Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am new to Harvard Online Auctions. How do I begin?
A: Once you find an item you wish to place a bid on, simply enter your bid amount and then input the information needed thereafter.  You MUST enter a valid credit card or else your bid will not be confirmed.  When you are finished and have submitted correct information, you will receive a confirmation email.

Q: What are the system requirements needed to use Harvard Online Auctions?

A: Any browser can access the Harvard Online Auctions page.  If you are having difficulties viewing the page, please send an email to

Q: Does it cost to register for Harvard Online Auctions?

A: Not at all.  Once you have submitted your first bid amount, your credit card will not be charged until the auction ends and your bid has been named the winner.  

Q: Do I need a credit card to place a bid?

A: Yes, but you will only be billed if you bid on and win an auction.

Q: Why didn't I receive my confirmation e-mail after I registered?

A: After you submitted your registration form and bid, you should have received a confirmation e-mail. This process ensures that your e-mail address is valid. You should receive your registration confirmation message within minutes of submitting your bid.

If you did not receive this e-mail, please return to Harvard Online Auctions, login to your account, and verify that you entered your e-mail address correctly; update as necessary.

If you still do not receive this e-mail or need us to re-send it, please email

Q: What are your Terms & Conditions?

A: Harvard reserves the right to set minimum bids, to withdraw any item from auction at any time, for any reason, and to postpone, delay, interrupt, or cancel any auction for any reason, at any time. Harvard does not guarantee continuous, uninterrupted or secure access to its services, and operation of this Site may be interfered with by numerous factors outside of its control, including but not limited to telecommunications network disruptions. Further, Harvard does not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information on this Site or the results of your use of this Site. Neither Harvard nor any third party provider or distributor (including but not limited to any Harvard, university partner, conference partner, or other partner) shall be responsible for any damage related to any technical problem that results in your bid being omitted or in an auction failing to properly function.

By bidding on an auction item the user agrees to have their credit card billed and complete the transaction. Should the bid placed by a User be the winning bid, the User will have their credit card charged for the amount of the winning bid price and any shipping, handling, taxes, or special charges noted in the auction description. If the credit card is denied, Harvard Auctions will attempt to contact the User to arrange alternative payment, however it will be the sole responsibility of the User to arrange alternative payment. If a credit card is denied, Harvard Auctions will have no obligation to the User with the winning bid and, at Harvard's sole discretion, will have the right to re-list the auction item(s), and/or offer the auction item to the next highest bidder.

Q: What if I forgot my Password?
 On the sign in page, click on the link "Forgot Password?".  You will need to enter the email address that is associated with your account.  An email will be sent to that address with the password.

Q: Can I update my registration information?

A: Yes. Simply log in to your account, review your information, and make any necessary changes.

Q: How do I bid on an item I am interested in?

A: When you have located an item you are interested in, click on the item's title link to see its listing page.

On each item listing page there is a field for "Your Bid" as well as a minimum amount that you must enter.  Once you have entered in a valid amount, click on "Place Bid".

If you are not already logged in to the system, you will be prompted to either create a new account or log in with an existing account. You will be notified by e-mail if another bidder has surpassed your maximum bid.

When reviewing an item's Bid History after having placed a bid, you should reload, or refresh, your browser so that it displays the most current bid status information. This is especially important during the final minutes of an auction when you should refresh your browser frequently (every 3 - 5 secs).

Q: Do I need to use a credit card to bid?

A: Yes. To ensure fair bidding, a valid credit card will be required to bid on any item. Your credit card information is required only for the first time you place a bid on Harvard Online Auctions. All additional bids will not require credit card verification.

By providing your valid credit card information, you authorize Harvard Online Auctions to authorize your credit card account for $1.00, to verify that the credit card information you provide is valid. This credit verification will occur each time you provide a different credit card in the bidding process. Your card will not be charged this amount, it is simply an authorization to confirm that your card is valid.

