HM#138 - Dutch Auctions - Thou Shalt Not Covet                                   August 2012                       

A Dutch auction is a type of auction in which the auctioneer begins with a high asking price which is lowered until some participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price, or a predetermined reserve price (the seller's minimum acceptable price) is reached. The winning participant pays the last announced price.

In our colloquial language the term is sometimes used to describe an all too common practice amongst customers trying to get the lowest price for the goods they want to purchase. Several suppliers will be invited to submit a price for the goods. The best of these prices will then be disclosed to the other bidders in an “auction” which endeavors to force some of them to beat it. This may happen several times until the purchaser is convinced that he has obtained the absolute lowest offer.

In the business world this practice is considered most unethical and unfair. In some conditions it is ILLEGAL! e.g. Public tenders called by Government authorities are required to remain sealed until all bids are in. The contents may not be revealed to anyone until all tenders are opened at the same time …… after a nominated closing time. Purchasing officers who breach this rule, can lose their job! It is open to corruption. In my personal experience some suppliers have offered bribes in an attempt to obtain competitors' tender prices, in order gain an unfair advantage which allows them to underbid their competitors.

Personally, I consider that, for Christians, this practice is a form of COVETEOUSNESS! It is covered by the 6th Commandment! And Paul ranks THAT as a form of idolatry! (Colossians 3:5)

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
                                                                                                                                    (Deuteronomy 5:21)

When you try to force your suppliers to reduce their price this way, YOU ARE COVETING THEIR MONEY!

When your supplier competes for business this way, he is HE IS COVETING HIS NEIGHBOUR’S CUSTOMER! And you are encouraging him to do it!

Why do Christians engage in this practice? I think that for most of them, it is probably because they haven’t thought it through properly, and have lost sight of that important 6th commandment.


1. It is NOT unreasonable to ask a supplier to submit his BEST PRICE.

2. Nor is it unreasonable to let him know that he is competing with other potential suppliers.

3. Nor is it unreasonable to let him know, that all things being equal, you plan to accept the best offer. (which is not necessarily the cheapest! – see below)

4. It is however, NOT ETHICAL to disclose their allegedly BEST PRICE to others in a covetous attempt to force them into a round of offers and counter offers to win a “Dutch Auction”.


Is God so “broke” that he is unable to keep his promise to supply all our needs (Matthew 6:24-34) – without our covetous intervention?


The lowest price is NOT always the BEST OFFER! There are other things besides cost to take into account!

1. Different brands do not necessarily offer the same features or quality for the same overall purpose. The cheapest price is not likely to offer the “best” features! To get a lower cost, you have to leave something out. If you do choose a product with less features or quality, you have to decide whether you are getting value for money. In general, you pay for what you get.

2. Does the supplier offering the lowest price offer the same quality of service and advice offered by his competitors? A supplier has to pay the staff he employs to provide service, and the FAIR price you pay for your goods has to include your share of this cost!

3. You should think hard about whether it is ethical to take advantage of the service and expert help offered by one supplier, to help you select the right goods, and then buy the recommended goods from another supplier who offers a lower price, but does not offer the service and help you received from the first.

4. What happens if you need after sales service? Will it be available? Or has the supplier you selected via “Dutch auction” cut his price by not employing the people necessary to offer adequate after sales service?



Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31)

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)


1. Go somewhere else! (without resorting to Dutch Auction!)
2. Pay the price asked anyway!
           “Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Cor 6:7)
3. DON’T BUY IT AT ALL! (Maybe God wants you to rethink your priorities!)

A Christian who has God’s conditional promise to provide his needs, (Matthew 6:24-34) does not need to practice “dutch auction” covetousness. If God thinks you need something, he will find a way for you to get it at a price you can afford …… WITHOUT DUTCH AUCTION COVETOUSNESS!

In fact if we do truly love our neighbor, we will go out of our way to ensure that we pay a FAIR PRICE which enables our suppliers to cover their costs, pay their employees, offer good service, and stay in business!

If our love for OUR money leads us into the practice of  Dutch Auction covetousness …… DON’T EXPECT GOD TO BLESS IT!


For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:10-11)