eBay France sellers protest compulsory PayPal policy

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racketSellers on eBay France are up in arms about a policy change which forces them to offer PayPal as a method of payment on every auction and fixed price listing on the site.

eBay France’s published accepted payments policy says that sellers with fewer than 50 feedbacks must offer PayPal as one of their payment methods: this policy was announced in April and implemented in July.

However, several much larger, well-established sellers have said that as of yesterday, they too were forced to offer PayPal as payment method on eBay France. Attempting to list an item without PayPal on a registered business account with 2500 feedbacks just got me this message:

To list an item for sale, you need to accept PayPal as a means of payment.
To list an item for sale, you need to accept PayPal as a means of payment.

In fact, the change was included in the July announcement of changes: some clicking, some digging, and there under “other changes” is the information that “from autumn 2009, you will have to offer PayPal as a means of payment”. There’s no date, and to the best of my knowledge, there has been no subsequent clarifying announcement. The new eBay France user agreement published on 20th October makes no mention of a change in payments policy or of compulsory PayPal. And for what it’s worth, there seems to be no “as you sign in” splash page announcement and there is nothing in My Messages. It’s just been done.

I thought eBay had got over this. Recent changes on eBay UK and eBay.com have been notified down to the hour they were expected. Anglophone sites have done a great deal of work to make sellers feel that they were being given adequate notice of and time to adapt to site changes. Not so on eBay.fr.

The French love cheques to a level incomprehensible in Britain. Supermarket shoppers routinely use cheques. Many very large eBay sellers accept no other method of payment. French buyers left to their own devices, by my calculation, pay by cheque at least a quarter of the time. (I’ll spare you the details of the banking system here; suffice it to say this is not just Ludditism; there are some good reasons why people stick with cheques.) eBay’s different national sites have, until now, given them great flexibility to adapt to local conditions. But this policy and the back-door way it’s been implemented show absolute ignorance of how French buyers and sellers want to behave. When French sellers say they will leave the site over this, they are not, I think, making idle threats.

Update 22h00:
There’s now an official reminder/notification about the policy change.


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