There’s that business sellers in the UK and Ireland need to register as such with eBay. The new Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 came into force in the UK on 26th May, under which it is a criminal offence to make false or misleading statements relating to the status of your business. Irish sellers have the same obligation under the Consumer Protection Act 2007.
Of course, this has been something that eBay has been talking about since at least January: I’d hazard a guess that most of the sellers who are not registered as businesses when they should be, have made a deliberate decision to do so, perhaps hoping to avoid tax on their earnings, or their obligations under the Distance Selling Regulations.
Though eBay do make some efforts to limit non-registered businesses on the site, many sellers believe they don’t go nearly far enough, and complain that eBay do not act on reports of breaches of their own rules. A complained that eBay have told sellers to report unregistered businesses to Trading Standards, but that Trading Standards are not interested. If the information in that thread is correct, Trading Standards themselves seem to have a very limited understanding of the law in this area: the Distance Selling Regulations are not the only legislation with which online traders need to comply, and all sellers should protect both themselves and their customers by knowing about their legal obligations.
It’s not even a new requirement: businesses masquerading as consumers is now contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 but that actually replaces a corresponding provision (for BIN items, at least – there was an exemption for sales by auction) in the Business Advertisments (Disclosure) Regulations 1977!
It seems private sellers are still taking no notice. I have been performing the same two keyword search every month since ebay anounced the deadline and there are still the same amount of private listings as business (approx 51%) live at any one time. It’s made no difference whatsoever.
As Trading Standards are not interested and ebay won’t do anything, what’s the point of waving these laws about if the majority won’t adhere?
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