Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Crack in eBay's "Just a Venue" Mantra

It appears eBay can act, when they want to, against sellers who list Brand name merchandise. The example here is the PS3 Game Console. I got onto Google news this morning for my eBay news fix and virtually all of the stories on the first page were regarding PS3 restrictions on eBay.

The PS3 is available at retail stores starting tomorrow but eBay has placed restrictions on their sale through the auction site.

eBay's policy on Pre-Sales can be found at this link. Here are the highlights:

“Pre-sale listings are those that describe items for sale that are not in the control or possession of the seller at the time of the listing. These listings generally consist of items that are sold in advance of a delivery date to the public.

eBay permits Pre-sale listings only on a limited basis. The seller must guarantee that the item will be available for shipping within 30 days from the date of purchase (i.e., the day the listing ends or the date the item is purchased from a store front listing). The seller must also clearly indicate within the listing the fact that the item is a pre-sale item with a delivery date that indicates the item will be shipped by the 30th day from the end date of the listing. Additionally, this text must be no less than the default font size of the eBay Sell-Your-Item form. Currently, the default font size is HTML font size 3.”

I could find no specific restrictions on PS 3's but it appears there are further restrictions on the marketplace.

According to one source: "Only established eBay vendors - those who have racked up comments from at least 50 previous customers and have positive ratings of at least 98 out of 100 points - can list PS3s before Friday. Each vendor can list only one PS3 per eBay account.

The listing must include a photo of the pre-order receipt, and the seller must guarantee shipment within 30 days from the date of purchase. Before Friday, PS3s can be listed on eBay only in auction formats - not as "buy it now" items."

I have requested confirmation from eBay on these additional restrictions and will update my blog as soon as I hear back.

My thoughts on this are: eBay has always been able to restrict items from being sold on their sites. Up until now they have relied on users to police the site but in recent months they have been removing offending listings more proactively. I think this is good for the marketplace. What is needed is a more comprehensive listings policy that sellers are required to agree to so that they don't break the rules unknowingly. Also, a more restrictive marketplace will benefit all parties involved. Sellers will benefit by not having to compete against Fakes, Bootlegs, etc. Buyers will get the quality merchandise they thought they were purchasing. Rights holders will protect their brands.