Q: Can I ask a question before I place a bid?
A: Yes. Whether you require additional information about the item, the payment terms, would like to determine shipping and handling costs, or have a general question, you may contact Harvard Online Auctions by emailing

Q: What type of auction is this?

A: The type of auction being used is called a "proxy bid" auction.  When you place your bid, you can enter in the maximum amount you are willing to spend on that item.  The system will then bid automatically, on your behalf, and at the lowest possible bid increments, until your maximum bid amount is reached.

Your maximum bid amount (if you are a current high bidder) will not be shown to other bidders.

Q: Can I increase my maximum bid after I've placed a bid?

A: Yes. You can increase your maximum bid at anytime, regardless of whether or not your maximum bid amount has been outbid. To increase your current bid amount, simply return to the listing and enter and submit a new, higher maximum bid amount.

Q: Every time I bid on an item, it says I have been outbid. Why?

A: When this happens, it means that an earlier bidder has placed a maximum bid amount which is higher than the amount of your maximum bid.

Q: I appear to have been overbid by an amount smaller than the bid increment. How has this occurred?

A: The other bidder had placed a "proxy bid". In some cases, it's possible that another bidder's standing maximum bid is greater than yours, but by less than the bid increment. In this case, the other bidder will be winning at exactly their maximum bid.

For example, an item has a bid increment of $5: The current winning bid is at $40.00.  Your bid is $49.00 (proxy bid).  Bidder B bids $49.01 (also a proxy bid).

In this case, Bidder B will be winning at exactly $49.01 even though it appears to not meet the minimum increment. It was more than the bid increment when he placed the bid. The bid was only at $40.00 so a bid of $49.01 is a $9.01 bid increment.

Q: Why does it look like some auction users are bidding against themselves?

A: This bidder has entered a proxy bid and someone else is attempting to outbid that person's maximum bid. For example:

User A enters a top bid of $200, but since the minimum bid is only $100, he's the top bidder at $100. User B enters a top bid of $125, but since that doesn't pass User A's top bid, User A remains the highest bidder at User B's top bid PLUS whatever the bid increment is. If the bid increment for this auction is $10, User A would be the top bidder at $135. However, because User B was never the top bidder, his bid won't show up in the bid history, and it will look like User A was bidding against himself, when in fact, someone else's bid activity triggered his proxy bid.

Q: I have confirmed my bid, but it tells me it is invalid: why?

A: There are two reasons why a confirmed bid can be considered invalid:

1) You have entered an invalid value in the "Bid Amount" field. Make sure that your bid amount contains only numbers and decimal points, i.e., 45.00 . Do not enter any dollar signs ($) or commas (,) into the bid amount field.

2) Your bid amount is less than the "Next Bid" value. Make sure that your bid is equal to or greater than the current "Next Bid" value shown on the listing page.

Q: Can I retract a confirmed bid?

A: Only under special circumstances can you retract a bid. To submit a formal bid retraction request, email BEFORE the auction ends, and please allow 24-48 business hours for Customer Service to respond.

Q: What do I do if I win an auction?

A: If you are the winning bidder when the auction closes, you will automatically be notified via e-mail that you have won that auction item. Harvard Online Auctions will attempt to charge your credit card at that time. If successful, a Univeristy representative will contact you to discuss fulfillment of the item you won.

If there are problems charging your credit card, Customer Service will contact you directly to attempt to rectify the problem or to acquire new credit card information from you. If your credit card charge goes through, you will be contacted by Harvard Online Auctions regarding fulfillment of your auction. If we are unable to contact you, Harvard reserves the right to contact other bidders to offer them the auction item, or to re-list the item all together.

Q: When will I get my auction item if I win?

A: You will receive an email immediately following the end of the auction if you are the winning bidder. A Harvard representative will then contact you to discuss fulfillment of the item you won.

Q: What is your return policy?

A: All auction sales are final. We do not offer refunds or exchanges.

Q: What if I still have a question?
If you still have a question after looking through this FAQ page about a product, payment, or shipping status please email