Does eBay have an obligation to regulate the market?

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It is has often been said by eBay that feedback (and now DSRs) will regulate the market – bad sellers will be found out and will not be able to trade on the platform. Does this work though? It seems that there are many sellers who trade successfully on the site selling goods which do not comply with UK regulations, who mis-sell goods or sell “fakes”, but the end customer seems to be pleased with the purchase and the seller maintains high feedback and good DSRs.

I sell mainly in the fine jewellery category and although I do fairly well there, it is my opinion that the category could be made into a much more attractive destination for people looking to find a nice item of jewellery at a competitive price. There is a vast amount of jewellery being sold as silver or gold, which is not genuine or which does not comply with UK laws. These sales might result in positive feedback and five star DSRs, but they also maintain eBay’s reputation as a dodgy place to trade. Similar scenarios happen in other categories too.

I can report items to eBay or to trading standards or regulatory bodies, but still it goes on. eBay tend to be quite closed about their internal workings and tend to use the line that they are not in the position to make judgment calls on individual items but it is my opinion there is more that could be done (on the UK site). There are eBay sellers who make many thousands by selling (or mis-selling!) on eBay and help to maintain eBay’s reputation as an online “car boot”. I would like to see people’s perception of eBay changing. I think that this can only be done by the quality of item which is returned when a potential buyer enters the site and makes an initial search.

24 Responses

  1. the end customer seems to be pleased with the purchase and the seller maintains high feedback and good DSRs

    so whats the problem

  2. Wasn’t there a plan a while back to have an approved list of sellers who were going to be able to pull dodgy listings? You’re right Jimbo, you see them everywhere and nothing ever seems to get done about them.

    #2 – Selling fake is ok as long as the recipient is happy? Nice thinking. I can see why you don’t/won’t give your name though.

  3. “And if, in the “rare” instance, it bounces, PayPal should be chasing the buyer for payment.”

    Sellers have no way of assessing how likely a transaction is fraudulent, because they do not have a transaction with the buyer, PayPal do. If an echeque bounces then PayPal are the ones who should be liable as they agreed for the transaction to take place?

    This should be the same for c/c charge backs?

  4. Couldn’t agree more Sue.

    If Paypal want to continue with the ridiculous echeque system, they should at the very least allow us to refuse to accept them before the transaction stage.

    Unfortunately on ebay we have no power to influence them.

  5. Sellers have no way of assessing how likely a transaction is fraudulent,

    …If you have a pro account with Paypal, you can setup various fraud filters which do just that.

  6. But also nixes combined payments (and even if you go free postage at the same time so buyers aren’t paying any more, if you’ve been used to multiple sales, it KILLS them. Been there, got the shirt 🙁 )

  7. The way it should work is, if they have a credit card on file, it should reserve the amount on the card of the e-check. Then the e-check could be cleared immediately without liability.

  8. I would like to have the facility to block e-cheques totally.

    And agree with Sue’s comment that going Immediate Payment only (which is the only way at present to stop e-cheques) stops multiple buys 🙁

  9. PayPal know that eCheques are crap as they allow you to block them for website sales. They just won’t let you block them on eBay 🙁

  10. PayPal is a banking-type service, a service that would be more appropriately and competently carried out under the auspices of the banking community via their credit card company partners. Without the bankers’ knowledge of the entities involved in the transactions, PayPal will always be handicapped—even more so while under the management of such incompetents as those who currently control eBay.

    The head turkey at eBay, “Noise” Donahoe, has occasionally talked of the possibility of selling off PayPal because he is just barely smart enough to know that when the major credit card companies do get off their butts and introduce a like card/terminal-less payments system to complement their credit card system, they will do it properly, and the “clunky” PayPal will then sink like a stone—other than, possibly, on what is by then left of the Donahoe-ever-shrinking eBay marketplace.

    If this turkey had any brain at all he would be trying to sell PayPal to the banks to complement their credit card system; but I doubt the banks would want to lower their image any further by associating themselves with a company as obnoxious as PayPal; not even for a peppercorn consideration would the banks touch PayPal, I suspect.

  11. Applause to your buyer for being so cool about it – lots of people wouldn’t be (and who could blame them).

  12. Paypal has been a godsend for sellers too small to justify taking credit card payments direct. On the whole it works well for me and there is no viable alternative that I’m aware of.

    Buyers should be told their items will be dispatched once payment has cleared rather than giving an estimated date. They can check the status anytime online and they get an email notification when it clears so should be no confusion.

  13. I once got a charge back less than 10 minutes after payment received. I got to pay PayPal $13 for that privilege. Normally I’d disagree with what you said but that one just didn’t seem fair.

  14. PayPal could resolve the confusion simply and easily. The fact remains they simply choose not to.

    If they sent the buyer and the seller an identical email stating the accurate details of the echeck transfer timing, then the issue would be solved.

    Fact remains that PayPal wants to hold the echeck revenue in limbo for as long as possible so they can float the funds and earn interest on the float.

    PayPal also knows that if they fully and honestly disclosed the length of time they choose to hold onto the funds before clearing them to the seller, then buyers would be less likely to choose echeck as a form of payment.

    Fewer echeck transactions would result in PayPal having fewer funds to float, and that would negatively impact PayPal’s ability to generate profits.

    Buyer and seller satisfaction with echeck payments is secondary to PayPal/eBay’s primary consideration…. how best to maximize their profits using other peoples funds for as long as possible.

  15. Does anyone think that the major credit card gougers are not watching this market segment with interest, and is it possible that it could well be having a negative effect on their credit card business? Why would “the banks” not be considering a like system to complement their cards? After all, every internet banking user is already set up to receive such a service directly, and securely, from their bank. The simple fact is that anything that PayPal can do “the banks” can do better.

    Do we then need to offer the banks and the major credit card companies another such monopoly-type situation? Ideally not. But, having said that, within the credit card system the individual banks do compete with each other on interest rates, etc.

    Regardless, it would be nice to have a card/terminal-less system that worked effectively—as does the banks’ credit card system. Regrettably (or thankfully, some might say), PayPal does not have such a partnership with all “the banks” and so PayPal can never offer that same effectiveness.

    My only surprise is that the banks have not yet announced their own system.

  16. We always forward the echeque notification from paypal to the buyer, and suggest Bank Transfer; why wait 11 days when you have to opportunity to pay in two hours?
    I can’t wait for the EU to cap these ridiculous charges 3.4% ? it costs 22p to process an electronic transaction, and that is the Banks’ figure.

  17. Quick update. 12/02/10
    Logged into Paypal this morning, still not cleared.
    Payment Status “Pending until 11 Feb 2010”

    (screen shot available)

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