For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 7 December 2007

eBay France challenged

The IPKat has been a bit slack in failing to report that the French Council of Sales is taking eBay to court in France, arguing that it is failing to comply with a 2000 Act on the regulation of auctions. The Council is arguing that eBay has an unfair advantage over other auctioneers in failing to comply with the Act. As well as the potential for the sale of counterfeits, concerns have been raised regarding tax evasion by eBay users and fakes more generally, such as the user who want sent a photocopy of the picture he thought he had purchased, stuck to a block of wood. eBay counters that that it is not an auctioneer, and so does not fall within the scope of the Act since it only acts as an intermediary to put buyers and sellers in touch with each other.

The IPKat can sort of see the point of the unfair competition argument, if eBay really can be counted as an auction house, but wouldn’t it rather be the equivalent of the the classified pages at the back of a newspaper? However, he has a limited degree of sympathy for the consumers. Yes, they shouldn’t be duped, but they’re well aware of the limited safeguards that are available on a forum like eBay.

2 comments:

Giulio said...

It seems to me that eBay provides only a software allowing users to post their listings since there is no control by eBay on the auction and eBay does not sell any item to its users.

Elizabeth said...

Ebay does more than provide the software. They charge money per auction (listing fees), and they take a percentage of the sales. They solicit auctions with promotions. They devise all sorts of techniques to get people to bring in more bids and get more money for their items. They make bidding higher easier -- or harder to keep onself from doing -- with their new "One-click bid" feature.

They have lists of prohibited or restricted items and with those rules, they assume a sort of responsibility over what is sold (though they may deny it). With their feedback system, they allow buyers to rate the sellers. Then they assure buyers that sellers with the Powerseller icon next to their name essentially have the ebay stamp of approval, because they meet certain criteria (although the language they use carefully avoids declaring an opinion, even as it implies one). They do in fact endorse sellers, and so by proxy, they endorse products. They solicit sellers, they solicit sales, they solicit buyers. They should be held responsible for something. I myself am a Powerseller, so this opinion doesn't suit me personally, except that if it weren't for all the fakes being sold on ebay, I would not have been suspended from ebay France for listing a perfume by Kenzo (now forbidden on ebay France)!

Even informed consumers cannot always be aware of the limited safeguards on ebay, because ebay and PayPal assure them that they are safe with things like "buyer protection policies". Everything about ebay welcomes buyers and gives them the impression that they are safe -"Use PayPal, don't give out your information" -- when even if you use PayPal, certain other criteria have to be met in order for PayPal to issue a refund for an item not received or a counterfeit. I have gone shopping for perfumes on ebay, and I see sellers who have numerous complaints about counterfeit items, and they are still selling! Why? Because ebay is too busy to read their feedback, evidently. And yet they draw buyers to the feedback score with the implication that if a seller has a good feedback score, his products are good, which is not always true. Yes, buyers should be smarter, but ebay does everything they can to take advantage of the ones who are not that smart or maybe are half asleep at the computer, new to online shopping...

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':