|Sun Jan 28 2007 13:29:13|
Shill Bidding on eBay
By: Ina Steiner
|First CNBC ran a television segment on e-Fencing of stolen goods on eBay. Now the UK newspaper The Times features an article about shill-bidding on eBay. Both reports are extremely negative. |
eBay's recent Trust and Safety initiatives are well intentioned, if a few years late, but I think there may be one component missing: better information about sellers.
I get emails from sellers who have been on the site for years, but suddenly they have their selling activity limited (lately due to eBay's anti-counterfeiting initiative). My sincere sympathies are with those sellers, but then watching the CNBC segment, I think - how does eBay know if a seller is selling counterfeit or stolen goods?
While some sellers are loathe to give information to eBay, it may not be asking for too for eBay to request tax IDs, verify the seller's identity, and possibly do some kind of check. If carried out properly, not only might it limit bad sellers, but it might prevent eBay from limiting good sellers.
In an articleI wrote last Spring, "Fraud: What's an Online Auction Site to Do?" I discussed the various options that auction sites have in vetting sellers. eBay can no longer go back to the more free-wheeling days of 1999 - 2000. They need to know that sellers on the site are legitimate, and have information on file so if there are complaints, they can hand over that information to law enforcement - that would be a fraud deterrent.
But if eBay does demand more information from sellers, they need to invest in resources to make sure it goes smoothly. eBay is bound to take care of the high-volume sellers, but will they also expedite the process for low-volume sellers?
Times have changed, and the bad apples have spoiled it for the good, honest and hard-working sellers. Hopefully eBay can take a long-term approach to improving the site so situations like the ones described in today's Times will stop.
Times article: "Make me an offer: the eBay bid scam: Dealers fix online auctions with a little help from their friends" (January 28, 2007).
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