 hours to remove my web content. I did not remove, as you can plainly see. In fact, I ramped up my campaign to educate the public in the name of consumer protection and free speech. Now, I'm all over the web. Do a Google for most any variation of Thompson & Riley or KY Board of Auctioneers. I have yet to be sued. Yes, the truth is on my side.
Care for one additional tidbit? Although Thompson & Riley, Ltd. continues to conduct business in its' corporate name, they (as well as their parent corporation) were dissolved by the Secretary of State and are in bad standing... have been since 2006. In fact, the contract signing occurred just days before the dissolution and all of the rest happened after the dissolution. I'm not really sure what this means in the big picture but I do know they are less than honest when they say they are "the most respected name in the business" on their web site.